Training tips for your German Shepherd.
We firmly believe you can teach an old dog new tricks! All dogs can be trained. PATIENCE FIRMNESS AND PERSERVERANCE.....and lots of PRAISE. Please consider taking your dog to dog obedience it is fun for both you and your dog. Your dog will learn to be a good canine citizen and will be a joy to own.
Most of the problems that adult dogs cause are barking, ripping washing off the line and digging holes everywhere.
We have found that most barkers are bored. A solution is to give the dog something to think about. German Shepherds are problem solvers so giving them something like a Kong or similiar will intrigue the dog and keep it interested for awhile. This doesn't solve the problem for the long haul. If the dog is left alone all day and ignored except at meal times then giving the dog a Kong is not going to work. Dogs are very social animals and need our company.
Other dogs bark because they are over alert. These dogs are protecting their pack from danger and take the job very seriously. One of our bitches is like this and it has taken a long time to correct her good intentions. When she barks we go out straight away and praise her and look around. She is then expected to be quiet. As she sleeps inside, if she barks at night time we take notice. She has finally come to the understanding that she is allowed to bark if something is not right. NOT because she has seen a cat or a shadow. It can be very time consuming to solve this problem, but it can be done.
Firstly, as soon as your dog barks go outside and look around. You are taking over the role of pack protector. If you see something wrong praise your dog. If there is nothing. Don't say a thing, just go inside and ignore the dog.
Secondly, you need to be patient and persistant. Your dog will get the idea that it doesn't help it to bark at nothing but BIG rewards if it alerts to something serious.
This will work if you dog is an ALERTER. If you dog is barking out of boredom then more attention, walks and kongs will help
We have heard from a friend that had a dog who would bark on the dot 6.30am. He had only just started this and it was driving his owners and nieghbours crazy. After many spray collars and training sessions later they nearly gave up. The husband had a great idea to get up at about 6.00am in the morning and listen for any strange noises that may be setting the dog off. Sure enough the dog had been hearing a massive sprinkler system on an oval start up at this time every morning. The problem was solved by taking the dog to the oval and showing the dog what the noise was.
Never give up trying to work out what is setting your dog off. Be patient. Sometimes the solution is very simple and easy.
Unless you can be with the dog 24/7 for a few days then keep the dog away from your washing!
Right from the begining as a puppy. Keep an eye on the pup and the washing. The moment the pup shows any interest in the washing say NO. As soon as she looks at you, give her lots of praise. Keep this up. She will understand it in the end.
For an adult dog the cure is basically the same. Keep an eye on the dog and keep on saying NO. Wait for the dog to look at you and praise.
We have heard of filling balloons with water and hiding them in the washing. The idea being that if the dog jumps at the washing she will get a face full of water. This does not work for a dog that loves water!!!
Sometimes if all else fails you will have to remove the dog to a different part of the yard until the washing is dry.
Forget filling holes with poop. We tried that, the dog just dug a metre over. We had a part of the yard that the dog could dig in. That was dug up with relish as was the rest of the yard. Most dogs dig. So having an area for the dog to dig of its own sometimes can work.
Persistance again and supervision is the key to this unwanted behaviour. Dogs dig for a variety of reasons. Some dig to make a hole to lay in and keep cool. Some dig because of a scent they smell in the soil. Others dig out of boredom.
As soon as you see your dog digging, say firmly, "NO!"
Then redirect your dogs behaviour to something else such a chew toy or a place that the dog can dig.
Recently we had one of our puppies return for a visit. She loved to dig. We caught her digging massive holes.  We redirected her to the sandpit and she was happy to dig it up.
One thing we have noticed is that dogs love the taste and smell of bird poo. They will lick and dig at the soil until they get it all. Also crickets seem to be a big attraction. This type of digging can be a problem. Usually as the dog matures they dont find the above as interesting. Once again constant supervision and a sharp NO, can help.
Puppies are not born toilet trained and most are not trained by the time they are allowed to go to their new homes. Pups do not have very good bladder control and find it almost impossible to hold on. They piddle on the carpet not because they are naughty but because they can't hold on and don't know the place they have to go to yet.
When you bring your puppy home; take her to the spot in the yard that you want her to toilet. Let her sniff around and explore for awhile. The moment she squats and piddles, give her gentle praise and repeat the command you want to teach her. Such as toilet or empty.
Bring her inside and show her where she is to sleep. You should have a bed or a crate (we prefer crates above all else). If you have a crate it should be half lined with soft towels and newspaper and a coop cup for water.
Take puppy into your lounge room and let her play and get to know her. Please remember that she has a small bladder and will need to toilet after every meal and when she wakes up after a nap. I would suggest that as soon as she stops showing an interest in playing and starts to circle quickly with her nose on the ground...........take her outside to her toilet area. Remember PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE!!!
Most puppies will pick up the toilet command in about a week. Although bladder control is still maturing and will take some time before all accidents stop!
Your pups first few nights home may be filled with howls and yaps as she learns to be happy being on her own at night. Give your puppy her evening meal and take outside for toilet! Place her in her bed with a biscuit and leave. For awhile there will be silence and if you are truly blessed you may have a pup that settles down the first night. Sometimes your pup may be so tired that she sleeps the first night. Your puppy should use the newspaper to toilet at night time.
In the morning, take her outside to her toilet area. She will probably run around and want to play. Wait her out. Soon she will start circling and toilet. PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE.
Let her play for awhile and explore her surroundings.
If your pup decides to scream the house down the first night. Ignore her. YES..........IGNORE HER. If you cant stand the howls and yaps wait until there is a lull and then check on her. Don't go in mid yap and tell her off or cuddle her. You are rewarding her for yapping. She will actually learn that yelping and screaming = attention. So let the neighbours know you have a new pup and that it could be noisy for a few nights and that you are not murdering anyone.
This will pass. I promise. In the middle of the night when the pups sounds more and more like it is dying from a broken heart remember that THIS WILL PASS.
Training should be fun. Fun for both you and your pup. When you feed your pup she will try and throw herself into the bowl and start inhaling the food. Start holding the food slightly over her head and back a little this will force her to sit. Whilst doing this say SIT. When she does this, give her the food and lots of praise. After a very short time she will understand what sit means.
At this stage I suggest you ring your local Dog Obedience school and book in for some lessons. I personally suggest The German Shepherd Dog Club of SA if you live in or near Adelaide.
At a very early age a pup can be trained the basics. Sit and Toilet being an easy start. Teaching your dog to be obedient is not only rewarding for you but could also save it's life. If your dog ever escapes the leash and starts to dash across the road a simply sit or stay could stop a death dash in front of a car.
Right from the first day you bring your pup home, train her. Patience firmness and lots of praise. Be consistent! Some dogs/pups are very food driven and will do well with a bit of food as a reward. When your pup is ready for Dog Obedience she will be prepared to learn and listen.