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!)
EDIT: Here's a picture!