High Drive puppy. What to do? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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High Drive puppy. What to do?

I've had GSDs for 26 years and never owned a high drive dog. Mia, our 7 1/2 month old female has been in obedience training for 5 weeks now. She has been doing great but yesterday, I couldn't do anything with her. She just blew up and wouldn't listen to me or two other trainers. She's never done this before. We did not have obedience class last week as the trainer went on vacation but I still worked her everyday for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Usually in class, she's excited for about 15 minutes but settles right down to working willingly.

Mia is high drive, especially with any kind of ball. She absolutely loves her soccer ball and will play constantly. I have to make her stop for fear of her getting overheated. Mia on the other hand does not have a lot of nerve. She's very friendly but stands off the first few seconds she meets someone. If they kneel, she walks right to them. She's still afraid of other dogs but has warmed up a litttle to another German Shepherd puppy and a Rottwieler puppy. Both are about the same age as her. Niether of those puppies were in class yesterday.

One thing Mia has no reservations about is children. She absolutely adores them but gets really excited when they're around and she first meets them.

I had big plans for her, hoping to do CGC, therapy dog (epecially for kids), and SAR. She has one heck of a nose. Now I'm concerned with her drive and not as strong nerved as I'd hoped, she may not be able to do those things.

My question is, am I barking up the wrong tree (no pun intended) with my plans for her? Should I look into something else for her. Is there anyway to build nerve? I really want a job for her and something we can both enjoy. Anyone have any thoughts or ideas?

My trainer says she's a very intelligent dog and they all like her but I just felt disheartened yesterday when she was acting silly and had to be worked without the other pups.

Also, she hasn't had her first heat cycle yet. Could she have been acting like this because she's getting close to coming in and her hormones are out of whack?
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 03:17 PM
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I have a 7 month old male... my trainer (who trains dogs for police work for a living) swears that when my GSD hits 8 months I'll see huge changes in him, and I'll have to pick up my game. She claims it is in the hormones. She claims it'll be a fun ride until he reaches around 18 months.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 03:46 PM
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Have you talked to your breeder about your concerns? They may be able to help and calm you immediately.

Even though your pup is getting big, she's still VERY much a puppy. Learning and testing and still needing lots of love and play while also gradually learning the rules.

I think I'd WAY up the exercise. Off leash tears in the woods work best for me. Chuck-it in a field is next best best.

Tons and tons of socialization without necessarily having alot of strict training. Separating the need our dogs have to learn all about all there is in the world, and to be normal and calm in it. Then the training when out and about IN that world comes much easier for a calmer and frankly a pup that's a bit bored...

Alot of your wanting her to be more strong nerved may be that you just need to slack off a bit. Instead of training/socialization/exercise being all the same event on the same day. Make them definitely separate and up the enjoyment so there is no stress that may lead your dog to appear more weak nerved. ONLY take her someplace to socialize where its not overwhelming but still new and an adventure while not also expecting strict obedience from her while you are out and about. Maybe getting a gentle leader harness so she won't pull, or only correct with a prong if she is pulling but not for other 'obedience' issues. Like don't ask for a 5 min strict 'stay' when out on a socialization trip.

And when you are JUST exercising, just hike. Just take her swimming. Just play chuckit (though I do get a 'sit' in before I release them to chase the ball, but pretty much ZERO stress and TONS of them having to learn control with high excitement!!!!).

I've found that many of us get way to much into the 'CONTROL' part of training our pups........... when instead just letting them be puppies while they ARE puppies (I know, she's big) while gradually getting the control and training in place.

One of the many many many reasons I love clicker training. Because it forces us to be better trainers and think about how to get our pups to want to listen/learn/obey in a fun and happy way. When they learn they have to 'think' to get the reward, that quiets them down too. I've found it's easy to correct/leash pop/'make' my dog obey...... but (go figure) my pups don't enjoy this as much as I must. When instead I have to THINK of how to get my dog to do the same behavior without even wearing a leash at all, then that's the smartest training of all....

Since my female didn't go into her first heat until 11 months, you may or may not be seeing that influence.




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Last edited by MaggieRoseLee; 04-15-2010 at 03:50 PM.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-15-2010, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advise MaggieRoseLee. I really appreciate it.

We play ball daily, usually once in the morning before it starts heating up and once in the late evening before dark. Our play times last anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours with breaks in between. The only place she's ever been off leash is in our back yard. I'm a little apprehensive about letting her off anywhere else. Just kind of afraid she'll take off. Probably just me. I want to let her off just haven't picked up the nerve yet. My other Shepherds were great off leash. I guess I'm an overprotective mom. We do have some great places to hike within an hour of here. Just haven't gotten the chance yet.

We also go on walks in the park and I take her with me when I go places. She also likes going to my parent's home.

I will say yesterday, she didn't get any play time before we went to class.

I didn't work her today. Just wanted it to be a fun and relaxing day for her since she seemed stressed yesterday.

Yesterday before we went to class, I had a feeling she was going to be a pistol and I think I carried that to class. Maybe she felt that from me. That was one of the suggestions my trainer made.

I know she's still a puppy and has to act like one. It just really surprised me she acted the way she did since she had never done that before.

Guess her mama has some learning to do as well as her.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2010, 10:11 AM
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Too bad you can't have her off leash, you fell into the path many people do. Wait until they are older to think of it, and now your pup is in an independent age that they may not have the best reliable off leash 'come'.

The best thing is when they are young to make time and go for the offleash things. Our young pups HAVE to stay with us or they will freak out. Natures way to keep everyone together in the pack, and we can take advantage of that.

This is the stuff that works for me:



This is also the time of year that there are tons of pet things going on..





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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2010, 02:25 PM
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Based on your post I am not sure I agree that what you are describing is "lack of nerves". Lack of confidence, quite possibly. It could just be uncertainty and a stage she is going through.

Do you exercise her before class? Not long but maybe 10 to 20 minutes, whatever she needs to blow off the extra pent up energy. I know with my two kids they need to blow out that extra energy before they are in a right frame of mind for working.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2010, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by MaggieRoseLee View Post
Too bad you can't have her off leash, you fell into the path many people do. Wait until they are older to think of it, and now your pup is in an independent age that they may not have the best reliable off leash 'come'.

The best thing is when they are young to make time and go for the offleash things. Our young pups HAVE to stay with us or they will freak out. Natures way to keep everyone together in the pack, and we can take advantage of that.

This is the stuff that works for me:

YouTube - Glory B (11 wks) and Bretta Lee (5 yrs) Hiking in the Woods

YouTube - Hiking the Poconos w/Friends and their dogs

This is also the time of year that there are tons of pet things going on..

YouTube - German Shepherd puppy 15 Weeks - Socialization at Dog Fair
Thanks for the videos. I loved them. Bretta and her stick remind me of Mia and her ball. LOL!! She acts the same way. Love your dogs! I'm going to see if hubby will go with me Sunday on a hike with Mia to a place we frequent often in the summer months. It's just about half an hour from our house.

Our old gal was about Mia's age when we started taking her. She'll be 14 in July and is starting to get some arthritis so no long hikes for her. It will be sad going without her.

I think I may start Mia on her 20ft lead on the hike and see how she does. If she does well, I may let her off. I don't think she will stray because she sticks to me like glue. Even lays at the bathroom door if I'm in there. She's behind me right now alseep. She has a pretty good come. The only time she's refused is when she and our other shepherd are playing but she's only refused a couple of times.

I really thank you for all your advice. Looks like you and your kiddos really have fun and that's what I want for Mia and I.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2010, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Amaruq View Post
Based on your post I am not sure I agree that what you are describing is "lack of nerves". Lack of confidence, quite possibly. It could just be uncertainty and a stage she is going through.

Do you exercise her before class? Not long but maybe 10 to 20 minutes, whatever she needs to blow off the extra pent up energy. I know with my two kids they need to blow out that extra energy before they are in a right frame of mind for working.
She usually does get exercise before class but she didn't this last time. Really could have been what was going on with her.

You're right, I could be wrong about lack of nerve and just need to build her confidence. On our last walk in the park, there was a plastic garbage back hanging out of the aluminum garbage can and the wind was really whipping it around. It scared Mia but I walked her confidently and calmly to it while talking to her about the silly old trash bag. When we got there and she smelled it, she was just fine and on our way back we walked to it again without any fear or reservations.

Today one of hubby's friends stopped by. Mia had never met him before. They were in hubby's garage. I walked Mia out there and the friend said hi to her and reached out to pet her. She stood back and raised her hackles but no barking or growling. He then stooped down to her level and she approached him but cautiously. When she let him touch her and pet her, I praised her and then she was fine.

If someone strange comes into our home she does bark but I know that's what she's supposed to do. As soon as they sit down, she's fine and goes willingly to them. Our old Shepherd used to do the same thing. Sit down first and then I'll greet you.

She really is a friendly pup. Just seems very cautious.

When we first got Mia, I searched hi and low for a puppy socialization class but we live in such a small town, no one offers it.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-16-2010, 09:03 PM
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MaggieRoseLee, I just have to say that I loved watching the videos you posted. Your GSD's are beautiful. I wish we had hiking trails near us.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-17-2010, 02:33 AM
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I've had GSD's for 40 years... but my 1st true working line dog is my current pup. (Doesn't EVERYONE wait til they hit 60 to get one? LOL) He's been a trial at times. First he's VERY smart... and has endless energy. An hour of swimming or chasing ball just barely takes the edge off. He's also quite mouthy... both in terms of being vocal, and in terms of grabbing things. We went thru a rough couple months with him from 7-9 months... it's the HORRIBLE stage for GSD's. I learned a couple very important things. Getting upset just gets them more out of control. Keep calm, Keep strong... and patiently wait and insist that they follow your instruction. Ikon has learned the "SIT" and "WAIT" command very well. To go out doors, to get his dinner, to come in the house, to get in the car. All things that he tended to get very ramped up about. He's not allowed to proceed til he's calm and quiet. Crates can save your house, and your sanity! When you find that your patience is getting a bit frazzled... take an extra breath and put the pup in their crate with a goodie for 10 minutes or so... then go back. Ike's now almost 11 months old, and we actually survived those months. He no longer grabs my pant leg in frustration... and listens almost all the time.
You might back off a bit on the formal obedience work, and switch to something like agility or tracking for a couple months to give him/her a break. When you resume formal training you'll probably find you have a much calmer happier and more willing dog to work with.

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