Hello all, first post here..
Since Saturday I'm the now the owner of a German Shepherd. She's a sweet approx 3 year old rescue dog named Hope and I'm looking to get some ideas for training. I am told she was rescued from a backyard breeder that basically neglected her horribly and believe she's purebred.
I've had dogs most of my life, my last was a lab/border collie mix that was a joy to have as a companion for 16 years. She was really easy to train to do anything I could think of. I got her at 6 weeks and she learned how to focus on learning at a very young age though. She was the dog that turns off light switches and closes doors etc.
Now about Hope. I've only had her home for 4 days and she's a very good dog and a real sweetheart. I don't know what abuse she's had but it seems she may have been been hit by her reaction to an inadvertent raised hand. The shelter I got her from also runs a dog daycare where she spent about 6 months to a year so she's very well socialized and pretty stable for a rescued dog.
They had a lot of trouble adopting her out. I'm told she was mangy starved to point of death and had ear infections so bad she had cauliflowered both her ears. They both flop down, but at least they match.
She's very cautious about anything new but not really fearful, just careful in approaching new things and very curious. She behaves well and picked up that a sharp "psst" means unwanted behavior right away and responds very well. She's been great and has great manners in the house, already learning the rules with just a few corrections.
I walk her every morning and evening and she's great on a leash. I walk her with a pretty short leash, just enough so she can get nose to the ground at most and she does very well, I didn't expect that to be honest. A few little corrections and she walks as good as any dog I've owned.
The problem is getting her attention for training. She knows no commands whatsoever, though she is getting pretty good at coming when called after a few days, she barely even knows her name. She just doesn't associate words with anything. I know she's a smart girl, you can see it in her.
The only time I see her really seriously focus on anything though is on prey. There are hundreds of squirrels in the neighborhood, and a few cats that know a dog on a leash isn't a threat. And any time she sees them she switches into little miss full on 100% focus and drive.. Not aggressive, no barking or anything but head up ears up (as good as her ears will go up) tail out eyes on target.. I'm sure you folks get the picture.
When she does this the usual "psst" doesn't seem to register, but I can deal with that behavior with a little body language and blocking etc. and she's already responding and learning to walk by them well.
She'll chase a tennis ball every time, she just won't bring it back and hand it to me, she just sorta walks off after catching it.
But when it comes to obedience, I'm looking for a few ideas to try. If I could direct that prey drive to training I could teach her anything I believe.
I at least would like to maybe get a few ideas on getting her full attention and holding it. I've started working with her name and treats to start, pretty easy stuff and I would like to start working with commands in about a week after I've had enough time to establish enough trust. I've got to get her a job to do and get her trained well enough that I can do a lot more than walk her and give her some real workouts, she needs the role. Two long walks isn't enough, she's a pretty high energy dog.
So, any ideas about how I can get her undivided attention?
Maybe some ideas to direct that prey drive to learning obedience and commands?
I think I can eventually get through to her with treats and positive reinforcement, but I'd like to maybe hear some techniques for working with an older untrained dog that I don't know or haven't thought of.