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So we're getting a German Shepherd pup tomorrow (unexpected gift). :sing:

We've a few larger dogs in the past, but, as with our small dogs, we made fluffy fur babies out of them all.

With this one, we want him to be a working/guard dog, but I have no experience with this type of training. What I'd "like" him to do is stay within our property boundaries (not fenced), sit/stay/come on command, and, in general, "protect and serve"...and still be able to scratch him behind the ears and give him a good belly scratch on occasion without fear of losing a hand?

I realize that sounds like I want a fluffy fur baby commando, but that's not the case...I want him to guard/protect, but be friendly to us and the few family members who'll come in contact with him.

Can anyone direct me to some good info online to help me with this?

Thanks!
 

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Years ago in my youth I actually raised purebred German Shepherds (short-haired). Each pup will take on habits their owners allow. This means the "breed" itself is not something to be concerned about. It means your own energy is what you need to attend to in training.

A GS can be trained to be a house dog, a general guard dog and even a livestock guardian. It simply depends on whether or not you are willing to put in the efforts required for your pup to maintain its self-confidence while being trained in obedience.

The one major thing you must not do is praise your dog for unwanted behavior; and many dog owners do just that, i.e. they actually pet/nurture their dog when it is acting badly, thinking such will calm the dog down. It doesn't calm that dog. It simply tells that dog the bad behavior you just witnessed is exactly what he gets nurtured for. So knowing (and controlling) yourself is just as important as knowing and controlling your dog.

One method of training your dog to respect your property lines (with and without fencing) is to put your dog on a leash and walk it around your property lines several times a day throughout its youth and adolescents. By a quick jerk on the leash (should your pup/dog put a foot over the border) tells the dog that is not wanted. In time there will be an "invisible" fence there where you have walked your dog.

Let me brag a little: The picture below is a full blood GS (long haired) that had a lot of prey drive and wanted to dig under fences. Look at her in that pic guarding two young goats! That is because I often had that GS in the house getting use to many, many verbal commands; and I often brought in baby goats (days/weeks old) for that dog to socialize with. It was fun and, yet, did take some time and energy on my part.

Just decide what you want your dog to learn, repeat the activity many times and stay calm and firm throughout the training periods.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the advice!

I completely agree with you that I'll need to control myself. Like I said, I've mostly had small dogs all my life and do have a tendency to coddle/cuddle first.

We picked him up today. He's 6 1/2 weeks old, seems to be healthy, and has what I'd consider a "calm" temperament so far.

Will try to remember to post a pic tomorrow.

Again, thanks!

HG
 

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6 1/2 weeks is very very young to remove from the litter. It is imperative that that puppy be with your older pets. They will become the aunt/uncle and make him feel secure. At some point they will start snapping at him. This is their way of teaching him proper doggie manners. You can’t just put him outside and expect him to get used to it. At his age he is scared, though he may seem brave. Keep an eye on him. Because you got him so young he will learn bite inhibition on you and your kids rather than on his litter mates. The instant his teeth touch you or the kids, ostracize him. Teeth makes play stop instantly.

You are not going to be able to put him with the livestock because he is too young. However, you can put a harness and leash on him and bring him around the animals. Let him sniff, but not chase. Don’t scold or punish him, just stand still so the leash stops him. When he does what he should, praise him. When he does what he shouldn’t figure out what you did wrong. He may need to be in a crate when you can’t watch him. Tether him to you so you can keep him out of trouble, indoors and out. Introduce him to other dogs in a couple of weeks, dogs that are vaccinated and trustworthy. If you don’t have livestock but your neighbors do, make arrangements to introduce the puppy so he can learn not to chase them and to accept their presence.

Take him to an obedience class. A GSD in the wrong hands can be dangerous. Get a book on clicker training. This will make life easier on you because he needs to learn to be a good housedog and good farm dog.
 

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Another thing, train him to know that you're the pack leader. Don't let him pass through a doorway first, eat before feeding him, when walking on leash, make him walk along with you and not ahead. Do a search on dominance training.
 

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I’ll have to disagree with dominance training. If you want to be alpha, say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t tease him. Reward him for the behavior you want. Try to ignore the behavior you don’t want. Remember when you are with your puppy someone is always being trained- make sure it is the dog.
 

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For training a GSD pup, I suggest you visit Leerburg's DVD section and pick up a couple of Michael Ellis's beginner videos.

Here's a couple of samples for you: Example of handler engagement: [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpjCAJ7wghY[/ame]
Training method in a nutshell: [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xe0-oqqoXvw[/ame]
 

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OMG he is too young to be taken from his mother and litter mates. This not only invites him to have health problems, it also creates training tasks for you more difficult.

Remember whatever he does is from a puppy point of view. You need to correct wrong behaviors but do so in a way that helps that pup keep its confidence in being.
 
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