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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 09:09 AM Thread Starter
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Training issue with 4 month old pup

I did not want to hijack THIS THREAD but I am thinking that I need to start changing some of the ways that Lily and I train.

Some of the issues that I am having...

When there are certain distractions around, she does not pay attention to me. She may sometimes still do what I ask, but I can see that her focus is trained on something else and the command is done more as an after-thought if even done at all. For example, at puppy class the other week, I asked her for a sit-stay which she complied with...but her attention was focused on the puppy next to us, not me. I almost felt like I just got lucky that she sat the entire time, not that she was focusing on what I was asking from her.

She pulls on the leash constantly. The trainer recommended a choke chain for her but I am very leery using that on a pup. I stop walking when she pulls, but the nano-second that I move again she is off like a bat...especially when on our way back home or she sees a dog/duck/leaf blowing/etc. and she WANTS it NOW. Sometimes I feel like our walks are the worst part of our day because I think it becomes frustrating for both her and me.

When I ask Lily to sit and stay, quite often she'll lay down and stay. For stay I can only get about 5-6 feet away before she pops up.

She is still jumping up on people despite my attempts. Before meeting people, I tell her to sit and then let her be pet. She does really well with that, but the second the person stops petting her and goes to move away she jumps on them. Or when she gets really excited during those crazy puppy times she'll start jumping on people. She knows Off - just doesn't always do it.

She has taken to barking at other dogs and sometimes people. Sometimes she even puts her hair up. When meeting other people and dogs she is friendly, but it is the time before they meet that she'll bark loudly. I tell her 'No bark' and then distract her attention to something else.

She comes when something else has not completely stolen her focus. Sometimes late at night I'll take her out to potty without her leash on. Well one night someone happened to be walking past my house. She took off after the person. I yelled 'Lily, Come' but got completely ignored. I had to walk up to the person and take Lily by the collar to get her to come back with me. Now she only goes out with her leash on - but it doesn't make that problem go away. If I take her out in the yard and call her, she comes...but if she is completely focused on something else, I might as well be 100 miles away and calling her.

Lily is both food and toy motivated. She'd do most anything for a piece of turkey hot dog or a romp with her favorite toys. But I feel like we hit a plateau of trainig. She understands that commands I have taught her thus far (sit, down, go to your home (crate), come, stay/wait, up, off, drop it and shake) - but it's like she chooses whether she'll do them or not. For example, yesterday she had a piece of paper in her mouth she stole from the garbage can. I told her 'Drop it' which she does know, she started to mouth it like she was going to drop it and then decided nope, I going to run away with it and see if I can eat it before mom catches me. Thankfully I caught hold of her collar and repeated drop it, which she did that time. It worries me though that she seems to make the choice of whether to listen or not. And when I have her by the collar or leash she obeys so much better than when she has the freedom to choose or not (who knows, maybe that's my biggest problem )

I'd REALLY appreciate some help. I really want to do the best by her, jsut not sure whether I am expecting too much from her at this age or am not applying the right and/or enough training with her. I try so hard not to get frustrated -- but I do fail at this sometimes. I know that to get the fantastic GSD that I want, I have to put the real effort in now, so just don't want to mess up. Help from this site would be just awesome because I know the people here have a much better grasp on all of this than me -- Lily is my first pup and I am trying my best as she grows.

Kristin

GSD's:
Lily 10/31/07
Thor 10/27/15



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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 10:23 AM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Have you taught a focus or watch command? I've found that a word that means "Look at me in the face" is really helpful when wanting attention. Somewhere there was a really good thread about teaching Focus...

Another thing I was always told, is do not give a command unless you can be sure it will happen. It seems to be about habit forming, if the dog learns he has the choice and ability to not do what you ask then he knows he can, but if every time he has never had an option to not comply (either he wanted the treat/reward or you physically made him) then she won't ever know that she can do anything different than what you ask. Even if she does the command fairly regularly, there's is no way that the command is rock solid in her head at 4 months old.

I think this shows itself most in the "Come" command...We have all seen people chasing their dogs around "Come her!" clapping their hands and growing more frustrated by the minute as the dog merrily trots around just out of reach. This dog has somehow learned that it is MUCH more fun to play keep way than to come and that the word "Come" is meaningless. If the dog was on a leash or a long line and "Come" always meant come here I'll give you a treat or I'll pull you in...then the command would be much more realiable. So basically, if you can't make the dog come...don't bother using the word...you'll just make the word meaningless.

Something neat I saw with the come command was someone holding the dog while Mom ran away and acted like she was having the time of her life. Puppy starts barking and crying and is frustrated because Dear Lord! What is Mom doing over there that it so much fun?! When the person finally lets go of the dog...It hauls butt to Mom and you have a party, so Come means quick get over here and join the fun!

And again like MRL said in the other thread, it's about motivating the dog. If your puppy thinks you are the most exciting thing ever, she'll be paying attention to you and not the environment.

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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 11:56 AM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Since you asked, Yes, I do think you are expecting too much considering her age. It sounds like she is actually doing very well. But remember she is only 4 months old. That is still a baby puppy.
One thing I want to say, with a puppy, I would NEVER call them to you when you are not able to make them do it. In other words, if they aren't on a leash so that you can "reel them in" if they don't come, don't call them. It is too easy for them to learn that they don't have to.

My dogs have several commands that all mean to come to or with me. If I am out walking or doing chores and want them to come in the same direction, I say "come on". If I want them to come to me I say "come here". (The words are kinda jumbler together the way I say them. Sounds like "comeer".) But the formal "come" command means come straight to me and sit in front. And is only used when they are on leashes or a long line (when they are pups) so that I can make them do it if they try to ignore me. The words are also said in a diferent tone of voice. If I am saying come here or come on, it is in a normal voice. If I am telling them to "come" it is in a more firm, strong voice.(Not a yell, just a tone the leaves NO DOUBT that you mean what you are saying.) They are also only told to "come" ONCE. If you say come, come, come over and over when they don't do it the FIRST time, they learn that they don't have to do it until they are ready. You are basically teaching them to ignore you. If she is chosing to ignore you in the house such as the paper from the garbage, I would have her drag a leash in the house. That way you can not only stop her from doing things like getting in the trash, but also for trying to play "keep away" with the "treasures" she finds.

Tracy

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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 12:43 PM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

I see a perfectly normal 4 months old pup. At this point you have to understand than "Obedience training" has very little of obedience and more of a play were the pup learns the comands and exercises in a funny way. At 4 months old no pup is trustworthy to be off-lead, and it only will get worse in the next months as they become teenagers. I train "off-lead" meaning it I don't use the lead in the training itself, but I always use a 2-3 meter leash on the collar, so I can step in it if something caught my pup attention. As she can't go anywhere at the end the only funny thing in her life is me (I know how selfish it does sound ).

To ask for a heeling in a normal walk is too much to ask in a pup. Four months is too early to introduce corrections. I have a special interest in my pup as a working dog, so maybe it doesn't apply at you who only want a well behaved pet, but at this point I don't bother with the heeling, or I do an SchH heeling when I'm training or I put her the harness and let Diabla pull all she wants. Someday I'll teach her than to pull in the harness is OK and to pull with the collar is not, but not yet, by now I simply don't give her the opportunity to pull with the leash on the collar.

And remember, there are not distracted dogs, there are boring owners. To ask for focus you have to put the100% of the attention in your pup, prevent more often than correct and be prepared to reward the more slightly step in the direction you want. If for a whole class you have to forget about sits and downs and reward your pup just to put her eyes on you, so it be.

I've also noticed with my clients that timing plays a huge role in the attention degree of the pups. When they are clear of what you want from them it becomes a game "I do this, mom gives me hot-dogs" but if they are not so clear of what is expected from them it becomes frustrating, a game they can never win, only random rewards but they are not so sure why. At the end dogs always manage to learn by repetition, but by the moment it's not fun anymore.

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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 01:38 PM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Krispifsu
She pulls on the leash constantly. The trainer recommended a choke chain for her but I am very leery using that on a pup. I stop walking when she pulls, but the nano-second that I move again she is off like a bat...especially when on our way back home or she sees a dog/duck/leaf blowing/etc. and she WANTS it NOW. Sometimes I feel like our walks are the worst part of our day because I think it becomes frustrating for both her and me.
Hello,

I deeply empathize with you regarding the paragraph above.

I too have a 4 month old pup who was a horrible walker till recently. It was so exhausting that I actually dreaded our walks because it hurts my hands from holding firmly onto the leash, and my quadriceps from bracing my body while she pulled and tugged.

I personally would not recommend a choke chain, but have you considered a martingale collar? It works like a prong, but without the pinch effect, which makes it a wonderful training tool for a young, rambunctious pup.

I had no success with a flat collar, and only started seeing results with a martingale combined with consistent & patient training. I was sorely tempted to use a prong, but her age prevented me from going that route, and her trainer recommended the martingale.

Important thing is to be very patient and consistent. I would walk with a 6' leather leash in a J so there is a little give. I hold the leash in my right hand, and use my left hand to 'guide' her with the leash. Every time she pulls, I either stop or I turn in the opposite direction while gently pushing her leash with my left hand so she keeps on my left side.

I use my voice constantly. I put on my happy face and my happy voice, and communicate with my pup. I use the words "Walk with me" which basically means loosely by my side, and do not pull ahead on the leash. I do this for a few minutes, and then I release her with "Free now!" which means she could explore on a longer line, but still NOT allowed to pull the lead. This allows her to understand that I am being fair to allow her to enjoy being a pupperoni.

Then I slowly increase the "walk with me" command and now she can actually mind me when there are distractions. I used her favourite ball or treats in the beginning to motivate her, but now I just use my voice.

Sorry for the long post. I am an amateur but I found this works nice for me, and I hope you can gain some help from my experience. Because, lemme tell you, Janka was a TERRIBLE walker.

Good luck.

~ Rei

[edit: oh, now I walk her with a flat collar. i do switch up occasionally though, but we mostly use the flat now.]

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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 01:48 PM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Oh, I also would like to add that she still does slip up here and there, and forges ahead like a bulldozer.

But there has been significant improvement, and for a pup with lots to see and smell and hear and chase, I am quite proud of her.

All the best, and take heart. Patience and consistency will bring results, just that it might seem to NEVER come about in the beginning.

I was very frustrated, and was getting quite sad about failing Janka. I kept wondering what the HECK was wrong with ME, since I am the handler. I kept telling my husband I was a defect every night he came home and asked how our puppy training was coming along.

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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Thank you all very much for your replies.

I do completely understand that Lily is still a baby -- my concern just came from some of the training we are getting. The trainer wants her in a choke collar because she pulls so much on the leash and has advised me that I need to start corrections now before she gets out of control. I guess I got worried that I wasn't doing enough for her and allowing her to get away with things that she shouldn't.

I do a watch me command - and Lily is great at eye contact. I started with just getting her to look at me and we have progressed to where I can have a toy or treat out dangling at my side and get her to watch me.

All of our training is fun. If I say the words -Lily let's train - she hops up like crazy. I actually videotaped her when I said those words and she dropped the toy she was playing with and bounded over to me like I was T-Bone!

My only real frustration at this point is leash walking. I don't ask for a heel (I haven't taught her how), just no pulling. By the time we finish our walks, my hands are rubbed raw from the leash (little girl can PULL). That's the main area I wish I could work on with her right now. A lot of the times though it seems that when I stop walking, she'll come sit by me (which is fantastic) but it's like the energy still builds and she takes off like a race horse out of the gates the moment I move again. I don't want to use the choke collar as she is so young - but I just don't know how to teach her how to walk without pulling...

I guess I got the feeling from my trainer that my pup was out-of-control and I needed to get in charge before I woke up one day to an unmanageable adult. And I probably over-reacted to that too... It's just hard when someone critiques your pup like that, and the blame goes on the owner for not teaching the pup and I don't want Lily to ever be seen as one of those dogs that was never taught manners or to listen.

I just want to do right by her and get her started off right. I was so impressed the other day though when we met a little boy at the pet store. I had her sit before he pet her. After a minute or two she stood up, the little boy said "sit" and her butt went right back on the floor Maybe I should focus on those accomplishments and not on the things that she is still learning to do, huh?!

I will definately work on only calling Lily when I can get her to come. I have a 30' lead that I use when we walk some nature trails and I'll start using that more.

Again, thank you all for taking the time to explain. I'll make sure to make some changes to my mind-set when it comes to training and my expectations. Lily and I both appreciate it!

Kristin

GSD's:
Lily 10/31/07
Thor 10/27/15



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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 02:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Quote:
Originally Posted By: The Stig It was so exhausting that I actually dreaded our walks because it hurts my hands from holding firmly onto the leash, and my quadriceps from bracing my body while she pulled and tugged.
Exactly how I feel when we come home from our walks - it makes me not want to walk her even though I know it is something that we continually need to do (and we do at least once a day).

Quote:
Quote: I was very frustrated, and was getting quite sad about failing Janka. I kept wondering what the HECK was wrong with ME, since I am the handler. I kept telling my husband I was a defect every night he came home and asked how our puppy training was coming along.
Again, exactly how I feel. I came home from puppy class the other night practically in tears because I felt like I was failing Lily and was the 'bad' owner training the crazy puppy.

Thank you for your long post and advice. I could use all the advice I can get right now. I tried the change direction when she pulls thing and I ended up stuck in about a five foot long area! But maybe a different collar would work with her.

I will definately look into the martingale. Where did you get yours? I am also interested in the harness mentioned above if information can be provided about it.

Kristin

GSD's:
Lily 10/31/07
Thor 10/27/15



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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 02:30 PM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

I would just tell the "trainer" that you will NOT be using a choke on a BABY. Heck, she is 4 MONTHS old, not 4 YEARS old. If the trainer has a issue with that , I would be looking for a new trainer!

As far as her and "stay". I could work on her staying in the position you decide (either sit or down) for say 1 full minute with NO moving her body or feet with you standing directly in front of her. (If she is the "wiggly" type and since she is so young, you could start with 30 seconds.) When she does that reliably, do the same thing but 1 step away from her. And so on until you have a greater distance. Don't just tell her to stay and walk to the end of the leash.
If you do this and she moves before the time is up, don't say anything, just calmly put her back in position and start the time over.

Keep up the good work!

Tracy

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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 03-05-2008, 02:38 PM
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Re: Training issue with 4 month old pup

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Krispifsu
Quote:
Originally Posted By: The Stig It was so exhausting that I actually dreaded our walks because it hurts my hands from holding firmly onto the leash, and my quadriceps from bracing my body while she pulled and tugged.
Exactly how I feel when we come home from our walks - it makes me not want to walk her even though I know it is something that we continually need to do (and we do at least once a day).

Quote:
Quote: I was very frustrated, and was getting quite sad about failing Janka. I kept wondering what the HECK was wrong with ME, since I am the handler. I kept telling my husband I was a defect every night he came home and asked how our puppy training was coming along.
Again, exactly how I feel. I came home from puppy class the other night practically in tears because I felt like I was failing Lily and was the 'bad' owner training the crazy puppy.

Thank you for your long post and advice. I could use all the advice I can get right now. I tried the change direction when she pulls thing and I ended up stuck in about a five foot long area! But maybe a different collar would work with her.

I will definately look into the martingale. Where did you get yours? I am also interested in the harness mentioned above if information can be provided about it.
Since oyu REALLY want her to STOP pulling, I would not use a harness. Not only will it not stop pulling, it will likely make it worse. You think your hands are sore how? Try walking a "puller" that is wearing a harness!

Tracy

Siren vom Banach { Sable female GSD 3-20-08}

R.I.P. Wrangler male ACD/Aussie mix. 9-29-99 to8-29-11.
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