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We have had our GSD puppy for three months as of today and he turned 7 months this week. We are experienced GSD owners and have had the breed for 20+ years. Since our last few shepherds were rescues, we have not enjoyed a puppy for several years. All of our dogs attended basic obedience classes and we have watched training principles change over the years.

With this pup, we are trying the Positive approach and it aligns with most of our attitudes toward general training...keep things positive and build the dog's confidence. BUT this puppy is very high energy, less interested in listening and less likely to follow a direction than any dog we have ever owned.

This pup knows his basics, and more, but has "selective hearing", especially as he grows into his "terrible tweens".

Our work schedules allow someone to always be home and the pup gets more outside play, training, and activity than any of our dogs, but is rarely tired and always ready for "more". He rarely naps, loses interest in a chew within 15 minutes and then finds trouble. He becomes a cranky, overwound puppy that cannot settle. Our trainer discourages use of the crate for "settle down time" or timeout, but we feel that the pup needs some way to settle down and he's not ready to do so through training.

We are beginning to wonder our pup is not responding to the purely positive training methods. In the past, we were willing to handle counter surfing, chasing our cats, jumping/chewing on furniture/people, and general misbehavior with corrections. We used leash correction, shaker cans, squirt bottles, etc. and our dogs learned quickly. Now, we are encouraged to ignore misbehavior and wait until he makes the correct choice. It doesn't feel like the approach works for a big, active, young GSD.

Any advice on training practices for a very active and young GSD will be much appreciated. We are going to enroll him with a new trainer, but are not certain which principles are best for him.

Thank you!
 

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He rarely naps, loses interest in a chew within 15 minutes and then finds trouble. He becomes a cranky, overwound puppy that cannot settle. Our trainer discourages use of the crate for "settle down time" or timeout, but we feel that the pup needs some way to settle down and he's not ready to do so through training.
I strongly disagree with your trainer. Some down time in the crate is exactly what a cranky, overwound puppy needs. Cava is only 5 months old, but I've done the same with every previous puppy. Some people say using the crate for timeouts will make the dog view the crate as a negative, but that has never been my experience. It's not necessarily a punishment, it's just a break. Both for the puppy, and for you.

Usually when our puppies have gotten to the point where they're just bouncing off the walls being totally annoying they're minutes away from crashing. Cava gets these periods in the evening shortly after dinner - she'll be wild eyed and panting, sometimes doing zoomies, and nothing works to get her to settle down and focus. We put her in the crate and in no time she's out. She sleeps in a plastic crate in the bedroom but we set up a wire crate (you could also use an x-pen) in the living room, so she's with us and the other dogs rather than isolated from the pack. Sometimes she fusses a bit, but rarely for long. He may shriek if he's not used to it, but simply ignore him. Don't talk to him, don't look at him, he does not exist. You can put a bone, a chew toy, or a stuffed Kong or something in there with him, but once he goes in he's invisible until you're ready to let him out.



We are beginning to wonder our pup is not responding to the purely positive training methods. In the past, we were willing to handle counter surfing, chasing our cats, jumping/chewing on furniture/people, and general misbehavior with corrections. We used leash correction, shaker cans, squirt bottles, etc. and our dogs learned quickly. Now, we are encouraged to ignore misbehavior and wait until he makes the correct choice. It doesn't feel like the approach works for a big, active, young GSD.
As much as possible, I prefer to teach my dogs what TO do and then reward them for doing it. The more I can reinforce good behavior, the more I get good behavior and the less I need to correct them for the wrong behavior. I also like to allow my dogs to learn to make good choices. BUT, some behavior is self reinforcing, (chasing the cats is fun!) so unless you can manage the environment to prevent him from practicing bad behavior, then correcting him is going to be necessary. Otherwise, he'll just keep doing it. Attention barking can be ignored because if it's not working to get attention he'll eventually stop and try something else. And while annoying, barking not harmful to you, your cats, or your guests. Jumping on people isn't going to extinguish on its own, so management, training an incompatible behavior (he can't jump on people if he's sitting politely for greetings), and sometimes corrections are all appropriate.

If I'm in a class and they do things differently from the way I train, I just continue doing what I do because I know it works. Class is only an hour a week, so most of the training happens between classes anyway. If you're working with a private trainer and don't think their methods are working for you, I'd look for a new trainer.
 

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Crates are a good way to ensure some down time. A puppy needs to nap. Sometimes you need to enforce nap time.
I'd also like to add, positive only works to an extent. However, you get to a point where you need balance.
Train for the dog in front of you. Just like people, not one thing necessarily fits.
 

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Totally agree with C's.mom and Cloud. Crates are a must. I completely don't understand how a trainer can advice against them. Regarding the methods: I too was always for the positive methods until....I got my first working line GSD. At just that age (7 months) he would throw in the towel, give me the middle finger, pulled me off my feet when he saw his best friend, etc. when something was more interesting than a clicker and treats. Prong collar to the rescue and later the Ecollar for chasing wild life (for Deja). With pups I always start with the gentle techniques (clicker) to teach them. Then I go from there with whatever works. But... for new behavior, no matter the age of the dog, I still use the clicker.
I now have two well behaved dogs (one being a 5 month old pup). Griff, the pup, is a strong willed dog (not hyper) and even at that young age the clicker wasn't enough. Just go with the flow, use common sense, esp. with your trainer and stay your own course.
 

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If I'm in a class and they do things differently from the way I train, I just continue doing what I do because I know it works. Class is only an hour a week, so most of the training happens between classes anyway. If you're working with a private trainer and don't think their methods are working for you, I'd look for a new trainer.
I just really, really wanted to emphasize on this. I have put my own training behind on schedule many times because of the amount of different input I have received from a variety of trainers and members in my training class/IPO club. Find what works for your pup, like cloudpump said. Just because your trainer doesn't believe in one method doesn't mean it suits your dog or your training style.

And honestly, one thing I wish I would've done more of is x-pen training for my girl in our living room. Having her learn how to be calm and settle on her own despite the environment being busy or not including her. It's a great way to teach that inside is calm. I had to work on using place training later on to encourage relaxed behaviour, which wasn't a big issue but it would've been nice if it were a well established habit by the time she were 6 months and already big.
 

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Take the dogs food and make them "work" for it by using the food for training. That way they will be hungry when you're training which can make training better! Also teach your dog "place" or to chill on a mat/bed next to you while your hanging out on the sofa! Reward them a lot at the beginning for staying calm on the bed/mat! Also like others hve said...Crate them/use ex-pen!
Lastly, how much MENTALLY STIMULATING ACTIVITIES are you giving your puppy??

|Chuck|
 

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You need to rethink your methods. It’s possible to train using purely positive but you must know how your dog is going to behave before it happens rather than try to fix it after. Once the dog has learned the wrong behavior or reaction, positive can’t undo it easily. With a good trainer you could have been successful but by 4 months when you got the dog, he could have already learned some bad behaviors. Corrections work. Time out works. Purely positive requires a lot of attention and excellent timing.
 

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We have had our GSD puppy for three months as of today and he turned 7 months this week. We are experienced GSD owners and have had the breed for 20+ years.

We are beginning to wonder our pup is not responding to the purely positive training methods. In the past, we were willing to handle counter surfing, chasing our cats, jumping/chewing on furniture/people, and general misbehavior with corrections. We used leash correction, shaker cans, squirt bottles, etc. and our dogs learned quickly. Now, we are encouraged to ignore misbehavior and wait until he makes the correct choice. It doesn't feel like the approach works for a big, active, young GSD.

Thank you!
It seems you used to know what you were doing. There's no reason to doubt yourself. Personally, I feel that "purely positive" is a mistaken approach to big active especially male GSDs. Just because it's a "newer" (relatively) approach doesn't mean it's better for every type of dog.
 

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I have heard of "studies" that say that any kind of negative markers or communication with your dog results in slower learning. To that I say hogwash! Communication is just that, not always good, but just clear. I have always used a gentle no to mark behavior that is not what I'm after...it's not harsh, nor a punishment, but a steering guide, and it DOES work. Purely positive is more freaking work than it's worth! Just be fair, communicative, and consistent in guiding your dog to teach them what you want. If your balanced training results in correcting the dog often, say more than about 5% of the time, rethink your strategy. But worrying about ALWAYS being positive is doing you and your dog a disservice IMHO!
 

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I've heard this time and time again: purely positive, as a rule, does NOT work with large, strong-willed breeds like the GSD. They do much better with balanced training. Especially in adolescence, they act like bratty teenagers and will test the limits to see what they can get away with. When this happens, they NEED to be corrected. It doesn't have to be harsh or cruel, just enough to let the dog know, "oops, I messed up!"

As has been often said: train the dog infront of you. Find out what works for your specific dog - what level and type of correction works for them.

My first GSD had more of a golden retriever temperament, and was easy to train. The next one was just the opposite. If she didn't want to do something, she was VERY inventive at finding a way of avoiding it. I can't imagine ever having been able to train her with purely positive methods! It would have been a disaster!
 

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I would classify my GSD puppy as slightly higher then average when it comes to energy. She's get crate time and it works well for her.
 
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