Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is Duchess! She is a 3 year old German Shepherd that use to be my sister's dog, but when she moved to a small apartment, Duchess sadly could not come with her. My sister made sure her needs were met (food, water, shelter, etc.) but Duchess is a bit neglected in training and grooming. My sister just did not know how to handle this type of dog, but she did not intentionally do any harm.
I bathed her and I've been brushing her daily. On the good side of things, she is very well housetrained already and loves kids!
Duchess is, by no means, a stupid dog. She is one of the most intelligent dogs I've met! We had to put a lock on our fence gate because she found out how to work the latch from inside, got out, and chased our neighbors ponies. She got herself kicked, but luckily wasn't badly injured and my neighbors where nice enough to help me get her back.
I have trained puppies to be very good dogs, but I have never really trained a dog that has existing problems, especially not a large working breed. I could use any advice you have to offer
First big problem, Duchess does not respond well to her name. My sister would often get frustrated and yell to try and get her to come, which did the exact opposite of what she wanted. For this reason, we have a strict "no yelling" policy, especially with Duchess. She is becoming less anxious but still doesn't come well. This is probably the most difficult thing I am facing, as I am not sure how to teach her to respond. I've taught her to stay, but the "come" command is at a halt. As mentioned above, she finds a way out sometimes, and getting her to come to us is extremely important in this situation. My sister normally punished her for getting out when she came to her, rather than rewarding her for coming, so I believe she still thinks she'll be punished. How can I fix this mindset? We've tried offering rewards when she comes to us, but its very, very slow progress, if at all.
Second problem is the leash. I usually start leash training puppies as soon as I get them, even if it's just through the house. Since we live in the country, my sister would just let her run loose instead of walking her. I tried to tell that if she would keep her on a leash as a puppy, she would be better behaved of leash as an adult. My sister refused my advice, and now Duchess does not walk well on a leash. I have been working with her, and she actually has improved quite a bit. I've opted for the head collar, because, in my experience, harnesses on big dogs end up with me being pulled around like a dogsled. A head collar makes more sense to me, I feel like it gives me more control. When walking, she likes to look for things to chase. Cats, chickens, mice, anything. She gets very easily distracted. I really would like to take her jogging with me, but I have to work on that first.
Obedience commands. This one is going the easiest of all (with the exception of "come"). She is very driven by both food and toys and I've taught her to immediately "sit" and "stay" when given the command.
Being a working dog, I want to give her an objective, I want to train her in agility. Before that, though, she needs to learn manners on and off leash, and master the obedience commands. I won't be doing any competitions, but I feel like a backyard agility course would help to release some of her energy and anxiety. I also want to take her to a local lake with me, but, again, she needs to learn off leash manners before this is possible, as I don't want to keep a leash on her while she's swimming.
If anyone has any advice at all to offer in this situation, it would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance!