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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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New guy here.

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.
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 12:28 AM
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Re: New guy here.

Welcome TxRider, and thank you for chosing a rescue. I'm sure you will get a ton of very good information.

How food motivated is Hope?? Are you using biscuit type treats, or high value treats such as bits of chicken??

Hope is probably also very overwhelmed with her new surrounding sright now, and adjusting to the new environment, so might be a reason she is not focusing her attention fully.

Good luck with her. Hope you post some pictures!! We love pictures!!

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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 12:30 AM
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Re: New guy here.

http://www.leerburg.com has some good videos. As well, you may want to contact them for some advice. I used the puppy and the beginner training dvd....very good - he gives some really good advice and techniques to use.

Robert

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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 01:36 AM
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Re: New guy here.

Welcome and so GREAT you chose a rescue! I always love to hear that.

You could check out http://www.clickertraining.com as a training option.

When they're focused on something they shouldn't be, they can become Mom-Deaf real quick. Clicker training is a very positive experience type training and I found grabs their attention better than a voice or human sound.

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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 08:14 AM Thread Starter
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Re: New guy here.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: VSnapWelcome TxRider, and thank you for chosing a rescue. I'm sure you will get a ton of very good information.

How food motivated is Hope?? Are you using biscuit type treats, or high value treats such as bits of chicken??

Hope is probably also very overwhelmed with her new surrounding sright now, and adjusting to the new environment, so might be a reason she is not focusing her attention fully.

Good luck with her. Hope you post some pictures!! We love pictures!!
I bought some training treats the day before I picked her up, chicken and beef, she seems to like the beef ones a lot. My plan is to experiment until I can find something she really likes. She does seem motivated by food by on a 1-10 I'd give her about a 4 or 5.

She's definitely still getting used to her new home and to me but she's getting confidence and building trust quickly. The walks especially seem to help with that. I think she'll be ready to start training in earnest next week, so far I've only been working with her name and come a little every day and getting the house training reinforced. She hasn't had a single accident yet and behaves quite well.

I'll be sure to get some pics up pretty soon.

I'll also go check out those links. Thanks all.
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 08:56 AM Thread Starter
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Re: New guy here.


Here's an example of her food drive.

Say I get a sandwich or anything really and go sit on the sofa to eat. Her first impulse is to to just nose her way to the food and eat. I give her a "pssst" or snap my fingers and she knows that's not wanted behavior. She backs right up and lays down and breaks off all eye contact immediately. She's done this since day one.

She does the same the few times I tried a sit or down, seems if she can't just have the food outright, she decides it's the alphas food and ignores it and won't maintain eye contact.

Now it's fine when I call her, because she just gets the treat when she comes to me, and she comes pretty well but to her it's still a just a suggestion not a command she has to obey. And to be honest I really kinda like the behavior of not begging.

So I'm thinking I might want to find another way of training besides food, or getting her attention besides food and her prey drive would be great to use if I could figure out how. She does fetch a tennis ball somewhat, she loves to chase it and catch it, she brings it back 3-4 times and drops it about 5 feet away and won't come to me. And if I don't go to her and get it she loses interest quickly.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 10:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: New guy here.

An example of why I think she's a clever girl. I got her large rawhide bone before I picked her up. She really liked it, she gnawed on it for hours after her evening walk and it was gone in a couple of days all but little piece so I decided to get bag of them to hand out from time to time.

I gave her one yesterday and she decided she wanted to bury it, she paced all over the house looking for a spot and trying to figure out how to bury it in the house. Finally she gave up.

So this morning when I got up I go out in the back yard with her, I'm getting the schedule down for house training and reinforcing it daily. It's kinda chilly out and I have been grabbing my jacket when I take her out.

So we come back in (she doesn't like to let me out of her sight) and I tossed my jacket on the sofa, I go get a cup of coffee and when I walk back out of the kitchen she had gone and picked up the bone from wherever she put it last night, and laid it on my jacket. So I grab my jacket and go out and sure enough she goes straight to bury it. Clever girl I think, she'll be great if I can channel that.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New guy here.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: Riley's MomWelcome and so GREAT you chose a rescue! I always love to hear that.

You could check out http://www.clickertraining.com as a training option.

When they're focused on something they shouldn't be, they can become Mom-Deaf real quick. Clicker training is a very positive experience type training and I found grabs their attention better than a voice or human sound.
After thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion I think I have a problem with opposing reinforcement of behaviors. She doesn't know the difference between a command and a correction, so she is confused as I reinforced the behavior of not begging when I eat, but I think she takes a command when a treat is in my hand as just another form of correction not to beg and to break eye contact and attention.

After reading up on clicker training I think this might be just what I need to get around that issue. I think I'll buy a book for beginners on clicker training and a clicker and give it a try.

At least until she learns what command is, and that words mean different things. Once I get past that barrier I think it'll get a lot easier for her.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-15-2009, 04:28 PM
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Re: New guy here.

Where in Texas are you located?
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 03:53 PM Thread Starter
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Re: New guy here.

Dallas, Or rather Grapevine specifically.

First vet visit today, seems the shelter was giving her the wrong stuff for her ears and she still has a persistent bacterial infection in one of them..
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