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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 09:03 PM Thread Starter
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anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Has anyone ever adopted a GSD over the age of 3 and decided to start training? I start private lessons on Monday and would like to get him involved in pet therapy or some form of agility. I know I will have to see how he responds, but looking for advice from someone in a similiar situation.

3 yr. old male German Shepherd rescue
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 09:20 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Congratulations on your new family addition!

I have both personally adopted dogs over 3yrs and get them into foster care all the time. The myth about not being able to teach an old dog (not that 3 is old) new tricks is very much a myth. I find most of my adult "students" are WONDERFUL to work with. They are emotionally mature and better able to focus than pups and so many of them from crappy backgrounds are just SO excited to get a chance to use their brains and to open up that line of communication back and forth with a person. It's like this light comes on and you can't teach them fast enough.

Sometimes if your dog has a history of abuse or neglect you can get a slow start where you have to work around some triggers (raised hands or loud voices is a common one) and some dogs that have been severely neglected can take a while to get that you're trying to communicate directions, but once they do - watch out! Those are the ones that really take off because it's like they've had this need their whole lives and finally someone has addressed it.

ETA: What kind of training is it? I'm a huge fan of clicker training, in general, but especially for rescue dogs, because there are no negative triggers and it's all motivational. The dogs love it.


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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Thank you for the info. I will be able to get more info on Monday this is a trainer my vet recommend. My veternarian breeds and trains shutzand with her own GDSs hopefully her recommendation will work out ok.

3 yr. old male German Shepherd rescue
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 09:51 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Good luck and have fun!

But just remember - if anything seems too rough, or too negative, or just doesn't feel right, there are LOTS of different trainers and different training styles, so if it isn't a good match for your or your dog, there are other options. My impression is that good Schutzhund training involves a lot of building drive and motivational work, so if that's what she does and that carries over to her work with you, that is exactly what you want for a new rescue dog. I have also encountered bad Schutzhund training that was WAY to heavy handed (for any dog, but especially a recent adoptee still feeling his way), so just proceed with a open mind but also with caution.

I've worked with lots of different trainers (and even been one myself) and the one constant is that there's no constant! Unfortunately too many trainers think their way is the only way - and that's just not true. You just need to find a good fit for you and for your dog. The biggest thing to look for is is your dog having fun? Head up? Engaged? Tail wagging? Enthusiastic? GREAT! If he looks stressed and miserable and what the trainer is doing or asking you to do is making that worse not better, even if it's coming with "obedience" in the form of sits or downs, that's when you need to consider a different approach. Training should be fun for the dog.


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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 10:26 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

I got my girl Abby just around the time she turned three, although we didn't know for certain how old she was until we were able to locate her breeder and get her history thanks to the ear tattoo. (That was several months after getting her.)

Abby came to us being a good girl but not well socialized with other dogs and very dog and leash aggressive. But the cool thing about dogs is that you can start training them and re-train them no matter how old they are. Every day is a new day for a dog, and they're just as smart at 5 years as they are at 5 months, although not necessarily as easily motivated.

FWIW, Abby earned her CGC about a year after we got her, and also has her HIC and TDI (Therapy Dogs International).

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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 10:33 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Yes I have some experience; as a foster I adopted the third GSD I fostered. Her name, believe it or not is Paris Hilton.

Paris is gentle and shy, so training her in basic obedience has not been difficult.

I will add that it just depends so much on the type of dog you have, and after serving as a foster for more then a few they are all over the board.

A good trainer, very helpful, a so-so or bad trainer could be a disaster.
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 10:54 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

I have adopted and fostered dogs over the age of 3. Basu was 4.5 and severely abused and neglected. He went all the way through Advanced Obedience and earned his CGC. He benefited greatly from group classes and all were positive, reward based training.

Good luck!

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 10:56 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Yes. A 4 yo male who appeared with a punctured jugular vein in my backyard. He was the star of the obedience class.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-01-2009, 11:02 PM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

I got a unhousebroke brood bitch who only knew how to foos, bite and whelp who trained up beautifuly and is a wonderful hausfra now


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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 01-02-2009, 03:32 AM
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Re: anyone adopted a GSD over the age of 3?(advice)

Quote:
Quote: Has anyone ever adopted a GSD over the age of 3 and decided to start training? I start private lessons on Monday and would like to get him involved in pet therapy or some form of agility.
Lots of good suggestions and success stories already posted here!

Yes, it can be done. With some dogs, it may take a bit longer, with other, they may take to it extraordinarily fast! I think a key is to find what communication style works best with your particular dog - what makes him "tick" and what methods work best to elicit the best response.

I adopted a 4 1/2 y/o GSD with many many issues who also knew absolutely no commands whatsoever and although we worked for a long time on confidence and trust before starting "formal" training classes, he quickly "got it" once we got going. We successfully completed various obedience and tracking courses from basic to advanced levels.
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