Feeling discourage (training & overall well-being) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 03:08 AM Thread Starter
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Feeling discourage (training & overall well-being)

Does anyone else ever feel like they arenít doing enough for their puppies/dogs training wise? I always feel like Iím letting them down.

My puppies are 10 months old. They know their basic commands such as sit, down, wait. They know back up and spin. They know to sit when putting their collars on and to sit and wait to be let in the door.

They will wait to eat until given the command too.

Overall their leash walking is pretty good for you average ďpet.Ē Odin does pull slightly in the beginning of structed walks (especially if we are walking to the dog park he gets a little excited). Laylaís only issue on walks is she still slightly skittish around cars driving past. (She used to be very afraid on walks and sheís made a lot of progress.)

For basic obedience I canít really complain.

I guess where Iím feeling down and out about is I KNOW they can be doing so much more and Iíve tried working myself with them on their heeling and getting them to focus on me as engaging with me on walks.. but I donít seem to be making progress. Iím unsure if Iím teaching them correctly.

Iím still trying to find a decent trainer thatís local to us. Most people are positive reinforcement only trainers in my area, but I also work with them with prong (they seem to work best training with both corrections & positive training).

I have worked very hard Layla and sheís no longer as fear reactive around dogs. We can go to the dog park (when their is few dogs there) and she will approach other dogs and not run off and scream in a corner when dogs come near here.

I really want to work on them with their recall, heeling, and overall sharper obedience.

I see dogs on Instagram and sometimes itís so hard too see dogs their age excelling and I feel like doing such a mediocre job as a dog parent and training. Even though I know those dogs are working dogs, I still find it tough not to be doing more with them.

We will be visiting a trainer who is about an hour from us and Iím hoping this one works out.

Anyone else ever feel inadequate or like they could be doing more with their pups?

Any tips on self training?

Right now it is raining in socal where I live so we are pretty limited with what we can do.. and odins on bed rest with Pano and Layla is in heat. So Iím feeling even more so like I can be doing more with them even though rest and chilling out is what they both need at the moment.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 08:37 AM
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Don't compare yourself or your dogs to others. Once you start doing that you will ALWAYS find someone or some dog that is "better". People who post things online are often showing you a heavily edited version of their life with their dog(s). They don't post the 10 minutes prior when the dog was trying to drag them toward the squirrel that ran past, they show you the 20 seconds of perfect focus and heeling. The people on Instagram are usually just showing off and promoting themselves. If it is making you feel that terrible then unfollow them and get away from that, it is toxic and not healthy for you or your dogs. Spend the time you would on there out training your dogs.
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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 09:53 AM
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I am not the typical forum member here, but I think that if my dog is happy then all is well!
He has a home, he's loved and well-fed and has access to veterinary care...that already puts him ahead of thousands of other unfortunate dogs.

My standards are also pretty basic...don't eat the trash. don't eat food off the counters and table. don't poop or pee in the house. don't jump on people. don't bite anybody. don't drag me around on the leash. be able to pass other dogs and people calmly without bothering them. Being able to precisely execute obedience commands is a bonus on top of basic life manners, to me! There seem to be far too many dogs who don't even have these "basic manners of life" learned...

Your dogs sound like they are doing quite well.
It's great that you are going to drive an hour to visit a trainer - wow, that's more than I would commit to!

And I could share fascinating videos of my guy (walking, sniffing, walking, sniffing, walking...) but I do think people would prefer to watch videos of GSDs winning titles and doing amazing things :-)

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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 10:28 AM
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I find OP's post confusing.

OP seems to be satisfied with their dogs' obedience where it is and has no complaints about their behavior. IMO, that speaks volumes about the dogs. They don't seem to be suffering for the lack of further training. I am not saying don't move forward with more training, just saying there seems to be no problems with the dogs to justify the owner feeling that they are letting the dogs down.

I am not so sure why so many people feel the need to have a dog focus on and engage with them during a walk. Sometimes you just have to let a dog be a dog. That act alone can bring out so much in a dog.


If you need equipment to maintain control of your dog, understand youíre hanging on to your dogís body because youíve lost his mind!

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikka Khrystyne View Post

I guess where Iím feeling down and out about is I KNOW they can be doing so much more and Iíve tried working myself with them on their heeling and getting them to focus on me as engaging with me on walks.. but I donít seem to be making progress. Iím unsure if Iím teaching them correctly.


I think it's good that you know they could be " doing so much more" and question yourself regarding the "Iím unsure if Iím teaching them correctly. "

10 months old can have it's own hurdles.....lots of "stuff" going on in a dog's world around that age.

I've learned a ton from this forum and some of the members.....asking specifics about training behaviors and getting help when I was having difficulties.

I've never trained two dogs at the same time....so I'll leave that to others.

There's something about the GSD breed that really screams of a desire to learn.......so run with it.

I suppose I am in the same category as you " self training" but......the advice I have cherry-picked from this forum makes the self training so much easier, thanks to those that have been so willing to offer their wisdom.

FWIW....I decided to train many behaviors that really don't have any useful purpose.....but I kind of believe this simple fact ...when a dog learns any commanded behavior.....the overall picture is greatly enhanced.

A couple of things that really helped me...offered by one of my mentors in this forum...was the notion of a clear beginning and ending to our training and overall interactions...also how my frustration and my impatience can really screw things up in the process as well as being able to help the dog understand what the behavior you're training truly is....easier said than done......so I broke down behaviors into smaller segments making it easier for the dog to have more successes and eventually accomplishing the overall task by piecing the smaller trained behaviors together.

Keep it motivating, fun and upbeat....these dogs love to learn.

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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 01:27 PM
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It sounds like you have happy well adjusted dogs.

One of my favorite things to do is clicker/marker training. You can do it inside and you don't need anything special. There are tons of videos and Info online. And it's really pretty darn fun. I am teaching my puppy all kinds of stuff. Once they know what the game is, they try really hard to figure out what might earn a treat or a piece of their dinner. It doesnt have to be anything formal, just have fun.

I set up 2 foot stools and a small indoor trampoline and taught the puppy how to jump from one to another without touching the ground. Doesnt serve any purpose, but she got to learn something, have a little exercise and we didnt have to go out in over a foot of snow.
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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Bramble View Post
Don't compare yourself or your dogs to others. Once you start doing that you will ALWAYS find someone or some dog that is "better".

I guess that depends on the individual.......I've always been motivated by others and their successes...especially when it is the same discipline I am trying to achieve at.....and yes....one will most always find someone that is doing "it" better.....I'm glad we have these examples to drive us forward if we choose....


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-11-2019, 02:28 PM
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It sounds to me like you've successfully worked through some tough issues (reactivity) already, so pat yourself on the back for that! As for other training, where experience really helps is that in your own mind you have a very clear objective to move toward. Heeling, for example. With all of my dogs I trained them to sit whenever I stop...initially. But really, outside of a competition, as long as they stay next to me "in position" I found that I really didn't care, so I let that part go...and so did they! I did introduce a "halt" command, for those occasions when I did want them to sit, and we were good to go!

My current puppy started right off doing a focused heal, which quite frankly bothered me a lot, so I told her to "knock it off" LOL! I personally don't have any use for it! I much prefer that she is aware of everything around her. But again, that's just me. I'm not too interested in doing competitions with her, and if I change my mind later, I'm okay with retraining or just taking a points hit.

My point is, we all have differing goals for our dogs. My dog is focused on me because we're a team, but she does it without ever looking at me directly while heeling. Snappy or quick recall is useful for all dogs! It's a safety thing. So yeah, I consider that an essential skill. And there are some very good YouTube videos you can watch that will give you plenty of pointers on how to go about training for that. But outside of rigorous training for competition, you'll find that most dogs remain a work in progress in that regard until they're much older than your puppies! Again though, there are some great videos online that can help with recall training.

From my perspective, as others pointed out already, stop comparing your dog's and their training to anyone else. It's entirely for you and your dog and what you need or want in the end! And yes, there will be setbacks and tribulations along the way, but first and foremost it should be fun, not a chore or an obligation!

It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. Mark Twain

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2019, 08:56 AM
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Itís sounds like you are discouraged and the dogs overall well being is fine. They are puppies, let a puppy be a puppy and continue your good work. Your discouragement has nothing to do with your dogs as I read your OP.
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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-12-2019, 09:00 AM
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I'm still struggling with housebreaking my foster pup. We work on house manners and basic obedience. Right now, we are only inside my home for training--he is nowhere near ready for added external distractions. But I use sound (youtube videos) to add barking, whining, etc; i put things in my pocket to make noise (paper, bells, coins) when I want to practice having him "Look at Me." I was moving too fast and have backed up until his basics are going to be 100% solid in this setting and the only thing we will really work on outside is reactivity.

I constantly feel like I'm failing, and then I think, "Well, giving up is not an option, so what can I do to do better?" I have to remind myself that setbacks are a normal part of the growth process--and we learn from mistakes. "There's a mistake I won't make again," is my mantra for getting me to move on. This pup is my first foster and I've never had to housebreak an older puppy. I'm learning, as is he.

My goal is to have a well-mannered pet I can trust around the house and around other people and dogs (while supervised). I need my dogs to be able to enjoy housesitters occasionally. And I want my dogs to run with me--so that's something I'll start thinking about now that your post has reminded me! I'm a slow old lady but enjoy my jogs and love having a well-mannered dog along.

I hope you will feel better about what you are doing. Training two dogs--must be a challenge! And I agree that if you have overcome reactivity with your girl, you really have done more than most. Good luck and check in so we know how you are doing!
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Radar, Aussie/BC mix, b. 2/27/2012
Jett, GSD foster pup, b. 7/15/2018
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