Koehler Method for 9 month old pup? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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Koehler Method for 9 month old pup?

Hi all, I would love to have some advice regarding our new puppy!

Mum and Dad recently bought a handsome sable 8 month old pup (Shadow) who was being bullied by his previous owner's older male dog (hence why they decided it would be best to rehome him). He's from the Czech line and is an absolutely sweetheart - he'd been bought by the previous owners to train as a guard dog but they found he didn't have the right disposition, being such as a sweet and gentle dog. However, he is a big boy - he's going to be 9 months old soon and is around 60lbs!

Mum and Dad have tried to train him, but I suspect he is too intelligent and stubborn to listen to their repeated insistence on "sit, sit sit SIT SIT". He will learn quickly if he sees the need to and is motivated, since I did teach him to play fetch in under half an hour. I used a bag of treats and lots of praise at first, but after he got the hang of it, he fetched simply for the pleasure of having the ball thrown so he could fetch it again!

My parents have been having difficulties getting him to heel; my mum's pretty frail and can't handle his size and strength - she was taking him on a walk once when he spotted a cat and raced after it, causing her to fall on the road. He's a lovely boy otherwise, I know he's only a pup but I think it's important we train him now so as to avoid any future problems - I think it'll only get more difficult as he gets bigger and older and I don't want it to get to that stage. Furthermore, the reality is that if they simply can't handle him, then their options are to either send him for boarded training (which is quite expensive and probably beyond their means) or to rehome him again, so I want to do my best to train him as I know he has the potential to be an absolutely amazing dog!

I've been researching different dog training methods. My parents have tried using the reward-based method which was demonstrated to them by the trainer, but they haven't had much luck with that because he only listens when he knows there's a treat in your hand, which obviously isn't ideal. I came across the Koehler method a few years back, and I think this method might suit him - I particularly like that Koehler treats the dog like a thinking animal who gets to make his own choices, and I think that'll suit Shadow because he's a clever dog and I think he'd respond better to training where he gets to think and make his own decisions? Am I right in this, or should we just continue with the reward-based training?

My parents aren't too keen on the Koehler method - unfortunately, they do see it as being a "harsh" way of training, so it'll be up to me to train him. I've read the book several times, but I'm just a bit nervous - I don't want to mess things up. Do you have any tips? Also, the book needs about 13 weeks to train the dog, but I'll only be visiting my parents for 8 weeks. Would it be possible to condense the training into this period of time? I don't mean leave stuff out, as Koehler was very against that, but say I were to have 2 training sessions per day instead of one - would that work?

On a side note, Shadow started chasing his tail (and peeing like a girl) when he was with the previous owner, and they suspected it was in response to the bullying. Is there any way to train him to stop doing this, or will he eventually grow out of it once he gets his confidence back? (we've only had him for a few weeks, after all!)

Thank you!

EDIT: Here's a picture!

Last edited by PaperclipHearts; 06-08-2016 at 02:09 PM.
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post #2 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 02:53 PM
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You don't need a 'one method' or 'one-sized fits all' training.
Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to train a dog; this is what your parents are attempting to do, but in the meantime, your mother needs to have physical control of your dog. Halti, gentle leader, front hook harness, prong collar, are devices that can help. You or her, would need proper instruction on using a prong collar. Halti's often work quite well, but dogs usually hate them, and can hurt themselves. I haven't tried a front-hook harness, so I can't say, they could try one of those.
Are your parents taking classes? Are they willing to take classes? It should be them training the dog.
I'd be suggesting they take a class that is 'mostly' positive reinforcement with a trainer that puts safety (the dogs and your parents) first, aka 'balanced trainer'.

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post #3 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 02:55 PM
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In my opinion the reward based training methodology is better than any other methodology when it comes to train a dog.

Whatever method you choose, it's up to you but make sure to take one step at a time. I mean if you are teaching a specific command e.g. the "sit" command then wait until your dog is fully trained on that command before jumping to the next one.

Best advice I can give is to make your dog realize that he has to earn his desired behavior. I mean he should be only getting treats, if he is behaving as you want him to. Hope it helps.

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post #4 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 04:39 PM
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No matter how well trained a dog is,if your parents aren't well trained and confident handlers the dog will do as it pleases.The tail chasing must stop immediately!It can quickly become obsessive compulsive behavior.Is he getting plenty of exercise?


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post #5 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 07:36 PM
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Koehler triggers a bad reaction in positive only trainers because he says to do things like hang the dog on a choke chain if it doesn't respond. If you have his book, read it and pull out what is useful, then disregard the rest. I personally don't care for treat training for most tasks, but it works well for simple things like sit and down. It's very distracting for other behaviors and when you don't have treats, your dog may ignore you. I've tried all methods. I prefer a balanced approach, so I use a pinch or training collar when I need it and I use treats when I need them. Now, I've moved away from treats and I use verbal praise, which is all my dog needs.

If you know Koehler and can use it safely, then try it. If I have time, I work my dog 2-3 times a day until his attention starts to wander. 10 minutes at a time is enough. I take months to set a behavior in my dog. With recall, I wait a year before assuming the dog will never ignore a command. Others here have different methods and schedules.

Make sure whatever you use, your parents are comfortable with its since they will be handling him when you leave. Since you are there for a short time, make sure he responds to Sit, Down, Heel without treats by the time you leave. Also Wait at doors, not crowding when they are walking in the house. Get him started on Sit Stay for three minutes and a long Down Stay for ten minutes. Also, teach the Place command. I'm sorry this is not a German Shepherd, I think it's a Rottie Mix but it's the best and most patient teaching of Place I have found.

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post #6 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 07:41 PM
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Here are some different methods. Pick just one and stick with it. These are both treat based. I'm not recommding any one trainer, just showing you options

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post #7 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 08:23 PM
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Koehler... not a fan.

Dogs need leadership, not negative reinforcement.

I do use an ecollar for certain behaviors.. but not before dog knows command.

I do use a properly fit prong collar.

Old enough to remember negative reinforcement techniques, but this is a super intelligent breed and should learn commands quickly. Then repetition, repetition until it's an almost ingrained behavior.

There is no magic or quick fix. Time and consistency - IMHO.

Good luck
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post #8 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 09:05 PM
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Dont use Koehler, it's abusive and out-dated. He has good methods on training a guard dog like the decoy work and setting up environments. But he goes too far in suggesting to hang a dog until he passes out to get him to stop biting you. Use a clicker with positive reinforcements.
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post #9 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-08-2016, 09:18 PM
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Here are some nice videos for place.

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post #10 of 47 (permalink) Old 06-09-2016, 02:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Julian G View Post
Dont use Koehler, it's abusive and out-dated. He has good methods on training a guard dog like the decoy work and setting up environments. But he goes too far in suggesting to hang a dog until he passes out to get him to stop biting you. Use a clicker with positive reinforcements.
Not abusive. The technique you are speaking of is for behavior modification not training, and is not speaking of your puppy biting but addressing the issue of dogs who turn on their handlers in response to being restricted or corrected. Not outdated, still widely used and highly successful.

Now clicker training is in my mind abusive. I am going to give you NO direction and NO foundation and then I am going to sit here and taunt you with something you really want until you accidently do what I want. Then I'm going to do it again, and again, and again. That's cruel.

To the OP, before you use Koehlers method, study it and learn it. There is a whole system to it, each thing leads into the next and lays your foundation. And he was a big believer in homework
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Last edited by Sabis mom; 06-09-2016 at 02:26 AM. Reason: error
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