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Willow is my first German Shepherd. She is not registered but I have been given the information on her sire and dam. Her breeder had sold her to the family I work for and the wife determined she is not fit to handle the pup nor willing to commit to training her. She was often kept kenneled or in the back yard so I have to tell you, I was thrilled to get this girl home knowing what she's capable of and knowing that I have plenty of time to invest in her. After having a German Shepherd mutt in the past, I have respected the breed for a very long time and have always had the intention of raising one...eventually.

I am here because I am beginning to see where I lack in understanding when it comes to training. My most recent training experience is with my 2 year old Labrador that I acquired when she was 8 weeks old. We were able to lay the ideal foundation for learning and the Lab was an absolute people-pleaser.
Imagine my surprise now that I have an easily-distracted five-month old puppy that seems downright unmotivated. Her focus and attention is a short burst of a miracle; I have yet to determine when to expect it so that I can capitalize on it. Feed her first, or no? First thing in the morning, or after a good walk? Do I give her some free time with the Labrador first, or not? I am also enjoying the perks of having barn cats that need rounded up and put in the house before we begin.... They'll be perfect distractions later on but I need to get her to connect and stay focused.


So that's my life story, just a girl with a new puppy that should have had a better start.
Any tips or insight on what I should expect from her at this age would be so so appreciated. And I will take whatever information you have on the mind and trainability of a GSD would be so appreciated.
Thanks for spending the day reading this!
-A
 

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Gorgeous puppy! Congratulations!

Maybe have her work for all meals? You can put her daily ration in a ziplock and have her earn it throughout the day by doing various obedience. That’s a really fast way to build focus on you.

I’m also a big fan of the leashes that can be used as waist leash so that you can keep a puppy with you during the day. This will teach her to stay with you and also prevent her from accidentally getting reinforced by the environment.

You could also get a few of the coated wire short thethers to keep her tethered in various rooms (easier than setting up multiple crates). Here’s a website that I’ve purchased good puppy indoor tethers from before https://baddogsinc.com/product-category/pet-tethers/

I know a lot of people feel differently about this, but I don’t let puppies play with my older dogs until I think their focus on me is where I want it to be. I do play with them a lot with balls and tugs and other engagement games that strengthen their relationship with me.

Outside in your yard, I’d keep her on a long line until her recall is solid.

Basically no free roaming until she’s at least got some of her basics down and her focus goes up.

Good luck with her! She’s a cutie. I hope you’ll keep us posted :)
 

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Gorgeous puppy! Congratulations!

Maybe have her work for all meals? You can put her daily ration in a ziplock and have her earn it throughout the day by doing various obedience. That’s a really fast way to build focus on you.

I’m also a big fan of the leashes that can be used as waist leash so that you can keep a puppy with you during the day. This will teach her to stay with you and also prevent her from accidentally getting reinforced by the environment.

You could also get a few of the coated wire short thethers to keep her tethered in various rooms (easier than setting up multiple crates). Here’s a website that I’ve purchased good puppy indoor tethers from before
I know a lot of people feel differently about this, but I don’t let puppies play with my older dogs until I think their focus on me is where I want it to be. I do play with them a lot with balls and tugs and other engagement games that strengthen their relationship with me.

Outside in your yard, I’d keep her on a long line until her recall is solid.

Basically no free roaming until she’s at least got some of her basics down and her focus goes up.

Good luck with her! She’s a cutie. I hope you’ll keep us posted :)



Thank you!
These are awesome points. I have decided that being off leash outside just isn't working yet so that has definitely been implemented.
I think I will try out the waist-leash idea as well. She has a knack for following me from room to room so perhaps I should reward that more and pay better attention when she is naturally doing what she ought.
And I'm seeing your logic in not allowing her to play with the other dogs until it is better established that she focus on me and not the dogs. She is obsessed with my Labrador and when we are all outside together she stays right at her side.... where she should be for me.
Ok. Good point. Thank you so much!
 

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A little update. My relationship with Willow has improved significantly. I get the impression that because she was a bit difficult for her previous owners, she was expected to just be quiet and keep to herself. She didn't really understand why I wanted her attention and why she wasn't allowed to entertain herself. She was a very good "velcro dog" from the beginning, if you consider morosely following me from room to room and flopping down in boredom "velcro." But she didn't know how to respond when engaged with. It was hard finding ways to play with her, as if toys had no thrill. Until... she discovered... the tennis ball! No tugs, no ropes, no frisbees, only that tennis ball because it keeps bouncing and running away from her.

This was excellent because I read somewhere else on this site that "prey drive" cannot often be deterred with food. Prey drive is best combated with PLAY drive. And voila, I can get her focus away from cats and other dogs. We started in the hallway where she was forced to return to me each time she chased it and is improving daily on bringing it to me and dropping it at my feet. Just the other day I nearly flipped out in excitement. She was stalking a cat and happened to see the ball near by, I must have said her name in a "play time" voice because the moment I spoke she spun around with utmost attention and the most serious business face I have ever seen!

I finally feel like she actually WANTS to keep her attention on me. She has successfully ignored my visiting cousin's coming and going, when he arrived his dog was hanging out of the car barking and as soon as she could hear me over the chaos, she listened and came right in the house.
Ok, well, I could keep going on and on so I better wrap this up.
I am so grateful for this website, and all the discussions. In just 2 months I feel like Willow is a success story. As I type this she is sleeping at my feet and I am not stirring with frustration and worry that I am going to fail this dog.
Thanks for reading!
 

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you guys are gonna be fine...once bonded, everything gets easier, and from the sounds of it, you're fast tracking it. At around 3 weeks in, once she's sure she's home, expect some boundary probing, and general clowning you may not have seen before.
 
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