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Dog German shepherd dog Leg Dog breed Carnivore


My dog is a GSD mix. She is between 14 to 16 months old. She was a drop-off that showed up on my land and I rescued her. She apparently had no training at all.

I have been training her. She does super great during the training sessions and has learned many commands. She understands Sit, Lay Down, Fetch, Load Up (to get in vehicles), Heel, Come, and a few more. When she is on a leash and I have her attention, she is like a robot and obeys my every word. She does the same when she is off-leash as well, UNTIL..... she gets distracted, and then, I cease to exist, and nothing I say or do has any effect on her. I mean zip. zilch, nada!

This is a real problem that I MUST correct and I need serious real methods to correct this. She runs off and it will get her killed. I live in the country and she will run after a car that she hears on the road a quarter-mile away. I have wild animals like hogs, packs of coyotes, and bobcats. Additionally, she looks a lot like a large coyote and every farmer around here carries a gun and will shoot her on sight. In fact, she had already been shot before I found her.

She has to obey me or she cannot have freedom, not where I live, and I do not believe in keeping dogs on chains or cages. I am willing to put in however much work it takes, I just need to know how to teach her to listen to me, over everything else, at all times.

Again, I am looking for serious real training methods, not the "I tried this with my dog and I think
it worked" This is to SAVE the dog's LIFE! I have done a lot of searching and have read hundreds of posts before posting this and have not really found anything on how to deal with this issue.

Thanks in advance.
 

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She has to obey me or she cannot have freedom, not where I live, and I do not believe in keeping dogs on chains or cages. I am willing to put in however much work it takes, I just need to know how to teach her to listen to me, over everything else, at all times.

Again, I am looking for serious real training methods, not the "I tried this with my dog and I think
it worked" This is to SAVE the dog's LIFE! I have done a lot of searching and have read hundreds of posts before posting this and have not really found anything on how to deal with this issue.

Thanks in advance.
Your problem has a simple solution. You have lost the role of leader for her. That is why she does not obey, not because she does not want to obey, but rather you transferred leadership to her. When you run behind a passing car in front of your house, she wants to protect you.
You should focus on training yourself with her that you are the leader, and always remember that if you feel nervous, She will think that you are not safe, so she will drag you behind her, thinking that she will protect you from any danger.
Start with walking exercises with her, train her to walk beside you and not in front of you, if she pulled the strap from you, correct that by pulling it gently without tension and saying no.
When you succeed in this training, move on to training her not to get emotional and to run behind the car, and remember that she must know that you are the leader.
Take her for a spin around the house and when she see a car don't let hhet make eye contact with it, distract her and say no, she will learn that this bothers you and respect your decisions as a driver.
 

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Your problem has a simple solution. You have lost the role of leader for her. That is why she does not obey, not because she does not want to obey, but rather you transferred leadership to her. When you run behind a passing car in front of your house, she wants to protect you.
You should focus on training yourself with her that you are the leader, and always remember that if you feel nervous, She will think that you are not safe, so she will drag you behind her, thinking that she will protect you from any danger.
Start with walking exercises with her, train her to walk beside you and not in front of you, if she pulled the strap from you, correct that by pulling it gently without tension and saying no.
When you succeed in this training, move on to training her not to get emotional and to run behind the car, and remember that she must know that you are the leader.
Take her for a spin around the house and when she see a car don't let hhet make eye contact with it, distract her and say no, she will learn that this bothers you and respect your decisions as a driver.
Sorry but a lot of this is outdated. The pack leadership theory has been thoroughly disproven and telling her ”no” is meaningless - ”no” is simply an interruptor, and leaves a behaviour vacuum (it doesn't tell her what you do want her to do).

So, leaving that aside, @John Howard the key point you make is that she obeys except when there are distractions. What that says is that the distractions offer her something more rewarding than obeying. So, starting small, and building up, you need to work on her recall around those distractions - using a long line for her safety - and make returning to you a far, far better choice than chasing. And long lines should be used with a harness, not a collar, to avoid injury. Use sausages, a tuggy toy, whatever it takes (I'll come back to that). You need you to be the most gratifying thing in her life, the thing she will seek out above everything else. With that in mind, it is also good practice to reward every engagement with you, so every time she looks at you offer a,reward of some kind. That could be a piece of her normal food, an ear rub, or even just a ”good girl”.

If the thrill of the chase is what excites her, and you need to find a way of rewarding her with something that gives her even more gratification, sometimes working with that instinct is better than trying to suppress it. There is a book called Hunting Together by Simone Mueller that I think you would find very helpful.

A last thought, could she wear a lightweight high visibility jacket to help identify her as a dog to reduce the risk of being shot?
 

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My dog is a GSD mix. She is between 14 to 16 months old. She was a drop-off that showed up on my land and I rescued her. She apparently had no training at all.

I have been training her. She does super great during the training sessions and has learned many commands. She understands Sit, Lay Down, Fetch, Load Up (to get in vehicles), Heel, Come, and a few more. When she is on a leash and I have her attention, she is like a robot and obeys my every word. She does the same when she is off-leash as well, UNTIL..... she gets distracted, and then, I cease to exist, and nothing I say or do has any effect on her. I mean zip. zilch, nada!

This is a real problem that I MUST correct and I need serious real methods to correct this. She runs off and it will get her killed. I live in the country and she will run after a car that she hears on the road a quarter-mile away. I have wild animals like hogs, packs of coyotes, and bobcats. Additionally, she looks a lot like a large coyote and every farmer around here carries a gun and will shoot her on sight. In fact, she had already been shot before I found her.

She has to obey me or she cannot have freedom, not where I live, and I do not believe in keeping dogs on chains or cages. I am willing to put in however much work it takes, I just need to know how to teach her to listen to me, over everything else, at all times.

Again, I am looking for serious real training methods, not the "I tried this with my dog and I think
it worked" This is to SAVE the dog's LIFE! I have done a lot of searching and have read hundreds of posts before posting this and have not really found anything on how to deal with this issue.

Thanks in advance.
Hi. Welcome to the forum. :)

Of course you mean nothing to her when there's something more exciting going on. Of course everything is more exciting than you. Why?

Because she's a teenager. ;) Her brain's melted to life support functions only. 😁

There are two pieces of good news here:

1) She'll grow out of it.
2) You've already put in the groundwork. All you need to do is take it up a notch and start to retrain her everything she knows (sorry) around distractions. Start small (whatever "small" might mean to you - a single car in the distance, a dog barking a block away, kids in the street - whatever) and build up. Yes, it's hard work, so tell yourself, it won't be forever.

In the meantime, she does need to be on a leash, for her own safety.

Your problem has a simple solution. You have lost the role of leader for her. That is why she does not obey, not because she does not want to obey, but rather you transferred leadership to her. When you run behind a passing car in front of your house, she wants to protect you.
You should focus on training yourself with her that you are the leader, and always remember that if you feel nervous, She will think that you are not safe, so she will drag you behind her, thinking that she will protect you from any danger.
Start with walking exercises with her, train her to walk beside you and not in front of you, if she pulled the strap from you, correct that by pulling it gently without tension and saying no.
When you succeed in this training, move on to training her not to get emotional and to run behind the car, and remember that she must know that you are the leader.
Take her for a spin around the house and when she see a car don't let hhet make eye contact with it, distract her and say no, she will learn that this bothers you and respect your decisions as a driver.
So that's what you mean by "relationship training". Please do stick around. You have more to learn than you realise. We can help with that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sorry but a lot of this is outdated. The pack leadership theory has been thoroughly disproven and telling her ”no” is meaningless - ”no” is simply an interruptor, and leaves a behaviour vacuum (it doesn't tell her what you do want her to do).

So, leaving that aside, @John Howard the key point you make is that she obeys except when there are distractions. What that says is that the distractions offer her something more rewarding than obeying. So, starting small, and building up, you need to work on her recall around those distractions - using a long line for her safety - and make returning to you a far, far better choice than chasing. And long lines should be used with a harness, not a collar, to avoid injury. Use sausages, a tuggy toy, whatever it takes (I'll come back to that). You need you to be the most gratifying thing in her life, the thing she will seek out above everything else. With that in mind, it is also good practice to reward every engagement with you, so every time she looks at you offer a,reward of some kind. That could be a piece of her normal food, an ear rub, or even just a ”good girl”.

If the thrill of the chase is what excites her, and you need to find a way of rewarding her with something that gives her even more gratification, sometimes working with that instinct is better than trying to suppress it. There is a book called Hunting Together by Simone Mueller that I think you would find very helpful.

A last thought, could she wear a lightweight high visibility jacket to help identify her as a dog to reduce the risk of being shot?
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is the kind of advice I am looking for. You read and fully understood my issue and gave me very clear advice. I appreciate this more than you can believe.

Let me give you a little back story on this dog and better clarify my position.

1. I fully understand that my dog is young and I absolutely do not expect perfect behavior out of her at this point.
2. I am willing to put whatever work I need into her to help her become the best dog she can be for her sake and mine.
3. I know that it is my responsibility to train the dog and to that, I need to learn the right methods.

My dog is a rescue. Not just any rescue like you get at an animal shelter. My dog was rescued from the wild. I live 30 miles out in the country on 20 acres next to a 300-acre forest where I manage the wildlife populations for the owner. I have game cameras set up all over this property. This dog started showing up on my cameras around the beginning of March around my feeders.
Ecoregion Plant Tree Fawn Landscape


Unfortunately, this happens once or twice a year in my location. People drop dogs off out here. My practice of dealing with this is to capture the dog before it becomes a problem. I always attempt to find the original owner (in case the dog is imply lost). If the original owner cannot be found, I try to find a new family to take the dog, and if that cannot be achieved, the dog is turned over to the ASPCA. In most cases, it is very easy to catch the dogs. I simply put out food and water for them and they come. This dog proved very hard to catch. She was almost acting like a wild animal. She mostly hid during the day and hunted rabbits around my feeders at night. It was three weeks for we first saw her in person. When I first tried to approach her, she ran away. On March 23rd a neighbor that lived down the road from me caught her. They know that I try to to help drop-offs if I can (most people around here just shoot them) so they called me and I told them to put her in my fenced yard (I was out of town) and give her food and water.

Based on the way she was acting in the wild, I thought she would be a difficult dog, but to my surprise, she was as sweet as pie when I first met her and came right up to me and sat at my feet and let me pet her with any resistance. My wife took this photo when I first met her to be used in the online post to try to find her owner.
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Fawn Collar


After several days, I did locate information about her owner, for someone associated with them. These people confirmed that the owners had indeed dumped her in the woods in April. They also informed me that the previous owner had not cared for her well and they begged me to not give the dog back to them. I immediately took down all lost dog posts and took her to the vet for a checkup and to get her vaccinated (the people said she had not had any vet care or vaccines). The vet said she was healthy and a little over a year old, but that she had previously been shot and showed me a bullet wound scar on her abdomen informing of her hind legs.

I take placing a dog with a new family seriously. In light of her history, I felt it necessary to do a thorough assessment of her temperament to make sure she did not have any hidden aggressive tendencies. After almost a month of working with her, I have not in any instance seen the slightest hint of aggression, whether it be to human, animal, or object. Her only desire is to play with things. She gets along with other dogs, cats, and farm animals. She is gentle with small children. This is a picture of her with my granddaughter.

People in nature Dog Plant Grass Dog breed

Shoe Dog Leg People in nature Dog breed


I have decided to keep this dog for myself. Her name is Bella, which is a Spanish word for "Beautiful".

Bella has proven herself to be extremely trainable. She can usually learn a new command and skill in as little as two sessions. For example, I need to be able to load up into the bed of my 4X4 truck. She would not do it because she was afraid to jump. So, I decided to teach her the JUMP command. On day one, I started small with a 14" trailer tire and worked with her learning to jump over it. On day two I moved up to a 50-gallon drum. Here is a video My wife took yesterday of her in her second session learning to jump a drum. Bella Learns JUMP. Today, she jumped up in the bed of my truck with no problem.
 

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Watching the video will tell you a lot about her temperament. If you notice, even after I remove her leash, she heels while I am walking. Bella wants to please me. As can see in the video, I carry a pocket full of training treats and she is paid for everything she does well with a treat and emotional affection.

Her issue is that her sense of smell and hearing are very powerful and overwhelm her. In your instructions, you say she must stay on leash at all times. I agree, but here is the deal. When she is on-leash, she behaves perfectly. She never tries the bad behavior when on a leash. When it comes to her chasing of cars. here is what I have been doing in. I have been taking her to the edge of the highway and when I hear a car coming, I order her to sit and stay until after the car passes and is gone. I have done this every day for two weeks. She has not once even pulled down the leash to try to go after a car in all these sessions. But, if I take the leash off her, even though my house is 500 yards from the highway; if she hears a car she is gone in a flash.

So while on-leash she never does any bad behavior, so I never get an opportunity to try to correct it. What do you suggest?
 

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while on-leash she never does any bad behavior, so I never get an opportunity to try to correct it. What do you suggest?
Keep her on leash, while you work on being far more engaging than other things.

The problem with correction is that you start out by setting the dog up for failure, in order to apply the correction. Switch your point of view to set her up for success, by (a) making yourself the BEST THING EVER, (b) preventing failure by keeping her on a long line.

You don't teach your kids to drive safely by allowing them to crash the car. Look at her training in the same way. Does that make sense?
 

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I absolutely agree with Joanne, keep her on a long line and practice obedience commands in a wide variety of locations - initially without distractions. In my experience, people often underestimate how much these things need to be practiced in order for the dog to truly understand!

Use distance when introducing distractions. Meaning, it's not necessary for you and the dog to be right next to the road for her to know there's a car coming. But being farther away will let her get used to paying attention to you even when there are cars or other stimuli that she'd normally give her full attention to. It takes time and repetition for the concept to solidify, and for the dog to develop a new habit and muscle memory.

Also, to really promote engagement, keep training fun! Integrate play with obedience training, it helps tremendously with focus!

The bottom line is that you simply can't be more interesting and rewarding than everything else in the environment. And that's where practice and play and muscle memory help in building default behaviors/habits that your dog will learn to fall back on when situations get chaotic or confusing. It takes time and repetition...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I absolutely agree with Joanne, keep her on a long line and practice obedience commands in a wide variety of locations - initially without distractions. In my experience, people often underestimate how much these things need to be practiced in order for the dog to truly understand!

Use distance when introducing distractions. Meaning, it's not necessary for you and the dog to be right next to the road for her to know there's a car coming. But being farther away will let her get used to paying attention to you even when there are cars or other stimuli that she'd normally give her full attention to. It takes time and repetition for the concept to solidify, and for the dog to develop a new habit and muscle memory.

Also, to really promote engagement, keep training fun! Integrate play with obedience training, it helps tremendously with focus!

The bottom line is that you simply can't be more interesting and rewarding than everything else in the environment. And that's where practice and play and muscle memory help in building default behaviors/habits that your dog will learn to fall back on when situations get chaotic or confusing. It takes time and repetition...
Thanks. I have a 16-foot retractable leash. Is that long enough? Should be working with a rope? She is not very good at leash avoidance generally gets tangled up fast when she is on a long leash. She panics when she gets tangled up, I think because of the bullet wound. The other issue is that she pretty much will not leave my side regardless of how long her leach is. Even on the 16-foot leash, she seldom gets more than four feet from me.

I play a lot of fetch with her. When I first tried to get her to fetch a ball, she had zero interest in anything. I went through a bunch of different toys and she showed no interest. To teach her to fetch, it took my wife and I working together. My wife would force the ball into her mouth and then I would call her to me. If she got to me with the ball in her mouth, she got paid. After dozens of tries and only two successes, she understood what I wanted and now fetches like a pro. She loves playing fetch and will go get the ball and bring it to me when she wants to fetch, but she actually has zero interest in the ball itself. It is a squeaky ball and after hundreds of retrieves, she has yet to bite down hard enough to make it squeak a single time. She only likes to play fetch so she can bring the ball to me.

We take long walks around the parameter of my 20 acres twice a day. I am trying to help her understand the boundaries through habit. During these walks, I am engaging with her the whole time.. I stop and tell her to sit or lay down. Sometimes I stand still for a good while and say nothing, to see how she reacts to the environment around her. The one command she is struggling with is the STAY command. She wants to be next to me. If I tell her to stay and back off from her, she has a real hard time with that, but I am working on it.

I just want to say that Bella is performing beyond my wildest expectations considering that I have had her less than a month and her background. I don't want anyone to think I am complaining about her. She is flat amazing. I am the problem, in that I need to learn how to teach her. I seem to do fine at teaching her what to do. It is teaching her what NOT to do is where I am failing.
 

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They have even longer leashes for decent prices online. I got my pup a 50-foot leash that is 2" thick for about $10, and they were advertising one that is 100-feet. Long enough that they can usually walk over the tangle as long as it doesn't get caught.My word of caution is just to make sure that she is wearing her harness with it--so she doesn't choke herself or injure her neck if she happens to bolt.

This might not work {I know, specifically what you didn't want!}, but with my herding dogs, if I give them a proper outlet of something that I do want them to chase and/or work, they are far less prone to chase inappropriate things. Practicing in different locations, like a feed store, with random rewards can be a good starting point. Some recalls are rewarded with a ball, or cheese, or chicken; coming always=a surprise.

Teaching a with me (she sounds like a natural) and leave it can help as well for your base reasons for wanting to teach a recall--keeping her safe from dangerous things.

Can I just say thank you for taking her in? She looks like such a beautiful (Bella indeed) and wonderful girl.
 

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It sounds like she really lucked out when she found you. She also sounds like she is going to be a wonderful companion.

A lot of dogs love working. The joy of doing whatever they were bred for - chasing rabbits, driving sheep, jumping into an icy pond to retrieve something, etc. - can win out over a tasty treat or even self preservation when they are in the heat of the moment. She looks like she has a good dose of shepherd in her, so it doesn't surprise me that she would love to chase things. I don't think you will ever be able to extinguish that drive completely; it's just part of who she is.

I would take a two pronged approach with her. One is to prevent her from chasing cars by keeping her on a leash or behind a fence for the near future while you are working on the recall issue. The more opportunities she has to practice being naughty, the stronger her habit will be. I like the idea of using a harness and long line with her. The other is to find several enjoyable activities that tap into her hunting and chase drive. It sounds like you already have one with fetch. Playing with a flirt pole, playing with tug toys, hunting for hidden treats, agility work where she needs to run around obstacles, and so forth might be more things you could do with her. Once you find several fun games, practice calling her to play a game instead of calling her to sit or go in the house. Invite her to play any time it looks like her attention is drifting to something off in the distance. As her affection for you grows, she may decide that the opportunity to play a game with you is more enticing than the opportunity to get into trouble elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
They have even longer leashes for decent prices online. I got my pup a 50-foot leash that is 2" thick for about $10, and they were advertising one that is 100-feet. Long enough that they can usually walk over the tangle as long as it doesn't get caught.My word of caution is just to make sure that she is wearing her harness with it--so she doesn't choke herself or injure her neck if she happens to bolt.

This might not work {I know, specifically what you didn't want!}, but with my herding dogs, if I give them a proper outlet of something that I do want them to chase and/or work, they are far less prone to chase inappropriate things. Practicing in different locations, like a feed store, with random rewards can be a good starting point. Some recalls are rewarded with a ball, or cheese, or chicken; coming always=a surprise.

Teaching a with me (she sounds like a natural) and leave it can help as well for your base reasons for wanting to teach a recall--keeping her safe from dangerous things.

Can I just say thank you for taking her in? She looks like such a beautiful (Bella indeed) and wonderful girl.
Thanks. I appreciate it. That bit I said about what I did not was just a reaction to some really silly things that people on a FaceBook dog group said when I asked this question on there. People on this forum are a lot more serious.

I am working on Leave It right now. I have only had Bella since the 23rd of March and she has already learned so much in this short time. Sit, Lay. Stay, Fetch, Load Up, Leash, Heel. Leave It has been a struggle for her, but she is improving slowly. Today I was able to move back five feet and she held for three minute solid. That is a big improvement from last week.
 

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Much of the argument about dog training methods comes from misunderstanding. Yes, the silly dominant alpha take down thing for example to make the dog show submission i not going to be productive ... but that doesn't mean that dogs do not exhibit any pack behaviors. Human families also exhibit "pack" behaviors. Most of the disagreement comes from not fully understanding what is involved. It's kinda like when we see it said that "stubborn" is not a canine behavior but a human one. Well check the dictionary and we see the the literal definition of "stubborn" is "having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something". Stubborness in humans is literally defined as "behaving like a dog". Semantics.

A family has a leader, they eat together, they protect one another, they play together.... one person, sometimes 2 prepare all the meals. Is it really important what label you put on it ? The point is the behavioral parallels between dogs and people are undeniable. Call it a pack ... call it a family ... call it an "inter-species partnership", it really doesn't matter what label you put on it, recognizing the parallels is what matters because that produces a compatible dynamic whereby everyone gets along.

Yes, what is happening when she's distracted is because you're boring and this new thing is exciting. Distracting her with something "more interesting" can provide short term results but what about when that gets boring ? Success in this area is dependent on both early training and genetics, neither one can be ignored. We have two Shepherd / Husky mixes. The older one people swear is a purebred GSD, but her brain is all Husky and she runs off every chance she gets. Guess which breed garbers the highest "wanderlust" quotient ? Treats ? She can't be bothered... toss a treat and it lands 10 inches from a bed, she won't even get up. Not having absolute control over a dog that weighs over 60 pounds can have very negative results.

Arm yourself with multiple techniques to find what your dogs genetics and early life resulted in her their current behaviors. If treats work, by all means work it . If your dog is more interested in squirrels then treats, be prepared to employ other methods. It's popular in some circles that positive reinforcement is the only acceptable method of training. Behavioral Science says otherwise; BF Skinner was the 1st to show that combining positive and negative reinforcement together proved to be the most expedient method of behavioral modification. Where the arguments start is when people confuse negative reinforcement with negative stimuli or punishment... they are not the same thing. When you leave for work early because you do not want to get stuck in traffic, your behavior was modified by negative reinforcement ... you want to avoid something.

When you feed the dogs if they get all jumpy and crazy, don't put the bowl down until they stop the negative behavior and do something you want. I spent 4 years in responsible charge of a group of GSD's at a day camp for the arts (music, dance, sculpture, painting), outside the camp hours (9 - 3) they had full reign of the grounds. You could not display what was oft called "typical pack dominance behavior" by being bossy, the older / larger one would have none of it and you'd regret it. Negative reinforcement worked well ... again,that doesn't mean exposing the dog to a negative stimulus, taking away the “less pleasant reinforcer.” Removing the negative stimulus (me standing there witholding the reward until she exhibits positive behavior ) is, in and of itself, a “reward

When feeding, what eventually was found useful and which we used then and now was combining both negative and positive reinforcement. When dog(s) exhibit undesired behavior a short nonsense syllable or clicker can be used to say "look at me and pay attention"... this breaks the focus on the undesired behavior... and experience let's them know "something wonderful is likely gonna happen". But 1st you need to get their attention. Now with the attention on you... follow with a recognized command such as sit .... combine body language, tone and the reward (food bowl is placed). Repeat the technique at the door when going out, when strangers arrive, when walking the dog ... dog pulls... hit clicker, stop.. when she sits resume walking ... she's hot to explore and see new things.... she gets what she wants when she exhibits desired behavior.

I have been using this on the older GDD / Husky mix. I started out with 10 (33ft) meter retractable .... now I'm using a 150 foot surveyors tape.... it works better for this purpose because it doesn't constantly exert a pull on the dog... the pull represents control and you can't train responsiveness when the dog feels that you never gave up control. The surveyor's tape is light and it provides a sense of freedom. As she gets out to about 125 feet, I'll say "Enh" ... she stops, she looks waiting for what comes next. A clicker works also, but I always have "enh" with me. With her, treats are iffy .... if I don't change it up, she will start still stop with an "enh", look at me and give me that not interested look. Engaging in play has proved a better reward with her... but even that gets boring. So trips to the dog park, play dates, walks to new routes ... like a marriage... gotta keep it fresh. Experience will tell you what they like to do .... what drives them .... look to their breeding, remember the dogs were bred to display these characteristics. Again, not very different from humans ... parents work with their kids to find what interests them .... with my oldest, it was baseball, 2nd oldest track and building computers the 3rd was a little bit of everything. Doing them together was a feedback loop because parent and child / owner and dog genuinely enjoy pleasseing the other.... well maybe not teenagers :)
 

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I have had her less than a month
That's no time at all - it sounds like she is doing really well, given how new she is to you.

It is teaching her what NOT to do is where I am failing
That's always a struggle. It's the same for us - if I said to you 'DON'T think about a green and pink candy striped cartoon elephant' what's the first thing that comes to mind? So, instead, teach an alternative and incompatible behaviour. Instead of chasing that car (for example) perform a spin pirouette. I know that may sound like just teaching a party trick, but if that trick is fun and it stops her chasing, then it has an important purpose.

find several enjoyable activities that tap into her hunting and chase drive
That book I mentioned, Hunting Together, is about that. It's about working with her natural drives rather than trying to suppress them. Over thousands of years, we have selectively bred dogs to do particular jobs - hunting, pulling, herding, vermin control etc. A few years of being pets won't wipe out those innate drives. There's a reason why we don't use terriers to herd sheep. No doubt it can be done, but it's a lot harder.
am working on Leave It right now
I'm having problems with YouTube this morning but search for Kikopup and Leave it - she has an excellent short video.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It sounds like she really lucked out when she found you. She also sounds like she is going to be a wonderful companion.

A lot of dogs love working. The joy of doing whatever they were bred for - chasing rabbits, driving sheep, jumping into an icy pond to retrieve something, etc. - can win out over a tasty treat or even self preservation when they are in the heat of the moment. She looks like she has a good dose of shepherd in her, so it doesn't surprise me that she would love to chase things. I don't think you will ever be able to extinguish that drive completely; it's just part of who she is.

I would take a two pronged approach with her. One is to prevent her from chasing cars by keeping her on a leash or behind a fence for the near future while you are working on the recall issue. The more opportunities she has to practice being naughty, the stronger her habit will be. I like the idea of using a harness and long line with her. The other is to find several enjoyable activities that tap into her hunting and chase drive. It sounds like you already have one with fetch. Playing with a flirt pole, playing with tug toys, hunting for hidden treats, agility work where she needs to run around obstacles, and so forth might be more things you could do with her. Once you find several fun games, practice calling her to play a game instead of calling her to sit or go in the house. Invite her to play any time it looks like her attention is drifting to something off in the distance. As her affection for you grows, she may decide that the opportunity to play a game with you is more enticing than the opportunity to get into trouble elsewhere.
Thanks. I am trying to do as much as a I can. If you watched the video of me teaching her to jump, you can see I am not a young man. I have back, knee shoulder problems, so I cannot run and rough house with her, but I try to do what I can.

I am the lucky one that she found me. Th dog in my profile picture was my last dog. Her name was Shelby. Also, a rescue. I lost her five years ago and have not been able to open my heart to another dog since then. Bella did not ask my permission, she just took my heart. Maybe I am getting sentimental in my old age, but here is a little video I made for Bella. I am documenting her life.

Bella's Story. I was Lost, but now I am Found
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Much of the argument about dog training methods comes from misunderstanding. Yes, the silly dominant alpha take down thing for example to make the dog show submission i not going to be productive ... but that doesn't mean that dogs do not exhibit any pack behaviors. Human families also exhibit "pack" behaviors. Most of the disagreement comes from not fully understanding what is involved. It's kinda like when we see it said that "stubborn" is not a canine behavior but a human one. Well check the dictionary and we see the the literal definition of "stubborn" is "having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something". Stubborness in humans is literally defined as "behaving like a dog". Semantics.

A family has a leader, they eat together, they protect one another, they play together.... one person, sometimes 2 prepare all the meals. Is it really important what label you put on it ? The point is the behavioral parallels between dogs and people are undeniable. Call it a pack ... call it a family ... call it an "inter-species partnership", it really doesn't matter what label you put on it, recognizing the parallels is what matters because that produces a compatible dynamic whereby everyone gets along.

Yes, what is happening when she's distracted is because you're boring and this new thing is exciting. Distracting her with something "more interesting" can provide short term results but what about when that gets boring ? Success in this area is dependent on both early training and genetics, neither one can be ignored. We have two Shepherd / Husky mixes. The older one people swear is a purebred GSD, but her brain is all Husky and she runs off every chance she gets. Guess which breed garbers the highest "wanderlust" quotient ? Treats ? She can't be bothered... toss a treat and it lands 10 inches from a bed, she won't even get up. Not having absolute control over a dog that weighs over 60 pounds can have very negative results.

Arm yourself with multiple techniques to find what your dogs genetics and early life resulted in her their current behaviors. If treats work, by all means work it . If your dog is more interested in squirrels then treats, be prepared to employ other methods. It's popular in some circles that positive reinforcement is the only acceptable method of training. Behavioral Science says otherwise; BF Skinner was the 1st to show that combining positive and negative reinforcement together proved to be the most expedient method of behavioral modification. Where the arguments start is when people confuse negative reinforcement with negative stimuli or punishment... they are not the same thing. When you leave for work early because you do not want to get stuck in traffic, your behavior was modified by negative reinforcement ... you want to avoid something.

When you feed the dogs if they get all jumpy and crazy, don't put the bowl down until they stop the negative behavior and do something you want. I spent 4 years in responsible charge of a group of GSD's at a day camp for the arts (music, dance, sculpture, painting), outside the camp hours (9 - 3) they had full reign of the grounds. You could not display what was oft called "typical pack dominance behavior" by being bossy, the older / larger one would have none of it and you'd regret it. Negative reinforcement worked well ... again,that doesn't mean exposing the dog to a negative stimulus, taking away the “less pleasant reinforcer.” Removing the negative stimulus (me standing there witholding the reward until she exhibits positive behavior ) is, in and of itself, a “reward

When feeding, what eventually was found useful and which we used then and now was combining both negative and positive reinforcement. When dog(s) exhibit undesired behavior a short nonsense syllable or clicker can be used to say "look at me and pay attention"... this breaks the focus on the undesired behavior... and experience let's them know "something wonderful is likely gonna happen". But 1st you need to get their attention. Now with the attention on you... follow with a recognized command such as sit .... combine body language, tone and the reward (food bowl is placed). Repeat the technique at the door when going out, when strangers arrive, when walking the dog ... dog pulls... hit clicker, stop.. when she sits resume walking ... she's hot to explore and see new things.... she gets what she wants when she exhibits desired behavior.

I have been using this on the older GDD / Husky mix. I started out with 10 (33ft) meter retractable .... now I'm using a 150 foot surveyors tape.... it works better for this purpose because it doesn't constantly exert a pull on the dog... the pull represents control and you can't train responsiveness when the dog feels that you never gave up control. The surveyor's tape is light and it provides a sense of freedom. As she gets out to about 125 feet, I'll say "Enh" ... she stops, she looks waiting for what comes next. A clicker works also, but I always have "enh" with me. With her, treats are iffy .... if I don't change it up, she will start still stop with an "enh", look at me and give me that not interested look. Engaging in play has proved a better reward with her... but even that gets boring. So trips to the dog park, play dates, walks to new routes ... like a marriage... gotta keep it fresh. Experience will tell you what they like to do .... what drives them .... look to their breeding, remember the dogs were bred to display these characteristics. Again, not very different from humans ... parents work with their kids to find what interests them .... with my oldest, it was baseball, 2nd oldest track and building computers the 3rd was a little bit of everything. Doing them together was a feedback loop because parent and child / owner and dog genuinely enjoy pleasseing the other.... well maybe not teenagers :)
Thanks. I am trying some of what you mentioned, but I have not tried a clicker. That might be the ticket. Bella does have a strong prey drive and I know that she was killing rabbits to survive when she was in the wild. A few days ago, I was outside working with her just before sunset. She done very well and I had just unclipped her leash to take her in. Just then she saw a cottontail rabbit on my lawn and took off, the rabbit ran towards the woods, and there just so happened to be herd of wild hogs there. Bella moves fast and she was in among them before they knew what was going on. The hogs and Bella took off and I took off after her calling. I found out that she is a silent runner (my dad had **** dogs when was a kid). Fiinally she sounded off with a treeing bark rhythm and I knew she had something cornered. I knew if she was facing a wild boar, it was not gonna be good, so I was running as fast as I could to get to her, through cactus and mesquite trees. Thank goodness whatever she had cornered was holding or I would have never caught up to her. When I got about 30 feet from her (in 5 foot tall grass), she broke away from whatever was and came to me and I was able to leash her up. I had radioed my son to bring the ATV (I was half a mile away by now) and we got her home.

This could have ended badly. She could have been severely injured, and I could have had a heart attack running that far at my age. I normally don't run at all due to my back condition (I was crushed under a 3000lb beam). It is not her fault. She had to survive by hunting and she is just doing what she learned. I don't mind her wanting to hunt, but I have to teach her to not run hogs. They will tear her up. My dad had hunting dogs and they knew to only hunt one thing. The generally taught new dogs this behavior by running the young dogs with older dogs. I don't have any other dogs to tach this to Bella, so I don't know what to do. I live in the country and there are a lot of dangerous wild animals here.

Bella is such a great retriever, I think I might train her as a dove dog. Bella has what is known as a Soft Mouth. This is an excellent trait for a dove retriever. The problem with GSDs is that most are not gun dogs. And since she has previously been shot, I really don't know how she will react to a gun. Once I have her trained in all the basic commands to where she is rock solid, I plan to trap and freeze some Eurasion Collard Doves ( invasive species) and use them to teach her to retrieve dove. If I am successful at that, I will introduce a Daisy BB gun into the training to get her used to me rasing and shooting a gun. Then, I will slowly increase the weapon in stages to get her used to the sound of low powered gons like a .22, before bringing in a shutgun.

My dog Shelby loved the sound of a gun more than life itself. She was a sight dog and she would run after birds she could see and get too far away to call back. All I had to do was shoot my shotgun off in the air and no matter where she was, she would come on a dead run. If I can train Bella to respond this way to a gun shot, it may provide a way to call her when she gets out of vocal range.

Of course these are just IFs. Right now, I am just working on command and behavior. Bella will have to gain her freedom form the leash now. It may take a long time before that happens.
 

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That would have almost given me a heart attack seeing any dog run at/after hogs.

Up to you, but a whistle might be helpful for intermediate distance work. As for Bella being a gun dog, sounds like you have a good plan. And you never know, I believe it's member @RodeoRiata who taught their retrievers to work livestock.

It might take a long time, but she is a stellar student. So she might surprise us all. Or not, but that's fine too.
 

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have not tried a clicker
If that is something you want to try, there's a post about using it here if you need pointers -

 
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