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I've been reading this forum for a long time but finally decided to join and post because I'm having trouble on one aspect of training with my gsd--and that is listening through distraction.

First of all he's almost 5 months old, and I've had him since he was 5 weeks. I feel like he's a great animal, learns fast, listens to commands quickly and accurately--when at home, or when calmed down. To give you an idea of where we're at: he can sit, down, speak, stay, stay and sit at a distance, sit and down at a distance, stay for up to 50 yds (as far as I've tried yet) and come when called. He can do all of these in english, german, and hand signals. From what I've read I think he's at a very good pace for his age.

My biggest problem with him is meeting and greeting new people. I go to school and live in downtown Lexington so he has been socialized since day one, sees people walking everyday, goes to all my buddies houses, etc. The issue is his OVER excitement. As soon as a new person walks in the door he goes crazy--not jumping on them but just running around wanting attention, jumping up and down--after about 5 mins this subsides and he's fine until someone else walks in! Also, when on walks, if someone walks by with another dog or something its the same thing and no matter what I say its as if I'm not even there.

He also has an extremely strong prey drive, so being in a campus town theres a lot of "friendly squirrels" and when walking he will spot one and pull and pull at it regardless of his choke collar...this does not impede him what-so-ever. He walks well on a leash, right beside me as long as nothing is really going on.

What can I do encourage him to listen to just me when there's so much going on? If possible I would like to avoid using treats--I'm all for positive reinforcement but I prefer the attention and approval he gets from me to be the reinforcement. I trained all of the above without treats so, if there's a way to do this without a pocket full of treats I'm all ears.

*as a side note, he is not dog aggressive BUT when another dog walks by or is around his "territory" it's the same reaction in that he will not listen to me.

I HATE that all of his training has to be done inside or at night in the empty lot beside my house because I know he won't listen when there's so much going on during the day. Please help!!
 

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What can I do encourage him to listen to just me when there's so much going on? If possible I would like to avoid using treats--I'm all for positive reinforcement but I prefer the attention and approval he gets from me to be the reinforcement. I trained all of the above without treats so, if there's a way to do this without a pocket full of treats I'm all ears.
If you're really dead set against treats, buy him a new toy that he loves, loves, loves and only use it as a distraction/reward when you're training him in public. (a tug will work if he likes them)

The object is make you more interesting than the world around him but a little persuasion with toys or treats helps to get the ball rolling.
 

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I HATE that all of his training has to be done inside or at night in the empty lot beside my house because I know he won't listen when there's so much going on during the day. Please help!!
Sorry missed this part of your post.
You can't train a dog to be calm in public if you don't train him around distractions. :) Just joining a class for obedience would help alot.

If that's not something you want to do, put him on a leash, grab the toy and start working him where there are people. They don't have to be close, just in the general area. As he pays more and more attention to you, move closer to the people. Grassy area at the grocery store parking lot, outside the fenced area of a local park etc.
 

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maybe you are expecting to much "discipline" from a 5mth old puppy:)

I agree with using a toy if you don't want to use treats, I also think working with distractions, you have to start out with low level distractions, and build up to the really enticing ones:)

Keep in mind he's only 5mths old, he sounds like a happy social boy who has alot of enthusiasm, at 5mths, your ahead of the game with the things he 'does', but at this age, they sometimes still have the attention span of a gnat.
 

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He's a puppy. He's a puppy. He's a puppy.

German Shepherds can fool us because they're so smart. They learn stuff so fast, that we think they should be able to accomplish pretty much everything.

But your little guy still has puppy brain. Keep working at a distance. Don't rush it. The more successful he is at being proofed on distractions from a distance, then as you approach sssslllloooowwwwllly (maybe 6" every few days, or every week), he'll be able to handle it.

All he's learning right now is that it's fun to be really excited when there are lots of really exciting things going on. That's cool for him. But you're kind of training him exactly what you DON'T want to be training him. Back off. Take it easy. Let him sit far away, watch everything, absorb the world at his pace. Then scoot a tiny bit closer next time.... He'll get it. He's just a little guy.

BTW, he'll also be better able to tolerate other dogs if he learns to watch them from a distance too. Once they're safe from a distance, he can continue watching them. Tomorrow, he sees them from a bit closer distance, and he's still safe. He's not "territorial." You're seeing leash reactivity which is fear aggression (he's not really "aggressive," but it could become that in time). Let him work it out from a safe distance. It's called counter conditioning. You can google that term and find lots of good info on how to do it. :)

And just my perspective, but 5 months old is pretty young for a prong... he should be finding that everything in life is safe, that you keep him safe. If he's corrected every time he exuberantly bounds toward something interesting, that's not the message you want to send. There is a time and place for prong collars for some (many?) GSDs. But your little guy is pretty young.

A no-pull harness would likely be better. Check out Sense-ation or (my favorite) Freedom No-Pull harnesses. Much easier on young necks and backs too. :)
 

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Hey thanks for the info so far guys, lots of good stuff.

He absolutely loves his toys: ball, rope, stuffed animal, anything he can play with he's all about so, taking something like that along is a good idea, i dont know why i didnt think of that myself :crazy:

And yes i realize it sounds like i'm asking a lot from such a young guy but he thoroughly enjoys learning/training, so as long as its fun for him i continue to press to new things, for the mental exercise more than anything.

I do plan to start schutzhund in the future so i want to be really careful to not eliminate his prey drive with corrections, so the choke collar is rarely used and is more for my girlfriend to walk him than for me...he can pull her around pretty good already (and btw it is just a common chain choker, not a prong collar.)

but so far i think i was jumping the gun wanting him to be obedient off leash in high traffic people/dog areas, and so it didnt really cross my mind to work on dealing with distractions while he's on his leash--just out in the middle of the lot because there are tons of people and bikes at all hours.

sooooo, you all provided me with ideas about working in public, but what about getting him to properly MEET new people, i know he is absolutely bursting with excitement but i cant have him acting crazy in someone elses house every time someone new shows up :confused:. like i said after a couple minutes he's just as obedient as he is at home, but for the first few moments what should i do to calm him...toys again? i guess here would be the time to break out treats if i must...
 

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Try to be open to the treats idea. It will make your training a lot easier and more pleasant for the dog. Treats can be phased out over time if you like and the dog's training remains. As far as greeting people - get the dog settled and calm before you let people in the door. Sometimes it takes a few minutes. Don't feed the dogs excitement or let visitors do it. Everyone stays calm and ignores the dog if necessary. Only pet the dog or give him a treat if he is calm. Be patient. It will only be another 1 1/2 yrs or so til the puppy nuttiness goes away.
 

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Try to be open to the treats idea. It will make your training a lot easier and more pleasant for the dog. Treats can be phased out over time if you like and the dog's training remains. As far as greeting people - get the dog settled and calm before you let people in the door. Sometimes it takes a few minutes. Don't feed the dogs excitement or let visitors do it. Everyone stays calm and ignores the dog if necessary. Only pet the dog or give him a treat if he is calm. Be patient. It will only be another 1 1/2 yrs or so til the puppy nuttiness goes away.[/QUOTE

Haha, easier said than done...somethin about guys and puppies that aren't their own--they love to get them wound up out of control. But yes I will try treats for this and see how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
whoop didn't quite quote that properly, sorry...still getting use to these forums.
 
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