We've had GSDs since 1986, but until fairly recently, my experience consisted of training our own pet dogs. Sneaker was super easy, she hardly counts in terms of training experience since we only took one obedience class with her and that was actually enough. She lived to 14-1/2 years old.
By the time we got Cassidy in 2000, I had pretty much forgotten the little I'd learned about dog training from when Sneaker was a puppy. She was, um.... NOT easy.
Cassidy had a whole host of temperament issues, including being severely leash reactive, and ended up being my crash course in dog training. I took numerous OB classes with her.
We lost her to a painful spinal disease at 4 years old and got Dena about a month later at 9 weeks old. She was the youngest puppy we'd had, Sneaker was 16 weeks old when we got her and Cassidy was 20 weeks. I set out teaching Dena everything I'd learned in all the classes I'd taken with Cassidy, and she was a fantastic dog. Because she was so great, we jumped at the chance to get her half sibling Keefer, when she was just over a year old. I ultimately wanted two dogs although I hadn't had any intention of them being so close in age. But by then she was practically perfect, so I felt like I could suspend her training for awhile to focus on him. He was also 9 weeks old when he came home. I did all the same foundation work with him that I had done when Dena was a pup. I had started agility classes with her shortly before we got Keef, and after a couple of classes with him, I went back and took did some more agility classes with her, but it was just for fun. We never came close to entering a trial.
Sadly, we also lost Dena young, she died of lymphoma when she was four years old. By then, Keefer was three, which was more along the lines of the age spacing I had originally intended. Sneaker and Cassidy were American lines, and Dena & Keefer are West German show lines.
It was tough losing two dogs so young, and we were not planning to start looking for a puppy for a few months. But then Halo's breeder posted pictures here, and some of the board members back then knew the breeder and trained with her. They had met Halo and thought she would be perfect for us, and encouraged us to contact the breeder. We had never had a working line dog before, so we weren't sure. We were also not sure about shipping a puppy all the way across the country that we'd never met, from a breeder that we'd never met. But in the end we decided we wanted her, and she was on a non-stop flight from the East coast to San Francisco a few days later. This was January 2009.
To be honest, I was a little nervous about having a working line puppy, so I basically started immediately and trained the crap out of her, lol! She was 10 weeks old when we got her, I worked with her at home for 3 weeks, and then we went through a variety of classes pretty much back to back until she was around a year old. She excelled, and was the star of her classes.
Finally, I decided I had enough basic obedience on her and it was time to try something fun, like agility or flyball. Agility classes are easy to find, but not flyball, so when I discovered a class not too far away at a convenient day and time, I signed her up. She. Loved. It.
So, I looked for a more advanced class, and found one taught by a local flyball club. Eight and a half months later, she debuted at her first flyball tournament. That tournament was exactly four years ago tomorrow. Halo is currently ranked as the #26 GSD in the North American Flyball Association, out of a total of 340 GSDs that have been registered with the organization. She ran her fastest time a couple of weeks before her 6th birthday, and will get her Onyx award (20,000 total points) at her next tournament. She could be in the top 20 of her breed by the end of the year. Pretty proud of my girl.