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I want to ask: what's a good way for me to judge my puppy's temperament and what kind of training and pace will best suit it. I worry that some kinds of forceful training might encourage more aggression in it.

We want to raise ours to be really gentle and calm. he is very friendly with everyone and we are making sure to socialize him with all kinds of people. It is important to us because we usually spend our summers camping/visiting with the families of a lot of friends who have their own dogs.

Does a german shepherd's behavior really change towards being more protective? We don't really need a guard dog. And in most cases just having a big dog on the premises is enough to deter a malicious person.
 

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You do have a good plan of training to have a well rounded socialized gsd. Since have a friendly pup to start with that is a big plus in your favor. I think gsds like other breeds vary in the protective levels and yes, it depends how they are raised but also on the dog's temperament.
 

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In order to check your puppy temperament you should put him through series of tests checking his 1) irritability and eating/ sleeping patterns; 2) level of activity; 3) change in moods and attention quality; 4) reaction, attitude to unknown by introducing him to many different creatures, things and environments. You should open a new puppy Diary writing down in these four columns everything you have observed. A period of couple of weeks could be enough. Then you may define your puppy as (?) the way it is convinient for you.
You should never forget, whatever his temperament is, GSD is a working dog. Don't be afraid to overexercise your puppy, provided it is regular. They become obedient only if they spend their energy daily with physical exercise.
How your dog will behave in a camp depends on how obedient he is. Well trained dogs, even agressive ones wouldn't be a trouble to anybody, because he will listen to you.
 

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In order to check your puppy temperament you should put him through series of tests checking his 1) irritability and eating/ sleeping patterns; 2) level of activity; 3) change in moods and attention quality; 4) reaction, attitude to unknown by introducing him to many different creatures, things and environments. You should open a new puppy Diary writing down in these four columns everything you have observed. A period of couple of weeks could be enough. Then you may define your puppy as (?) the way it is convinient for you.
You should never forget, whatever his temperament is, GSD is a working dog. Don't be afraid to overexercise your puppy, provided it is regular. They become obedient only if they spend their energy daily with physical exercise.
How your dog will behave in a camp depends on how obedient he is. Well trained dogs, even agressive ones wouldn't be a trouble to anybody, because he will listen to you.



I will start the diary today. At 11 weeks old, he is very reluctant to walk/ run with me, he will lie down and pretend to sleep. But next moment will run at high energy if the kids are playing with a ball within the house. Outside, in the yard, he is quickly distracted from any play and just wants to explore/ dig/ chew on grass/ sticks. Taking these away from him makes him angry and he will bite repeatedly. Voice commands definitely dont work in this situation.

I found this excellent(to me) material online : http://www.caradobe.com/volhardart.pdf

Reading it I felt our puppy falls within trainable range. Question is am I capable of training him to not react with anger to corrections.
 

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I won't do any intensive training or worry about it yet with an 11 week-old puppy. The housetraining is more than enough. I suggest you let him explore - sniff - take his time at walking, so I would walk slow and stop and just sit. Puppies go until they drop, so I would be careful he doesn't get overtired. If I took something away from him, I would redirect with his toy or treat - and praise him for taking that and biting on that.
 

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Also, make sure to always reward calm behavior. Good times to do this are when the puppy is tired after a long play session, etc.
 

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I will start the diary today.
Here are many people on the site, very experienced, and if you post any question on this, sure, you will have back something you will find suitable and sensible. Like people, dogs have features particular only for this very dog and no other, that's why there are so many methods in training. It is very good idea of yours to find out about his temperament. Knowing it, you shouldn't find it difficult fnding suitable classes for him, possibly your kids could be present too. As you've described, the picture is promising, not desperate. Does your puppy play ball with you? Was it you who taught your children play with your dog? Young dog when growing needs more space than just your back yard. Train your puppy to play ball somewhere else, where your kids can practice throwing the ball. It will provide enough exercise for your young dog. They become obedient, gentle and predictable only if they spend their energy daily.
Be careful with these corrections. Dog is obedient only because he wants to, corrections could spoil his appetite for learning new commands.
 
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