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I’m in the midst of a friendly “argument” with some dog owning friends and wondered if anyone here has an opinion. We have 3 GSD’s – an 11 YO male; a 10 YO female and a 14 week old pup. My puppy is probably the easiest dog I’ve ever trained – at 14 weeks she walks well on a leash, sits when asked and is beginning to “get” stay. Housebreaking her has been an unexpected breeze. She had one in-crate accident and 2 out of crate accidents, all during her first week with us. She gets plenty of exercise – walks for training and socialization and off leash for fun time (we have a small farm and a safe area for off leash fun) and we started training her the day she came from the breeder, as we always do with our dogs. I believe that she is easier because she has two other dogs to mimic. My older female was a royal PIA to housebreak, mainly because she couldn’t grasp what we wanted. She was our only dog at the time and, due to the circumstances at that time, did not get to interact with other dogs at first. She’s grown into the best dog I’ve ever owned and even saved my life a few years ago! (She smelled a gas leak). But, she was not an easy dog to train. Our male was a rescue and came with good training. So, what do you folks think…does it make a difference having a well trained adult dog for the puppy to mimic? How much do they learn from one another and how much do they only learn from us? BTW: We start formal training next week with the puppy at puppy class.
 

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Yes and no. Yes for things like housebreaking-- one dog models the behavior for another. No for things like sit on command, stay on command. Your pup is too young to grasp the concept of you commanding other dogs and watching them respond and then associating that with what you wish her to do. GSDs are super-smart, but a young baby puppy is a bit too young to be able to be more obedient for commands due to watching older dogs. I think your pup has some wonderful genetic biddability.
 

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I think it definitely makes a difference if they have an older dog to take the lead from.

Angus, my mix, was here the first few months we had Reich, and he was a geat dog. She seemed to get housebreaking, basic commands, and even some manners easier by watching him.
 

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absolutly, and it can work the other way 'round as well, I got the mother of Erika who was kennel raised and she quickly started doing things Erika was trained to such as open doors, swim , sit pretty, search, agility etc. All I had to do is have Erika do it and Roxie would attempt it. She quickly learned to do what Erika does and she'll get her toy, treat or attention.
 

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Probably and probably not depends on dog, Jesse was and is a total breeze to train. I began at 8 weeks as soon as he arrived, had him house trained in 2 days, he knew to sit for his food and wait within 3 meals and by 10 weeks he knew sit, down, wait, stay, come, watch me, give a paw, stand, I had him healing on a leash by 14 weeks, and had a reliable recall on him "hassle" that worked a leash free zone. Now he is 7 months only command that is so so is come (selective) but working back on that. Jesse has no mimics
 

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Absolutely...and in so many ways!
First of all who's in charge is so much more obvious when there's another dog there who can explain it to them through example. That works whether you're the pack leader or not. That works to teach the pup both good and bad behaviors. If the older dog is well behaved, the pup will mimic them. If the older dog has some poor ones, it is likely the pup will learn those as well. They are all individuals, but they can and do learn from one another, not unlike we do. If you ascribe to pack theory, you needn't ask this question. Some don't, but most do. They are genetically pretty close to wolves, whether purse dogs or shepherds, so studying the ethology of wolves provides some insights to these furry friends we enjoy. Even many folks who don't believe in pack theory tend to think it's obvious they learn from one another. Trust your experience and gut. How many have the doubters hosted, and how many at once? Chances are fewer than you, and/or one at a time. Not to say there aren't some who are rebels, and will buck the trend, but more often than not, you're right!

That's my $.02
 

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We have 7 gsd and puppies a couple times a year. We mainly have a pack environment except for seperations during heat cycles, pregnancy , etc. But for the most part everyone is together and the pups when they are around 4-5 weeks interact with the pack as well. Absolutely we have seen them all learn from each other, in so many ways. When we are trying to teach new commands to a pup or new adult dog they see the behaviour from the others and they "get It" a lot quicker from them then from us trying to teach them. When dogs came in that weren't swimmers, they saw the others and learned how if they wanted to be with the pack. When one doesn't know "speak" they sit beside the others and have to listen to them "speak" for the treat and then they "get it"
We had a singleton pup that moved into the pack environment very young and she was just one of the gang by 5-6 weeks learning and doing everything they did. She was one of the most incredibly smart dogs ever and to this day the owner swears she is the most intelligent dog he has ever seen.
Of course their are some habits they pick up that you wish they wouldn't share but for the most part it is great to learn the ropes from the other dogs.
Enjoy your new pack
 
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