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I'm new to this board, and we just got a four year old GSD. She's very well behaved, and we know her quite well, as she was my husband's parent's dog. We live in a much larger home, and she was just too high energy for their small house. I want to really get her listening to me, and wanted to enroll her in an obedience class. Is four year old too old to train like that? Basically what I want is excellent off leash recall (very important to me), and the basic commands.

She's also extremely energetic, and I'm not quite sure yet if its from lack of exercise and a small house and yard, or if she's just an energetic dog.

Any ideas on what I can do with her to work off some of this energy? Or where I can put it to good use, such as agility?

Thanks
 

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Absolutely not too old!!

Enroll in a basic Obedience class and go from there. You might like Agility or Rally or something else out there. A good basic Obedience class to start will get you on the right track.
 

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Never too old. Never. She will thrive with the additional attention and exercise. I personally like a ball launcher of any kind to get a dog exercise. Put her on a long line and go to an open field that's either fenced in or away from traffic and get her flying after a ball. The "chuck it" or "go furr balls" are good for this. You can add in recall work during this play/exercise time by launching a ball out there and once she gets it call her to you and run away from her as fast as you can. Watch her FLY to you!. Do this 10 times a day for about two weeks and then when in your yard call her to you and watch her run to you out of habit. This only takes 15 minutes a day and gives her a big part of the exercise she needs (along with a good walk) and builds the recall that you are 100% correct to want above all else.
 

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A dog is never too old to train. I have adopted several seniors (>12 years old) and successfully trained them to walk to heel, come when called etc. I go to obedience classes with my dogs, even the seniors and disabled, both for the socialisation and to find out/show others just what these guys are capable of.

Joanne, Spirit and Eli
 

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The only dog that is too old to train is a dead dog.

To help with that energy, you can bike with her (after a vet clearance), jog with her, play fetch with two balls (as soon as she brings back one, toss the other to keep her moving), do agility (again after a vet clearance), see if there is a place for herding by you, get her a doggie backpack to walk with, and train her things at home. Teach her tricks like picking up stuff (I'm teaching mine to get the remote), the usual sit and down commands but in various positions and situations (I've taught mine to sit and down on park benches and picnic tables), fun tricks, etc. Physical exercise is required, but mental exercise is what really wipes them out!

If she seems waffly with the come command, you can always start fresh with a new command like "here." If you start fresh, it's treated as a command she's never heard or learned before and you'd start her off just like you would a puppy. The beauty of starting fresh is that you train her to YOUR standards from day one. A lot of dogs unfortunately learn that the recall command is optional and that's one thing that is NEVER optional. A big rule to remember- if you are not 100% she will come to you when called AND you have no means to enforce it, don't give the command because that will again teach her that it is optional. Invest in a long line (very long leash), at least 30' or so to help you in recall training. Always reward the recall with the BEST treats and most exuberant praise, and even some games! Have her come for food, come for a game of tug, come to play fetch, come to be leashed up for a fun walk, etc.

Congrats on your adopted four years YOUNG dog.
 

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Too late to teach an old dog new tricks!
NOT!
Regardless of her age or current level of training, enrolling her into a basic obedience class will do her and you a world of good. It will give her an opportunity to bond with you. She will surely benefit from the socialization. The class and the follow up homework will help to burn some of that energy. I'm guessing that you will be fine.
 
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