German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 42 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What do you think is the best reinforcement to train a GSD, and why? I didn't see another thread like this, but if there is one, feel free to direct me.

I'm about to get my first shepherd puppy and am definitely looking into training him well. He's only five weeks so I have time to prepare. I am planning on taking him to obedience classes, but not until he's older. In the meantime, I want to work on basic commands (sit, stay, off, lay down, leave it, not pulling on the leash, things like that). Aside from those commands, are there others that you taught your puppy? Is "heel" too complicated for a young pup? (I guess I have a few more questions than just "which training method" ;) :p )

I have always heard that sheperds respond best to praise, being that they are working dogs and strive to please you. However, I've noticed most of you prefer using treats, and a good amount of you use clickers. Why is that? What do you feel the benefits are of your preferred method of training?

Note: I am not undermining the different methods, I am simply trying to determine what route I will take for my pup! :]

Any and all input is greatly appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,135 Posts
I think the best thing is to see what your dog likes best. I used treats for Ozzy at first. He liked them, but they weren't very high in value. I moved up to praise and got better results from him. Now he almost never gets treats, simply for the fact that he doesn't really prefer them.

The thing he values MOST is his ball. He will do ANYTHING for his ball, and it's the tool I use to train him. I pair it with praise and I can probably train him to do anything with those two things. I'm pretty sure there are many dogs who wouldn't do jack for you with just a ball and praise. LOL

Just see what your pup likes. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, I guess that should've been common sense, haha. Thanks though, that really does make a lot of sense! (go figure)

I think I just need to realize that training doesn't have to be such a strict science! I've just never really formally "trained" a dog before so it's all pretty new to me. (And I just realized I posted this in the wrong forum, duhhh) I'm so worried about doing something wrong, but I guess me and my Dallas will have to learn together.

We have two smaller dogs, but they have been pretty well-behaved from the get-go. No formal training, no sitting around for hours, they just kind of got the hang of everything themselves. Then again, small dogs don't really NEED as much training as a big gangly GSD pup :D
And my previous large dogs, we had when I was a young girl, so I wasn't too involved in their training.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,135 Posts
I did a lot of reading and research and watched a lot of videos and all kinds of things before I brought home Ozzy. I expected the whole puppy raising and training processes to be completely different than what they turned out to be. It was actually a lot easier than I thought it was going to be (thankfully!) Hopefully it will be for you too. :)
Everything that you read are just generalizations and help prepare you, but your pup is going to teach you just as much as you're going to teach him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
That's exactly how I feel and exactly what I'm doing, haha! I'm glad it turned out well for you, I hope it does for me, too. Thanks :) You are definitely helping to ease my mind a bit, so it is much appreciated.

Dallas's parents seem extremely intelligent and they obey some pretty advanced commands, so hopefully he will be able to follow in their footsteps. Although, I do know that shepherd intelligence can definitely be a double-edged sword, sometimes!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,667 Posts
I started Madix out with clicker and treating. We were just discussing this at training today actually. The benefits of the clicker is the pup knows the treat will follow shortly and it's a very precise marker for when the correct behavior is done. It also helps to signal the handler when to treat and mark because the "correct" behavior has to be very clear in the mind before being able to click.

I then moved from clicker/treat to a verbal marker (because it's way easier than trying to remember a clicker all the time) and a toy - because my dog is more toy driven than treat driven and also, again, because it's way easier to have toys with me all the time than an endless supply of treats.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,250 Posts
Most dogs start off better with treats. Most love food, so it comes natural. Human food or better rewards are most satisfying and rewarding. Praise is a great bridge when you're fading food. Some dogs are motivated more by toys, so you'd have to use toys/play as a reward. The clicker is NOT a reward or motivator. It is a marker used in combination with food/treat/motivation for your dog to help it learn. I highly recommend starting with the clicker and treats for your pup. He'll learn quick.

As for what I taught my dog as a puppy- sit, down, stay(2-3mins), come, his name, off, leave it, drop it, bedtime (kennel command), high five, shake, other paw, and bang. All before 6 months old. Then I worked on more complex commands like finish, heel, german commands, spining, and fronting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,388 Posts
Definitely depends on the individual dog. My favorite thing to train with is a ball on a string. My GSD loves treats, but I get more focus with a ball so I can work through distractions better. The ball also lasts a lot longer than a treat, and I can deliver the reward faster with a toy than with a treat. The only downside is when he's more focused on the ball instead of me, the ball giver, and his obedience ends up being a bit chaotic at first until I can get him into the right state of mind. I usually use treats when I'm in the beginning stages of teaching a behavior, then I switch to a ball to reinforce behavior and work through distractions.

My dog absolutely would not be able to be trained with praise alone. At obedience training, my dog was actually used as an example of dogs that don't respond to praise :blush:. I only use praise("good") as a verbal marker, the praise itself is not a reward.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for that, I'm still getting used to how this forum is organized. Might I add that I saw your Halo in the sables pic thread... What an absolutely beautiful dog!!



Like I said, I am pretty new to any formal training so I didn't know the clicker was to be used in conjunction with something. I do like the idea that it's much more precise than anything else, so I think I'm going to start off with that. I can probably just keep one at home and one in my handbag for any on-the-go purposes. As for treats vs praise, I guess I'll have to experiment with both :) are there any brands of treats that you guys prefer? I do know what food guidelines to look for, for both puppies and adults, but I heard of a brand that is supposed to help out their hips & joints. Unfortunately, the name escapes me right now.

Thanks for all the replies so far, everyone!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,132 Posts
Would it be at all possible for you to get him involved in a puppy class? They're great for learning to train your puppy as well as for socialization.

After all, training isn't really about teaching your dog sit/stay/heel/down/etc. It's about learning to speak in a way that your dog can understand, and learning to listen to your dog. Training = developing a common language. Why wait until he's older to learn to understand him?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
27,460 Posts
The best trainers know training is NOT about the end behavior (sit? down?)

Instead it's about us figuring out the best way to motivate and ENGAGE with our pup so that all learning is easy cause they WANT to learn and WANT to be with us trying to figure out new (and sometime really hard...) things we are wanting them to learn. Some great videos to help explain the toys/treats/praise/clicker are:



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Would it be at all possible for you to get him involved in a puppy class? They're great for learning to train your puppy as well as for socialization.

After all, training isn't really about teaching your dog sit/stay/heel/down/etc. It's about learning to speak in a way that your dog can understand, and learning to listen to your dog. Training = developing a common language. Why wait until he's older to learn to understand him?
The training facilities in my area don't offer classes until the dog is six months old. I'm going to look into it a bit more and hopefully I can find something, but the only "puppy classes" I've been able to find so far are Petsmart and Petco.
I've always been discouraged from participating in their classes, but if any of you have had positive experiences, please share!

I'm not so much worried about socializing him because we have a dog park right around the corner from my house, so he'll be around other dogs and people plenty :] and we have a few events in my area monthly that I plan to take him to, in order to get him used to different situations.

I definitely plan on working with him a lot and learning about him and myself. It'll certainly be a growing process for both of us!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,250 Posts
Dog parks are not ideal for puppies, and IMO dogs younger than 8-10 months should not visit them.

If you have nothing except a petsmart training class, taking their puppy class for the socialization and distraction is better than nothing. Just don't pay much attention to the actual lessons and learn how to train your dog yourself online or in books.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,132 Posts
I agree: Not a big fan of dog parks AT ALL! Always the chance your puppy will run into a bully and then either be afraid of dogs or dog-aggressive for years to come.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,667 Posts
I don't like dog parks.

Did you check for dog classes at your local humane society? That's where I've gone in the past.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,294 Posts
I've trained with my "pup"~ clicker, treats, ball, tug.
I am going to (finally) introduce the dumbell retrieve to him.
Recently I've been rewarding with a marker YES and the ball for the reward. I'm going to go back to clicker/treat for this exercise.
Once you've trained for different things, it is ok to change up the marker and rewards, especially if the dog is learning a new concept.
Around my town, I am really lucky to have several great people and places to train, and the more people I meet, the more contacts I make. So get yourself in a group of passionate dog lovers and you'll surround yourself with successful trainers....its a given!
BTW...never have taken my dogs to a dog park, and I still find people to train with that know what they are doing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Our dog park actually has a section that is specifically for puppies, it's a really great location. I don't plan on letting him have free roam through the park until he's older; I mostly intend on walking him, on leash, around the area so he can get used to the sights & smells of dogs. My neighborhood has lots of dogs, so I think this is a good way to get him used to the idea of being around other dogs, while still feeling secure.

If you disagree, feel free to direct me, I'm open! I just wanted to make it clear that I will NOT be letting him run free with strange dogs that could possess the qualities you all seemed worried about him being exposed to. I definitely agree with you all on that.

I didn't think of checking the humane society, that sounds like a great option! I will definitely look into it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,294 Posts
Well if you go to a dog park, you will usually have to unclip the leash. And if your pup doesn't have great recall, you will be at the mercy of the other dogs and your pups willingness to stay engaged with you. Until your puppy is proofed on his recall, then how can you control the situations he will be exposed to?
Please do some group structured classes for socializing instead of the dog park drama that won't benefit him.
Michael Ellis has some great clips on Leerburgs site for engagement. The ones MRL posted previously should be viewed over and over!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
80 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Well if you go to a dog park, you will usually have to unclip the leash. And if your pup doesn't have great recall, you will be at the mercy of the other dogs and your pups willingness to stay engaged with you. Until your puppy is proofed on his recall, then how can you control the situations he will be exposed to?
Please do some group structured classes for socializing instead of the dog park drama that won't benefit him.
Michael Ellis has some great clips on Leerburgs site for engagement. The ones MRL posted previously should be viewed over and over!!
I believe ours does allow you to keep their leash on them, but I will look more into it as well as classes. So far, it just doesn't seem like there are many opportunities available for younger puppies in my area so I figured the dog park would be a good alternative. Maybe not. However, I do know plenty of people who taken their dogs and puppies to this specific park for years and have never had any sort of issues (I have been 5 or 6 times), so I will probably at least check it out a couple times, while erring caution. I would be willing to travel for classes, but this is of course something that I would be doing multiple times a week. So unfortunately, that will just not be feasible.

But as a previous poster suggested, I will definitely see what the humane society has to offer! Hopefully it will yield to at least something more than I have found, so far. Luckily, I've still got time before I take my pup home to figure it all out :)
 
1 - 20 of 42 Posts
Top