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Annie is my 3rd GSD, and it's hard to remember everything that I didn't know (my first GSD 20 years ago was first dog ever). And I've barely scratched the surface....

What training things have you done, formally or informally, that turned out really, really well? I'm thinking of the small, everyday things that affect overall relationships, like teaching a dog to wait for release before going to the food bowl, as well as the big things like obedience training.

What training (or failure of training) whoopsies will you be sure you never, ever do again?

One of my definite yesses -- I finally figured out to teach Annie as a pup to "wait" when I open the car door. So much safer! As well as setting up a good mind set for both of us before we set off doing whatever we're off to do. Duh...

And I'm so glad I went beyond basic obedience with her and started doing classes like agility and whatnot with Annie -- it opened my eyes to so much.

A big whoopsie was to not push harder to socialize her with kids of all ages. She's more uptight than my first 2 shepherds, and is a nervous around kids--so I'm hoping to correct this working through the dog club.
 

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I was really glad to have taught hand signals. I used them so
often, it was nice to have Tamsen come in at night without
a call that would disturb the neighbors for instance. And to use
when she was older and nearly deaf.

My biggest whoopsie was not realizing how important the
socialization with other dogs was. She was always dog
aggressive, I could control it but barely. She was my first
shepherd and I really dropped the ball on that one.
 

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I am thankful for crate training. I was very big on competitive obedience (before children lol) and even though Achielles did very well and scored very well, the exercises I used the most (besides heeling and stays) were the tricks I taught him! Play dead, hold the hotdog and dont eat it, speak etc. I am thankful I did this and plan on training a lot of tricks with my current and future dogs too.

Whoopsies would have to be even more socialization. I did some, but now realize you really can never have too much! Especially with other dogs. I was always so much about the "be more fun" than any other dog that I never allowed a lot of play with other dogs. Other whoopsises would have to be correction based training way to early. I have since found a much better way to train since my humble beginnings.

Overall best things were all the training/heeling/stays/tricks we did. I learned so much and had so much fun!
 

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I wish I had bought the positive training schtick years and years ago! That's my big regret.

Successes?
Learning how to build a nice down and a nice recall.
Having a high drive dog hold an off lead stand stay with a bunny in the bushes.
Having the judge at a fun match declare "She adores you!"
Leaving a dog on the parking strip in a stay while I go up to a house - with a cat on the front porch & have the neighbors remark about what a good dog she is (same high drive dog.)
Having a policeman drive past slowly once, approach again (I'm saying Oh S..t! It looks like some dogs got in trouble last night. We were in the motel alone - Where's my alibi?) to ask if he can pet them. (He can, he does "I just love these dogs!)

I'm not about high scores in the official trials. I'm about high scores in stuff like this. It's not in anyone's book but mine.

Regrets? That I didn't have the money when I first moved to Arkansas to travel for training. That I didn't do more when they were younger. That I didn't drive 4 hours for training on a regular basis.
 

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I would have to say the best things in training are absolute recall, no hesitation and "place"
I cant tell you how nice it is to cook dinner without tripping over a dog.

Regrets? not getting a professional for my current dog sooner. Not socializing enough as a puppy with other dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh wow. I've done more work with Annie than with any other dog, and reading through this reminds me there's much more we can do together.

I've discovered that a recall that's 90% perfect isn't much of a recall at all (we have a little cat chasing problem--she always comes back but sometimes there's a bit of a detour...).

And I'm also glad I've been teaching tricks. So much fun to do, really makes me think, and Annie loves the attention and the rewards. I really enjoy learning what she responds to and watching her work things out. Also it's made me notice where I'm not clear and consistent, which has helped set me up for agility and obedience work.

And I'm reminded that there's nothing (for me anyway) that replaces formal classwork and a good instructor.

Interesting that socialization of all kinds is a major theme for us GSDers. I haven't had any other kinds of dogs, but I recently babysat a golden lab and that dog seems to have been born socialized.
 

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Good ideas: teaching a proper drop at the feet retrieve (always have 2 frisbees/sticks etc.)
Using clicker training/positive reinforcement, behaviour shaping--I now have a 'thinking dog'.
Training Dynamo forever, and always. I've never had a dog be so completely attentive to me, looking at me, checking in, following me around watching my every move.
Regrets: so many. Lets see, not training Zandor with positive reinforcement (he would have made a great beginner agility dog, but I thought a dog that wouldn't play tug or fetch wouldn't be any good.
Not using a prong collar on Dynamo at the first sign of trouble (with the cats).
Not using an e-collar on Dynamo for the first two years--we kept her on a long-line and trained and trained and trained, but jeepers, no matter how many wonderful the cheese bits, swiss chalet chicken strips, and weiners we doled out, plus flying frisbees, she still just LOVED chasing squirrels, deer, fast dogs. (and yes, 90% recalls are pretty well useless outside the ring)
So I guess the sum was not using enough positive reinforcement with Zandor, and not reaching for aversives in time with Dynamo. I swung from one training extreme to the other--now I do what works best.
There's more, I'm sure. Good question.
 

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Professional training. Lots of it. Best money ever spent.
Finally getting over my heebie-jeebies about raw diet and getting him off a commercial diet was a good move.
Like everyone else, I wish I had done more socialization. Can you ever do enough?
I wish I had waited on certain vaccines when he was a pup.
I'm glad we taught him how to dribble a soccer ball. He just loves his soccer games!
On the note of physical activity, MRL's that GSDs (esp older puppies) need a lot of physical activity; that no matter how long, walks just won't cut it. (I never realized it would be 2 hours a day, even as an adult!) But she woke us up to the cold hard facts about the puppy we just brought home!

All the usual obedience stuff, of course, is invaluable. But I think my favorite thing that we taught Camper (Someone here suggested it as a way to keep a puppy mentally stimulated) was the Find It game. We started it when he was a wee one. Now, he can track just about anything we hide anywhere we hide it. This is an important part of his usual routine, along with his more physical games. On rainy days, it helps keep his mind active. And He LOVES the game!

Best of all, we've trained him to find (& retrieve) stuff around the house. You know all that stuff that you're always looking for? We've named it, practiced it, and when we can't find it, we just tell Camper "Find it! Find the..XXX"

It's the best!
 

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I am new at this. I have a 7 month old GSD and she is always wanting the 7 year old cat. The cat is also in the house. The cat will lay and grawl at her and she will whine and try to get the cat. How can I stop this??? It drives me nuts. I think she is just wanting the cat to play but he don't want anything to do with her.
 

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Regarding cats and dogs: I always recommend reading Leerburg's take on this: http://leerburg.com/dog-cat.htm
Keep in mind that 'correction' needs to be appropriate. For some dogs, a simple uh, uh, and a furrowed brow is enough. The main thing about his advice is that it involves keeping the cat safe and comfortable during the training process.
Your dog may 'just want to play', but my cats 'play' with mice, and the result is not pretty. So basically, don't allow your dog to be bothersome to the cat. This will allow your cat to become more relaxed around the dog, and then your cat will become less interesting to your dog. Occasionally dogs do kill cats so it's best to play it safe and err on the side of caution. Keep them separate when you can't supervise. My dogs get locked downstairs when I leave them alone, and I never leave the house without doing a 'cat-count' to make sure they are upstairs--this is years after I figure the problem solved.
If you need more help, regarding dogs and cats, please start a separate thread and then everyone can help you with their own methods and opinions.
 

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I've learned that growling works LOL

Like this evening hubby and i were eating pizza at the coffee table in the LR. Reich can reach anything on there.

She came over and stuck her nose on my plate.

I got eye level with her and growled. She backed off, and every time she tried to appraoch, I'd growl again.

After 2 times, she retired to the other room until we were done eating. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a dog that scavenges and/or begs.
Small pups get the growling...and eventually I'll turn that plain old growl into a rumbly 'no', then tweak it until it's just me saying 'no'.

It works with puppy biting too. If she nips and you yelp or make any high-pitched noise...she realizes that she has the upper hand and nips harder.
But if you squat down and growl...she stops.

Angus, my older dog, used to like the trash. I turned a growl into 'mine', so now when he sniffs at my shoes, the trash can, anything I don't want him having I can say 'mine!' and he knows it's off limits.
 

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Growing up on the farm, I don't guess we even owned a leash. King was just always there. Recall was rarely used because if King got after something, by god, it more than likely needed getting after. Heeling was a fancy thing for city dogs. Then, alas, I moved to the city and obedience became a neccesity. I've read a lot of "whoops" here about what they should have done but this is a "whoops" about something I actually did.
I knew just enough about training to be dangerous. I was using a "choke chain" as they were called then and had read about how to give a correction. We were working on heeling and of course Bruno was pulling like crazy. I'd pop him and shout "HEEL!" It worked great, and soon the instant I said, "Heel", poor old Bruno would flinch, lay back his ears and come to heel. I had forgotten all about the part of saying, "NO" with the correction. Fortunately, Bruno forgave my ignorance and soon, with a lot of praise, evidently forgot the whole sordid incident.
 
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