Did you know that in the olden days, the German Shepherd Dog lived longer, jumped higher and further and did as it was told, always, and without any training!!! No really it is true, then of course, Germany became a free country with a democratic constitution and the amazing German Shepherd, being able to read (you did not know that did you !) said: "Free at last!!" And from then on people had to work mighty hard to train this noble and intelligent breed. And that was before Jean Donaldson came along :o
Have you ever seen a picture of the dog just after it came down from that wall? No. Me neither. Hm.
Todays training methods are fun. You can start the day your puppy comes home. Gone are the days when you were told to wait when the dog had matured (and incidentally picked up some really bad habits along the way).
Work for food. Why not. I work for chocolate all the time. Or coffee. I have lost count of the times friends have offered me dinner in exchange for fixing their computer problems. So please don't tell me working for food is cruel ;)
The main point being that you have to feed the puppy, 3 times a day at first, then twice. Which means that you have the time to train 3 times a day. Its a great way to start a good habit.
Get the pup, and the bowl filled with the kibble. Sit down on the kitchen floor. You are using 1 piece of kibble at a time.
- Teach a marker word - good or yes. The word has to be short. You will pair it with food. Good - then the food, repeat. With a little pup this may take a while to kick in; but it will ( to get the concept at work here play pavlov's dog)
- Reward for looking at you. Works without the marker word too.
- Lure and reward a sit. This is a great way of teaching the pup, when it can take food, use the lure hand to guide the pup into te sit; open the hand to deliver the treat.
- Practice handling paws and other body parts. Feed while you touch.
- Puppy nose to your hand targeting. Put a piece of kibble between the figers, present the open hand to the pup, within easy reach. Feed for touching.
- Zen, hand zen and floor zen. Not much use doing table zen, as the little bugger cannot even see the food up on the coffe table now. Put a piece of food in your closed hand - then follow Sue Ailsby's excellent instructions (bye come back soon!) . You can also use Pat McConnells "space" guarding - the pup will pick that up very quickly. Simply use your hand to block the path the pup would take to the food on the floor.
Spending time with your 8 week old German Shepherd Puppy doing this type of training will be addictive! So be careful. You will have to learn how long you can train, this is a little puppy afterall. If you start your puppy with training like this you will stand a good chance of surviving adolescence with your sanity intact ;) and the couch.
Good exercise for the body and the mind will be vital for that time in your German Shepherds life.
Training really and truly is a great way to spend time with your dog. Especially if it takes you outdoors - so sign up for tracking classes. A ten week old puppy can start. The Schutzhund organizations are offering obedience and tracking certificates now. You will have to start with the companion dog - the BH, then you can go thru the different levels if obedience and tracking all the way to the demanding FH2 title. Which should take care of your puppies next 8 years or so ;)
Tracking trials are available as well with the CKC; but the jump from TD to TDX is rather intimidating for new handlers. But you do not need the obedience trial to get into the TD, so that is a bonus. Training for competition takes time and costs money, so you may have to make a choice as to what you wish to accomplish first.
There are several excellent tracking teachers withing easy reach of St Catharines and Niagara.