Need tips for building drive & confidence - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-18-2008, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Need tips for building drive & confidence

I have a 7 month old GSD that I'm afraid I've done too much obedience and/or correction with and may have affected his drive/confidence.

I'm not sure if his natural drive is low or if I just don't know how to bring it out. Maybe he even has weak nerves???

I've stopped most all obedience and correction to try & get his confidence up.

I really need some help with suggestions for motivating and building drive, confidence & nerves.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-18-2008, 09:35 PM
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Re: Need tips for building drive & confidence

Do you have your pup in obedience classes? You shouldn't stop with the ob, just change it up a bit. Classes are important at his age for socialization and bonding w/you. End every training session on a positive note, and use high value treats or special toys just for training. A keep away game helps build drive, let him win some and in the end you win. Take the high value toy away for the next session, trade it for a yummy treat. Walking with a dog that is confident and sound temperament helps bring that out in a pup that may not be so. Remember that pups go thru fear stages, and managing it correctly is very important. Some GSD's just don't have a strong prey drive. At 7 mos his drive/confidence may still be developing and foundation training is an ongoing thing. I wouldn't expect too much all at once or push him beyond his comfort level.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-18-2008, 09:43 PM
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Re: Need tips for building drive & confidence

Clicker training works great! So does playing games with your dog like chase, 2 toy fetch, etc. 101 things to do with a box!

And I agree with onyx'girl to keep everything positive and reward like crazy. Becoming a treat dispenser during training works well too or, in Rafi's case, using balls!

Is there a positive reinforcement class you can take in your area? Check out this website--

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-20-2008, 05:29 AM
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Re: Need tips for building drive & confidence

Hi, I don't mean to hijack this interesting conversation, but can I ask for some clarification (I'm new to everything concerning dog training)? Too much obedience work can hinder a dog's confidence (if it's not done as you said, with ending with lots of praise/treats/games)?

I know dogs and humans are not the same animal, but as a teacher I can't help but see similarities between species sometimes--when my students are spending a great deal of time of new, hard material, they can get discouraged and develop a bad attitude about class--is this similar to how dogs feel about obedience, too?

Thanks so much for explaining.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-20-2008, 08:54 AM
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Re: Need tips for building drive & confidence

JohnnyB, if you are asking the question in conjunction with Schutzhund trainning, you should post in the Schutzhund section for some specific help in drive development.

To start with, it is fully possible to overdo obedience training in a young pup and squash the drives. I'm with you, stop all obedience training, and focus on having tons of fun! Encourage jumping on you, biting, tugging, chasing, and your pup ALWAYS wins! Make a big deal out of it!

Set your dog up for success! Don't put him in situations where you need voice commands to control him, because if he does not obey, well you have to re-inforce the command, and you are going backwards in developing confidence. All OB work should at this point be for treats treats treats!

To build drive, get a rag, rope, ball on a rope, and have him chase it as you whip it around. Let him catch it, he tugs, he wins! Keep these toys special and he only gets to play with them when you decide. They are not around for him to play with as he pleases, though you can have other toys of lower value laying around the house for him, but never the ones you use to build him up.

Keep the play sessions short, have him catch and win two, three times, then quit while he is still wanting more! Always build him up to a high level of excitement, then quit before his focus/energy starts to lag. Always keep him wanting more. The next time you bring out the speicial toy, he should be dancing in anticipation at playing the game.

Lots of off leash time. Run around with him, roll on the ground with him, develop his stamina and coordination. Take him to a LOT of places, challenge his mind with new environments, new situations, new surfaces to walk on. Always a lot of treats, lots of praise.
Some examples of things to try: Go to horse club, let him see horses close up, walk on grates, climb open stairs, explore playground forts and equipment.

But I really encourage you to post in the Schutzhund section (I believe you were asking about shutzhund in a previous post?), you will get a lot more good stuff.

Lucy, yes, you can shut down a dog and dampen their confidence if you ask too much too soo. OB work is hard problem solving work for them, and it is completely possible to fry their brain if asking too much too soon, and if using a lot of corrections and harshness, or even just a bored or disappointed tone of voice when training.

Like kids, you want to make it fun for them. Easy steps, lots of positive rewards and praise, and they associate all that "hard-work" with having fun.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-20-2008, 09:31 AM
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Re: Need tips for building drive & confidence

Oh, yes they can! If a dog is taught in base to corrections the dog is afraid to try new things, because the odds that he's going to make a mistake and receive one are bigger than to do something right, then the dog prefers to "freeze", to do nothing until requested and the responses are slow, which is for the dog a natural way to such submission. I know no less than three show dogs in the club I participated, trained in base to coercion to will look for every chance to flee from the field and hide under the car. They are obviously not enjoying the training, is a burden sadly not only for them, but also for the owner who prefered to pay USD$1000 to train the dog in a rush to be koerclassed instead of learning how to do properly himself and enjoy the dog in the process... I bet it happens with human children too, parents who enjoy helping their kids with home-works as less as the kids enjoy doing them and in the meantime teaching them that learning is a burden.

The big difference with motivational training is the attitude of the dog about it, a good dog wants to learn, push the handler to ask for something the dog can do and when he does it right hen the dog not only receive a reward, he feels the emotion of doing things right. The dog is not only allowed, but encouraged to try new things and is and stimulating game for the dog. As much as we enjoy resolving a puzzle, a cross word or a sudoku by example, knowing nobody is going to give us money or a chocolate for it, nobody is even going to thanks us! Dogs too can be self-rewarded for resolving an exercise, for figuring out, but we have to tech them that learning is a happy experience as a good teacher will do with his students.

As a said note, correction based training can be done "properly" giving the dog the chance to relieve the tension accumulated, but it wont serve as a confidence booster nor it is for all kind of dogs. If it can be done with some GSDs, its very difficult it will work with a Border Collie.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-20-2008, 04:05 PM
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Re: Need tips for building drive & confidence

If you are working for Schutzhund training, then you may want to post this in that section (and change clubs/classes). Stopping all formal obedience should at least stop making anything any worse.

I'd be working on making myself and the world much more of a fun fun fun place where they are brilliant and doing everything 'right'. Rather than a place where they keep getting corrections and doing things wrong wrong wrong.

Clicker training DEFINITELY would help with this. Just taking a nice puppy/beginner class with tricks and socialization would be great.


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