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I found my German Shepard, Ginger, in our local SPCA when she was 4.5. She is 7 now and I could not be more happy with her general attitude. She is loving, sweet and very curious! Sadly I have grown tired of trying to train anything new over the last year because I am getting no where. When I found her she was in pretty sad shape health wise being riddled with parasites and worms and she also was extremely shy (until you get her on a leash outside). I've had a little experience with training 3 other dogs before her and with them it came so easy. But with Ginger I am stuck. Initially it seemed easy enough helping her over come her fear of tile flooring, stairs, and taking treats but about a year after finding her I realized there was a miscommunication between her and I that I couldn't figure out.

Ginger, has simple commands she knows sit, stay, come, shake, don't touch which she had when I found her and that she follows most of the time. A few that I (believe) I taught her sneak, roll over, play dead and find the kids which she follows some of the time. Her bad habits are first that she will only kind of poop where I have asked her to, we have a back corner of our back yard for her yet she insists on pooping the entire perimeter of the fence (I know she understands what I mean because she will not poop more than 3 or 4 feet away from the fence). Second she pulls terribly hard on her leash (which i finally put on a head harness to correct and it helps a little but she still pulls). And that after a couple tricks or commands she gets flustered and anxious and runs to hide in our playroom.

I am by nature a very calm person and I am very puzzled at her reaction. When I watch her reaction it is like she starts out happy and is so eager to please she has some sort of overload and then doesn't know what to do other than run away. When she runs away she looks like shes just been beaten, head down tail between her legs and belly dragging on the floor. Its heart breaking and baffling since I have never hit her and even my children are very kind with her. She has the same reaction no matter what I try and teach her. Even when walking on a leash if I do not have her head harness on and have to correct her many times she gets really hyper and pulls worse trying to get away. For her daily walk we have to drive across town to the biggest off leash park and just let her go. It is ok with me to take her there because i trust her totally with the other dogs so other than the inconvenience of the drive and timing it into the day. However weather I take her to her special park or not I would like it if she would just walk nicely with me around our neighbourhood. I would also like many other things like heel, and being polite when people come in the house and to be able to teach her tricks. (when it is just her an I she is very polite when I come home but if you mix my husband in any situation she wont listen to a single thing I say.)

As for the husband comment he likes her well enough but they haven't bonded well because he works out of town 80% of the time. I don't think he trusts her completely because 18 months ago she attacked his sisters dog. (In Gingers defence she believed she was protecting our kids from a barking, nipping, herding dog. She gets very protective if anyone shows any physical aggression towards the children who are 6, 5 and 3.5. Oh and the other dog was fine afterwards. Plus Ginger has never shown aggression at any other time, She even likes cats lol) I also think the husband is annoyed that I haven't made the type of progress with her as I thought I was going to, which looks bad on both Gin and I.


If you have and questions or suggestions I can't wait to read them. I am feel bad for my poor dog since she is so smart but we have trouble getting her to show it.
 

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Hi Lanelle,
Welcome! I think it would help us a lot to know what kind of training techniques/methods you use to train. Would you mind expanding on that?

Just a heads up, there are these "sticky" posts pinned to the tops of the behavior and training sections of this forum--they are a fantastic place to start. Even if you think you're familiar with the concepts, I'd recommend browsing them. :)

Look forward to hearing more from you!
 

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Thank-you for the Quick Reply!! I read few a few of the "sticky"s that seemed to apply to me on first glance.

First since she is so very sensitive I am very careful to be totally positive with her. if she ever does anything wrong which is rare like getting in to garbage or something all i have to do to hurt her feeling and scare the crap out of her is say "oh no" or "what did you do?" in a sad voice quiet and she cowers. She will even hide if i am cross with one of the kids.

When walking I try to use the 'I'm a Tree' method. Ginger will pull for a very long time some times it had taken us hours to go just around the block. Each time I stop she seems to get more insistent that she needs to walk. When I use a head harness it does help with how hard she pulls but the pull never really stops. If I say anything while I am stopped, like 'shh' or whistle (or good. when she is doing what i have asked. Her commands she responds very well to usually) she acts like she has been kicked. Once we start to walk again even one step she seems confused and then I stop and we are back at square one with the frantic pulling and tossing her head about. If she spends at least 90 minutes at the dog park hard running I can slip her harness on and she will walk nicely still at the end of whatever her leash givers her but not enough to strain my arm. The after the walk time is usually when the kids walk her and during this after the run calm down even my 3 year old can walk her without trouble.

We try recall games and after i call her 3 or 4 times and gets confused again and just runs away. Then she will hide in her dog house, in our play room, or if we are at the park she will try to get back in our van or just run off out of site and hide. at home in the house I can whistle and she will come at the drop of a hat once, maybe twice but if I call more than that she quits again and no amount of pleading, bribing coxing or love will get her to change her mind.

When I try to teach general obedience or tricks I try and go very slow and patient. I start with a few things she knows to get her attention like shake, leave it, stay. Then say I am trying something like heel. I will do my best to position myself next to her where I want her to be I say good, treat her and rub her a few times. then I will get her to walk around my legs and treat her when she is where i want her. but this is as far as i get. Because this is when she gets confused. She will randomly and franticly start do every trick she knows and then act like i am mad and about to hit her and run off again.

I am so confused. I know my mood is calm and my actions are patient but I am not sure what she is seeing in me. And I am not sure how to fix it.

Her exercise is daily weather permitting (since some times canadian winters are unforgiven and well so is illness) but i would say she gets a good long run on average 4 or 5 days a week. Even if she isn't at the park if it is a nice day the kids play in the yard with her for all afternoon throwing toys and chasing her so she is never totally without.
 

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She is also rarely barks. And when she does it is usually in response to being barked at. I have always thought of GSDs as noisy breeds but Gin is very quiet. I am not complaining mind you it just seems odd for the breed. Does anyone have any opinions on this?
 

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i know that you are being careful, but you might not be careful enough for her level of sensitivity

First since she is so very sensitive I am very careful to be totally positive with her. if she ever does anything wrong which is rare like getting in to garbage or something all i have to do to hurt her feeling and scare the crap out of her is say "oh no" or "what did you do?" in a sad voice quiet and she cowers. She will even hide if i am cross with one of the kids.
if she is reacting that strongly to it, then you are sort of crushing her, and making it difficult for her to trust you.

When walking I try to use the 'I'm a Tree' method. Ginger will pull for a very long time some times it had taken us hours to go just around the block. Each time I stop she seems to get more insistent that she needs to walk. When I use a head harness it does help with how hard she pulls but the pull never really stops. If I say anything while I am stopped, like 'shh' or whistle (or good. when she is doing what i have asked. Her commands she responds very well to usually) she acts like she has been kicked. Once we start to walk again even one step she seems confused and then I stop and we are back at square one with the frantic pulling and tossing her head about. If she spends at least 90 minutes at the dog park hard running I can slip her harness on and she will walk nicely still at the end of whatever her leash givers her but not enough to strain my arm. The after the walk time is usually when the kids walk her and during this after the run calm down even my 3 year old can walk her without trouble.
she needs to be taught to overcome "opposition reflex" the natural, reflex to pull against something that pulls against you or push against something that pushes against you. the silky leash training video is golden when it comes to this ;)

She has the same reaction no matter what I try and teach her. Even when walking on a leash if I do not have her head harness on and have to correct her many times she gets really hyper and pulls worse trying to get away.
how are you "correcting" her? if you are doing any sort of leash pops or scolding, even if you think you are being gentle, it is clear from your description of her behavior that she does not agree.

We try recall games and after i call her 3 or 4 times and gets confused again and just runs away. Then she will hide in her dog house, in our play room, or if we are at the park she will try to get back in our van or just run off out of site and hide. at home in the house I can whistle and she will come at the drop of a hat once, maybe twice but if I call more than that she quits again and no amount of pleading, bribing coxing or love will get her to change her mind.
honestly, it sounds like she is really insecure with you. like she isn't sure if you are going to be pleasant or scary/dangerous when she comes to you. it doesn't matter if you perceive yourself as scary, you cannot tell her "what i'm doing shouldn't be scary to you, i don't mean it that way"

When I try to teach general obedience or tricks I try and go very slow and patient. I start with a few things she knows to get her attention like shake, leave it, stay. Then say I am trying something like heel. I will do my best to position myself next to her where I want her to be I say good, treat her and rub her a few times. then I will get her to walk around my legs and treat her when she is where i want her. but this is as far as i get. Because this is when she gets confused. She will randomly and franticly start do every trick she knows and then act like i am mad and about to hit her and run off again.
this isn't a very surprising behavior, based on your other descriptions of her. it sounds like she is getting over-stimulated by the training, and going between over-arousal and shutdown.

I am so confused. I know my mood is calm and my actions are patient but I am not sure what she is seeing in me. And I am not sure how to fix it.
she probably isn't seeing what you think you are projecting. unfortunately, she has likely been conditioned that you (and probably a lot of humans) are just plain unpredictable and scary.

Her bad habits are first that she will only kind of poop where I have asked her to, we have a back corner of our back yard for her yet she insists on pooping the entire perimeter of the fence (I know she understands what I mean because she will not poop more than 3 or 4 feet away from the fence).
i'm really confused by this? how is it that you know she understands what you mean? if she did, you wouldn't be having this issue. how did you teach her to poop where you want her to?

Her exercise is daily weather permitting (since some times canadian winters are unforgiven and well so is illness) but i would say she gets a good long run on average 4 or 5 days a week. Even if she isn't at the park if it is a nice day the kids play in the yard with her for all afternoon throwing toys and chasing her so she is never totally without
i doubt that any of her issues have anything to do with her level of exercise ;) they have a lot more to do with her relationship with you.

it's really hard for people to understand this, but even if you've had 100 dogs, and you've trained them all the same way, it doesn't mean that this one dog isn't going to be frightened or insecure. i would recommend a book called "control unleashed" by leslie mcdevitt. she addresses many of the issues that you list with your dog.

i would also recommend that you cease any and all scolding you do with her. eliminate the word "no" from your vocabulary. i know you probably don't scold her much, but from the sounds of it, it doesn't take much with her, she is a very soft dog.

i would also work on a new approach to training. do extremely short training sessions, ask for no more than 3 things (that she already knows) then end the training session, while she is still happy and excited to be working with you. no more than that. if you want to work with her for longer, you'll have to try different exercises. i great way to build focus is to just be in a space with the dog, and then mark (are you familiar with clicker or marker training?) even the slightest bit of attention in your direction, follow it with a reward, then give a release cue (i use ok, some people use free etc)

i would also start rewarding default behaviors, things you like her to do, as much as possible. if she is sitting patiently, lying on her bed, simply making eye contact, reward her. you might want to think about having her earn as much of her meals as possible for a while. again, you don't ask her for behaviors, you just start rewarding her for things she does that you like. take the pressure off...

and definitely, i think you will find that book extremely helpful!;)

ETA, i didn't intend my post to be harsh or anything, and i'm sure that you care very much for your dog, or you wouldn't be here asking for help. i'm also sure that for the most part you are being calm and patient, it's just that you need to convince the dog of it.



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I am not sure yet how to "quote" a section of a message yet so please have patience with me. First I am very happy to get such a Great response so fast!

A little on what I mean when I say she is easily hurt when I say "Oh no". Just so I can be clear I have so much sympathy for how sensitive she is my saying "oh no" is like when a potty training child has an accident. I hope that analogy makes sense. I would never be harsh oh scold a learning child. I say it with sympathy and a touch of disappointment. Sympathy because I know she didn't do something wrong intentionally but disappointment because I didn't feel like cleaning up the garbage can at 3 am. (she only ever did this once) She was terrified when i adopted her! Now she is just easily upset. and like I said she almost never does anything wrong it is just more of an example of how she is so timid when it comes to disappointing me.

What I meant when i said I "correct her" is just simply stopping and when I stop I say "shh". The first few times she shows that she is listening and understanding because she will make eye contact and slow up a little. But the more times we have to stop and wait for her to stop pulling it seems the longer it takes until she starts wiggling and tossing her head to get away. I never jerk or snap the leash because with her gentle soul it would confuse and hurt her more.

I agree that her behaviour does not agree with my actions at all. And I am not sure how I can make myself any more clear that I am the most gentle and patient person I know. I get teased for my endless patience. I am trying so hard to help her over come whatever her issues are. I do not know what the first 4.5 years of her life were like. But I can say she is way better now than she was in 2010 when I found her.

Ginger is not totally secure with anyone except me. If I were to stop trying to request new things from her or always have her off leash she would be totally relaxed and worry free. I have watched hundreds if not thousands of youtube videos, i own a library full of dog books, and with my other dogs I have been to obedience class many times. In the past I have had 2 happy, well adjusted, well trained dogs who were as different as night and day. A laid back mutt and a super high energy collie-x. Sorry if I seem a touch defensive here but I feel a little like you are not really giving me a fair chance. Yes, I agree, she may think I am unpredictable. However this doesn't mean I am unpredictable. I have never and would never hurt any being. I have been nothing but gentle and compassionate. It has been a long path just to get here with her. The main reason I started looking for a forum was for help not criticism. I need to know what to do next not assumptions on what i may be doing wrong.

When teaching her where I wanted her to poop I started with her on a leash and stood in my yard with her in the spot I thought would be "her area" I say "go potty" and then wait until she went. Treat and reward with loving rub and praise. then let her off the leach for a quick play... then we would go out without the leash and do the same thing. It only took maybe 3 or 4 days before she would go in her area without prompt. Yet as time goes on her spot started to grow. when she was clearly out side of where i wanted her to be i started going back out with her. any time I am outside she will stay in her place. yet if I am not out there with her she will let her space grow until she has the perimeter of the fence. I do always keep the poop cleaned up. I say she understands because she always sticks close to the fence and will not poop in the middle of the yard. We have a really big city yard (2500sqf of open lawn) she will only go within 3 or 4 feet of the fence.

Most of what you mentioned in the last few paragraphs I already do. Being a parent of 3 very different children and having many different pets I know that you can't treat one like the other and expect that they will respond the same way. I never say no mostly because Gin never does anything to say no to. When I do have to "correct" her i usually do not mention what she has done that i didn't like. pooping outside of where i wanted for example. I just start over by standing with her for a while and praising when she has accomplished it.

I already do reward everyone, even Ginger, for default behaviour like playing quietly, using kind words, or for the pooch just being calm indoors. I strongly believe in positive reinforcement and I do find it works a million times better than anything negative. I am sure everyone will benefit if I try to do this more often.

I am familiar with clicker training. I use a whistle but not as often as I could. She knows a whistle is a good thing and I find that it's much more effective for her since she likes to get pretty far ahead of me at the park. Plus if I don't have the whistle in hand all the time she responds just as well to me whistling. If you think a marker or clicker would be something else I should add i can do that. I understand how it works and my kids will love to help me "charge" it!

I will also look up the book! I do love to read and anything that may help I am very happy to try.

Thank-you for the great suggestions.
Sorry about the grammar, I didn't proof read....
 

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Sounds like to me that whoever "trained" her before you got her was really harsh with her and she still is not sure you are not going to be. I would try the clicker training and make the lessons really short. She sounds like she is really sensitive to your voice so even though you may think you are not displaying any anger or disappointment, she hears it differently.

I know you are trying hard with her and I do not think what you are doing is the problem but probably what has happened before you got her.
 

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I can't be of too much help because I have never owned a soft dog. Reading your posts I think your previous dog experience involved "normal" dogs. From your description, Ginger is not a "normal" dog. She doesn't seem to think or feel or respond the way "normal" dogs do.

When I was looking into breeds and considering the bully breeds I was warned of a certain level of intensity and stubbornness. I'd read about it, talked to breeders and owners, etc. I thought I understood. Then I got my first Pit Bull and learned that I didn't really understand anything about intensity. I thought I understood stubborn because I am stubborn. But nothing prepared me for my American Bulldogs level of stubborn. And I thought I understood how incredibly sensitive and delicate an AB's bond with the owner is until I had my AB, treated him like any other dog, and then had to repair the damage to the bond that caused. I had to relearn everything I thought I knew about dog management and training.

I think that's about where you are although your dogs issues are different. I think you're going to have to take a look at everything you say and do with this dog through new eyes.

I would suggest hiring a behaviorist to evaluate her and you so that you can get a professional opinion and first hand advice. A behaviorist will see and understand subtle things that you may be missing and that no one online can help you with because those things need to be seen in person.

Good luck with Ginger!
 

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A basic lesson for teaching her to pay attention to you and learning the positive side of things. Find a treat she really likes (cheese often works here), cut it up into little bits. Toss a bit infront of her nose, when she grabs it say "Yes! Good girl!". And toss another. Once she figures out what you're doing vary where you're tossing them so that they're not all infront of her nose. Then after she gets that, add after you tell her "yes!" call her name so that she looks at you before you toss the next treat. The basic idea is to get the dog to look at you for the next "good thing" (it also teaches a dog their name, and the basic verbal "yes" marker, some folks use a clicker instead, I prefer the verbal marker and its really easy to make it a positive noise to her cause its a positive word for you). Keep each session short, 5 minutes maybe, and repeat daily. This same technique can be modified to teach "look" and all sorts of other commands once she figures out that its resulting in good things.

You're going to have to keep things as positive as possible with this dog. Positive tone of voice, positive body language, everything. Someone in her history has taught her to fear "negetive" body language and tones. No matter what happens, if you display frustration at all, this dog is clearly going to react badly.

A different suggestion for the pulling. When she pulls you in one direction, turn and walk in the opposite. When she comes back around and walks with you praise and treat. Repeat as needed. You're going to feel silly cause at first you're probly going to be walking back and forth over the exact same 10ft of sidewalk. Don't correct the pulling except to turn around and walk the other direction, but praise and treat her coming back around and walking with you, even if its just for a second.
 

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As was mentioned i would try doing only 3 repetitions of any behavior and reward with food for every rep.

Food is very much more motivating than praise or petting.

Yes get a clicker and look up kikopup on u tube

Have teeny tiny training goals

Spend at least a month working on making the leash a happy object. The site of it means treat. Cipping it means treat. Do silky leash indoors only for at least a month then in the yard for at least a month.

Here is something my dogs taught me... Focus on creating the happy emotional resonse you want from her and dont focus as much on the behavior or trick. It seems from your description that her fear is at the root of all.
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My book rec would be "dont shoot the dog" by karen Pryor. Look up "conditioned emotional response" and i think that may help you to unlock things for her.

Its not the behavior but the emotions that are the keys to making the next shift for her.
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Lanelle, I think you've gotten some great advice here. Please don't feel like anyone was criticizing--all we have to evaluate here is what you've written--, or at least take it as constructive--they really do want to help. It sounds like you're very committed and that is great that you do positive reinforcement training. :) Thanks for taking the time to give us that thorough history.

In addition to trying what has already been recommended, here's my extra 2 cents.

I agree with the others about trying clicker training. A really easy/quick read is Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogs: Karen Pryor: 9781890948214: Amazon.com: Books . I would use this with the technique of moving backwards until your dog turns/loosens the leash, rather than being a tree, like I think RC described.

Also, are you familiar with Calming Signals? Here's a link to an article Calming Signals Community, but the book is another easy read and very informative. On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals: Turid Rugaas: 9781929242368: Amazon.com: Books. There is also a sticky on it in the behavior section with some supplemental info. I think recognizing these signals and re-evaluating your behavior that is triggering them will help with the stress.

Lastly, it sounds like you've done a tremendous amount of work already, and I appreciate that you are willing to put in more work! At this point, bringing in a behavior consultant from International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) or at least a positive based trainer from Home would probably help you enormously. Even if just for a consult, they could give you some feedback on your behavior and some tips on your dog's behavior.
 

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Look, you have a super soft dog that has learned some unfortunate lessons about people. I have that dog, too. And it was demoralizing to realize that my interacting with Kabota was terrifying him. Gentle interactions, happy interactions, any interactions, it didn't matter, I was scaring him.

To a human, I'm the least scary person ever. You'd find a toddler scarier than me. To Kabota, I was terrifying, and it was his opinion that counted. And it hurt. I admit it, his reaction to me really shook me. I'm a dog person, darn it! I'm kind, I'm gentle, why isn't he getting that? Hello, ego, nice to meet you, now shut up.

Stop trying to train her for now. Stop any kind of corrections. She's not pooping inside, so let a certain spot go. (Besdies, I've never seen a dog choose to go in one place every single time. I think it's just a dog thing.) I'd get rid of the head harness and go with a no pull body harness.

Then get treats and a clicker. Click and toss a treat. For looking at you, for being in the same room, for just being her. Do this for several weeks. No training, just click, here's a treat. No words, no looking at her, nothing, just "here's me, the clicking treat dispenser."

Then start training with a clicker. Don't use words. Use hand signals. You want to remove all previous training, which she clearly finds terrifying, and introduce this new paradigm, where everything she does is a success. Don't say "sit" and expect a sit, just click/treat when she does sit. After 20 times, do the hand signal while she sits, then click/treat. Dogs like ours cannot handle failure. Kabota dies inside when he fails. It's my job to make sure he doesn't ever fail.

To put all this in perspective, it took 6 months for Kabota to wag his tail. I think, after a year, I was just seeing his real personality. And it's playful! Every day we play a game I call "run around like a loon" where we grab toys and run around and bark and yell and play tug and roll around on the floor and growl. He loves it. He won't play it with anyone but me, and it took me a year to earn enough trust to see this side of him.

We get the dog we need, not necessarily the dog we want. I thought I was one hot trainer with my last dog, I guess the universe wanted to see me humbled.
 

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This is SO Great I am in information Overload and have started a chart on my fridge to keep track of it all.

To give Ginger a little credit she isn't completely disobedient. If I were to stop asking her to push the boundaries of what she already knows she doesn't display any of her shyness or frantic responses. If I were to keep well within what she knows I can get her to pay attention for very long stretches of time without relapse of any panic or stress.

I am going to try and explain exactly how I have been (trying and failing) training her to heel and see if anyone can pick out what I am messing up on or where I may have a miscommunication with her.

First I start off when it is just her and I alone. Usually at night after the kids are asleep. I get her attention and we play at things I know she likes such as shake a paw, lay down, and stay. I use treats, whistle and praise.

To start the beginning of the exercise I set up a chair, box, or get in a wall corner so I can get her close to me where I want her.

I use my hand to lead her around behind my legs and sit beside me. I quickly treat and say "good"
(I don't have to pull at all just my hand being close to her collar is usually enough)

I do this with my hand 2 or 3 times the same way then I try without my hand on her collar. I don't say anything but "good" when she is where I want her and give her the treat.

When I take my hand away from her head or neck she starts to slightly hesitate. But over all she complies easily within second of following the treat around my legs and sitting.

If I do that last step again I have lost her. She bounces around tries to shake, roll over or any other thing she is comfortable with. My response to her confusion is usually quiet observation. Then when she isn't treated she stops, looks at me as if puzzled. If I try again to lead her around my legs without my hand she runs off to hide. So we stop and I just let her be because if I go looking for her she acts like she's in trouble. Belly up, nervous wag to her tail and no eye contact. I can calm her down if I go and ease her to play again but either way the training is over. Some times I feel that getting her to play is giving her more stress so most of the time I wait until she is ready to come find me.

I have done this so many times but it always goes exactly the same way. We started out a few months ago with just her walking around my legs with my hand and as long as she has body contact she do this until she gets bored. That is why we moved forward trying to do it with out body contact. Try not to rush her with anything since I don't want to make her confusion worse.


On to the leash issue. Ginger LOVES her leash. Even saying leash or walk sends her in to a joyous puppy state with every happy sign she can show. I have used the leash in the house A LOT and she is super when she is indoors or at home in the yard too. But her whole mental state changes when we step out that front door. She's way over excited and just wants to run at top speed in any and all directions at once. If I allow her to run hard for a hour or more then put her leash on she is much more calm. (Ok, let me be honest, she isn't really calm its just a tired 7 year old dog who has just run herself silly) At this stage she won't pull on her leash but she does walk so it is taught without pulling my arm.

I have tried the "redirection" walking method mentioned and she's responds well but only during the exercise. I don't know how to explain to her that the slack leash is what I want. I have spent several hours in my front yard walking zigzags all over until i gave up and just stuck with the tree method which ultimately i gave up on too since now we use no leash at all other than for me to carry around at the park.

I hate to say I gave up but with a nice leashed walk I have. At least for now. I feel I need to have at least some progress in a smaller area before I try this again.

GSD is such a powerful breed I really have to admit I was surprised to find she is so soft. I am pleasantly surprised in some ways because she is darling with children and is very conscious of their emotions and safety. If they are hurt she is always the first on scene and if I don't come to aid soon enough she will come find me. But it also makes me sad for her because in some ways she must be living in hell feeling so unsure and troubled. She is eager to please and always follows me around the house while doing chores when the kids are not playing with her.

I am going to get a clicker and the book Control Unleashed today as well as any other books catch my attention at the library. I am going to stop at the butchers for her favourite treats. As well as a more positive out look and then start from square one. I will see if there are any dog behaviourists locally. If not I may have to make due with books and self motivated learning. I have watched a lot of kikopups videos on youtube but since she has been recommend I am going to subscribe to her.

If there are any other, book, youtube, or advice suggestions Please add them! I will try 2 or 3 super short confidence building lessons for a while before I move on to leash out doors or 'tricks'. If we can help her with her confusion and confidence I hope we will have luck with everything after that.
 

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Your dog is not unlike mine.
What i say about him is that he cannot take "training pressure" and failure is devastating for him.

What you describe with the heel training she is finding to be too much pressure and she is repeatedly experiencing failure. You need to try something different, break it into smaller steps and make sure absolutely that she can succeed.

I cannot emphasize that enough... You must make each step so easy she will succeed. Each step needs a click and treat, and only practice one or two steps in a session.

When she flees and hides doc yourself 100 points. Each click/ treat is worth one point. This is the ratio a dog like this will view life and its why she has been stuck for some time.

Less is more.
Much less is much more.

Focus on her emotional state. At the slightest sign she is not feeling happy, you need to reconsider how you are doing things.

Heel is a very hard thing for a dog. I would leave that for later... 6 months later.

Make your first goal to be to figure out how to have her believe training is the most fun activity ever. This will take months of learning for both of you.

Clicker is a must.
I dont think you are using the whistle as a marker.
Go to u tube and look up kikopup.

Your dog needs reward/reinforcer every 3 to 5 seconds. That means a click and treat that often for a few weeks until she is in love with training.
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That thing she does where she tries all the other things she knows? Kabota does that, too. It's how I know to stop training. Not stop training and try again the same way later, but rethink training altogether. When that happens, it's because I'm making it too hard.

Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor provided me with a huge breakthrough. My last dog was a GSD mix and he was soft, but very intuitive and motivated to please. Kabota is very unconfident, super soft and not motivated by pleasing me. Karen Pryor mentions lowering expectations and that really helped me.

For example, Muggsy would retrieve automatically. The training challenge was getting him to give you the toy. Kabota does not retrieve, and I tried to train him to retrieve with a very high expectation. I expected him to understand, how I don't know, to go get what I threw and bring it back to me.

I succeeded in training him to retrieve by breaking it down into teeny, tiny steps, as recommended in the book. I clicked/treated looking at what I threw, moving towards it, sniffing it, mouthing it, picking it up, turning in my direction, taking one step towards me, etc. This took weeks- but it worked.

I think you're starting your heel training at step 5, which would have worked for a Muggsy. He picked up heel in a day. I've been working heel for several weeks now and we're still at me holding a treat and luring him to walking beside me. No command, just "hey, walk beside me and get treats, whee!"

You really need to learn to break training down into teeny, tiny, itty bitty little steps she cannot possibly fail at. Steps without commands, steps without touching, steps that yield treats and no failures at all. You will need a clicker for this, because it's impossible to capture moments that small without one.
 

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after reading through your replies, i REALLY think you need the book i mentioned. ;) i wish i could just type it up for you, it is that pertinent to what you are talking about. i ditto the "on talking terms with dogs" by turrid rugas suggestion and also recommend "stress in dogs" i cannot remember the author...

as was said, the less is more approach is the way to go. even though you can get her to participate for longer, are you completely aware of when she starts to check out? some dogs will operate on auto-pilot when they are getting overwhelmed/over-pressured and starting to shut-down. their eyes sort of dilate, they get somewhat tense yet a bit slouchy, again, this is subtle. it's almost like they tangibly lose their "spark" you don't want it to get to this point.
I use my hand to lead her around behind my legs and sit beside me. I quickly treat and say "good"
(I don't have to pull at all just my hand being close to her collar is usually enough)
i would guess that this sort of touch in this context is part of what gets her to shutting down. a lot of dogs, especially insecure ones, find this sort of touch intimidating all by itself. for her, i would guess that in this context it is just too much for her.

have you ever tried this approach to training heel?



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