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!