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Hi all,

Long wall of text, but I want to give as much info, as possible.

We are first time dog owners. I am training our new GSD, Hank. He is ten weeks old on 3/30. We've had him for 10 days. I've taken him on walks every day up to 3 times a day. He seemed to always enjoy them, and I feed him treats while the leash was loose and stop and coax him back when he tried to lead. I was giving him treats every 5-10 seconds for about a 10 minute walk.

Yesterday everything unraveled. It was very hard to get him to leave the driveway, but I was able to entice him. I just kept telling him to come by running backwards and acting excited. Then he was fine as we walked. I only took him for two short walks yesterday to give him a break.

Today was even worse. His morning walk was a disaster. I had to constantly ask him to come. He kept laying down refusing to move. Every time I thought we had momentum, he would try to lead and when I stopped he just plopped down. I didn't bother with any more walks, as I am pretty frustrated and don't trust myself to be calm and collected. In addition, we did two training sessions. "Down" and I worked on his crate training some more. Both went very well. Then he had a nap. I had to run some chores, so I did have to leave him alone for awhile. I kept him in his crate while I walked by myself, and then put him in the bed with my wife while I ran to buy a few items.

So, I decide to try and get started on heel. Maybe, that will help on our walks. I watch some Youtube, and begin the training. I knew from the start something was amiss. He was biting me very hard when I gave him his treats. Sometimes he was barking, which almost never happens unless I get him too excited. I stop, because at that point I am sure he was just as frustrated as I was. I let him off the leash to play... That's when all hell broke loose.

My daughter usually is in the background doing her own thing. He chased after her to nip her. He failed to respond to my recall. I tried to walk calmly towards them and use a firm, even voice. Nothing. I finally get there, and break him off. He darts for a bunny nest that he uncovered a few days ago. I try to recall him. Whistle, say his name, clap, make weird noises. Nada. Sadly, I injured my knee a few weeks ago, so my run is a quick walk. I finally get to the nest. Too late. He has chased 3 bunnies out of the nest. I put him in the house. Try to find the bunnies with no luck. Obviously, I'm frustrated. I'm mad at myself. I don't know where I have gone wrong in the training. I feel bad that these 3 bunnies might very well be dead now. I needed a timeout. So, I have wife watch over him while I relax for an hour or two.

I come back. I'm refreshed. I tell myself I am just gonna let him run around in the backyard and it will be nice and relaxing. Nope. He won't stop nipping and trying to herd my daughter. I stand between them. He goes after the bunnies, but I am ready. I block him. He stops, and goes after my daughter. I put him on a leash. He hates it. He is biting the leash. He is going wild trying to sprint off, and choking himself. He's a ball of unstoppable, directionless, endless energy. I try to play tug of war. He bites my hand instead of the stick! Hard! I am shocked.What? Where did this come from? We end play and go inside. He calms down, and I take him to "his room" AKA my office. I sit down to pet him, and try to soothe him. He bites me so hard on my cuticle that I start to bleed. Now, I am really concerned. What am I doing wrong in my training?
 

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He's a puppy, and like toddlers they go through phases. The best thing to do is be very, very, consistent. A + B always has to = C. He needs to be able to predict if I do this, that is going to happen.

Due to his age it's going to be very easy for him to get distracted, and it sounds like he's gaining confidence and testing his boundaries. When I moved to the country my dog Jersey stayed glued to my side, my neighbor was completely impressed and commented on it. My reply was, "all this is brand new to her and she's wary so is staying close to me, give her a week or two and it'll change." Sure enough it did and she became happy to venture off without me if I let her! That's likely what happened with your puppy, at first he was unsure so he was wiling to stay by you. Now he's gotten some confidence and on top of it is getting distracted.

Scale back, start training him in the most boring place, and once he's 100% reliable there move on to a new place with a few more distractions. Don't train recall with him unless you can guarantee he's going to come back.

Ohh, sounds like the GSD genes are putting in a show! They are known for being cute, furry, little, landsharks as puppies. Are you planning on doing any bite work with him? If you are then disregard the following advice, but if you aren't then it might help. My terrier, Shadow, was a biting monster when he was a puppy, no bit control at all, he bit and latched on. What I ended up doing was always keeping a toy with me, when he bit me I'd detach him and try playing with him with the toy, if he dropped it and tried biting me again I'd give him the toy again. If he tried for a third time, I'd get up and get out of reach of him, play time was over. I'd wait 30 seconds to a min and then try again. Over and over and over. It took a couple weeks but there came a day when I could see he was going to bite me. I just looked at him and waited, he stopped, got this thoughtful look on his face and then ran and brought me one of his toys. I praised him to the skies and played with him. After that he never bit me again.

If you try that you can't let your puppy bite you ever, so no playing with him with your hands one time and then getting upset the next. You need to be completely consistent. Remember A + B always = C no exceptions. So puppy biting human always = end of fun. I generally give choices, my boy had the choice to play with his toy with me, or bite me and have me go away. I gave him 2 chances, some people only give them 1 chance.

If you are going to do bite work with him then you don't want to teach him to not bite humans.

Check out Kikopup on youtube, she has some really good videos on puppy training.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thank you. I have seen some kikopup, Robert Cabral(I crate trained Hank that way and it worked like magic), Simpawtico, and K9-1 training. I have to say Robert Cabral and Simpawtico have probably helped me understand the most.

Today was so much better

I began to teach him to start chewing on toys, and giving him lavish, prolonged praise when he does it. I started to praise him when he drops non-toy objects. We started to play tug-of-war, but of course had to end because he got super hyped and thought my ankle was a nice chew toy. I was amazed that I actually got him to calm down, and actually fall asleep after his tug-of-war session! Thank you so much for your advice and encouragement. The leash walking is still going terribly. I ended up just picking him up and going home this morning, but he did finish the walk this evening. Though, it was beyond frustrating. Literally everything distracted him. A tree. A napkin on the road. The grass. A leaf. He tried to run ahead if he wasn't trying to lay down. I think I might be in over my head on the training for walking. I don't know if I am giving him the correct praise, and I have taught him to be stubborn to get treats.

edit: I said in too deep, but meant in over my head.
 

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Hi there.

For one thing, I would like to commend you for your effort and patience, however I feel like you may be praising Hank at the wrong time. He has learned that if he uses his teeth on you, he'll get the treat. Being rewarded for mouthiness is a big no-no. To fix this, you should hold on to the treat whilst Hank nibbles at your fingers. Release when he resorts to licking. So now, he gets rewarded for using his tongue on your hand instead of teeth. During playtime, the moment he bites, stand up and take away the special toys. Hank will soon associate nipping with the end of fun. But you gotta make playtime a blast.

Perhaps you have subconsciously petted him when he is in an excited state or right after he bites you - this tells the dog you approve of that behaviour, so you'll be seeing more of it. Never give affection when your dog displays unwanted behaviour. It isn't soothing, it just encourages whatever the dog is doing. Be more selective with when you choose to give affection.

As for walking issues, I suggest you drive to an unfamiliar location to make Hank more curious and less likely to defy a walk. Dogs are also more emotionally reliant on their owners in new places so that's a plus.

It seems like the leash is related to punishment in Hank's perspective, so I'd say buy a new one. I recommend a strong collar to go around the neck, not a harness. Make your dog love the collar by giving him treats whenever the collar comes out. When walking him, position the collar high up on his neck and you'll find that it is easier to control him. When he tries to go another way, briefly give an upward tug on the leash and then release pressure once he complies. Don't constantly look down to see what the dog thinks, he has to follow you.

Understand that dogs live for the moment, and so should you. Don't fret before a walk. Anticipating the trouble you went through last time exerts nervous energy which Hank can most likely pick up on, which makes it harder for him to look to you as his leader. You need to live directly in the moment without dread. Catch Hank's attention any way you can (with high value treats like chicken, if he won't listen without one) so that his eyes and ears are totally on you. That's how you communicate through what you want from him. If your state of mind is calm and assured, and you walk briskly with your chin up, Hank will adhere. If you think you really need work on your confidence, sign up for some karate classes.

Your relationship with your dog must have "rules, boundaries and limitations" (credit goes to Cesar Millan). To start off, assign a quick sound that means 'attention, stop what you are doing.' A firm 'tsh' or 'hey!' is what I use with my dog. You could utilise this during playtime, when Hank's excitement gets to a certain level (right before he starts barking). You need to watch Hank assertively and make the sound just before his excitement gets to an unwanted level, not whilst he is in an uncontrollable state. Your correction sound will snap the brain out of the road to misbehaviour, so you should eventually be able to control the intensity of Hank's state of mind.

When you miss the chance to nip forecoming chaos in the bud and you see the dog running off, run (fast-walk for now) after him, as if you are herding him into a corner from which he can't escape. Try to be as calm as possible, while you hold your ground. Stand over him and wait until he sits. Laying down is even better. You could stare into his eyes while this happens and wait until he looks away. Stay in the same position until you can see that Hank has calmed down. Then, walk away and ignore him until he comes to you.

If, by any chance, Hank is misbehaving and the situation does not allow you to practice the above, you might want to try this dominating technique. Gently but persistently try to get your dog to surrender by pushing his body down from the top. It could take a minute or two. Keep your hand firm and if Hank stays standing, push a little harder. Your goal is for him to lay down. Keep your hand there as he lays down, and enjoy the calmness of the moment for a few seconds. This is one quick way to establish yourself as the dominant one.

Good luck, and if you need more guidance, feel free to message me.
 

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If, by any chance, Hank is misbehaving and the situation does not allow you to practice the above, you might want to try this dominating technique. Gently but persistently try to get your dog to surrender by pushing his body down from the top. It could take a minute or two. Keep your hand firm and if Hank stays standing, push a little harder. Your goal is for him to lay down. Keep your hand there as he lays down, and enjoy the calmness of the moment for a few seconds. This is one quick way to establish yourself as the dominant one.
Hmm. Dominance theory has been widely discredited by modern trainers who have kept up to date with science and research. I'm afraid Cesar Milan doesn't fall into that category - for anyone reading this, there are far better trainers out there. The pack leadership / dominance theory was even rejected by the person who developed it. It was based on flawed conclusions drawn from poorly observed evidence. The wolf pack (and dogs are not wolves anyway, any more than we are chimpanzees) was not a real pack, and the situation (captivity rather than wild) skewed the data as their behaviour was not natural. In a true pack, the leadership is fluid depending on the circumstances.

This article explains it quite well. Debunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory - Whole Dog Journal

Nobody disagrees with boundaries and good manners, but the these can be established through training, building a mutually respectful relationship and without forcing submission from your dog. We certainly do not advocate aversive tools and behaviours.

If you think about leadership in your own life, the leaders (teachers , co-workers) that you respect earn that respect and inspire follwership, they don't command or force it through wielding power 'just because they can'.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all.

TeraByte I think you are correct that I have probably rewarded bad behavior. I do let him bite my fingers when giving him a treat, so it makes sense that he may think its OK to nip. I also gave him a treats during our "down" exercises, even though he barked in frustration. I didn't know what to do there, since he laid down but barked. Now, he barks every time I tell him to "down" even though he lays down. I have stopped rewarding if he barks, though.

I also do fret over our walks. I will pass on your advice for karate classes, since I'd rather not round house kick my dog. Its morally and socially wrong. I took him on one walk today with a 15 ft leash. It was better, but I wouldn't really call it a walk. It was him being totally distracted until he decided to come back to me. I gave him a treat at that point. I've tried to walk with a treat in my hand for him to nibble, but I am 6'2 with some extra fat on me, and he is about 1.5 ft off the ground, if that. Just not possible for more than 30 seconds. Absolutely miserable for me. All the while he is biting my fingers.

I will definitely never do "alpha training". I don't treat my kids that way, and I won't treat my pet that way. They do what I ask, because I've taught them to respect me. And when they don't do what I ask I don't pin them down and assert dominance. Even though it has crossed my mind!
 

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I wonder if your expectations are a little high. Maybe a bit like taking a kid to Disneyland and expecting them to walk calmly beside you.

Reading back your first post, I think it may have started to unravel after his nap, maybe everything was just all a bit too much for him.

When you go on walks for a couple of days, maybe go with no intention of actually going anywhere. If he flops, let him for a few moments. The world outside is quite overwhelming for puppies, it's ok to let him dip a toe in and stop, for a week or two. And, on the subject of walking, if you are using a long line please only attach it to a harness - if it is attached to a collar, and he runs, he won't know when he is going to reach the end and the sudden stop could injure his neck.

Then the bunnies - I believe he may have become totally overexcited. And asking for any calm behaviour then is like expecting a kid at Disney on a massive sugar rush to sit calmly while their favourite characters are all about!

The mouthing is normal play in puppies. This is just an extension of the boisterous play he had with his littermates but he needs to learn this is not how to play with humans. Some people find a sharp 'ouch' works but it can just ramp up the excitement. Some people find putting a toy in the dog's mouth works, others find the puppy is still more interested in nipping hands. My preferred method is to teach him that teeth on skin equals end of fun. So as soon as he makes contact, walk out of the room for a few moments. As long as the whole family is consistent - do it immediately and do it every time - he will learn. You could use a house line to draw him away, which keeps your hands both out of reach and also keeps hands for only good things.

There is also something called ”extinction burst” that you should be aware of. This is when a behaviour that used to get attention no longer works for the dog so he tries it all the harder and it seems like things are getting worse, not better. This is good, because it means that what you are doing is starting to work.

But mainly, breathe, take a step back and try not to expect too much. He is a baby and he is learning something completely new, he will get frustrated too if he doesn't understand so as soon as that happens, take a break and think about teaching it a different way next time.
 

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He is a baby 5 minutes of training at most. I love Kikopup she is a positive reinforcement trainer. She teaches puppies with shaping methods. You want the puppy to love training and trust you. It may take more time but in the end you will have a dog who makes the choice to work with you. Long walks at this stage is not a good idea. Noodling is better. You could try a wooden spoon with Kong cheese on it so you do not have to bend over so much. Or a clik stik.
 

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Thank you ac mom. We only walk around the block. .2 miles, at most. I'm not sure what noodling is but I will look into it. I like the wooden spoon idea!!
 

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2 miles is way too much for a 10 week old - it's only a rough guide but the UK kennel club recommends 5 minutes per month of age, twice a day. So that's 10 minutes at the moment. It's because his joints aren't properly formed yet.
 

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I've been looking online for a cartoon I once saw - sorry I haven't found it. Its ”how you think your dog will learn” - a straight line; and ”how your dog actually learns” - a line that looks like tangled knitting yarn.
 

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Yeah, yesterday he was back to his old shenanigans! And now he seems to have totally forgotten the stay command! I used to be able to walk into the bathroom bang around on stuff, relieve myself, etc, and he would stay out. Now, after I take two steps back he comes after me. Back to square one!
 

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I just wanted to give an update. Tomorrow will be his 12 week birthday. All week he has been utterly fantastic on his leash. I bought him a flirt pole that we use a few hours before bedtime to get his excess energy out. He absolutely loves it. I think its a better training tool than food!

You guys were right. I was expecting too much out of a young puppy.
 
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