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I need some help with an 11mo old male GSD. Please note, I say much of this with as much "humor" as I can muster. This pup is giving me a run for my money.

We have gotten through the worst of the "teenager"/puppy issues (the biting/nipping, impulse control, forgetting everything learned as a puppy, etc.)

But. We have hit some snags.

For whatever reason, no matter how many sessions we do, how much I try to desensitize him...He just completely loses his mind once he is out my front door. I mean just completely loses it. No matter what I use as a reward, nothing is high value enough to deal with the world. No matter what training device I put on him, nothing will stop the pulling. And not just pulling - lunging in various directions blindly, and if he sees a person or other dog? Flips out, screams ,etc. He started this ~5-6mos, and I was expecting it. I was expecting fear periods, brattiness, etc...so we would take breaks from walks, exercise in the yard, do training, etc. Nope. I failed.

We have worked on politely walking on lead (which he will do unless there is a distraction) and he will do this all through my house, through the door...but we cannot get down the driveway. He is hit or miss with the door. What is going on here? I have tried waiting him out, for him to calm down, etc. I reward him for calm behavior, but he takes no rewards once out the door...and he spits them out near it.

I reward him for calmness. Excited to see the leash? You must be calm before it goes on. We must quietly and politely walk to the door. We must wait at the door, wait as it is opened. We leave only when told, and then wait again at the porch politely so the door can be closed. We have all of these on a good day, but I am insistent on it. Then we walk down the driveway aaaaand...brain falls out. Okay. So we back up, back to the door. I have tried variations of this. He starts becoming frantic at this point. For this, I have tried just taking him back in and calling it a day - takes him ages to calm down. AGES. Frantic pacing. Even if I try to play with him, he makes it clear he wants back out (sits by door, whines, paces to leash and door, etc.). I have also tried doing sessions with the door/driveway, but he starts getting frantic and frustrated (refuses rewards, stresses out). What am I doing wrong?

We have hit this plateau since he was ~6mos old. I'm serious. I have not had a pleasant walk with the dog since then - each time we walk he is freaked out, worked up...and I am exhausted. Again, no reward works for him. No punishment works...this dog is going to hurt himself on a pinch collar. He will lunge right into it. He will scream if I correct him with it, and melt. I have not corrected him very harshly with it either. Head halters make him whip his face around and panic and scream, even when I painstakingly conditioned him to wear one. Nope. No pull harness? He still pulls. It does nothing to stop him. E-collar? He won't react to it, even if his muscles are physically twitching. He just stood there with a dumb look on his face when I tried it, and I felt bad and took it off. He is a complete 180 from my female dog...she has her issues as well, but she was/is so easy to work with. He seems like an idiot compared to her.

I have had the best GSDs, the ones who made me fall in love with the breed. The last two have given me some trouble, but my older female has turned out to be a wonderful dog. This puppy is different from all of them.

He has never had what I would call a stable temperament. I think this is part of it, but I really don't want to just "blame the dog". But I do want to give some insight to his personality. Words I would describe him with: Affectionate, Whiny/Vocal (also loves to bark), Skittish, Curious, Nervous, Sweet. He loves to play ball and tug, but once he grips a tug toy he is chewy with it and half-hearted about it. I cannot play fetch with both of my dogs - he will chase my female and try to bite over her shoulders and pin her. She will promptly make him regret this, so that has stopped. I separate them.

He is at least a loving dog...but I feel as if I have completely failed him. I can't exercise him in my yard forever.

Any ideas?
 

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To be clear with the pinch collar: i tried assuming he needed more exercise, and that this would help me control him as i tried walking him a few miles. I have only used it a few times...as i am assuming his issue is that he is so stressed out he cannot think straight, and punishing him for pulling will add to it. But he will not take rewards either. I dont know what to do.

For the ecollar: i tried finding a working level, once. He was calm at the time, in my yard. He never reacted to it, just acted as if all was well. No stress signals. I made sure there was contact. I put it away. An ecollar has done wonders with my other dog, which made me want to try....but i dont have a good feeling about it.

I do sessions with him daily. We work on engagement and basic commands. I add distractions but im running out of ideas.
 

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Have you tried working in sessions on the front door. Maybe sit just outside the door with it open and let him casually explore, then move gradually further from the door?

Maybe something has scared him? Mine is still really nervous about going out the front door so I sit on the doorstep with her near me and we casually watch the world go by and this has seemed to ease her nerves
 

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On leash exercise is not exercise.
Depends on the dog, it isn't a cover all blanket statement for every single dog out there and it depends on what kind of leash exercise it is. What about dogs on leashes doing agility courses? There are definitely a lot of different ways to exercise and off leash runs are great for dogs I also wouldn't used leashed walks as the only form of exercise a dog gets but it isn't accurate when you say leash on=no exercise.

Is the area you live in fairly high activity? If you have remote places where it'd be just you and your dog that might be a good place to do work at? There's still distractions but not as many and could get him used to being away from the house.
 

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What happens if you take him in the car to a location not associated with home?
 

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Depends on the dog, it isn't a cover all blanket statement for every single dog out there and it depends on what kind of leash exercise it is. What about dogs on leashes doing agility courses? There are definitely a lot of different ways to exercise and off leash runs are great for dogs I also wouldn't used leashed walks as the only form of exercise a dog gets but it isn't accurate when you say leash on=no exercise.

Is the area you live in fairly high activity? If you have remote places where it'd be just you and your dog that might be a good place to do work at? There's still distractions but not as many and could get him used to being away from the house.
Well, since I am on a German Shepherd forum, I think it is a safe assumption that I am talking about German Shepherds and not all dogs. This thread is about a healthy puppy that won't settle down so one can also speculate that I am talking about teen aged German Shepherds. What about leashed agility? You show me one person that can run as fast as a German Shepherd at full speed and I'll see your light.

It is very accurate to say that a dog plodding at a human's pace is not exercise.
 

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Well, since I am on a German Shepherd forum, I think it is a safe assumption that I am talking about German Shepherds and not all dogs. This thread is about a healthy puppy that won't settle down so one can also speculate that I am talking about teen aged German Shepherds. What about leashed agility? You show me one person that can run as fast as a German Shepherd at full speed and I'll see your light.

It is very accurate to say that a dog plodding at a human's pace is not exercise.
Well Usain Bolt can nearly run as fast as a sighthound (.6 seconds slower) and was faster than a doberman, he didn't race a GSD though. Granted he is obviously much faster than the average human. Most leashed agility is training the dog for the course but it is still exercise, probably more for the human that the dog but it is something.

I also did say I wouldn't use walking a dog on a leash as it's only form of exercise, and I also didn't specify walking on a leash as the only leash things I was talking about. There is bike riding with your dog on a leash alongside you or skateboards and such, some people do that and considering the dog is panting afterwards and ready for a nap I'd like to think it got some exercise, yet it was on a leash.

I agree that just walking your dog is probably not going to be enough especially for GSDs, although if you go out hiking and such that can tire a dog out pretty good(yes even if it's on a leash).
 

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It does not matter if my puppy can outrun your puppy, that is only splitting hairs. The fact remains that on leash walking at a human's pace is not exercise for a healthy teen aged GSD puppy, be he the fastest or the slowest puppy.

OP is struggling with their pup and asking advice from others. I am entitled to offer my experience which works, and has worked, for multiple dogs of mine. I have come under fire on here in the past for never posting problems with my dogs. I guess I don't have any problems worthy of posting, must be all the off leash exercise they get.

On leash hiking is no different than on leash walking, only a different surface. Boredom tires a dog out too, but that is only mental and does not address the dog's physical needs.


 

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It does not matter if my puppy can outrun your puppy, that is only splitting hairs. The fact remains that on leash walking at a human's pace is not exercise for a healthy teen aged GSD puppy, be he the fastest or the slowest puppy.

OP is struggling with their pup and asking advice from others. I am entitled to offer my experience which works, and has worked, for multiple dogs of mine. I have come under fire on here in the past for never posting problems with my dogs. I guess I don't have any problems worthy of posting, must be all the off leash exercise they get.

On leash hiking is no different than on leash walking, only a different surface. Boredom tires a dog out too, but that is only mental and does not address the dog's physical needs.
Oh yeah definitely offer your advice I'm not saying it's bad advice but I just think on leash is a form of exercise, better than being kenneled or kept in the house all day at the very least.
I do agree that just taking your dog for a walk isn't enough exercise, and shouldn't be all that a dog gets. I don't know how much exercise OP's dog gets but they felt he wasn't getting enough so he probably isn't. They said they exercised him in the yard but I don't know what that entails for them.
I guess I'm just lucky to have as much space as I do in the area I live. Our yard is...well it is very good sized and our dogs like to zoom around or play with each other. They also fetch ball and such, and get to go to the river or the lake for fun days. I'm not quite sure how people do it in big cities, I just know dog parks are popular because people struggle to find places they can take their dog to run free.
Hopefully OP can get some good advice on here that works for their dog to help with the struggle.
 

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Oh yeah definitely offer your advice I'm not saying it's bad advice but I just think on leash is a form of exercise, better than being kenneled or kept in the house all day at the very least.
I do agree that just taking your dog for a walk isn't enough exercise, and shouldn't be all that a dog gets. I don't know how much exercise OP's dog gets but they felt he wasn't getting enough so he probably isn't. They said they exercised him in the yard but I don't know what that entails for them.
I guess I'm just lucky to have as much space as I do in the area I live. Our yard is...well it is very good sized and our dogs like to zoom around or play with each other. They also fetch ball and such, and get to go to the river or the lake for fun days. I'm not quite sure how people do it in big cities, I just know dog parks are popular because people struggle to find places they can take their dog to run free.
Hopefully OP can get some good advice on here that works for their dog to help with the struggle.
Not sure what kind of exercise you personally get, but volunteer to take an elderly person for a walk. When you are done walking at their pace, let me know how much exercise that was for you.
 

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Not sure what kind of exercise you personally get, but volunteer to take an elderly person for a walk. When you are done walking at their pace, let me know how much exercise that was for you.
I've been helping elderly people like my grandparents and great grandparents(also spent a lot of time at nursing homes) get around and doing things for them since I was little! I'm not quite sure what you're trying to get across here? I've agreed that I don't think just taking a dog for a walk is enough, that is an excellent metaphor though.

What were your thoughts on dogs on leashes with things like bicycles and skateboard though? They are certainly not going at a normal slow human pace then.

But back to the OP what can you suggest other than saying that any type of leashed walks are useless? And further than that how can they work on getting the dog to the point that they could follow any alternative exercise suggestions. Right now they are having trouble taking the dog just for simple walks, obviously if the pup isn't listening taking it somewhere off leash could cause some major issues if it isn't a safe place.
 

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To Op - sorry you are having this problem, I am sure it's frustrating. As someone who tries to take his two GSD's on trail hikes at least once (and sometimes twice) a day I agree with Mineareworking that off leash hikes offer the best exercise and do help calm an energetic dog. However, in your case, I worry about the recall. If you let your little monster off leash on a trail, will you be able to get him back on? I've never had this problem because I started daily hikes with my dogs when they were small puppies, so now it's pretty much automatic that they let me leash them back up when we get near the trailhead. However, with your guy, I worry about whether you will be able to get him back on leash - particularly if he is having the time of his life off-leash.

Have you tried keeping him on leash while he is in the house? Maybe get one of those leashes that you can also attach to your waste. Puppy has to follow you around on a leash for at least an hour a day. Then try taking him out in the back yard on leash. The idea is to break things down.

Also, have you done any obedience? It seems like a big part of this is impulse control. How about doing sits and long downs in your house? Work your way up to 5-10 minutes. Puppy learns that he has to control himself to get a reward (treat or toy).
 

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He has learned that going outside is stressful and not fun for him. That is anxious behavior. If you tire him out first, he might learn to calm himself down on a walk. If you can't do it yourself, get a trainer because it will just get worse.
 

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I've been helping elderly people like my grandparents and great grandparents(also spent a lot of time at nursing homes) get around and doing things for them since I was little! I'm not quite sure what you're trying to get across here? I've agreed that I don't think just taking a dog for a walk is enough, that is an excellent metaphor though.

What were your thoughts on dogs on leashes with things like bicycles and skateboard though? They are certainly not going at a normal slow human pace then.

But back to the OP what can you suggest other than saying that any type of leashed walks are useless? And further than that how can they work on getting the dog to the point that they could follow any alternative exercise suggestions. Right now they are having trouble taking the dog just for simple walks, obviously if the pup isn't listening taking it somewhere off leash could cause some major issues if it isn't a safe place.
I disagree with bicycles and skateboards based on the lack of control on an already ill behaved dog as well as those activities are usually carried out on manmade surfaces which are a strict no no in my books.

My advice is to watch the two Stonnie videos I posted and to work with what is safe and available to them to address the exercise needs of their puppy as recommended in the videos before they continue to train and re enforce bad behaviors.
 

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@Irie Ok, I would do this. Exercise the heck out of him, off leash. DO NOT feed him by the bowl, only feed him by hand. Wake up in the morning, take him out to potty (I would use a prong collar). Take him somewhere for some good tiring off leash exercise. On the way to the park do some obedience (not too much) and reward with some of his food. Get him tired, and on the way home feed the rest of his food to him by hand rewarding him for good behavior. If he acts crazy in the house do the same method for feeding him for good behavior. Then back in the crate he goes, 3-4 hours later repeat. Make sure all of his food is used for reward, don't just put down his bowl in front of him and let him eat for not doing anything. Nothing in life is free.
 

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It's Friday and I'm cranky, so forgive the bluntness. Growing up with GSDs, the first principle that I learned was deal with the dog in front of you. OP apparently has a dog that is so "high octane" (for whatever reason: anxiety, teenage nuttiness, poor breeding) that it borders on the unmanageable outside and she cannot “exercise” it on leashed walks. That's where s/he seems to be, right now, and why s/he's asking for suggestions.

So here’s mine. First, OP, I think that it’s counterproductive to consider leashed walking as ‘exercise.’ Might be for some, doesn’t matter who, right now, it’s not for you. So, change how you think about/look at what’s going on with the dog in front of you and respond acccordingly. In other words, I’d suggest you drain your puppy of it's energy BEFORE attempting anything as structured as leash-walking. (Loose or taunt, leash walking is a structured activity which the dog has to learn how to do. Too much octane and they won't learn). When I say ‘leash walking,’ I mean simply mean good manners (i.e., walking reasonably calmly and responsively) — which he apparently he doesn’t have and can’t learn because his energy (fueled by anxiety or whatever) is simply through the roof. Deal with that first and then try to teach him how to walk on the leash.

What worked for my Wild Child, Rachel, was to play kickball in the side yard for 30 minutes BEFORE going a walk. Once I saw that she had taken the edge off and could be (somewhat) responsive, we went for a walk. The walks WERE NOT exercise, they were training sessions. She had to learn how to calmly walk, outside, on a leash, but she could only do that after I’d tapped the tank. Once we reached a certain level of success with that exercise, I could take her to a nearby 6 acre field (kickball in hand) so she could get better exercise. Still, walks to and from the field remained training and not exercise activities, so it all became mutually reinforcing.

A final thought. Turning a dog into a yard so that he can "exercise himself" isn't likely to be effective in this particular situation. (Well, I generally don't think it's effective, but that's neither here nor there). You have to get out there and help drain off that energy (e.g., kickball, flirt pole, fetch, frisbee, whatever) for however long he needs. Once that accomplished, you can start teaching him how to walk on lead.

Good luck.

Aly
 

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Is it really stress or excitement? My dog will refuse or spit out food treats if he knows I have his ball. He wants the ball way more. He isn't stressed out about it.

I am a huge proponent of offleash exercise. My dogs do it every single day. But you do have to be able to call your dog, and have a safe place to let them run.

Have you tried desensitized the dog to the whole scenario by walking out the door and back in 20 or 30 times a day? Same with up and down the driveway?

As for E Collar, dogs don't know what the stim is or what to do about it. You have to teach them. That's why your dog didn't respond. He didn't know what it was or what to do.
 

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I believe in the "structured walk" as a great way to work with a dog with issues. I don't do it very often, but I do it as part of a training plan. Maybe I should do it more. Mostly I take my dogs out off-leash. It's what you see from many trainers, really almost any trainer who works with problem dogs takes the dog on a structured walk. Cesar Millan, Larry Krohn, I can't speak for him, but I believe Haz (Blitzkrieg) works dogs this way as part of his training. The tools might vary- some use a slip lead, some a prong, some an e-collar, and best trainers use whatever works best for that dog.

A structured walk is a simple way to teach the dog to relax and to pay attention to the handler in a way little else can. There are other ways, but this is something most dog owners can "get" without much trouble.

Here's a better trainer than I (Larry Krohn) on the subject:

Start there, is my recommendation. And do give the dog an outlet- tug, fetch, swimming, take him to a ballfield and let him race around, something to let him run off some energy. However, it's not going to fix it, exercise is not a cureall- it helps but does not fix everything just by itself.
 
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