Got a 2 year old German Shepherd a few weeks ago. Some advice please.

Okay here he is:

Yes, all black and looks really nice.

Okay, I’ve always owned big dogs (Shepherds and Huskies) and I’ve been able to control them relatively well. The problem with this dog is that I didn’t raise him from a pup. Also, his previous owner didn’t spend too much time training him and just kept him in the house or put him in the yard.

On the plus side, I have trained him to sit, and to wait for his food before he goes diving into the bowl. He will lay down when commanded and can give you either paw.

His behavioral problems are:
• he’s much too frisky. Just showing him to people, he’ll try to jump on them or he’ll move that big skull and whack people in the face.
• When he walks, he pulls very hard especially if he sees another big dog, sending him into a fit of barking and extreme pulling.
• He won’t come when he’s called.

Part of the problem is mine because I haven’t owned a dog in 30 years and at 60 years of age, I don’t have the skills or the balance I once had. (He has dragged me to the ground on several occasions).

Some people have suggested an electronic collar (yes a “shock” collar). Any advice on which one to get? The number of choices is huge.
Any advice would be welcome.

Have you thought a Gentle Leader when walking him?

I hear they work very well. I use harness collars on my dogs, but I still get the pulling, at least for the first part of the walk.

I’ve found too, that a squirt bottle with water nixes bad behavior.

I’m not a fan of shock collars. We tried one with a fence a couple years back. Frankly, unless we turned it up to stun mode, it didn’t work very well on our Siberian Husky mix.

By the way, he’s quite the beautiful boy.

Consider some private training.

He sounds young and full of energy and like he has never been given any boundaries. Keep working on teaching basic obedience. Get a solid sit in all kinds of places before you start allowing people to meet him. Then use that sit to stop him from jumping on people.

Try to find somewhere safe to let him run. Will he chase a ball? Will he bring it back? He needs to do something to burn some energy so he can engage his brain. Use a long thing drag line if you can find a fenced area so you can work on his recall. Work on it at home with food. Call, reward. Do this at different times and places around the house or yard. Make if fun, not an obedience exercise to start.

Do not get an ecollar if you don’t know how to use it. There is a technique, it does not involve frying the dog every time he does something ‘bad’, but you need to learn how to use it correctly. It is a useful tool, but not one I think is right for you now. Plus the good ones are expensive, and the cheap ones are more likely to do more harm than good.

For walking, get a prong collar or a gentle leader or halti type head collar. I walk my two shepherds on prong collars. Both are obedience titled and can do lovely focussed heeling in the ring, but seem unable to walk nicely around the neighbourhood on a loose leash without dragging me after squirrels and other dogs and tempting smells.

Good luck. He looks like a handsome, enthusiastic and fun dog. Lots of things you can do with a good GSD - agility, herding, Dock diving (my new favourite thing), hiking, biking and just hanging out.

He looks a lot like Blackjack, the best dog ever. And he behaves like most 2 year old dogs. He’ll be eager to learn and to please, so set up a regular schedule of activities with him, use positive reinforcement (treats plus pampering) every time he does something good, and he’ll be a fabulous dog.

All of the above sound like your average 15 year old boy; clumsy, hyper-active, easily distracted and ignoring you if he is having fun elsewhere.
For all practical purposes, your dog is about a 15 year old boy - so as others have mentioned, it will take some time for the dog to follow your lead. Not easy to be a 60 year old “dad” when your “kid” is just now going through puberty! (Keep him away from those harpy bitches in the neighborhood…)

It sounds like you are doing everything right - just have some patience and he will come around and be the best dog ever!

It sounds like he’s smart and (mostly) cooperative, given how he’s picked up on your training so far. He might do really well in a traditional obedience class. They focus on the basic such as come, sit, stay and heel.

I think he’d do will with clicker training, too. It’s a way of teaching an animal to do a specific command by being ultra specific about saying “yes! you did it right!”

If you tell a dog to sit, and then click the instant he sits, then give him a small treat, he learns to associate the click with “yes”. Then you can branch out to other skills.

The “click” can be anything - a fingersnap, a whistle, clicking a pen, whatever but they sell little mechanical doodad that click, too. The important thing is consistency.
There’s a lot of psychology behind the clicker methods. It works on all sorts of animals, from dolphins to birds. The Navy uses it with its dolphin training program. Here’s some links about it if you’re interested -

Possibly second best dog ever. The top spot is already taken.

Thanks to everyone for the quick replies and for comments about my dog. :slight_smile:
It seems that no one is particularly keen about the shock collar.
He came with a prong collar which I do not use. I remember getting one for a Siberian Husky and was really surprised when that collar did not reduce the pulling at all. :eek:
So, it seems at the moment I’ll think about the Gentle Leader and/or Halti collar, squirt water bottle, professional training and continue with training him myself.
One thing that might be a big help is putting a fence around my yard which will make him burn off a lot of that pup energy that he has.
Thanks again to everyone for the advice.

Shock collars don’t work that well from my own observation.

If you can fence a section of yard big enough for him to run around in he’ll be very happy with that as long as he gets out for other activities. Dogs are territorial and he’ll focus that on a pretty small area. It’s a good idea to add a 2 foot layer of chicken wire around the bottom of the fence to keep other critters out.

I’d also suggest as part of the daily routine taking a walk around your property line. He’ll get the idea that it’s the limit of your own territory pretty easily.

Nice looking dog!

They should tell you this at the pet store when you go to buy your halti or gentle leader, but you have to be careful that the dog doesn’t yank his own head around as that can cause injury. (As can a choke collar; I think the prong collars are a bit safer, actually.)

An alternative is an Easy-Walk or Gentle Leader harness. One of them (I think the Gentle Leader, or it might be a Halti) has two places to attach the leash, either the usual place on the back, or in front on the dog’s chest. If the dog pulls at all, he turns himself around–but at no expense to his neck (as in the head collars). Also it looks less like a muzzle.

What you might be able to do is teach this dog a back-up command. Really work it and get it good and solid. When he starts to lunge ahead on leash, give him the back-up command.

The recall is another thing that takes a lot of training but is totally worth it. You start in situations where he’s almost assured to come to you, give him a great treat, and then gradually add in distractions, i.e., take him to where there are more distractions, but not until he gets it solid without distractions. Then work up.

Example: After I had called my dog to come approximately 2,000 times with good treats and with escalating distractions, starting inside, moving outside, I took the dog to the dog park on a 30-foot lead but did not go into the dog park. I made him come to me 20 times outside the dog park (while on the lead, so I could haul him in if need be), before letting him into the dog park–a place he very much wanted to be. Once inside, I called him occasionally, and I had a few really good treats left. So now he’s that good. He will come to me when he’s playing in a dog park.

(He will probably not come to me when he’s chasing a rabbit in the wild, though. Well, he’ll come back eventually.)

The thing is that all this training takes time, but it’s also mental energy that will help wear your dog out. A 2-year-old German shepherd is still kind of a baby and has all that puppy energy, but thinking about things is hard work. Is there anyplace you can take him to throw a ball/Frisbee? Anyplace he could do a few water retrieves? Swimming tires dogs out just like it tires out kids.

No shock collar!:eek:

Most of the people I know that have used shock collars to keep dogs from running away when off leash, and contained within yards are huge fans of them, and if the dog is reasonably intelligent a little correction goes a long, long way.

Can’t speak to the utility of shock collars for other behaviors like pouncing on people.

What a beautiful dog! I have a nine-year old Shepherd and he is amazing but he did share many of your dog’s particular behaviours. What I did about him jumping up was to ask people to turn away and completely ignore him when they came in if he jumped them and to only give him attention if he sat nicely for them…after a few times of realizing that he was not going to get the attention he wanted through this behaviour, he soon learned that sitting nicely was the way to go. Shepherds are known for their pulling and they are strong little devils! What you need here mostly is patience. When he pulls you in one direction, turn and make him go in the other direction instead. I know this will feel silly if other people are around but it is teaching your dog that pulling is not going to get him to where he wants to go. As far as getting him to come to you when called, you need to practice this with him everyday…take him somewhere where you have lots of space. Have him sit, hold your hand with your palm towards his face and fingers to the ground and tell him to stay and start walking away. If he follows you, correct him…to do this you simply say, “No!” and then have him sit again and repeat the process until he learns to stay while you walk away. When you get a good distance from him, tell him to come…if he doesn’t come right away, pat your legs and give him some encouragement. Also, having a treat handy for him when he does come works wonders! Shock collars will work, too, but you really should have special training to use them. Try these methods first, though. I’m sure you two can work it out somehow…you’ve already done an outstanding job! Just have patience with him and practice with him everyday…he’s a smart cookie…he’ll get it eventually! I hope that helps!

One of our dogs (the smallest, on the left here) used to run off maybe once a week. She would eventually return hours later. Other than that, she was pretty near perfect obedience wise.

Out of ideas, I bought a shock collar. I wore it on her for 2 months anytime we walked out of the house. The first time she ran off I called her, she ignored me, and I gave her a zap. The collar was set to one (out of ten). She spun around and raced back.

A week later she ran off again and I repeated calling then zapping when I was ignored. She spun around and returned. It has been five years since I used the collar and she received a total of two one second shocks. She has not run off or disobeyed a “come” command since! I accidentally zapped myself once while figuring out how to use the collar and it was not horrible, but not pleasant either.

The collar cost around $200, but IMO it was worth it.

Also, I’d start with group obedience lessons first.

Broken record time… Buy a backpack for him, load it with two to four 1 pint/500 ml bottles (a shepherd should be able to carry that much weight easily) and take him for a nice long walk. Loonngg walk- at least 2 miles (45 minutes). Do it every day. Don’t worry about prong collars or gentle leaders or e-collars, yet. You may never need them.

The backpack with weight accomplishes two things. It gives him a job. Shepherds are a working breed- they need a job so let his be that he carries stuff for you. And it tires him out. Think about when you’ve had to carry something heavy. Tired you out, didn’t it? And the water can be used to give either you or him a drink when needed.

I tried this with my catahoula that pulled and the change was instant. No more pulling. Of course I take her walking every day. We’re out for at least 30 minutes, usually an hour or more.

Another dog exhaustion technique is the Chuck-it. If the dog likes to retrieve, a ball-thrower allows you to whip tennis balls for an hour without hurting your arm.