GSD Questions And Answers Part 2
Here are even more questions from our readers. Let’s jump right into them. And remember, that my answers will be geared for the welfare, concern, and betterment of the GSD breed, and as such they may sound a bit “harsh” at times towards the owner, but again – I want to help the dogs have a better life.
If you have a question, please feel free to use our question form to submit your questions. It’s at the end of this page. So anyway, let’s begin!
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Page 2 (this page)
German Shepherd Questions And Answers
Our first question is regarding a female GSD chewing on things, submitted by Monica:
Q: Hi there. I have an 18 month old female GSD, named Sadie. I am having problems with Sadie taking any article that has my scent or my roommate’s scent on it and either leaving it somewhere in the house or chewing on it. She doesn’t chew shoes and pillows that often, but it has happened. Sometimes it happens while I am in the house, or when I have stepped outside momentarily to the grocery. For the most part I am still crating her. I was wondering what I needed to do when I catch her in the act, and what I can do to help prevent this?
A: Hello Monica,
What I would do in the mean time, until her chewing issue is resolved, is to crate her every time you are not at home with her. That way, you are not tempted to correct her “after the fact”. And let me state for the record that any corrections after the fact (anything over 1.5 seconds after the bad behavior) does not work! Yes, a dog will react to the correction you give once you get home and find your dog was naughty, but their reaction will be due to your emotional reaction, and not because they’ve learned from it.
Ok, first thing I would do is get certain toys that your Sadie is allowed to chew – and once he gets a hold of anything else that she wants to chow down on, simply give a verbal correction (mine is, “LASS ES!” – German for “LEAVE IT!“), then redirect her by giving her the designated toy. The best way to achieve this training in the least amount of time is to set up situations where you know Sadie will begin chewing on your stuff. Then be ready with your verbal correction, and the acceptable toy. Make sure your correction is no longer than 1 1/2 seconds after she does the dirty deed.
Once you are 100% sure Sadie understands that her random chewing is not acceptable, but she continues to do so, I’d verbally correct as well as add collar corrections.
Let us know how it goes!
Best Regards and God Bless,
Our next question comes from Melanie, who wants to do exceptional things with Dakota:
Q: I myself am a new GSD owner has well has a new member to your site. My girl just turned one and as a child my father trained and breed most of my youth so I have always been in love with these dogs and I have very little experiance in training. I am interested in training Dakota in search and rescue where I get to work with her not the local P.D. Around my area they want to own the dog and that is out of the question, having her has been my dream ever since I was a girl watching my dad do the amazing things in his training with his GSD’s. Can you give me some advice on this she may already be to old to start the training i’m not sure. My girl is very protective of what she knows is her family and the intelligence she posses amazes me. I have tons to ask and discuss with anyone who will take time to guied me in helping my girl reach what was breed into her genes. Thanks for any advice.
A: Hello Melanie,
Ideally, training a GSD in SAR (Search and Rescue) begins by laying down a solid training foundation as pups. But that is not to say you can’t begin training your 1 year old in it. The best chances you’ll have is to join a local SAR/Schutzhund club, who can then direct you in SAR training. Don’t get intimidated by those who want to take over your dog’s training (and your dog!) – as a “great” trainer will want the owner/handler to do the training anyway.
Begin article training (laying down a “track” for your girl to follow in your back yard), and go shopping for a club!
Best Regards and God Bless,
Our next question comes from Jessica, who asks about training and life with a 2 dog home:
Q: I am hoping for some advice and help with our 2 new puppies. We recently bought 2 pure bread shepherds from 2 different breeders. One saddle back and one white shepherd. They are about 4 days apart in age, one male one female. They are a wonderful addition to our family and new home. However, we are finding training both dogs is bigger struggle than we anticipated.
My biggest question is should we train them together or separate. We have tried both and there seems to be a huge jealousy issue. Our female is better with people and socially and our male is more aggressive. How can we balance them?
Both pups are still only about 4 months old so I know we have time before we need to worry. However, we want to do the best we can for them from day one.
Any help we can get to best train and provide for our new babies would be wonderful. We want to raise them to be protective yet social parts of our family. My husband is in the Army and travels allot so most of this is on me.
I am thrilled to have found this site. Thank you for all you do:)
A: Hello Jessica,
First off, let me congratulate you on your new dogs. If your are going to raise them strictly as pets, and let them be protective as their natural genetic traits allow, then I’d suggest getting one (or both) fixed, so you will not have an accidental breeding. If you plan on doing Schutzhund / Personal Protection Training with them, then I would suggest waiting (for up to at least) the 2 year mark before doing so.
Ok, what I would suggest as far as their training goes, you need to definitely train them separately. They both need to build a strong bond with you, more so than with each other. Dogs will become “doggy” when they spend the majority of their time with other dogs in their pack. You see, when we raise multiple dogs together, the amount of time we spend with them will determine who they bond to. Especially for Schutzhund/Protection trained dogs, we want us – as the handlers – to be the center of their universe!!! Spending quality time (like 1 1/2 to 2 hours) with individual dogs for training (broken up into 15 minute training sessions and play fetch, walks, general fun time) will be very beneficial for your relationship with them. Please note that I totally understand that our daily schedules do not always allow for that kind of time, but as responsible dog owners, we must realize that it’s our responsibility to do so.
As far as the jealousy issue is concerned, I would simply ignore that behavior simply by kenneling each dog when it’s not their turn to train. So for example, let’s say you want to build drive and focus on your male. kennel your bitch so she will not be a distraction in the training, and to avoid the jealous behavior all together. Then reverse the time in the kennel by putting in the male, and train your girl.
Being only 4 months old, you have babies (BIG babies, but babies nonetheless) that need to learn their place in your pack. Being that your two GSDs are 4 month old, you still have a good amount of time to socialize them. This will allow the male to “relax” in a social environment. Believe me, you don’t want a very young dog being aggressive without reason. So socialize the heck out of them. Take them everywhere you go. Everywhere!
Now, I’m not saying to let people fawn all over them (I don’t, and won’t, let strangers fawn over my pups while out and about, and hardly every even let them be petted. Just a simple pat on the head is all I allow.), but do allow them to know that as long as they are with their pack leader (read my article on being a pack leader), they have no reason to fear.
And by the way, let me say that I respect your husband’s military service! I bet you’re proud! You should be.
Best Regards and God Bless,
Should we shear/clip our GSDs? That’s a question from Sue:
Q: For 12 years w had a GSD/Samoyed/Lab mix and in the summer we had him clipped which kept him cool and allowed him to dry off faster after swimming. We now have a 6 y/o black & tan purebred GSD who needs exercise, but appears to suffer during the hot summer months. Is there a consensus as to the wisdom of clipping/shearing of a GSD??
Hum…I’m not sure about this one… Personally, I have not seen nor heard of GSD people clipping/shearing their dogs. I do know that weekly grooming (the Furminator ROCKS!) will definitely help, but that’s all I can say.
So let’s open this up to all of you Professional Groomers out there. What is the consensus for clipping/shearing a GSD?
Best Regards and God Bless,
Sisters! Rich asks about 11 month old GSD females, and their behavior change once they are together:
Q: Thanks for the informative newsletter! My wife and I have two female GSD’s. They are spayed, eleven month old sisters and we have had them since they were approximately four months old. In general, they are wonderful companions that we take camping, hiking, boating, and for car rides. I have had dogs all my life but these are our first GSD’s. I have never known more loyal dogs! These are the first dogs I have ever had that will not turn on me no matter what I do (take object out of mouth, clip nails, bathe, take food, grab by scruff of neck…anything). We have socialized them as much as possible and they participated in a basic obedience class.
The problem, and this is my novice take on it, is that one is very dominant over the other. The dominant one is more prone to barking, especially at strangers and other dogs. She is constantly on the lookout and even prefers to sleep where she can keep an eye on things. She has never nipped or bitten. Her sister is not a barker, is somewhat more obedient and is physically stronger/coordinated. However, she has a tendency to nip when excited. They are fine when apart but when the dominant, non-nipper barks, her sister takes it as a “get them!” and will jump and/or nip at the recipient of the bark. This can even happen when the “barker” barks at someone who is somewhat familiar. We are using prong collars, keeping them leashed when unfamiliar people are present and correcting when incidents occur. The same occurs at dog parks. Each is fine and will play and socialize with other dogs but if you put them both together, they immediately team up with one barking and the other quietly chasing and nipping at some unfortunate dog. In September, we will be entering them in a nine week class taught by a trainer who specializes in GSD’s. Do you have any suggestions regarding how best to handle this dynamic?
Thank you very much!
A: Hello Rich,
Welcome to the wonderful world of the GSD! It sounds like you’re been socializing them even more so than the average dog owner – KUDOS to you!!! Are you planning to do any Schutzhund training with them? My answer will vary depend on that, or if you’re raising them simply as “family pets”. So here’s a general suggestion between the two.
If you’re using the prongs at the correct times (no later than 1.5 seconds after their bad behavior), then I would say to “create” a situation where you know the unwarranted aggression will happen. Ask a (trusting) friend to do whatever it is that sets your dominant girl off. hang a long line on your girl, and immediately correct with a ‘level 8″ prong correction. Level 1 being very slight, and 10 being, ‘yank your head off!’ What you’re doing is sending the message that this behavior is totally unacceptable. Of course, if you’re raising Schutzhund dogs, you do not want to train this out of your girls.
Same with the lessor girl. Once she starts the forward movement to nip, correct with a level 8. Actually, that high of correction needs to be used according to the “temperament” of your dogs. There are typically these three temperaments to consider: soft, medium, and hard dogs. My female sable GSD (almost 4 years old, raised since she was 12 weeks) is a soft dog, so my “hard correction” on her prong is no more than a level 5. That’s her threshold before she’ll go into avoidance with me. Now, if someone else corrects her that hard (or otherwise threatens her), WATCH OUT!!! She’ll rip a new whole where their arm was! I can verbally correct her 99% of the time, being a soft dog, which means no prong collar is needed for her. My 4.5 year old male, Zero, however, well…he’ll take a level 10 prong correction and the most it’ll do is have him drop his ears for me. He’ll still stay in drive!!! He’s a hard dog.
And personally, I avoid dog parks at all costs. You can control your dogs (Rich, you’ve got a training issue here, no more than that. And that’s great news!), but you can’t control other people’s dogs. Heck, other people can’t control their own dogs!!! And guess what? It takes just one stupid incident to scar your dog for life. Just one time your dog gets “jumped” by a larger breed, and he’ll learn very quickly that, “the best defense is a good offense”!
And anyway, my dogs don’t need “doggy playdates”, as my relationship with them means this: I am the center of their world. I’ve raised and trained them that way. I need that bond because of Schutzhund and the Personal Protection Training I’m doing with them.
And lastly, it sounds like your girls have formed an “inner pack” within your family pack structure. By that, I mean the lessor is following the dominant female. This is a roll reversal. You need to be the pack leader. You are the one (in Schutzhund/PPT) that tells them, “FASS!” (“ok, this is the time to attack!”) and, “Gib Laut!” (“speak/bark aggressively”). It seems that one of your girls is taking on that roll…
Pack leadership includes things like: you go through doors first. You decide when playtime is over. You eat first, you do first, you say it’s ok first… Read my article on being a pack leader for a refresher.
Best Regards and God Bless,
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