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Hello all, first post here..

Since Saturday I'm the now the owner of a German Shepherd. She's a sweet approx 3 year old rescue dog named Hope and I'm looking to get some ideas for training. I am told she was rescued from a backyard breeder that basically neglected her horribly and believe she's purebred.

I've had dogs most of my life, my last was a lab/border collie mix that was a joy to have as a companion for 16 years. She was really easy to train to do anything I could think of. I got her at 6 weeks and she learned how to focus on learning at a very young age though. She was the dog that turns off light switches and closes doors etc.

Now about Hope. I've only had her home for 4 days and she's a very good dog and a real sweetheart. I don't know what abuse she's had but it seems she may have been been hit by her reaction to an inadvertent raised hand. The shelter I got her from also runs a dog daycare where she spent about 6 months to a year so she's very well socialized and pretty stable for a rescued dog.

They had a lot of trouble adopting her out. I'm told she was mangy starved to point of death and had ear infections so bad she had cauliflowered both her ears. They both flop down, but at least they match.


She's very cautious about anything new but not really fearful, just careful in approaching new things and very curious. She behaves well and picked up that a sharp "psst" means unwanted behavior right away and responds very well. She's been great and has great manners in the house, already learning the rules with just a few corrections.

I walk her every morning and evening and she's great on a leash. I walk her with a pretty short leash, just enough so she can get nose to the ground at most and she does very well, I didn't expect that to be honest. A few little corrections and she walks as good as any dog I've owned.

The problem is getting her attention for training. She knows no commands whatsoever, though she is getting pretty good at coming when called after a few days, she barely even knows her name. She just doesn't associate words with anything. I know she's a smart girl, you can see it in her.

The only time I see her really seriously focus on anything though is on prey. There are hundreds of squirrels in the neighborhood, and a few cats that know a dog on a leash isn't a threat. And any time she sees them she switches into little miss full on 100% focus and drive.. Not aggressive, no barking or anything but head up ears up (as good as her ears will go up) tail out eyes on target.. I'm sure you folks get the picture.

When she does this the usual "psst" doesn't seem to register, but I can deal with that behavior with a little body language and blocking etc. and she's already responding and learning to walk by them well.

She'll chase a tennis ball every time, she just won't bring it back and hand it to me, she just sorta walks off after catching it.

But when it comes to obedience, I'm looking for a few ideas to try. If I could direct that prey drive to training I could teach her anything I believe.

I at least would like to maybe get a few ideas on getting her full attention and holding it. I've started working with her name and treats to start, pretty easy stuff and I would like to start working with commands in about a week after I've had enough time to establish enough trust. I've got to get her a job to do and get her trained well enough that I can do a lot more than walk her and give her some real workouts, she needs the role. Two long walks isn't enough, she's a pretty high energy dog.

So, any ideas about how I can get her undivided attention?

Maybe some ideas to direct that prey drive to learning obedience and commands?

I think I can eventually get through to her with treats and positive reinforcement, but I'd like to maybe hear some techniques for working with an older untrained dog that I don't know or haven't thought of.
 

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Welcome TxRider, and thank you for chosing a rescue. I'm sure you will get a ton of very good information.

How food motivated is Hope?? Are you using biscuit type treats, or high value treats such as bits of chicken??

Hope is probably also very overwhelmed with her new surrounding sright now, and adjusting to the new environment, so might be a reason she is not focusing her attention fully.

Good luck with her. Hope you post some pictures!! We love pictures!!
 

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Welcome and so GREAT you chose a rescue! I always love to hear that.

You could check out http://www.clickertraining.com as a training option.

When they're focused on something they shouldn't be, they can become Mom-Deaf real quick. Clicker training is a very positive experience type training and I found grabs their attention better than a voice or human sound.
 

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Originally Posted By: VSnapWelcome TxRider, and thank you for chosing a rescue. I'm sure you will get a ton of very good information.

How food motivated is Hope?? Are you using biscuit type treats, or high value treats such as bits of chicken??

Hope is probably also very overwhelmed with her new surrounding sright now, and adjusting to the new environment, so might be a reason she is not focusing her attention fully.

Good luck with her. Hope you post some pictures!! We love pictures!!
I bought some training treats the day before I picked her up, chicken and beef, she seems to like the beef ones a lot. My plan is to experiment until I can find something she really likes. She does seem motivated by food by on a 1-10 I'd give her about a 4 or 5.

She's definitely still getting used to her new home and to me but she's getting confidence and building trust quickly. The walks especially seem to help with that. I think she'll be ready to start training in earnest next week, so far I've only been working with her name and come a little every day and getting the house training reinforced. She hasn't had a single accident yet and behaves quite well.

I'll be sure to get some pics up pretty soon.

I'll also go check out those links. Thanks all.
 

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Here's an example of her food drive.

Say I get a sandwich or anything really and go sit on the sofa to eat. Her first impulse is to to just nose her way to the food and eat. I give her a "pssst" or snap my fingers and she knows that's not wanted behavior. She backs right up and lays down and breaks off all eye contact immediately. She's done this since day one.

She does the same the few times I tried a sit or down, seems if she can't just have the food outright, she decides it's the alphas food and ignores it and won't maintain eye contact.

Now it's fine when I call her, because she just gets the treat when she comes to me, and she comes pretty well but to her it's still a just a suggestion not a command she has to obey. And to be honest I really kinda like the behavior of not begging.

So I'm thinking I might want to find another way of training besides food, or getting her attention besides food and her prey drive would be great to use if I could figure out how. She does fetch a tennis ball somewhat, she loves to chase it and catch it, she brings it back 3-4 times and drops it about 5 feet away and won't come to me. And if I don't go to her and get it she loses interest quickly.
 

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An example of why I think she's a clever girl. I got her large rawhide bone before I picked her up. She really liked it, she gnawed on it for hours after her evening walk and it was gone in a couple of days all but little piece so I decided to get bag of them to hand out from time to time.

I gave her one yesterday and she decided she wanted to bury it, she paced all over the house looking for a spot and trying to figure out how to bury it in the house. Finally she gave up.

So this morning when I got up I go out in the back yard with her, I'm getting the schedule down for house training and reinforcing it daily. It's kinda chilly out and I have been grabbing my jacket when I take her out.

So we come back in (she doesn't like to let me out of her sight) and I tossed my jacket on the sofa, I go get a cup of coffee and when I walk back out of the kitchen she had gone and picked up the bone from wherever she put it last night, and laid it on my jacket. So I grab my jacket and go out and sure enough she goes straight to bury it. Clever girl I think, she'll be great if I can channel that.
 

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Originally Posted By: Riley's MomWelcome and so GREAT you chose a rescue! I always love to hear that.

You could check out http://www.clickertraining.com as a training option.

When they're focused on something they shouldn't be, they can become Mom-Deaf real quick. Clicker training is a very positive experience type training and I found grabs their attention better than a voice or human sound.
After thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion I think I have a problem with opposing reinforcement of behaviors. She doesn't know the difference between a command and a correction, so she is confused as I reinforced the behavior of not begging when I eat, but I think she takes a command when a treat is in my hand as just another form of correction not to beg and to break eye contact and attention.

After reading up on clicker training I think this might be just what I need to get around that issue. I think I'll buy a book for beginners on clicker training and a clicker and give it a try.

At least until she learns what command is, and that words mean different things. Once I get past that barrier I think it'll get a lot easier for her.
 

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Dallas, Or rather Grapevine specifically.

First vet visit today, seems the shelter was giving her the wrong stuff for her ears and she still has a persistent bacterial infection in one of them..
 

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Ohh boy, first problem. I now have ear drops to give her twice a day, and she knows what they are. And she's having absolutely none of it.
 

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I think you are on the right track! Although she does need to learn not to beg maybe it's a little early for that. As you said you don't want her to think any interaction with you means a correction is coming. So keep it positive until she's very comfortable making eye contact with you and understands that GOOD things come from you too! She sounds like a very smart, sensitive girl and I think that with a gentle hand she will turn around quickly.
 

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Yes very sensitive, I haven't even been touching her ears because she's obviously very fearful of it and they have obviously caused her much pain. She actually yelped loudly just touching them when I first got her, not because it hurt her but just because she anticipated it was going to hurt.

I tried once to hold her for the ear drops but that's just not going to work. If I have to deal with cleaning them and drops and washes for the next 8 years or so I have to get her to trust me and let me do it.

She knows exactly what's up with the ears and the drops, and she doesn't trust me enough and I want to build it not destroy it. Trying to hold her, or even if she gets the sense I'm about to mess with her ears and she panics and resists with all the strength she has. I'm a big guy and I know I might not even physically be able to hold her and do it even if I wanted to, which I don't. She doesn't need that after being abused.

So first training is now 2-3 sessions of "let me handle your ears, you get a good treat" every day until I can get those ear drops in. It seems to be working fine, starting with just a gentle touch and in two days I can already gently rub inside her ears for a second before she pulls away. That and the prednisone and antibiotic pills are probably making her ears a lot less irritated.

I think I'll hold off on starting regular training in earnest for another week or two until I get this ear thing under control, and just work on trust and handling. Probably better that way anyway. With her torn up ears I doubt I could build up more trust with her than to let me put drops in them.
 

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You seem to have a lot of questions so I'll start by suggesting maybe you are looking for more advice than you can get from a message board. A local dog trainer might be more suited to your situation. That said, here's what I'm hearing in what you write. I hope you don't mind the direct feedback.

You are making a common mistake that a lot of people make when the rescue a neglected or abused animal. You are humanizing the situation and approaching it from a direction of pity. It is all over what you wrote. You describe your theories on how she was abused. The dogs name is 'Hope'. You describe how challenging it was for the rescue organization to adopt her out. These are all things that will tug at the heartstrings of humans that love animals. But to be blunt, that isn't what Hope needs right now.

What she needs is a good pack leader. She's wired to either lead or follow and you don't want her leading. Being that strong, fair, protective, calm, decisive pack leader to her is worth a thousand times what any "ohhh you poor girl, look how people treated you" is. That is not to say you can't and shouldn't love her to death. You just have to approach it from a dog's point of view and not a human's point of view.

This holds true for pretty much any of your questions about training, but let's apply it to the ear drop question specifically. I can almost guarantee you that when it is time for "the drops" you tense up. You imagine just how much she is going to be frightened and resist you. You also feel guilty. Her last owners abused her and now here you are holding her down and making her feel panic. She's been through so much she doesn't deserve this right? You say she sees the drops and "knows what they are all about". That's probably true to some extent--we all know how smart GSDs can be. But more than knowing what the drops are about she is sensing how you feel as you approach her. Dogs are amazing mirrors in that respect. If you approach her with guilt, doubt, and trepidation she will reflect that back to you.

As an exercise you could try this. Work on her just lying next to you. Use treats and get her to lie down. Try not to wrestle her down. If anything, use your strength to prevent her from getting up. This is a tricky distinction to describe over a message board. The point is you are not holding her down--you are asking her not to get up yet. Why? Because you are the pack leader and you've decided we are going to lie down right now. When she tries to get up you are the gentle, unmoving, patient wall that says "not yet". If just for a second she relaxes and begins to submit to the exercise give her a treat. ****, give her 1/2 a hot dog. The point is she should trust you implicitly and if you say lay down well then it's time to lay down. Nothing bad is going to happen.

Once you get her comfortable with that exercise, bring out the ear drop bottle. Have no intention of actually getting drops in her ears so that you can remain calm. Present the bottle to her and let her smell it. If she just sniffs it, give her a treat. If she tries to get up be that unmoving wall again and ask her not to. Put the bottle away. If she is still calm, give her a treat. And so on. What you are reinforcing is that you are the pack leader and when you ask her to do something nothing bad happens. You want to move slowly. After you can bring the bottle out and she remains calm, try taking the cap off the bottle. All you are asking is she remains calm and trusts you. Put the cap back on. With the cap on, very slowly pet her with the bottle in your hand. Rub it down her back. Let her sniff it again. Come near her ears but don't touch them (yet). I think you get the idea. It might take quite a while (and multiple sessions) before you ever even think of putting the drops in her ears.

It will take patience on your part, yes. But most importantly it will take a sense of calm. If you mind is racing with "poor baby!" and "she is going to freak out!" then ear drops will remain a rodeo exercise. Of course remaining calm is much easier for me to type than for you to do. But if you can manage it I think you'll be surprised at the results.
 

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Originally Posted By: TxRiderI think I can eventually get through to her with treats and positive reinforcement, but I'd like to maybe hear some techniques for working with an older untrained dog that I don't know or haven't thought of.
Treats and positive reinforcement are the best way to work with either a brand new puppy or an older untrained dog, and don't wait to start real training. Any time she's with you she's learning something, so you may as well put that time to good use and make sure she's learning what you want her to. Skip the corrections for now and focus on rewarding the behavior you WANT.

Using a clicker is great, but if you don't have one yet, use a verbal marker (yes!) and then follow up with a treat. When I bring home a new puppy I wear my treat bag from the time I come home from work until bedtime. Rather than giving any specific command, I mark and treat for anything I want to encourage - spontaneously looking at me, coming to me, laying down on the floor, anything. Catch them in the act rather than tell them what to do. Eventually these highly rewarded behaviors will increase in frequency and then you can start putting them on cue by giving the command (once!) and then waiting. Mark and reward the exact moment she complies.

If she already backs away from your food, you have the beginning of a "leave it" command. Rather than verbally correcting her by saying pssst, tell her what to do instead (leave it) and when she backs away, mark it, either verbally or with a clicker, and then give her a treat. Dogs learn much better when you tell them what you DO want than when you tell them what you DON'T want. Your verbal correction can be a negative, or no-reward marker, so if you tell her to leave it and she goes for your food instead of backing away from it you can say pssst, and then immediately mark and reward when she leaves the food alone. Other negative markers that people use are "ah ah", "oops!" or "wrong", but whatever you use, you should always mark and reward when she heeds it and stops doing whatever it was that she was doing to earn the correction.

I want my dogs to just naturally seek me out and make eye contact on their own, but I also like to be able to get it when I ask for it, so I'll hold out a tiny treat, small enough that I can pinch it in my fingertips. At first the dog will try to get at it, but I wait for the exact second that they give up on getting the treat, and look up at me. I mark that and immediately deliver the treat. They learn that in order to get what they want they have to look AWAY from it and at me instead. When you're consistently getting fairly prompt eye contact when you show her a treat, put the behavior on cue by naming it - "watch", "watch me", "look", whatever you want, giving the command and then holding out the treat and waiting for her to look at you. Gradually increase the criteria - 2 seconds of eye contact, 5 seconds of eye contact, 10 seconds of eye contact, and then mix it up so sometimes it's 3 seconds, sometimes 8 seconds, sometimes 5 seconds, before you mark and reward.

Make a sit with eye contact a default behavior for everything - going outside, coming inside, going for a walk, getting in the car, eating a meal, and playtime. A default behavior would be one that the dog does automatically, so only cue her to do so as long as you need to, and then start waiting for her to offer it up on her own. She's a smart girl, she'll figure it out quick.
 

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Thanks for the reply,

Originally Posted By: ColoradoYou seem to have a lot of questions so I'll start by suggesting maybe you are looking for more advice than you can get from a message board. A local dog trainer might be more suited to your situation. That said, here's what I'm hearing in what you write. I hope you don't mind the direct feedback.

You are making a common mistake that a lot of people make when the rescue a neglected or abused animal. You are humanizing the situation and approaching it from a direction of pity. It is all over what you wrote. You describe your theories on how she was abused. The dogs name is 'Hope'. You describe how challenging it was for the rescue organization to adopt her out. These are all things that will tug at the heartstrings of humans that love animals. But to be blunt, that isn't what Hope needs right now.

What she needs is a good pack leader. She's wired to either lead or follow and you don't want her leading. Being that strong, fair, protective, calm, decisive pack leader to her is worth a thousand times what any "ohhh you poor girl, look how people treated you" is. That is not to say you can't and shouldn't love her to death. You just have to approach it from a dog's point of view and not a human's point of view.
Well she does dig at the heartstrings, but don't read too much into that. The shelter named her Hope. I would probably have named her shadow, as she's certainly turned into my shadow..I do know the difference and try not to humanize things, though I'm sure I'm not perfect at it.

Quote:This holds true for pretty much any of your questions about training, but let's apply it to the ear drop question specifically. I can almost guarantee you that when it is time for "the drops" you tense up. You imagine just how much she is going to be frightened and resist you. You also feel guilty. Her last owners abused her and now here you are holding her down and making her feel panic. She's been through so much she doesn't deserve this right? You say she sees the drops and "knows what they are all about". That's probably true to some extent--we all know how smart GSDs can be. But more than knowing what the drops are about she is sensing how you feel as you approach her. Dogs are amazing mirrors in that respect. If you approach her with guilt, doubt, and trepidation she will reflect that back to you.
Well with the ears it's more a matter of trust I think. I have no guilt or bad feelings, but I know if I have to fight her down against all the strength she's got it's not going to help me build trust.

I might just hold her down and give them but first I live alone and after trying once I simply am not going to be physically able to restrain her. Well I could, I'm plenty big and strong enough, but not with one arm while I give her drops. I also know she doesn't trust me totally yet, she's still leary of even laying on her side without her feet under her and being touched or stood over, and any attempt to gently force her over on her side like I would normally do means instant panic and quick escalation into full on flight mode. As does anything close to holding her down when she's down.

She was so fearful about her ears when I got her a simple touch to the ears responded in a yelp and avoidance. I did the wrong thing I guess and avoided touching them. I let her train me.

I was hoping to gain more trust through time and obedience training and bonding, looks like I have more basic ground work to do first though.

Quote:As an exercise you could try this. Work on her just lying next to you. Use treats and get her to lie down. Try not to wrestle her down. If anything, use your strength to prevent her from getting up. This is a tricky distinction to describe over a message board. The point is you are not holding her down--you are asking her not to get up yet. Why? Because you are the pack leader and you've decided we are going to lie down right now. When she tries to get up you are the gentle, unmoving, patient wall that says "not yet". If just for a second she relaxes and begins to submit to the exercise give her a treat. ****, give her 1/2 a hot dog. The point is she should trust you implicitly and if you say lay down well then it's time to lay down. Nothing bad is going to happen.

Once you get her comfortable with that exercise, bring out the ear drop bottle. Have no intention of actually getting drops in her ears so that you can remain calm. Present the bottle to her and let her smell it. If she just sniffs it, give her a treat. If she tries to get up be that unmoving wall again and ask her not to. Put the bottle away. If she is still calm, give her a treat. And so on. What you are reinforcing is that you are the pack leader and when you ask her to do something nothing bad happens. You want to move slowly. After you can bring the bottle out and she remains calm, try taking the cap off the bottle. All you are asking is she remains calm and trusts you. Put the cap back on. With the cap on, very slowly pet her with the bottle in your hand. Rub it down her back. Let her sniff it again. Come near her ears but don't touch them (yet). I think you get the idea. It might take quite a while (and multiple sessions) before you ever even think of putting the drops in her ears.
That sound like a good plan, I'm already part way through that. I started by just touching her ears and giving a treat and now I've been going back and forth between gently massaging her ears a bit more each time, and giving a treat if she remains calm, and then getting her to submit and lie on her side with a belly rub a certain way and giving her a treat if she submits and stays calm for few seconds and lets me put my hands on her in a way I would to hold her down. It is working pretty well so far.

After several sessions she's already letting me manipulate her ears pretty well, a marked improvement. I stretch out the time and handle her ears a little longer each time, and run my finger inside her ear a little longer each time.

I'll start bringing the bottle into the picture tonight.

Good idea about her laying down, I should probably do that work directly on her resistance to physical restraint or threat of it as well, and get her over that completely while I'm at it.

I think I've established pack leader pretty well in other areas, she walks great, behaves great and she seems to be looking at me as leader and taking direction quite well for what she understands. But maybe it's better to work on getting her full trust before any other training.

Quote:It will take patience on your part, yes. But most importantly it will take a sense of calm. If you mind is racing with "poor baby!" and "she is going to freak out!" then ear drops will remain a rodeo exercise. Of course remaining calm is much easier for me to type than for you to do. But if you can manage it I think you'll be surprised at the results.
Just to be clear, I'm not really the type to have my mind race and feel bad and freak out, I'm calm as can be. I'm just trying to describe what I see in her accurately as I can.

She's obviously had a lot of pain in her ears, and a lot of people holding her down and sticking things in them (took 3 people at the vets) and I simply can't manage that by myself, and I'd much rather get her conditioned to allow me to.

I'm just describing her state and trying to work out the best way through it to gain her trust and get her to start learning from me and trained up enough to be a good canine citizen asap.
 

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Originally Posted By: Cassidys Mom
Originally Posted By: TxRiderI think I can eventually get through to her with treats and positive reinforcement, but I'd like to maybe hear some techniques for working with an older untrained dog that I don't know or haven't thought of.
Treats and positive reinforcement are the best way to work with either a brand new puppy or an older untrained dog, and don't wait to start real training. Any time she's with you she's learning something, so you may as well put that time to good use and make sure she's learning what you want her to. Skip the corrections for now and focus on rewarding the behavior you WANT.

Using a clicker is great, but if you don't have one yet, use a verbal marker (yes!) and then follow up with a treat. When I bring home a new puppy I wear my treat bag from the time I come home from work until bedtime. Rather than giving any specific command, I mark and treat for anything I want to encourage - spontaneously looking at me, coming to me, laying down on the floor, anything. Catch them in the act rather than tell them what to do. Eventually these highly rewarded behaviors will increase in frequency and then you can start putting them on cue by giving the command (once!) and then waiting. Mark and reward the exact moment she complies.

If she already backs away from your food, you have the beginning of a "leave it" command. Rather than verbally correcting her by saying pssst, tell her what to do instead (leave it) and when she backs away, mark it, either verbally or with a clicker, and then give her a treat. Dogs learn much better when you tell them what you DO want than when you tell them what you DON'T want. Your verbal correction can be a negative, or no-reward marker, so if you tell her to leave it and she goes for your food instead of backing away from it you can say pssst, and then immediately mark and reward when she leaves the food alone. Other negative markers that people use are "ah ah", "oops!" or "wrong", but whatever you use, you should always mark and reward when she heeds it and stops doing whatever it was that she was doing to earn the correction.

I want my dogs to just naturally seek me out and make eye contact on their own, but I also like to be able to get it when I ask for it, so I'll hold out a tiny treat, small enough that I can pinch it in my fingertips. At first the dog will try to get at it, but I wait for the exact second that they give up on getting the treat, and look up at me. I mark that and immediately deliver the treat. They learn that in order to get what they want they have to look AWAY from it and at me instead. When you're consistently getting fairly prompt eye contact when you show her a treat, put the behavior on cue by naming it - "watch", "watch me", "look", whatever you want, giving the command and then holding out the treat and waiting for her to look at you. Gradually increase the criteria - 2 seconds of eye contact, 5 seconds of eye contact, 10 seconds of eye contact, and then mix it up so sometimes it's 3 seconds, sometimes 8 seconds, sometimes 5 seconds, before you mark and reward.
Good idea, I think this eye contact exercise is definitely one I need to do. I've never had a dog that didn't just give me full eye contact and wait for instruction with no effort on my part at all.. That's the kind of exercise I'm looking for and need.

Quote:Make a sit with eye contact a default behavior for everything - going outside, coming inside, going for a walk, getting in the car, eating a meal, and playtime. A default behavior would be one that the dog does automatically, so only cue her to do so as long as you need to, and then start waiting for her to offer it up on her own. She's a smart girl, she'll figure it out quick.
Thanks for the reply.

What exactly do you mean by sit being a default behavior for everything though? Sitting when she wants those things, or sitting when you initiate those things?

The treat bag at all times sounds like a good idea as well.
 

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Aloha, and congrats on getting a rescue!! There is soooo much info here on this forum with GSD owners that are really communicating with their dogs. I have learned to:
1: be the boss
2: use only positive training.

So far with Rasa my 4 yr old rescue of 11-24-08, the most important thing has been BONDING. She previously has learned most commands, but has not trusted me fully to obey them. I reward with treats very very sparingly and basically set myself up for success and get all excited when she does what I want her to. The bad things I just act all disappointed and move on. I always reward with praise/ball the moment the action is done. 5 or more seconds after the action is TOO late. Since GSD are people pleasing animals, they are also always trying to find ways to interact and please their master, (they just have a different language). I was in a field when a neighbor had his dog that would not come back to get into the car and wanted to play. He grabbed her and gave her a slap. Rasa got up from laying down and stared at the guy with a "what a Butt-head that guy is look on her eyes/face. I explained he will never train his dog this way. (the dog now associates the Come call with getting a slap), but now he wants to get rid of the dog because she will not obey!!
I also let Rasa do whatever she wants, only she does it when I say it is ok. If I feel she is communicating with me and if I see it in her body language/actions she gets a lot of praise and maybe even a treat. Rasa knows she can dig, run after prey, bark, be silent (she now always looks to me for approval) but only when I say OK, do it.

frank
 

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Dog park today, good fun.

I took Hope out to the closest off leash dog park. She's well socialized with other dogs and pretty much with people too and I want to keep her that way.

She was a little overwhelmed with the initial rush of about 10 dogs, but got on fine and warmed up pretty quickly.

The woman who runs the shelter I got her from works Aussie shepherds and said she seemed to show a strong herding drive, and it appears she was right. After a about 20 minutes she picked her favorite dog to play with, a spaniel that liked to run and be chased. She was definitely in herding mode, chasing him all around the park nipping at his flanks, and some good wrestling and horseplay, slobber everywhere....

Was good to see her get a good session of full out running, and no signs of any joint issues apparent.

It got her enough exercise that it wore her completely out, so now I have an idea how much energy she actually has to burn. She actually didn't follow me from room to room for while today and just crashed out on her bed for a few hours.

I guess it'll be a weekly thing, and good place to practice training with distractions later at some point.
 

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Originally Posted By: TxRiderWhat exactly do you mean by sit being a default behavior for everything though? Sitting when she wants those things, or sitting when you initiate those things?
A default behavior is exactly that - a behavior the dog defaults to to get what she wants - and always make eye contact part of the default behavior. My puppy has a default sit, but her default down is much stronger because I've rewarded her so heavily for laying down and looking at me in the evening while we watch TV, so often she'll try that first. If that doesn't work, she'll put her head down on the floor because I've rewarded that heavily too.

Being a leader means controlling the resources. Think of everything Hope wants (food, play, attention, affection) and make her work for those things, whether it's something you initiate (mealtimes) or something she initiates (asking for play or attention). She learns how to "make" you give her what she wants, but you're really in control because you've taught her what works. If she doesn't comply with the house rules, she doesn't get what she wants. Again, really smart dogs figure this out very quickly, and you're not actually forcing her to do anything, it's totally hands off. I had my puppy Halo doing a sit with eye contact until released to eat with her food bowl on the floor from a very young age. If she broke the sit, I picked up the bowl and she had to wait. The more motivated she was to eat, the faster she learned how to make that happen.
 
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