Training a sensitive dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-20-2010, 09:45 PM Thread Starter
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Training a sensitive dog

I adopted a four year old German Shepherd about three months ago. I don't know very much about his past other than he was abandoned in a dog park in Las Vegas and spent the next 7 to 11 months in shelters/rescues.

He seems to lack a lot of confidence and a little sensitive, sometimes when given a command he will shrink back, then reluctantly do the command. This has improved gradually over time. I was wondering if anyone has any tips for training him new things, as he seems reluctant whenever we begin a training session (averts his eyes, shrinks down, sometimes lays down). I use positive reinforcement and practice NILIF. I have considered clicker training but discovered that anything that makes a click noise will send him running to the closet to hide (think of clicking a ball point pen), however he's fine with gunshots, loud motors etc.

I want training to be a fun and enjoyable experience for him and a way to build his confidence, but I'm at a loss of how to do it.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-20-2010, 11:41 PM
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There are quieter clickers, like the i-click, that if you hold it behind your back and use REAL treats, I bet your dog would start to learn to love..


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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-20-2010, 11:47 PM
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at this point, I would work on your bond with your new guy, thanks for taking a chance on him!
Practice NILIF but in a lighter way, and don't push him beyond his comfort level. Bring treats if he is food motivated where ever you go, and lots of praise/ "yes" marker if the clicker can't be used. Watch his actions and mark them when he is doing something you want instead of asking him to do something. He'll soak up the praise and gain confidence.
It will take some time for him to gain your trust, but once he does, I know you'll be rewarded big time. 3 months really isn't that long, so go slow and just work on the relationship you two share. Lay a track with his meal, it is a nice quiet time for bonding, I'd do that as often as possible.

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Last edited by onyx'girl; 04-20-2010 at 11:49 PM.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2010, 12:15 PM
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I also recommend clicker training. Make sure you have really taught him that the clicker means good things before using it with behaviors. Sit on the floor in a closed room and click then give a very yummy treat like hot dog pieces. If he runs, you can toss the treat towards him. After he eats it click and treat again. Keep doing this until the click makes him excited because he knows good things are coming. Only at that point can you start using the clicker to mark good behavior.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2010, 12:54 PM
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With more sensitive dogs the tone and volume of the commands are really important. Most of those kinds of dogs are really listening to you, so, you can almost whisper and get a response without triggering the other behaviors you listed.

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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2010, 12:56 PM
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I think what everyone has already said are really good ideas. We have two dogs. One is clicker trained and one isn't. Just the difference in trainers we used. One thought it was best the other one did not. Both dogs turned out fine. I agree with Lin. If you want to use the clicker just start out with the click and treat. He needs to understand that the click is a good thing. But you are the only one that knows his level of his anxiety when he hears the click. So don't be set on the clicker. There are many ways to mark good behavior without sending him to the closet.


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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-21-2010, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the advice, I might try a clicker and muffle it a little. We can be in the middle of a motorcycle race and he'll be perfectly fine watching them whiz by, but sitting in the family room and I click a pen terrifies him.
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