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Behavior Training

 Reviewed 4 November 2018 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion

Behavior Training was developed by Tim Carter of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG to overcome all the flaws of Obedience Training, and to better address the needs of the modern dog owner: that the dog behaves well regardless whether the owner is around or not.

For us, Behavior Training means that we behave in a way that motivates the dog to behave the way we want.

obedience-training-conceptThis is diametrically opposed to Obedience Training where you lure or command the dog to do what you want - and if (s)he does not obey, you obviously then have to punish the dog for disobedience, whether by withholding the treat you lured with, or physically, or whatever.

All Obedience Training by its very name comprises an element of lure or force or fear to get the dog "obedient", and further some form of punishment if you consider the dog not being "obedient".

behavior-training-conceptConversely, our proprietary Behavior Training is void of the idea of "obedience" and "disobedience". There is no reward and no punishment for behavior.

We merely change our own behavior when we are unhappy with the dog's behavior: Because dogs learn everything from what we do, and next to nothing from what we say. When you think "he learned my command", he really learned from your body language.

Behavior Training matches the canine mind, Obedience Training only the human mind. BEHAVIOR TRAIN your dog!

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While we can, and should, start Behavior Training already at puppy age, the adult dog obviously is much more receptive for Behavior Training: Behavior Training requires a somewhat mature dog, and a mature dog owner.

Indeed, Behavior Training requires a good degree of consciousness and self-reflection from us as dog owner, handler, or trainer. And this is why Behavior Training hasn't caught on yet with the average dog trainer: Obedience Training doesn't require any of that, just a commander-type of mind - which is something every average human being has from as early as the terrible twos.

More recently you hear average dog trainers increasingly replacing the worn-out term Obedience Training with Positive Reinforcement Training. That is giving the bride a new name but it's still the same bride:

  • They still expect the dog to be obedient to the command
  • not realizing that obedience is a human concept that canines do not inherently understand
  • not realizing that they are still the commander-type of person, with that same unhealthy mindset and the same poor training outcome
  • not realizing that they still use lure or reward to get the dog to do what they want
  • not realizing that they still require some form of enforcement whenever the dog does not do what they want
  • not realizing that the dog gets still trained to behave different subject to whether the owner, trainer, or handler is around or not! idea

Behavior Training matches the canine mind, Obedience Training only the human mind: BEHAVIOR TRAIN your dog!

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There is nothing inherently "positive" in "reinforcing" a human mindset and human concept in canines that have a different mindset. And there is nothing inherently "positive" about needing some form of lure and reward and enforcement as extrinsic motivation for the dog to comply - and only when you are nearby.

Dogs too work much better with intrinsic motivation, and only then you achieve reliable dog behavior regardless whether you are nearby.

It is precisely this reliable dog behavior that allows My German Shepherd to be left alone anywhere:

  • always safe for the dog himself as well as for others including the smallest children!
  • behaving well in the house while alone and with full run of the house!
  • and behaving well in shops(!), offices(!), cafes and anywhere else!

This is a dog like a good citizen - of which there aren't many it often seems... - Whether this refers to the canine or the human citizens you may judge for yourself. mrgreen

Responsible dog ownership, that's what we have in our mission statement. If more dog trainers and dog owners adopted our still unique dog training approach then there would be

  • ZERO maulings of children, postmen, etc
  • ZERO destroyed homes
  • Incredibly low dog liability insurance rates
  • And MANY MORE DOGS being taken everywhere, instead of left behind chained or kenneled, bored to death...

YOU can start today making a difference: Choose your training approach, choose it wisely.



Note that every key point raised above you can find more comprehensively explained in other places on this website. The menu is your friend. Here, links have been omitted only to keep this decision tree straightforward.

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PLEASE NOTE: Posting a fragment of your overall dog problem in the comments below is not going to help. Provide complete details if you really seek the right solution. Of course we have a page for that as well: Help With Dog.


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  25 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM: the spam spam-free oasis on the web grin Add one

  1. mosquito-passing

    i got a 6 month old female 2 wks ago. the first day and nite she wanted nothing to do with us. us being my 30 yr old son my 10 yr old grandson and me, pam. the next nite i gave her a bath and suddenly everything changed. i was then her best friend only problem is she agressively lunges and bites at my son my grandson and visitors. when im gone things are better with family but as soon as im home she is again unpredictable and doesnt want anyone near me. my grandson is now scared of her and i know always putting her in kennel will only make problem worsen. so tomorrow when its only her and i i am introducing her to a basket muzzle which i plan to have on her when family gets home so they can interact w/out being scared of being bitten. any comments or suggestions would be taken to heart, you see i never want to have to choose between my grandson or gemma. help


    We have a 15 month old male GSD. We have always frequently taken him out in public to be around other people and dogs as well as taking him to friends houses with us in the spring/summer/fall to socialize him as well. The past 3 months it has been very cold where we live so we weren't able to take him to socialize much because we also have a 2 year old (and everything is a much slower process when going out in public with the toddler and the dog) and didn't want the toddler to spend a lot of time out in the cold. We took him out yesterday and he barked and was slightly aggressive towards any adult male that attempted to pet him. Every male would speak to my husband I first then hold their hand out for our dog to sniff and if he didn't react they would then attempt to pet him, as soon as they tried to pet him he would begin to bark and become aggressive. We have never experienced this before. Although we haven't taken him out in public the past 2-3 months he has been around our neighbors (both male and female) and friends without any negative reaction. He has not been altered and has never been treated poorly by a male. Do you think this sudden barking/aggression is because we failed to properly socialize him over the past 2-3 months or because he hasn't been altered yet? or some other problem? I just stumbled across your page this morning and immediately signed up for your emails.

    • supportive

      I'd say it's typical for this breed, often starts that way much sooner, as early as 6m. In my experience the only thing that works to prevent that is the kind of relationship building we teach here. Keywords, again: systematic socializing not the sporadic you describe, controlled play sessions, feeding routine, more behavior training than obedience training, early neutering yes, a very clear family pack structure based on acceptance, not dominance, plenty of varied exercise, no stress from the Pack conflict,...


    Hi I have a case we're my sister naught GSD and couldn't handle him far as I know I believe in 2 years of hi life her had 5 homes ours being number 5 I love this dog he has bonded well with me my problem is he growls at my kids and husband I am scared he could bite them any advice on how to stop this behavior?

  4. mosquito-passing

    Looking for someone in zip code 76108 who is experienced in dealing with GS (Ours is 3 yeas old). The issue we are dealing with is barking when other dogs are in the area, example when we are in Home Depot and another dog approaches. We believe it is anxiety based, he will bark at dogs when we walk in the area around our neighborhood. He not only barks but pull towards the other dog. If you have an online course we are also interested in it. We have raised this GS since he was 6 weeks old. He responds well to commands both verbal and hand signals. We believe the dog next door bit our GS on the nose when he was a pup.

    • supportive

      Terry, have you followed the advice under dog barking? It's in the menu, under Solutions.

      We also have a MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL on excessive dog barking. Please review both. I can't remember now what differences/additions there are, and I have no time to look myself because I urgently need to earn some money as we have nothing to eat(!).

      As for your local trainers, see the menu under Training, Dog Trainers, USA. So here. I realize we should split that looong list by states. When I have time! Or can you help out voluntarily? All help welcome!

      As for online course, although I have nothing from it &^$^%£ the best trainer I must still say is Dan Abdelnoor. As I know what and how he trains, I can vouch for the success you'll have. Likewise, from experience with thousands of others here, I can vouch that a local trainer costs way more and all too often will make your dog worse. That's no surprise why: Proof is in the Dog Expert Interview Series with Reviews from the trainer of trainers himself rolleyes


    Hi I need some guidance and help. I have adopted a friends 3 year old German Shephard. He is wonderful with my family and all our friends who come to our home. His problem is with people in uniforms. We have an exterminator come to our house every quarter. The firs time he came he barked a lot. The second time I had to hold him back because he was snarling, barking and very aggressive. Now last week he was outside on our property, we have an electric fence, and he nipped/bit the UPS driver. Thank goodness he didn't break the skin and the driver was very nice about it but I can't trust my dog to be outside now. When my friend had him she did do therapy training so he is very well behaved otherwise. He and my other dog get along great and play well together. Any help would be appreciated.

    • supportive

      Clearly lack of socialization (not just to people in uniforms) and the Pack conflict (from your dog's view).

      For socialization it's never too late, must be done every day anyway. Key is systematic and comprehensive (like I've shown in the Puppy 101).
      The Pack conflict is best avoided by establishing ALL family members as accepted Pack leader through the typical means (our Feeding Routine, controlled play, and generally being friendly but strict with the dog).

      You also need to observe and consider how you behave: before, during, and after eg the UPS driver is approaching. I myself use some of the many distraction and attention tools from the Toolkit[amazon text=Dog Training Toolkit], and if the dog is already agitated then obviously Sedatives from the Toolkit.
      If I wasn't attentive and the dog has already "attacked" someone, then I would immediately make clear to the dog that I do not wish to see such behavior ever again: The right body language says it all. If the dog doesn't get it and is about to go for someone again, Isolation seems to work best.

      It is a LOT of work with the dog, yes. I finally got to the stage that even my (current) Miguel looks at me and comes to me when he sees someone unfamiliar/ s.o. he doesn't like: He learned that I deal with every situation, and he has to stay behind me (whether it's the UPS man coming or the pope or whoever).

      Persistence is part of it too: eg I never allow my dogs to go through a door first, step on an escalator first, cross the road first, etc. Miguel waits at a streetcrossing, until I come and signal go.

      You see, a lot of small things feed into it, such that a dog doesn't take the liberty to attack the hardworking UPS man, or whoever. All that can't be dealt with in comments, nor videos. Reading the right books really helps, I'd say.

  6. mosquito-passing

    I have a female GSD who will be turning 2 in November of this year. She is a great dog, I haven't had any issues with her biting anyone or other dogs yet. I am concerned though. We recently took her around a dog she didn't meet as a puppy and she tried to attack him, we had control of her harness and were able to prevent it. She is very protective over me, and if her and I are both outside she will bark at EVERYTHING, but if she is alone outside or with just my husband she is completely calm and doesn't mind the passing people, cats, or cars. She also does great with small animals like cats and rabbits, and small children (she never barks at smaller kids), she has never shown any aggression towards them, but other dogs and adults she will growl and bark or show her teeth on occasion. She was socialized as a pup, and the dogs she was around the most while a pup she still loves, but there are other dogs she met and played with at a young age and now she acts aggressive towards them. I cannot pin point where the aggression is stemming from. We did have one incident where a Rottweiler tried to attack me while we were walking; she didn't try to bite him, she just got in his face and barked and growled and eventually stood him down. Ever since that she does not like me around strange dogs or people. We have a routine that we stick to, she gets exercise with games (fetch), basic training "games", and walks. I have always been the one to handle her most, and she listens to me more than my husband (as far as respect goes), but she is also way more protective of me. I just want to do what is best for her to keep her life happy and healthy without any aggression issues that could harm her or any other innocent dog or person. We do not have many good dog trainers in our area, and the ones I've reached out to are not willing to train her if she shows aggression at the assessment meeting. Please help. Thank you!

    • supportive

      "and the ones I've reached out to are not willing to train her if she shows aggression at the assessment meeting."
      Odd trainers you have there, haven't you? What is the trainers' job if not helping you train your dog? rolleyes

      Whatever. Sounds like it would help if you show more dominance for a while until she accepts you as the Pack leader and follows your lead: Such that when you indicate to her you are fine, you don't seek her "help", and she shall step behind you and be calm and quiet, that she does just that.

      That will take effort and time though, I have to say from own experience... (unless you are much better than I am, and hopefully you are). smile

      I use for this: Refreshing our Feeding Routine, controlled play time (where I stop and continue as I wish), and of course Sedatives, Attention tools, and Distraction tools as they suit the situation (from the Toolkit[amazon text=Dog Training Toolkit], in case you have it).

      If none of that you like (or even if you do), don't forget that once you know the relevant training principles, you can train her yourself much better anyway, better than any trainer I have ever met. A great way of learning the principles are the videos that are linked there as well (and have helped myself too), not to forget: Doggy Dan is a class of his own.

  7. newbie

    Hi my name is cheyenne and i have learned today that my dog has behavior problems and my obedience towards him is wrong and now im going to go about this all different hes 7months and i still have time to fix him


    My sweet boy Ozzy is a German Australian Shepard mix about 3 years old. I got him from a friend who has never trained him. He listens well and is very smart, just not obiedient to me. What is the best way to fix my solution?


    My 6 year old gsd make started to growl and snap at me when I tried to put a new name tag on him . The following day he did the same when I tried to put his lead on him ! I'm concerned that he feels threatened by me which shouldn't be the case .

    • supportive

      Can happen, even if you are unaware of a change, or sure you didn't change any of your behavior. Think of spouses that loved each other for 5 years, then suddenly divorce. mrgreen
      And yet, with a dog, if only you apply what we have trained you in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL, you can easily stop the dog's sudden growling for good. But then, had you, he wouldn't ever snap at you in the first place.
      Either way, it will help your relationship with your dog if you analyze what may have changed his behavior.

  10. mosquito-passing

    I have two GSD's they are from the same litter. Both will be 2yrs in Feb. One male and one female. They are super smart dogs. I work from home. The male hardly ever leaves my side. My girlfriend and 4 kids are in the house. The dogs are great with all of them. Once in awhile the male will nip at visitors. My concern is it's usually an alpha male type personality. However, sometimes its a just an 11 yr old boy with the alpha male personality. How do I get him to stop nipping. Does he think he needs to protect me? Also, anytime the doorbell rings or someone knocks they get all worked up. I want them to warn off intruders, but visitors are different. My female has a problem with jumping on everyone. I try to be stern and tell her no, turn my back, or just ignore her. I've even tried to get to her level so she doesn't need to jump. Any suggestions?

    • supportive

      Hello, and welcome. More than suggestions, yes. And TONS: Hundreds of pages for hundreds of topics, incl. your six problems John. Have you seen our wonderfully systematic menu?

      As for differentiating between your intruders and your visitors, how do you know which is what? Once you identify two or three clear differentiators that you are using yourself, you can find ways to get your dogs to understand those differentiators too. If not, I can individually help you with that as well; there's no general solution for those because everyone has different living conditions.


    Hi, my German Shepherd is 2 years and 10 months old, and I got him when he was 5 weeks old. He is a healthy dog, but a bit aggressive to strangers. I would say he is a great obedient protector. ?
    But recently i saw a stranger was trying to hit him with a baton , but I was surprised when my dog ran away from him. ( the stranger was outside the garden, a net seperates the garden and the road ) and dog was inside.
    How can I make my dog, Shadow, not to be afraid of batons?
    Pls help me.

    • supportive

      Kalani, it probably wasn't the baton as such but the surprising abrupt movement of the person himelf.
      Without specific training, GSDs in such case generally retreat to avoid confrontation. Remember they are guard dogs not attack dogs.

      The question you need to answer is: How WOULD you like your dog to react in such situation??

      - not retreat and get smashed with the baton, thus possibly not being able to do anything thereafter!?
      - retreat but then turn around and attack?
      - retreat and bark from a safe distance?

      Your training will depend on what you want! See my point?

  12. supportive

    This is the reply to Mitko, comment here.

    "Gesture eating and feeding routine worked like magic, but as this is food related it does not help at other times when the feeding is done." - Indeed, it all works like magic. Because it connects with the three canine quests, as explained elsewhere.

    This is why IT DOES HELP at other times too, Mitko. It helps with ALL canine behavior. The Feeding Routine so many misunderstand: The Feeding Routine is a TRAINING tool, it has nothing to do with feeding (other than providing food obviously).

    In fact the entire Behavior Training is highly practical, Mitko, and for the vast majority of dog owners it is the best dog training approach by far. The exception is the dictator-type of dog owner who *desires* to exercise the power and punishment that's necessary in Obedience Training. That's typically only the dog owner who is unsuccessful in his life and so is bossy with the dog - which makes him feel important... (it nearly never is a woman, indeed).

    For everyone else, it's Obedience Training that is not practical, for all the reasons explained earlier.

    The Dog Training Toolkit shows a large number of tools you can use for Behavior Training your dogs. It works like a charm, once you put your mind to it. smile


    3yr old male, have had him since 9 wks old. Good boy. The problem I have is not being able to stop his tail chasing/biting. He is home with my husband all day & never touches it, but if I come home or visitors come, he acts like a rodeo bull chasing his tail & by the time he is a bloody mess from where he has bitten the end of his tail. There is approx 3 inches on the tip of his tail w/o hair. Have tried loud "NO", redirecting with a ball/toy/walk, calling him over for attention, giving a far, no luck. This started when he was approx 6 months old.


    My GSD bitch is 7. She is a perfect family dog. However, can be picky about who she will accept into the house. Not allowing certain people near me, running between them and me, others she ignores. Outside can become threatening to other dogs usually small ones. It's hard to know which will trigger aggression, she has never bitten. When out and off leash she stays by me and will not play with anything so although she is able to recall cannot be distracted with treats or play. I have no doubt my anxiety about what could happen is making the situation worse. We were asked to leave dog training following her unpredictable lunges. I'm not helping her as I keep her away from other dogs. I just want her to be happy, but when I think we've got somewhere it happens again. She is due to be spayed for health reasons. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you


      Sure Amanda, see what Tim suggested:
      "PLEASE NOTE: Posting a fragment of your overall dog problem in the comments below is not going to help. Provide complete details if you really seek the right solution. Of course we have a page for that as well: Help With Dog."

  15. mosquito-passing

    I have a two year old male shepherd nuterd, he has a Problem with biting for no reason, he is a good dog with me, but he has only biten when my girlfriend has him, any suggestions on how to control this behavior.

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