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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I'm a new GSD owner and my baby boy is now almost 19 weeks old. I love him very much but recently he has gotten so hard to deal with it has become so frustrating to my husband and I.

My husband works full time and so it is mostly me who walks our boy, Oakie. I walk him twice a day for an hour each time along the many trails in our area.

So here is the behaviour, recently he has begun lunging and biting at strangers when we pass them. He has nipped a few people becuase I have been unable to restrain him fully (he is big at 46 pounds and I'm a small woman). To fully restrain him so he does not lunge or jump I have to squat down and hold on to the harness we have on him.

Problem is, is that if I do that he suddenly will start squirming and whining and barking loudly, twisting as much as he can so he can get his head around and clamp onto my arms and hands. He leaves bruises all over my arms and legs and has broken the skin on my hands twice now, it's very painful.

He does this also if I try to restrain him from chasing bikes, cars, squirrels, and rushing to other dogs. It feels like any time I try to stop him from doing something he wants to do it becomes a match between my hands and his teeth where he does anything to get me to let go.

I know he's young and has a lot to learn but I'm coming to my wits end with his biting and scaring other people. We are starting puppy classes this week but any help from here would be so greatly appreciated, at least to know that it's normal behaviour or how any of you veteran GSD owners have handled something like this.

We have a few other "problems" that are coming to light with him but for now help with this would be amazing.

Thank you in advance!
 

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Has he had any training at all? What does a day in your puppy's life look like?

Often, training obedience that may seem totally unrelated will help resolve issues like this. You need to develop a dialog with your puppy! Challenge her mentally, not physically! And, if it were me, I'd lose the harness - which are made for pulling, and get him a good collar that he can't slip out of easily, like a martingale.
 
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Also is this a standard puppy class? Have you talked to the trainer are they familiar with GSD? Do they know about your current issues?

My trainer is very familiar with GSD puppies and only has 4 or 5 to a class. She meets each dog first and then groups in classes with similar drives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Has he had any training at all? What does a day in your puppy's life look like?

Often, training obedience that may seem totally unrelated will help resolve issues like this. You need to develop a dialog with your puppy! Challenge her mentally, not physically! And, if it were me, I'd lose the harness - which are made for pulling, and get him a good collar that he can't slip out of easily, like a martingale.
He has only had at home training. He knows how to sit and lay down, he can wait for toys, treats, to go outside, and other things for 30+ seconds. He knows the drop and leave it command, and come. Although his "come" has gotten less reliable too this past few weeks.

A regular day for us is he has breakfast at 0700, before my husband goes to work. And usually my husband plays with him or they sit together while my husband has his coffee for about an hour before he goes to work. Then he is in his kennel until about 9:30 when I wake up and between 9:30 and 10:30 we are out for our first walk. We walk for an hour and then come home and he has his lunch at 11:30.

After that he naps for about an hour and a half to two hours. Then when he gets up at around 2 or 2:30 we go out for another walk for another hour. Sometimes I'll fit in an extra half hour of walking him around the town, places with not too much traffic but so he can see new things and hear new sounds. Then it is back home and he is back in his kennel as I clean the house. My husband comes home within an hour of us getting back usually and Oakie is let out of his kennel and joins us for making dinner, watching tv, or if we have errands he comes with us. Basically in the evening he is out of his kennel from 4-8 when he goes to bed.

😊 I was using a regular leather collar on him before but I met another GSD owner in my town who says he has had the breed for 15 years and he noticed my dog pulled alot and was jerking on the leash so he suggested the harness with the clip at the front. We still have his regular collar but I find that his pulling isnt near as frantic or as hard as it used to be. I was afraid of him hurting his throat becuase he was constantly pulling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Also is this a standard puppy class? Have you talked to the trainer are they familiar with GSD? Do they know about your current issues?

My trainer is very familiar with GSD puppies and only has 4 or 5 to a class. She meets each dog first and then groups in classes with similar drives.

It is just a standard class. She is the only professional trainer in my town that I have found. I live in Powell River, so there is no access to any other town unless I take a ferry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Find a professional trainer, where are you located.
Powell River, British Columbia. It's a small town, and only accessible by ferry. There is only one trainer that I have found here who works at the Pet Valu we have but I dont know her experiance with dogs. But i dont have very many options... :(
 

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You are in over your head, trust me. I find it helps to stop thinking of a young dog in weeks by now, he's nearly 5 months and can do serious damage as an undisciplined young dog. Hopefully this Pet Value trainer is good because you need help imo.

One comment though, it appears your pup is crated for bed at 8:00, let out at 7:00 am 11 hours later (I hope being taken out to do her business was unintentionally omitted), hangs out with your husband and then 8:00 back in the crate until 9:30-10:30 when you get up for the first walk. Are you a shift worker? This seems like a whack too much crate time and I bet your dog is a huge pile of pent up energy regardless of getting two hours of walks which is basically just stretching his legs for a 5 month old dog.
 

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One of the best things I've ever heard about dog training is this: Reward the behaviors you want to see and stop giving attention to the ones you do not want to see (this includes negative attention... because negative attention is still attention).

Set him up for success.
Don't do walks where he will fail. For example, start walking in areas where there aren't a lot of people, and work up to more people with time. He needs to learn to walk on a leash and not pull you. You can get a harness that will help with this in the meantime until you can get him trained to not pull. The word I use with my dog for not pulling is "easy" it always helped when we were going down a hill especially I didn't want her to pull me down a steep hill. Also, having your dog know heel is important. When you go by strangers you can keep his mind busy with a heel. He cannot both be lunging at strangers and be heeling at the same time.

If you are a new dog owner, you will need the help of a trainer. Make sure to find one that is reputable in your area.

Remember he is a dog, and they think differently than we do. So his behavior isn't there to make you feel angry or frustrated. He just needs guidance, patience, consistency, and an advocate (that's you!) Also psychical exercise is so important, but just as much as mental! You can look up "mind games for dogs" online and also just obedience training can help build a rapport that you need with your dog and give him the mental exercise that he needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
You are in over your head, trust me. I find it helps to stop thinking of a young dog in weeks by now, he's nearly 5 months and can do serious damage as an undisciplined young dog. Hopefully this Pet Value trainer is good because you need help imo.

One comment though, it appears your pup is crated for bed at 8:00, let out at 7:00 am 11 hours later (I hope being taken out to do her business was unintentionally omitted), hangs out with your husband and then 8:00 back in the crate until 9:30-10:30 when you get up for the first walk. Are you a shift worker? This seems like a whack too much crate time and I bet your dog is a huge pile of pent up energy regardless of getting two hours of walks which is basically just stretching his legs for a 5 month old dog.
I do shift work yes. I was doing 5 night shifts a week but quit that job recently becuase I wasnt getting enough sleep with the puppy, and so I'm currently on an unbalanced sleep cycle that also includes my new work schedule which is everywhere. I did omit the times we take him out for bathroom. He goes usually every 2 hours during the day, sometimes every hour, depends on if he is at the door. And at night his last pee is around 9:30 or 10. But I think you may be right about his crate time. It's probabaly our fualt, we put him to bed at 8 but dont go to bed ourselves until 9:30.

We should probabaly keep him out until we go to sleep but he doesnt give us any peace until he is in his crate. If we want to watch a movie for the evening we have his bed in the tv room, and a couple toys and some chews for him to entertain himself. But they dont hold his interest for long and eventually he end up biting and hurting me (he never bites my husband) and so we put him in his kennel.

Hopefully the trainer can help us? Thank you for your comment! I should probably review the schedule I have for him and update it since he has grown so much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One of the best things I've ever heard about dog training is this: Reward the behaviors you want to see and stop giving attention to the ones you do not want to see (this includes negative attention... because negative attention is still attention).

Set him up for success.
Don't do walks where he will fail. For example, start walking in areas where there aren't a lot of people, and work up to more people with time. He needs to learn to walk on a leash and not pull you. You can get a harness that will help with this in the meantime until you can get him trained to not pull. The word I use with my dog for not pulling is "easy" it always helped when we were going down a hill especially I didn't want her to pull me down a steep hill. Also, having your dog know heel is important. When you go by strangers you can keep his mind busy with a heel. He cannot both be lunging at strangers and be heeling at the same time.

If you are a new dog owner, you will need the help of a trainer. Make sure to find one that is reputable in your area.

Remember he is a dog, and they think differently than we do. So his behavior isn't there to make you feel angry or frustrated. He just needs guidance, patience, consistency, and an advocate (that's you!) Also psychical exercise is so important, but just as much as mental! You can look up "mind games for dogs" online and also just obedience training can help build a rapport that you need with your dog and give him the mental exercise that he needs.

Thank you so much for your comment! I do often have to remind myself he's still young and learning, and that he doesnt think as humans do. It helps keep me patient with him.

The town I live in is very full of active people, such as hikers, joggers, other dog owners, so most of the trails I meet at least 1 person. On average it's usually around 5 that we meet on the trails.

I will try to work on his heel command more and the one you suggested "easy". I'm unsure how to keep his attention on the command though as even with treats he doesnt stick with me for long, something else is always more interesting. But I will try and persevere!
 

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Thank you so much for your comment! I do often have to remind myself he's still young and learning, and that he doesnt think as humans do. It helps keep me patient with him.

The town I live in is very full of active people, such as hikers, joggers, other dog owners, so most of the trails I meet at least 1 person. On average it's usually around 5 that we meet on the trails.

I will try to work on his heel command more and the one you suggested "easy". I'm unsure how to keep his attention on the command though as even with treats he doesnt stick with me for long, something else is always more interesting. But I will try and persevere!

High value rewards for high distraction situations. For some dogs its balls, for others its ropes, or tug toys, and for some its treats/food! If it is food, treat value is important. While kibble pieces in the house might work as a decent high value treat, it probably won't be enough outside where there are usually more distractions, where perhaps a "normal" dog treat might work. When you get distractions such as other dogs, people, etc. normal dog treats may not work and you may have to bring out the "high value treats" which varies depends on your dog and what he loves the most. Usually its real meat or food, like deli or actual turkey pieces, cheese, or hot dog. Or special dog treats like freeze dried turkey giblets, etc. These high value/special treats only come out when the distractions are high. : ) Or if he is super into a certain toy.. you might be able to reward a heel and keep him passing the distraction (people) while in heel waiting for his tug toy and when you pass he gets his reward and you can play a bit, etc. My word to let my dog know she is doing what she wants is a particular way I say "YESSS", so in that situation (Being on a path, and we are about to pass other people walking) I would have her get into a heel before we come near to the people and let her know by saying "YESSS" that she is doing what I want when she focuses on me and followed up by a treat in the beginning phases, and continue this very repetitive.. eventually you can wean of repetitive stuffing them with treats, and even wean of the treats and just have a verbal and physical reward of scratches, etc. But for a pup and at the beginning you can definitely stuff his face. ; ) Because eventually he will learn, he can pass by people... But also you will learn, your dog can pass by people. And your confidence is as important as his.
 

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He has only had at home training. He knows how to sit and lay down, he can wait for toys, treats, to go outside, and other things for 30+ seconds. He knows the drop and leave it command, and come. Although his "come" has gotten less reliable too this past few weeks.

A regular day for us is he has breakfast at 0700, before my husband goes to work. And usually my husband plays with him or they sit together while my husband has his coffee for about an hour before he goes to work. Then he is in his kennel until about 9:30 when I wake up and between 9:30 and 10:30 we are out for our first walk. We walk for an hour and then come home and he has his lunch at 11:30.

After that he naps for about an hour and a half to two hours. Then when he gets up at around 2 or 2:30 we go out for another walk for another hour. Sometimes I'll fit in an extra half hour of walking him around the town, places with not too much traffic but so he can see new things and hear new sounds. Then it is back home and he is back in his kennel as I clean the house. My husband comes home within an hour of us getting back usually and Oakie is let out of his kennel and joins us for making dinner, watching tv, or if we have errands he comes with us. Basically in the evening he is out of his kennel from 4-8 when he goes to bed.

😊 I was using a regular leather collar on him before but I met another GSD owner in my town who says he has had the breed for 15 years and he noticed my dog pulled alot and was jerking on the leash so he suggested the harness with the clip at the front. We still have his regular collar but I find that his pulling isnt near as frantic or as hard as it used to be. I was afraid of him hurting his throat becuase he was constantly pulling.
You may have just omitted it, but does he get any chances to just run and play? Do you play with him when he's out of his crate?

Personally I like to integrate training into playtime. We can play, but there are rules.

Think of the game of fetch; there are rules that the dog has to learn. By default most puppies will chase and get a ball, but then go lay down and chew on it. You have to teach them to bring it back to you so the game can continue!

I also like to work with puppies off leash whenever possible.

I'll admit, I'm not much of a dog Walker. I do it only to teach the dog leash manners. I probably walked my dog less in 4 yrs than many people do in a month! But we go out on off leash adventures as often as possible!

Anyway, hopefully the advice people have offered helps! YouTube has lots of great training videos too if you do better seeing the mechanics. Look up Stonnie Denis, Tyler Muto, or Robert Cabral to name just a few.

Good Luck!
 

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He needs more exercise and training, if my dog pulled like that, I would use a prong collar even at his age given how strong he is. You would need to learn to use it correctly and he should stop lunging and biting very quickly. Every time he lunges and bites it reinforces itself and he becomes more used to that behavior. It needs to stop. There are a lot of threads here on that. Do an Advanced search with the word leash in the title and you will find many. Select search by Date at the bottom of the page for newer threads.
 

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Honestly, you need to get with a trainer for private sessions now. You’re already struggling to control this dog when he’s not even five months old. He’s still a baby puppy. What happens when he’s 10-12 months old and close to his adult size? He’s going to be a monster if you don’t handle it during this period. This age is the easy age. You might even consider traveling once to get with a trainer that can actually help you if the only one where you are is no good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You may have just omitted it, but does he get any chances to just run and play? Do you play with him when he's out of his crate?

Personally I like to integrate training into playtime. We can play, but there are rules.

Think of the game of fetch; there are rules that the dog has to learn. By default most puppies will chase and get a ball, but then go lay down and chew on it. You have to teach them to bring it back to you so the game can continue!

I also like to work with puppies off leash whenever possible.

I'll admit, I'm not much of a dog Walker. I do it only to teach the dog leash manners. I probably walked my dog less in 4 yrs than many people do in a month! But we go out on off leash adventures as often as possible!

Anyway, hopefully the advice people have offered helps! YouTube has lots of great training videos too if you do better seeing the mechanics. Look up Stonnie Denis, Tyler Muto, or Robert Cabral to name just a few.

Good Luck!
Thank you for your advice!

Yes he does get outside play time. He plays frisbee quite well and enjoys fetch, and brings his toys back most of the time. We usually end his walks with some park or yard time. And I was doing off leash walks and hikes with him quite a lot but have recently put him back to the leash becuase his recall became so unreliable and with how he is getting with strangers I didnt want him to nip or jump on anyone.

I'll look up those trainers on YouTube 😊
 
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