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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have several training issues to ask about, but I think it makes more sense to post them separately, so sorry there are several topics in a row from me!

I haven’t posted in a while, as my husband had a life-threatening infection and it has been a busy/stressful summer and I’ve been making our GSD stay outside a lot, not training or walking him like he needs, as I’ve been so busy driving to and from hospital, my 4 kids to camp/school/appointments, taking care of my parents’ 2 dogs while they were out of town due to a family death...Oh, and then someone stole my identity and tried to buy stuff online with my name, so I’ve been dealing with that.

Anyway, Siggy is a year old now, and I’m trying to get back to working more with him. The biggest issue I have with him is that he attacks my feet (and sometimes my hands and legs) any time I go up or down the stairs! I don’t know if I’d call it “biting”, as I think of that as an aggressive thing, and I feel more like he’s trying to play or possibly herd me. I have a leash on him always when he’s inside, so I grab his leash and yank it when he lunges at me, but he just keeps lunging. He has done this since he was a puppy, but nothing has worked. He used to do this any time I walked around, but he doesn’t do that as much now, but still does it on the stairs. It is exhausting me. I’ve tried spraying water (worked for a few days, but then ignored it), spraying binanca in his mouth (same as water, plus I’m not such a great aim when he’s moving, and I’ve accidentally sprayed him in the eye a few times. It didn’t seem to bother him, but I felt bad), grabbing his mouth (that’s a fun game to him), saying “ouch!” (worked for a day or two, then he stopped caring or noticing).

Any tips? Anyone else have stairs issues? What’s with the stairs? He can be in another room chewing up the furniture or something, and as soon as I touch the stairs, it’s like he has a sixth sense (hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell, and STAIRS!) and is there in 1.2 seconds, lunging at my ankles. At least he doesn’t have those razor-sharp puppy teeth anymore. Now he leaves bruises, rather than puncture wounds.
 

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Try a prong collar to give that pop correction, or an e-collar if you have experience with one. He’s way too old to be allowed to continue this behavior, not to mention the health risk for you involved if you tumble down the stairs.

Honestly, I push mine to the side with knee bumps to make sure they give me the space I need to get down safely. I have no desire to need hip replacement sooner than I should have to have one.
 

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Have you used a trainer or done any obedience with him? He is too old to have so many bad puppy behaviors. He should not bite you. He should know the foundation exercises perfectly. Either get a private trainer to come to your house and work with you on all these problems or get him into a solid beginning obedience class and work with him every day for ten minutes morning and night. He doesn’t need hours of repetition, he needs to work on each behavior until he knows it. Is he getting any off leash exercise?
 

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Playing and mouthing you on the stairs has become his favorite fun game to entice you to interact with him.One thing to do is keep a baby gate next to the stairway,lean it against the railings to block his access.If he has a sit/stay command that is reliable just have him stay until you are all the up or down,then release.Yet another way is to hold his leash close to his collar and walk slowly with him on the stairs.No talking or interaction,no fun at all.
Sorry for the curveballs that have been thrown your way lately,really sounds tough.GSDs crave the companionship of their families and will repeat whatever gets your attention.
 
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You’re still allowing this behavior at this age? Yikes! I couldn’t imagine my crew doing this if I was walking up or down stairs. Until you figure out the way to correct this, I would use a baby gate ASAP so he is not allowed upstairs with you!
 

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Have you done training with corrections up to this point?

Is the dog clicker/marker trained?

Have you done e-collar training with a professional?

Will the dog heel reliably other places?
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the advice! Weirdly, after I posted this, he walked up the stairs next to me without lunging at my ankles at all! And then he was fine coming back down, too! I figured that was temporary, though, and it was. However, he is suddenly much better about stopping (temporarily) when I say “No!” I just have to repeat when he tries again a few steps later. But, it’s improving, so that’s good. I think just being inside with us more is helping.
To answer your questions: Yes, we took basic obedience training (which I’ve done before with previous dogs, so I am familiar with the process), and then I had a couple of sessions with a local guy who came highly recommended who does one-on-one training. The problem is that he is well-behaved when we’re with the trainer! I did explain the biggest problems I was having at the time, though, and got some tips which helped with those.
No, I’ve never done clicker training. My feeling is that there’s nothing magical about the sound a clicker makes, any consistent sound will work to cue the dog that he did the right thing. “Good dog!” “Super!” “Quomquat” or just clicking with your tongue. But, I’ve never done clicker, so maybe it’s more magical than I think.
As far as heeling, he is good with the gentle leader on a leash. He walks calmly next to me. In the house or yard without a leash, he used to be terrible about nipping, but rarely does that now, except on the stairs. He still nips when he’s excited. We couldn’t interact with him at all for the first couple of months we had him, because he would just go after our hands, feet, elbows, sides, knees, anything he could reach. We worked with trainers and tried everything, and I was beginning to think maybe family pet wasn’t his thing, and he would be better off as a police dog or something, and then one day he let me pet him for a minute, and I knew he could do this and would be a good dog, eventually. Now, as I said, it’s mostly a stairs issue. He has learned to mouth his squeaky toys!
And the last question I remember was walks. He is walked every day. Sometimes only a couple of miles, sometimes 6 or so miles, depending on how much time I have. He is actually a great walker, at least with the gentle leader collar. I can’t tell any difference in his energy level in the house, though, if he is walked a couple of miles, or 6. He just has a lot of energy. He really wants to be good and is very attached to me, especially. He is a sweet dog who loves to give and receive kisses, he is just young and has no impulse control and is easily excited and super mouthy. We actually were told when we adopted him from the SPCA that he was exceptionally mouthy, and we had to sign papers that we would get him trained immediately and would not use any cruel measures (physical violence, tape, etc) to teach him not to bite. Of course, we would never do anything like that.
 

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OP, I'd suggest that you try a couple of things now. In addition to putting up child gates to block his access (one for the top and a second for the bottom), use your departure to teach/practice Sit and Stay/Wait. Given his proclivities, I wouldn't put any faith in what may be simply a 'one off.'

Because what he's been doing is so dangerous, I'd also recommend that, once he's learned Sit/Stay at the top and bottom of the stairs, you move to practicing and proofing those commands without the gates. Once he's learned to Sit/Stay at the top and bottom of the stairs, without the gates, I'd make it a rule that he's never on the stairs with a human. Full stop. Make sure that he knows that he must wait until the human clears the stairs before proceeding. This will take some time, but you're both much safer this way.
 

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Replies in bold below.

To answer your questions: Yes, we took basic obedience training (which I’ve done before with previous dogs, so I am familiar with the process), and then I had a couple of sessions with a local guy who came highly recommended who does one-on-one training. The problem is that he is well-behaved when we’re with the trainer! I did explain the biggest problems I was having at the time, though, and got some tips which helped with those.

What type of training? Correction collar? E-Collar? Does he have a solid PLACE command?

No, I’ve never done clicker training. My feeling is that there’s nothing magical about the sound a clicker makes, any consistent sound will work to cue the dog that he did the right thing. “Good dog!” “Super!” “Quomquat” or just clicking with your tongue. But, I’ve never done clicker, so maybe it’s more magical than I think.

There is nothing magic about a clicker. In scientific terms it is a terminal bridge that signifies to the dog that a reward is coming. The big difference in using a terminal bridge such as a marker word or clicker is that you pinpoint the exact behavior you are rewarding instead of leaving it to the dog to generalize when it's getting rewards and figure it out on their own. You can certainly use a word, such as YES as a marker, but to be really effective it needs to be consistent.

As far as heeling, he is good with the gentle leader on a leash. He walks calmly next to me. In the house or yard without a leash, he used to be terrible about nipping, but rarely does that now, except on the stairs. He still nips when he’s excited. We couldn’t interact with him at all for the first couple of months we had him, because he would just go after our hands, feet, elbows, sides, knees, anything he could reach. We worked with trainers and tried everything, and I was beginning to think maybe family pet wasn’t his thing, and he would be better off as a police dog or something, and then one day he let me pet him for a minute, and I knew he could do this and would be a good dog, eventually. Now, as I said, it’s mostly a stairs issue. He has learned to mouth his squeaky toys!

And the last question I remember was walks. He is walked every day. Sometimes only a couple of miles, sometimes 6 or so miles, depending on how much time I have. He is actually a great walker, at least with the gentle leader collar. I can’t tell any difference in his energy level in the house, though, if he is walked a couple of miles, or 6. He just has a lot of energy. He really wants to be good and is very attached to me, especially. He is a sweet dog who loves to give and receive kisses, he is just young and has no impulse control and is easily excited and super mouthy. We actually were told when we adopted him from the SPCA that he was exceptionally mouthy, and we had to sign papers that we would get him trained immediately and would not use any cruel measures (physical violence, tape, etc) to teach him not to bite. Of course, we would never do anything like that.
 

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Unacceptable and needs to be stopped.

But my question is why the stairs? Outside stairs going into the house? Or inside stairs going to bedrooms?

I am curious about why the stairs trigger this response.
 

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Jupiter at 10 months has a weird "danger zone" like that. It's actually our upstairs hallway, but the issue only happens in several situations. One, before lunch, two when he knows I intend to crate him in my room, three sometimes before bed when he doesn't want to. He'll get nippy before lunch in that hallway. In the other scenario, he'll run underneath this desk in the hallway and look out at me. If I try to grab him, he'll nip.
 

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@CactusWren, I permit certain expressions of displeasure but NOT nipping. Nipping can lead to biting, biting leads to injuries. I'd stop it now; he's too old for this nonsense. First thing, I'd put and keep a drag line on him in the house until I've extinguished the behavior completely. With a drag line, you can reel him in when he gets fussy. Second, up your obedience training immediately. Work on recalls in the house, outside, at big box stores, everywhere. Treat and praise lavishly when he comes, reel him in when he doesn't. Multiple short sessions daily are the most effective, I find.
 
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