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I would like to throw this out to everyone and get their feedback on this. For all of us that don't have GSDs with high drives but are interested in learning about them.

How do you deal with/control your working line GSD?

What do you do that calms/relaxes him/her down and so forth?

How can the owners of low/med drive GSDs instill a ball drive into our dogs?

Give as much info as possible. Thanks for your time..
 

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Originally Posted By: Michael101I would like to throw this out to everyone and get their feedback on this. For all of us that don't have GSDs with high drives but are interested in learning about them.

How do you deal with/control your working line GSD?
Same as everyone else... training.


The thing with working line dogs is that they are highly trainable, not just from the intelligence/want to please standpoint but also from the motivation standpoint. When a dog will do *anything* for a ball, he comes to the table with a built in way to motivate, reward and correct. Obedience earns the ball, disobedience doesn't. Granted, as with any dog, reliable training will involve some form or correction at some point. But the vast majority of the training is easily accomplished through motivation... something that is much harder to do with a dog who isn't easy to motivate. So that first hurdle to motivational training really isn't an issue with a high drive dog.


Originally Posted By: Michael101
What do you do that calms/relaxes him/her down and so forth?
I don't do anything. Nor have I ever had the need to. A good dog, regarless of drive level, has an "off" switch. They know when being energetic and drivey is appropriate, and when it is not.

Of course, physical exercise and mental stimulation are needed for any dog to keep it from going stir crazy. This is more true of GSDs than many other breeds, and most true of the working GSDs. So they get regular training, lots of exercise running in the yard with one another, swimming in the pond, taking walks, playing ball and frisbee.

If given those things, having them settle easily in the house for an evening spent on the sofa isn't a problem at all.

Originally Posted By: Michael101
How can the owners of low/med drive GSDs instill a ball drive into our dogs?
You can't put into a dog something that isn't there genetically. There is no way to make a low drive dog into a high drive dog.

What you can do is maximize whatever drive level the dog has naturally, and teach the dog to express that drive to the fullest extent possible. This can give the appearance of instilling drive, when a lower drive dog starts showing more drive, but that's not what's happening. You're not adding drive to the dog, just teaching him to use every last ounce of what nature put there. But turning him into a high drive dog isn't going to happen because he doesn't have the genetics for it.
 

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Chris has given wonderful explanations. The only thing I can add would be in regards to...

Originally Posted By: Michael101What do you do that calms/relaxes him/her down and so forth?
My male Diesel is a high drive working line male. He was 3.5 years old when he came to live with me. He did not have any real "off switch". He is a rather "exciteable" dog to begin with, and this was magnified with the fact that he was kenneled/crated unless being exercised/socialized by his prior owner. The end result was that whenever he was out it was all about him. He never learned how to just "co-exist" with humans in regular life (expecially downtime). How much of this behavior is genetics and how much is environmental I am still learning, but he has come a long way. Proper interaction with a dog like this is key. Calm voice, slow soothing strokes and 100% consistency helps a lot, as does exercise but that's no secret.
 

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Another key is being clear and consistent to the dogs what the expectations are.

One of the rules we live by is no rough-housing or playing in the house. They can chew toys, squeak toys, play a sedate game of tug, but that's it. We never engage in rambunctious play with them indoors, and if they start to do so with one another, trying to initiate a game of chase or a wrestling match, we step in and tell them to knock it off. That sort of play is allowed outside, not inside. Since it's been that way from day one with them, they've learned that the house is the calm, relaxed place, not romper room. And by managing the situation we've helped the them to build the habits and house manners we want them to have.

Another key is reflecting with our own attitude and behavior what we want to see out of the dog. If the people are uptight, excited, running around... so will the dog be. If they are calm, soothing, relaxed, so will the dog be. Obviously, this would be harder to accomplish with kids (which we don't have) running around. But I think (supposedly) kids are trainable too and I think having the house as a calm place for both dogs and kids is a good idea.
 

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I also forgot to go into shaping behavior. Many many nights spent ignoring Diesel when he would get overloaded and start demanding attention. Only acknowledging his existence when he gathered himself and sat calmly in front of me and rewarding that with calm praise and petting did wonders.
 

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Originally Posted By: Chris WildAnother key is being clear and consistent to the dogs what the expectations are.

One of the rules we live by is no rough-housing or playing in the house. They can chew toys, squeak toys, play a sedate game of tug, but that's it. We never engage in rambunctious play with them indoors, and if they start to do so with one another, trying to initiate a game of chase or a wrestling match, we step in and tell them to knock it off. That sort of play is allowed outside, not inside. Since it's been that way from day one with them, they've learned that the house is the calm, relaxed place, not romper room. And by managing the situation we've helped the them to build the habits and house manners we want them to have.

That is how it is at my house too. OUTSIDE is for playing "rowdy" games. They are NOT allowed inside.
 

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Since my dog was a 9 week old puppy, I reward with petting, lots of eye contact, praise-- ANY calm behavior in or out of the house. Did he sit and think about what I am doing with his toy? He gets his toy tossed to him! Did he flop at my feet in the midst of activity indoors? >He gets eyecontact, soothing praise. (some dogs just get hyped again by petting... judge your own dog's reactions) Instill calm by rewarding all quieted behaviors. All moments of self-control as the dog matures, earn praise, or petting, food reward or toy... or just eye contact. Do what keeps the dog in that calm state.

Disregard the above advice if you want the dog to earn points for you on the trial field-- I manage my workingline dog as a companion and not as a sportdog.

Ps-- For a manegement standpoint, don't forget lots of excersise to allow the dog to be able to settle indoors. This means ball throwing and leash walks, instead of just letting a dog out into the yard to excersise himself.
 

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Quote: If the people are uptight, excited, running around... so will the dog be. If they are calm, soothing, relaxed, so will the dog be. Obviously, this would be harder to accomplish with kids (which we don't have) running around. But I think (supposedly) kids are trainable too and I think having the house as a calm place for both dogs and kids is a good idea.
At times my house can be quite chaotic w/kids running in and out and throughout.. My dogs still know how to settle and ignore them.. Now if they're outside in the yard that's a different story.. The dogs will run along with them trying to initiate some sort of ball chasing game..

Chase and Chaos are about as high drive as they come and both do extremely well in settling inside..

I also do what Chris does and do not allow the dogs to rough house or wrestling inside.. That's a complete no-no..
 

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One of the rules we live by is no rough-housing or playing in the house. They can chew toys, squeak toys, play a sedate game of tug, but that's it.

If I may jump in with a question, Chris: would you consider it normal, for working line dogs to always be busy, chewing on a toy, ball consistently? Just wondering. The two GSD's (both Sch3) I know of and care for occasionally are kept out during the day (with their huge indestructable balls they always have in their mouth, trotting up and down the yard), stay in at night, but they never stop chewing (chew bones, kongs). The male can hardly even hold a down stay for more then a couple seconds before he has to move again. The female does lay down, but is always busy chewing something too.
It would make me crazy if I had to life with such restless dogs. It's like there's this unstoppable force living inside of them that keeps them from ever resting (just the impression I have).
Just knowing those dogs makes me very cautious of ever owning a working line. Are they all like this??
 

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Mädchen-- Nope. Know that puppy chewing/nipping/biting thing? Grimm never did that. Never chewed on me or anything else that wasn't a toy. He comes in the house, and ker-flops on the carpet. He harrumphs a big sigh. Will he play with a ball? Loves it!! Yes!! When offlead outdoors, he gallumps and streaks about for 3 minutes max, then finds a stick to play with and settles right down. Indoors he is never restless. He never paces.
 

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Maedchen, I think there is a difference in high drive and high energy. I have had some pretty drivey dogs, but you give them enough excercise and mental stimulation and they will settle down nicely. High energy or nervous energy where the dog has to be doing something isn't in my book high drive or it could be that the dog doesn't have enough nerve to be able to control the drives and settle down.

My first GSD as a young dog had two speeds all out and flat sleeping, there was no inbetween. But as I worked with him to develop some focus and used tugs or ball playing as a reward for giving me a little longer sit or down then things got better. I taught him in drive what I wanted, then it was easier to get the longer sits and downs. I always combine play with training.
 

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What Val said! We see so often in the rescue section that someone reports a non-stop dog "who needs a job-- would be great for SAR, K9, etc".. but the dog may have no drive or weak nerves. Just a zippy energy level.

One thing I kept repeating to my breeder before I got my workinglines puppy, was "Low-medium energy level, can be calm in the house." That's what I got. No pacing.

Another issue: I have a friend with a nice, stable, medium energy workinglines female-- but she bounces off the walls and can never settle. She was raised to constantly be hyped up, only interacted with in rough play. She is a competition sport dog. Wild, hyped-up behavior was heavily reinforced. But naturally, she is an easygoing dog-- you can read it in her eyes and in some interactions.
 

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Maedchen,
I am by no means an expert, but what you described sounds to me as these two dogs were never taught to settle. If they always can be out and about with their toys and never been taught when it is time for exercise and when it is downtime, I think this will be the result. Just my own perception!
I have a W. German showline-american male, that LOVES to be outdoors and play or go for walks, or do anything outdoors. He has always been the one to immadiately get up and go to the door if someone gets up off of the couch. He is always thinking of the opportunity to go outside. WE taught him the command "relax" which means to lay down and just chill.
My working line female is still a puppy, so she is always on the go, but can relax with her bone for a little while. Her resting place is still her crate and she does fine just chilling in there without anythign to chew on!
 

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Originally Posted By: Maedchenwould you consider it normal, for working line dogs to always be busy, chewing on a toy, ball consistently? Just wondering. The two GSD's (both Sch3) I know of and care for occasionally are kept out during the day (with their huge indestructable balls they always have in their mouth, trotting up and down the yard), stay in at night, but they never stop chewing (chew bones, kongs). The male can hardly even hold a down stay for more then a couple seconds before he has to move again. The female does lay down, but is always busy chewing something too.
I'm not Chris, but I can tell you this is not a "working line" thing. That is an individual dog and handler thing. Even my Diesel is learning to settle in the house, and rarely chews to relieve stress. My female is literally a couch potato in the house. Now, if I did not work Diesel for a week he would be no fun to live with.
 

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That is an individual dog and handler thing.

So it wouldn't neccessarily have to do with their breeding, but foremost their upbringing? That's interesting. The female is 10yrs, the male 8 I think, so they're not puppies anymore
 

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Mädchen actually, both is true. Some workingline dogs are geneticly more zippy and restless and high octane than others. Some are relaxed and even couch-spud-like. But, training and upbringing can either guide a dog into settling him/herself even under stress, or, can prevent a dog from knowing how to settle him/herself. I know a man with a young workinglines male pup intended for high-level competition. The pup is constantly being hyped up by his owner. Even a calm look from the pup towards the owner causes the owner to jump at the pup in boisterous, wild play to elicit a dramatic response. Even at age 10 years, this dog will still have hardwired into his neural pathways, responding with craziness. Geneticly he is a somewhat active, somewhat high drive dog... who will be kept in an extreme state when interacting with, or wanting to interact with, anybody in his world. Important to the handler is that he can keep the dog hyped enough to show the gang at the club that his dog has "drive out the wazoo."

I think genetics and environment both play a role. Calm workingline dogs who can self-settle are genetic, as well as handled to be that way... as are the more active, restless dogs.
 

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Quote:How do you deal with/control your working line GSD?
Exercise. Exercise. Training. Exercise. If I don't actively run Tazer at least twice a day (preferably 3-4 times) then it's very hard for her to settle down and relax. After a good tongue-hanging-out play session, she will then go into her pen and lay down for a nap. And the training is important. If I don't show her what to do, and show her repetitively with the proper reinforcement, she will decide on her own what to do and that isn't always a good thing .. *L* .. dogs with working minds need to have those working minds shaped into the right direction.

Quote:What do you do that calms/relaxes him/her down and so forth?
The exercise is imperative, but I also do specific "calm" exercises with her. For example, from the time she was a puppy we practiced what I call "snuggle puppy" (I know, silly name, but it works for us). I would put my hands around her ribcage, pick her up and then lay back across the bed with her on my chest. I'd stroke her stomach and back and use a very calm voice, and tell her "eaaasssy ... relax ... snuggle time .. " and she had to lay there quietly. At first she would struggle a bit and I'd tell her "eh eh - be calm" in a very soft voice. It didn't take long before she'd relax and allow this. We still do it, even though she's a year old and MUCH bigger. I want her to understand that there are times when I expect her to hold still. I've transferred this now to other situations, such as laying still for an exam or an x-ray. I can put her up on a table and tell her "eaaasy .. be calm" and she will lay quietly while I check her over and stretch out her legs and roll her on her side. Of course, as soon as I say "okay" she leaps off and is back to her normal over-active self.

I think these types of calming exercises are extremely important when you have a high-energy or high-drive dog. When Trick was a pup, I taught her to put her chin on my knee and keep it there. It was the only way to get her to hold still as a pup. When she learned that putting her chin on my knee earned a treat, she would frequently come to me, put her chin down, and then just wait for as long as it took. Eventually I transferred that behavior to putting her chin in my hand on command, or laying it on the bed, etc. It's her calming behavior and she still does it at 12 years of age.

Quote:How can the owners of low/med drive GSDs instill a ball drive into our dogs?
Well, all of my GSD's have had a good ball drive so that's not been an issue with the GSD's. But I've taught a couple of chows to retrieve and to want to bring me things. With them it's a matter of teaching them that chasing/retrieving/tugging ALWAYS results in them getting something they want. After awhile, the chasing/retrieving/tugging becomes rewarding in itself to a certain extent. It's difficult with dogs that have little natural retrieving instinct, but if you can do it with a non-retriever than proper reinforcement with a dog that has SOME retrieving instinct should provide some pretty good results.

Melanie and the gang in Alaska
 

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Originally Posted By: MaedchenSo it wouldn't neccessarily have to do with their breeding, but foremost their upbringing?
Like Patti said, it's both. Some dogs have trouble settling, but that can either be helped or hurt by the handler.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wow..thank you all for your input. I hope this helps others with working line gsd's and give insight to those who had no idea about them.
 

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Maedchen -

My Caesar ALWAYS has either a ball or bone in his mouth. It's like his security blanket. He carries it with him, drops it for tasks, and then picks it back up and goes about his business. He falls asleep with it sometimes. He has incredible ball drive and will do anything for a ball - which is excellent. He's easier to train than Brutus (who has food drive). BUT, we have a "no ball in the house" policy and they know it. They aren't allowed in the house until the ball is out of the mouth. It's how we establish he needs to be calm and settled indoors. Inside he picks up a bone, and finds a nice place to chill out. He'll bring his bone to you for different things. It's calm though. I could see Caesar being neurotic with stuff if I didn't make rules...and he's walked, and trained, and exercised a lot! He's polar opposite of his littermate brother.

It sounds like no one is forcing the off switch with those two??
 
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