Obedience Training for Dogs
Over the past years, at MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we have moved completely away from Obedience Training. Because our Behavior Training approach proved so much more successful!
Obedience Dog Training is totally overemphasized, regardless which breed of dog or mix you have.
Obedience training for dogs is typically portrayed as the basis of any more advanced training like German Shepherd Protection Training or German Shepherd Schutzhund Training. However, particularly with these, German Shepherd Behavior Training has shown to be the much better basis.
Our Behavior Training focuses on motivation, not on commands and force or fear, or both.
However, since most people search for 'Obedience Training', let's briefly present that here.
Obedience training for dogs can be divided in two parts: Off the leash and on leash training, or off lead and on lead training. Many dog commands are applicable to both situations, off the leash and on leash.
Another classification is to distinguish basic dog commands from the more advanced dog commands which generally will require more emphasis and/or more time before your German Shepherd can comply.
Note that all dog commands can be used in slight variations depending on where you live and depending on the education of the trainer, however consistency is crucial. In general, the shorter the dog command you use, the better your dog will respond.
Even if (or particularly if?) you are an advocate of Dog Obedience Training, note that this should never be about acting like a despot, being tyrannical, or a control-freak. Instead, Obedience dog training should have the aim that your GSD adheres to your dog commands without too much restriction of your dog's freedom. More like a safety measure than a control measure.
Your commitment to Obedience Dog Training
Another issue with Obedience training for dogs is that it takes a lifetime - if you consider that your dog's obedience needs to be retrained regularly (conversely, Behavior Training conditions a dog to want to act the way you want - as long as you are benevolent).
In any case, teaching your dog the basic dog commands should take no more than three months if your dog is being trained for at least an hour every day. Indeed, consistency is the most crucial factor for success, both in the short term and in the long term.
Three months? You may wonder?
Indeed, this is the second most crucial factor for success - but typically overlooked: We consider any training to only be successful if your dog adheres to your command regardless of the environment and situation.
Meaning, you must train your dog over a longer period of time in various environments and situations, before you can consider your dog as being 'trained'. Because dogs do not easily relate a trained behavior in one environment or situation to our required behavior in another environment or situation.
This is yet another reason why our Behavior Training is superior to the ever so popular Obedience Training: If you focus on motivation, rather than on commands, then there is much less need to train your GSD in loads of different environments and situations, before you can consider your dog being trained.
When your German Shepherd wants to behave in a certain way, rather than feeling force or fear that you want it to behave in a certain way, then obviously your GSD inherently wants to replicate its own behavior in other environments and situations.
In any case, the advanced dog commands of Obedience Dog Training cannot and should not be trained every day. Your dog needs a rest, physically and also mentally in order to show an active interest in the next training session. Usually, a formal training of the advanced dog commands twice a week has provided the best success rates. Again, consistency is key.
In case of German Shepherd Obedience Training, after about eight to twelve weeks there should be a break of a couple of months, which should then be followed by a shorter refresher training of about four weeks. Subsequently, a one-day refresher training every couple of months should suffice.
Naturally, your german shepherd must first completely adhere to the basic dog commands before you start to teach the more advanced dog commands. You didn't have parts of college class material while still being at primary school. So, better don't put too high demands too fast on your GSD either.
Also note that you must be ready for the training of your dog yourself. Too many dog owners neglect their end of the bargain when they buy or adopt their German Shepherd. They seem to think that the burden lies with their GSD, not with themselves.
However, think of Obedience Dog Training as a two-way street, and it will be far more effective and enjoyable for both of you! You and your German Shepherd will then experience the training as a welcoming change to an otherwise sometimes monotonous life of a dog.
Whether you adopt our Behavior Training, or you stick to the yet popular Obedience Training, you too will need to learn how to gradually assert your dominance over your German Shepherd to show your dog that you are in charge at all times, and that your dog must listen to you (watch your visual cues).
This is about becoming the accepted Pack leader for your GSD, and we feature this topic regularly in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL.
If the trained behaviours are replicated consistently, your dog and you will have a much easier time following your lead.
Alpha leadership (or accepted Pack leadership) is the cornerstone of all effective German Shepherd dog training, and with a dog as athletic and energetic as the German Shepherd it is all the more important for a safe and happy life together.
Limitations of Obedience training for dogs
Remember that your German Shepherd can only do well what it is taught to do. You must be consistent, considerate, reassuring and effective at maintaining the dog commands and rewards you give. The second you start waffling or forgetting to reassert your commands, your dog will start to revert to its instinctive behaviours that you worked so hard on to train your dog out of.
If your German Shepherd is a family dog where several family members share control of the dog and time to socialize with the dog, you need to make sure that everyone in the household can follow along with whatever anyone else has taught your dog during formal dog obedience training classes, or ad-hoc obedience dog training sessions, or Dan's interactive video training.
We would strongly recommend that you learn more about our approach of Behavior Training your dog, and the differences to the popular Obedience Training, by subscribing for free to the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL here on the site.
If you don't like to subscribe (say because you are as sick as I am of the pseudo 'newsletters' we get from all other dog sites), fine. Then you may want to consider to get my books instead , to kickstart your dog training success straight away.
And if you don't like to read, then the most comprehensive and intuitive video training series is from the professional dog trainer 'Doggy Dan', and you can find it here: The Online Dog Trainer.
If instead you wish to use the services of professional dog trainers near you, then even if you don't insist on a quality German Shepherd trainer, you nonetheless will have to pay much more money for sure. So, in any case, I would suggest that you first get as much done yourself as you can, by making use of my books and/or Dan's video course above.
An entirely different kind of limitation of German Shepherd obedience training is given when you aim to have family protection dogs or trained protection dogs. Read German Shepherd Protection Training to understand why trained protection dogs require a completely different mindset from their owners.