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Training goals for a 9 Month Female GSD

11378 Views 43 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Jeff Oehlsen
Training goals for a 9 Month Female GSD

Hello All,

Just a quick History: I have a 9 month old female GSD, which I've had
since she was 9 weeks old. When Sable was 5 months, I took her to get
evaluated at a SchH club by Gregg Tawney.

She was concidered "ok" by him, not going to win any big SchH
competitions, but just had "ok" prey drive. Again, she was just 5 months at
the time, and Gregg told me to really work w/her on building drive (and focus).

Her temperment is fine. She's beginning to bark at noises outside at night.
I like this, as I would really like her as more of a deterent than PPD. I just
don't think she has the genes. But as a sports dog, I want to do SchH with

She's a "soft" dog, althought I don't correct her much, just only for bad manners.

She recently has begun to pee when I walk up to her, after a bit of time
away from her. I think my sons may have been picking on her. I've never
caught them, but have a feeling. That has stopped (as far as I can tell,
after telling them, "LEAVE MY DOG ALONE!!!"), but now she kind of cowers
- just sometimes, not all the time - when I aproach her.

So, now that I've bored you all w/her history :eek: I'm trying to build up her
confidence (again :mad: ) and her OB.

What should I be concentrating on right now? Her sitz/platz
are great, but her heir has diminished, I feel, due to the issue
above (acting scared). She's 100% with her heir when I'm all alone
w/her, and 75% w/distractions. Sometimes, she'll cower and go the other
way :cry:

I play tug w/her every day, and (get this...) have made a bite sleeve from
my wife's old jean overalls. I've wrapped it on my arm, and let her tug at
it like the tug she has.

So, what else should I do? and should I continue the jean-tug? I have no
extra $$$ for club membership anywhere (couldn't you tell by my
jean-tug?) and don't know anyone "close" to me who I can train with.

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1 - 7 of 44 Posts
(All quotes by susan tuck)
Hey Martin, If your instincts were telling you your kids were teasing the pup, then I bet it was happening. Good on you, for making them quit it.
Yes, and I'm sure they feel bad about it (now), as they see how she is
At this point, if I were you, I would work on building her confidence back up, using tug /or leather rag. Let her win & praise her up. In fact, you may want to back off all obedience &/or corrections until she is "happy dancing" again, especially if you want to build her up to one day compete.
By backing off OB / corrections, are you refering to:
  • OB sessions, like, "sitz, platz, and bleib"?
  • Corrections for non-compliance OB, or corrections for bad "pack behavior"?
The last thing I want to mention is her hormones. I don't have any experience with female dogs, but at 9 months the boys hormones are raging, & sometimes you see some rather wierd behaviours which they will stop doing once they stabilize.
Well she has just come off of her 1st "heat" cycle. And I do see a change
for the better w/her cowarwing - allot less of it :p :p :p !
Her "period" was lengthy. How long does a heat cycle typically last? Her's
was about 1.5 weeks!
come to think of it, way back when, when I was a teenager, my friends & I (male & female) displayed some pretty stupid behaviors, so I don't see why it would be any different with dogs. (Can anyone say "run on sentence?")
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quote from Debbie High:


Most heat cycles last about 21 days. That 1-1/2 to 2 week mark is when most bitches are ready to be bred. A loose rule of thumb is a week coming in, a week of being bred and a week of going out.
Yeah, my wife just told me that Sable's cycle was about 21 days :oops:

I'm keeping a careful eye on her when we're outside, as I am NOT
going to have another accidental breeding. In a few months, when $$$ is
not so tight, I'll be spaying her. I've been reading (mostly on Leerburg)
that some bitches actually become slightly agressive after. This may be a
good thing for her, as she's a very soft dog right now. Actually, I love her
just the way she is :p !

INHO you need to keep your bitches training positve with very few corrections. As for pack order she really that dominate/ pushy?
Not dominate at all. Well, she does growl when my Border Collie goes near
her food. But let me say that this is rare, as I feel them in separate areas.
Sable eats in her kennel, which is in my room.

The one thing she does (and of course it's MY fault :oops: :cry: ) is that
she tries to enter/exit through doors before me. She did, at one time, sitz
before going through ANY doors, but since I've been working CRAZY hours,
I haven't re-inforced that. So now she does this (again). Should I correct her?
Or just have the family have her "sitz" before opening doors? And if so, I
worry that she'll break the sit to go outside. Now her sit is 100% for me, but
not so good for the family. So, I can just see my sons (OVER)correcting
her for this. HELP!

Pack order corrections really don't always have to involve corrections per se, control the situations.
This statment is full of great wisdom!

Lighten-up and enjoy your dog. Make everything fun and games!!!
I'll be doing this from now on until she is "happy dancing" all over the place!!!

You still have plenty of time for formal obedience training. I know people that wait until the dog is over a year old before obedience becomes a serious thing to worry about.
I'll start another topic on this, b/c my buddy who has a Dobe just started w/a
SchH club, and they told him to stop OB/corrections also. His Dobe is already
3 years old... I need some explination for that ;) .

For safety reasons the most important thing is to come when called. Everything else is a matter of rewarding good behavior. If she doesn't comply...... she doesn't get a reward. Keep yummy treats in your pockets at all times. You'll be amazed after a week.
Again, I'll be doing this! Thanks for helping Debbie!!! I can't wait to see
Sable fully bloom!
Thanks also to the other posters, Connie, Jerry, Susan - and to the rest who
will post!
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Greg Long said:
Ok ,Ill address the real issue!

The cowering and peeing I dont like.Tell the kids to leave the dog alone for awhile.Then take the dog everywhere with you.You may already do this.
Yes, she goes EVERYWHERE w/me - this she loves! And as far as the kids
and her go, they are under strict orders to not give ANY commands to her,
only open the door to let her out to pee when I'm not home. Otherwise, she's
with my wife.

Greg Long said some more:
Another thing you can do is take her out somewhere she can run loose in a big area without any other dogs or people for that matter.I get dogs in that lack confidence sometimes and this seems to help as much as anything.Let her be a dog and do what she wants for awhile.
I'll do this starting tomorrow (man, I LOVE this forum - such great advice!!!)

Greg Long said again:
When you do work her, dont allow anyone else to give her commands. (Martin inserts: Yes, this is being done) All the while,you need to be very in tune with her every action and recognize when she is coming under stress.When you see this you tell her "its OK".
I do try to be tuned in to her (I owe that much to her), but I have a question
on the "its OK" part. Isn't comforting your dog when they're scared or unsure
sort of telling them that their "fear behavior" is OK? I've read that during
"fear behavior" from your dog, you ignore that, and just redirect them.
I hope y'all know what I'm trying to say :oops:

Greg Long was saying:
Also,you're attitude needs to be very confident and relaxed.
I am the confident and relaxed pack leader in my home - a true Cesar
Milan disciple :eek: - fair but firm. I just wish I was there for her during
the time my kids where... AHHHAAAHHH!!!

Woody Taylor said of Greg Long's quote:
Tell the kids to leave the dog alone for awhile.
How about beat the living hell out of the kids for messing with the dog?...
Martin, I don't know if you lean towards the soy burgers and rainbows part of the parental spectrum...I tend to on 95% of stuff...but that's one behavior I will never tolerate.
Both my wife and I are firm believers in spanking our kids. We do so out
of love, never in anger - but our kids know that the consequence for
disobedience/bad behavior is spanking/priveledges taken.

Unfortunately, with all the kids denying the whole thing... Well, let's just
say that they know (all three sons) that IF I EVER CATCH THEM/HEAR
THAT THEY ABUSED OUR DOGS AGAIN... Yes, sitting down will not be an
option for a couple of weeks :eek:

Keep the advice coming guys and gals! I'm just soaking it all up!

Once the bond between Sable and I is back where is should be (why
would she be fearful w/me anyway?), and I can begin (light???) OB
again, what would you sport dog trainers be consentrating on w/a 9 month
old soft bitch w/medium prey drive?
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Greg Long said:

Its really hard to explain the "its ok" without demonstration.Its more of an acknowledgment to the dog that you are also aware of the situation than it is a comforting gesture.Its all in the way you use your vocal tones and your attitude.
If you were to coddle her and get down on your knees and say"its ok ,poor baby,everything will be alright" then I dont think that is a good thing and yes you could be encouraging the behavior.However if your vocals are very directive and say "ITS OK,I SEE IT" then you are telling the dog that you also see what she sees and it actually sharpens the indication but your attitude and vocals are what calms the dog and builds trust and confidence.Your attention should not be on her but on whatever she is worried about or on the task at hand.
If she is worried about you, then just pick up the lead and go do something.Dont focus on what she is doing but on a task like a small obstacle or something.She will then follow and start to take direction IF you have the DESIRE to communicate with her.
I believe obstacle work is one of the greatest tools for building a working relationship with your dog.At first though you need to go over the obstacles yourself and have the dog follow you on leash.This forces you to work WITH the dog to complete the task of getting both yourself and your dog over the obstacle.You can then incorporate obedience into the obstacle work.

I could go on and on but that is a good place to begin.
I get you man :wink: And I'll re-focus her onto something else when her
behavior is fearful.

All the advice from this forum is ALREADY paying off! Her behavior has
"relaxed" A WHOLE HECK OF ALLOT! She's really (re)bonding with me -
and the kids. I tell you, we can learn SO MUCH from our dogs. Sable has,
from what it seems, forgiven the kids, and me as her pack leader for even
allowing something to happen. We're pulling through, her and I, as a team.

Greg, you have so elequently put it, "She will then follow and start to take
direction IF you have the DESIRE to communicate with her."
Yes, I desire
this, and am applying our training/bonding in such a way that Sable and I
will be closer because, and not dispite, the horrible incident she has gone

Replies welcome: :wink:

Once the bond between Sable and I is back where is should be, and I can
begin (light???) OB again, what would you sport dog trainers be consentrating
on w/a 9 month old soft bitch w/medium prey drive?
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You should tell the dog "its ok I see it" and then imediately work through or around whatever it is that is causing that stress
Yes, I understand this. Her stress was geared toward me - even though
the actual abuse was from my sons. I'm the only one to use the "Heir"
command w/Sable, and her reaction to it has been one of cowering.

Connie's answer about how some dogs who were abused by men or big
boys might then be fearful around all men and big boys - really hits the
nail on the head. You make perfect sense Connie. It was happening to my

I've been really working with her, and applying ALL the great advice given
in this thread. And guess what? Sable is doing GREAT :D

So, to update y'all, Sable IS doing tons better :p :p :p :p :p

She no longer cowers when called. My sons STILL are NOT allowed to do
anything w/her unless supervised by myself, and I have to say that she is
actually a happier dog working through this. :D

So I'll close this chapter in Sable's life, learning from it and being a better
handler for it.

I'll post a new thread on the SchH training issues I have, and anything else
for that matter. Thanks to all!

Say hello Sable:

Sable, don't stick your tongue out at these nice people:
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Quote by Jeff Oehlsen:
There is only so much you can do. Drive building is often suggested, but the reality is that there is a strong probability that there isn't enough there.

I would say use her to practice your handling and training skills while looking for a new dog to use for Sch. Doesn't take much, as we all know how weak this sport is. :lol: Once you have trained a skill with a dog, it isn't nearly as weird the next time you train it.

I would start tracking and send aways and all the stuff that is interesting somewhat, as the basic OB isn't killer brain surgeon material.

I would also consider if I were you of doing agility as well. It can be helpful with the rest with a weak dog, as the work is not hard and fun. It also helps your dog understand your body language better in a relaxed situation, as I doubt you would take it as seriously.
I was given the 1st bit of advice from Gregg Tawney when he evaled Sable
at 5 months. Train her as far as she'll go, not as far as I want her to
go, if she doesn't have the drive to carry her through. Gregg said (and
now you - great minds...) that I'll learn tons about "reading" a dog
- learning how to build drive, learning specific techniques, etc., and when/if
I ever get a "high-drive"/"genetically apt"/"insert your favorite term here",
working dog, I'll be a MUCH better handler then.

I'll start to train her in tracking, and the other "fun" stuff, like the send-away.
BTW, she's really having fun now w/playtimes!

Agility - where to begin? I'll post separate threads for 1) Agility training,
2) Tracking, 3) Send away, and, 4) etc! Does it count that on our daily
walks (I've got a killer cold/flu right now, so she's stuck indoors w/me :cry: )
to the local park, I lead her onto the jungle gym? She loves to "hup" onto
picnic tables, and I do "sitz/platz" stuff while high up on the kids play gym.

Morning times, and SOME evenings there's no one at the park, so I let her
off leash for "bringen" and "chase the human (me) around as he runs out
of breath".

Woody Taylor said:
Yep, Martin, I think this is a good approach for you. Don't sweat the bitework stuff now, work on the stuff Jeff's suggesting here. Good for you, good for the dog and the dog's confidence.
I'll be - maybe once every 2/3 weeks - training w/a buddy of mine on
bitework. Is that going to be too much too soon? Strickly prey drive building,
getting her to bite a "real" sleeve (not my wife's jeans rolled up on my arm :wink: )
Back-tying her in order to frustrate some bark out of her w/a sleeve as a prey

I know enough to NOT mess her up w/defensive stuff at her age - so:
- NO DEFENCE yet until she's, maybe what, 18 months? He has a 3 year
old Dobe (have you been reading the thread, GSD VS DOBE other
there?) - very well behaved and socialized.
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