Training Links


If you don’t give your dog a job, he will become self-employed.


OK to use treats now and then


Praising Your Dog

by Mary Farren,  GSRNE Foster Home Training Director

There is a right way to praise your dog. When your dog has performed a command or action that you think should be rewarded, praise him. Now, if you were to jump up and down excitedly clapping your hands and using a high pitched squeaky voice, your dog is going to get really excited and move off (most likely up at you or away from the crazy squeaky human). Your dog starts zooming around causing havoc because he was just given a signal to do this.

The correct way to praise a dog is with a soft, calm voice – try using a simple “yes”. You can smile at your dog because you are very pleased with his actions. If you are the touchy type of person, give him one pat (yes, one). He is going to work harder for your praise if he’s not given it freely.

It is okay to use treats here and there if your dog is not mugging you for them each and every time he does something you are happy about. Space them out so that he is not receiving food each time he gives you an action.

We can end up force feeding our foster dogs with an abundance of hot dog pieces, squeaks, claps, and all sorts of actions that our dogs do not understand – we are, after all, only human ;-). Dogs like calm praise – it builds up their confidence in you. Praise them for a job well done, praise them often. After all, they are working hard for you.

Leash Training


There are many ways to handle a leash. Most times, you will see people place the loop of the leash around their wrists. This can lead to injury. Please note the proper way to handle a leash and be able to handle your dog safely. [read the article]

Ask The Trainer, Mary Farren, GSRNE Foster Home Training Director

Excitement barking in the car

Question: “My dog gets excited and barks in the car. She cues into direction signals and the car slowing down in certain areas. She has been doing this for several years. What can I do to stop this behavior?”

Answer: “As soon as your dog hops in the car, she’s excited and happy about her new adventure. She starts out with her signature whining. It escalates as triggers happen, such as a particular stop sign or a left-hand directional being turned on. She’s starting to whine and whine with the urgency of a seagull at Kelly’s in Revere. She jumps up and starts her high-pitched barking. You feel as though your head is going to explode.” Does this scenario sound familiar? This behavior may have been going on for as long as you can remember, or maybe it’s just started. Either way, we can help change it by teaching her to settle. A good place to start is teaching them a solid down command. Once this is established, we can transfer her new behavior into the car. It does help if you have someone with you to help her out.

You get into your car to start your trip. Your dog and another person is in the back seat holding your dog’s leash. You are approaching that dreaded stop sign, you see her attentive pose with her ears forward, and you know what’s going to happen – the whine is about to start. “Down” Her. If she complies with the first command, you’ve done your homework. If not, your friend in the back seat can help by placing downward pressure on her collar with the leash to help you back up your command, “Down”. The downward pressure helps her go down as you gently and unexcitedly praise her, “Good”. You will remind her when you stop at the stop sign that she is doing a great job by telling her “Good Down”. This reinforces the command and helps to remind her of her new job. You’ll do the same when you turn on your left directional signal and when you arrive at your destination. When you have arrived, praise her again and give her a little pat.

You will find that this sounds a lot easier than it really is. Keep on practicing and help her understand what it is that she should be doing while in the car. A foolproof down command and patience is the key. After all, she has developed a habit that needs to be replaced by another behavior. Keep up the good work, and remember that she is willing to learn if you are willing to show her what you want her to do.

Rushing the Door When Company Comes Over

Question: “How can I get my four dogs to stop rushing the door when someone comes to my house? I can get them one at a time to do it. But the unexpected guest gets everything from kissed to sniffed and practically violated! I have tried to have them sit until the company comes in, but all it takes is one of the dogs to jump towards the guest and (pardon) all heck breaks loose!” HELP! – Wendy

Answer: This is an excellent question.What I would work on, since you can successfully do this one at a time, is adding one more dog at a time to the situation:

One dog will do a sit/stay while you invite a guest into your home. Add the second dog and have them both sit/stay while you invite a guest into your home, etc, etc. The hard part is when one breaks, they all break. Practice using their names along with their release. You can do this at feeding time, when they are playing ball, giving treats, etc.

Give one command for them all to sit/say. Say the dog’s name and have him come to you. If the others break, bring them all back and reinforce the sit. Say dog’s name again and have him come to you, etc, etc. They do learn that they need to wait to hear their name before they can get up and move. This helps with greeting guests in whom one dog can greet, then next dog can greet, etc, etc. Less stress on your company too.

Let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions since I do not know the level of training of your dogs.

Obedience Training

Group training is an inexpensive way to teach the basics. This is the foundation for a dog’s learning. Many dogs go beyond this to work with agility trials, advanced training skills, Canine Good Citizenship (CGC), therapy dogs and other titles.

One-on-one or private lessons teaches in isolation and does not allow for the dog to be socialized. We would recommend this only if you’re dealing with specific associated behaviors.

Socialization is the major advantage as the dog must get use to the idea of having other dogs around. They must be exposed and learn to ignore major distractions in a controlled environment. You will learn the skills of how to walk the dog down the street and pass others.

Do more then just call if you are unfamiliar with the school.

Plan to attend a class or two before hand or enrolling. The first class is pretty wild. The last class is amazing what the dogs and owners learn over a period of time.

Look for training styles, abilities and people skills. How do they handle difficult dogs? How do they handle shy dogs? How do they handle fearful dogs? What are their attitudes towards German Shepherd Dogs (or your breed)? Towards rescued dogs?

Watch out for trainers who promise or guarantee results.

Look for humane training methods that use gentle, effective handling skills, not harsh or abusive methods which are unnecessary and often counterproductive and may even be harmful to the dog.

Look for trainers who have ethics, before profits. Is the trainer understanding and out for the welfare and quality of the dog? What are the class sizes like? Can they offer you references?

Look for trainers that have a sense of humor. If it’s not fun for both you and the dog, you maybe working to hard. If you’re not excited about training your dog, your dog is not going to be excited about learning new things.

Think of hiring a trainer for obedience school, just like you would if you were looking for a babysitters, day care for a child or educational schooling programs.

Sometimes to get the best quality you may have to look beyond the front door steps of your communities.

Talk to your vet for referrals, look at local animal shelters (most understand family pets), call state and local humane societies, check with local adult education programs (many offer basic obedience).

Look for trainers that use praise, motivation, reward (food/toy) and use consistency.

Once you have established this communication system with your dog, continued to use them in your daily routines for the betterment of the dog. They will come to love you for their proud work and they will be a more enjoyable family member.

They look to you for your leadership and guidance more then ever.

A trained dog is a happy dog and a happy dog has an enjoyable life to live :o)

Written by: Janice Dobson

The Various Types of Trainers.

We’ve all heard the old adage “Train, don’t complain”. When that cute bundle of joy arrives, there are the best of intentions, and a rush to “train the dog”, before he gets too old to train. Better to remember “training never ends…” Most adult GSDs are loyal, active, loving, protective and intelligent. Without proper guidance and training, many GSDs can be rambunctious and exhausting to live with. It is up to you to guide your dog to suit your lifestyle and that of your family. GSDs need training and a structured lifestyle throughout their lives. Training is not something that you “finish”. It’s a continual process that takes place during the lifetime of your dog.

Before you rush out and arm yourself with supplies, it’s best to decide what type of dog you own, what type of owner you are and how best to approach your training goals. Just as humans learn differently, dogs do to! It’s best to become aware of exactly what you intend to accomplish before you start out. While our dream might be that of an obedience champion, might our goal be a well behaved dog?

For most dogs and their owners, the basics are the “goal”. Sit, down, stay, come seem simple enough to teach, so why do our dogs become obedience illiterate just when we are depending on our training to work? It comes down to what kind of owner you are and how you express you wishes and desires.

Here are some classic examples of the types of trainers who experience overall training issues with their dogs:

The Authoritarian – This is the person who makes sure the dog “knows” who’s boss. They are generally firm but sometimes on the harsh side. They tend to insist on obedience, yet not mutual respect. Consequently, this is the person that a dog will play the “You Can’t Catch Me Game”, in public. Why would the dog want to return and be chastised? The dog is busy having fun.

The Beacon – This person spends most of the time reassuring the dog that they are still there. In public, you’ll hear them calling to the dog every time the dog gets interested in something, lest the dog forget that they are still there. This is the person that gets ignored.

The Food Dispenser – This is the person who believes that dogs should be allowed to express themselves and rewards the dog constantly for everything. The dog gets treats for urinating, waking up, eating, or simply breathing. This is the person that gets ignored unless there’s something to eat.

The Lover – This is the person who is concerned that if they impose too many rules on the dog, the dog won’t love them. In the absence of rules, the dog constantly picks through life testing and unsure.

So, what’s the solution? Well, always remember that “training never ends”.

And then ponder for a minute: What are your goals? What type of dog owner are you? What type of dog is yours?

Once you’ve answered these few questions, you may find that the answer is fairly easy to find. You need to balance your personality with his and balance your approach. For instance, “being the boss” and using food or toys in training works quite well when a balanced approach is used. The most important thing to realize is that that balance changes with every dog and handler team!

Then be sure that your goals and training techniques are presented to the dog in a clear, consistent manner. Break down your goals and each exercise into small parts, and teach them and reinforce them in a clear way. We all learn best this way!

You’d be surprised how ready and receptive your dog is once these simple issues are addressed!


A rolled up newspaper can be an effective training tool when used properly. For instance, use the rolled-up newspaper if your dog chews up something inappropriate or has a housebreaking accident. Bring the dog over to the destroyed object (or mess), then take the rolled-up newspaper… and hit yourself over the head as you repeat the phrase, “I FORGOT TO WATCH MY DOG, I FORGOT TO WATCH MY DOG!”

Disclaimer: The GSRNE ”Ask a Trainer” feature and all information contained within is meant to be entertaining and informative. GSRNE accepts no responsibility for any damage or injury to any person, place, or thing caused by the use of information within our publications. We accept no responsibility for any liability as any cause of action, claims, suits or demands of any kind that arises as a result of such damage or injury.

We recommend personally consulting a professional dog trainer prior to applying any methods or advice offered within our publications.

The advise, use, methods and opinions expressed by the columnists do not necessarily reflect those of GSRNE.

The GSRNE creators and columnists are responsible for their own words, but they can *not* assume responsibility for how you may misunderstand and/or misuse any suggestions given in this group. You are responsible for your own dog and how it is treated. Do not do anything to your dog, which you believe will be harmful.

The trainers here are experienced and dedicated. No one would intentionally give unsound training suggestions. But we are not there in person to see your dog and to observe its behaviors and reactions. We are not able to meet all family members to learn how they interact and respond to your dog. We are not there to make certain that you fully understand what we’re writing. For those reasons, we cannot tailor our responses to particular needs and requirements that are individual to your dog. Instead, we write here in somewhat general terms, giving suggestions and ideas, but we do not give advice.

Any information on GSRNE website or publications does not substitute for sound advice and recommendations from an experienced dog training professional who has evaluated your dog in person.

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