Very useful advice to help you with training and behavioral issues with your German Shepherd.

CAREFUL: Don’t get bitten-Dog’s Ceremonial Dances

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

It is so enjoyable to see German shepherd puppies begin their ceremonial dance from about 5 weeks on.  Dogs are all about ceremony.  They have learned scripted communications patterns making it easier to predict their behavior and for them to predict other dogs’ behavior.  They have meet and greet scripts, challenging scripts, pack order testing and proving scripts, etc.  It is a simple yet clear language which we can learn to read if we look for the signs.  And reading them can really help you obviate being victims of K-9 aggression.

For example, take the tail.  If the tail is in its natural position, dogs are normally at ease with their environment.  If it is tucked between its legs the dog is usually demonstrating signs of submission. If it is held high, stiff and rigid, it is a sign of wariness and dominance.  If it is high and stiff/rigid, and slowly “flagged” (moved side to side) the dog is in a challenging and aggressive posture so stay back.

Let’s give one example of how we might use ceremony and scripted language of our K9 companions to our use.  For example, you may be introducing an adult dog into your pack with other dogs.  A great way to do this is on the walk.  One person walks one dog (dog on left) and the other the other dog (dog again on walker’s left).  Stop one dog and stand in front securing his head forward.  The other person will bring their dog around and allow it to sniff behind the other dog.  Once this scenting ritual is complete, repeat with the other dog.  Do this a number of times on the walk.

Then, perform a ritualized submission routine to get each to submit to you while the other dog is near to emphasize your top pack position and teaching them to be comfortable with this behavior around other dogs.  You first down one dog, and then, with dog on outside, circle the downed dog with yours.  Do the same switching who is down.

By doing this you limit the script to scenting and avoid the possibility of a challenge script being invoked during the ritual by an unsure dog.  Watch the tails.  When they start to drop to normal height they are beginning to feel comfortable with eachother.

I hope this was helpful.  Please visit our current litters or import litters pages  for some exciting world class litters with parents with excellent hip profiles, which is one of our major goals as German shepherd breeders, strong joints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Male or Female? Which do I choose?

Hello German shepherd puppies lovers:

So which gender do I choose?  For all you German shepherd puppies buyers, please see my new article at:  The K9University to get some help making the difficult decision.

I hope you find it helpful.  Good luck searching for that perfect German Shepherd puppy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TREAT ME LIKE A DOG: People gone wild.

 

Hello everyone:

Maybe “Pookie” may look very cute in a wedding dress, but what a hideus distortion of nature.   Reindeer antlers, bumble bee costumes, tuxedos, what has happened to us?  I tell my clients, somewhat jokingly, that if I ever see one of my beautiful, natural, goreous coated German shepherd puppies denegrated by clothing, I will rescue it from its humiliation.  Treat them like a dog.

I talked to a manager of PetsMart who told me not to worry that the meat ingredients in a popular pet food were higher than human grade quality.  I listened to a lecture from a prominent expert on healthcare entitled “please treat me like a dog”.  His premise was that our human healthcare is not as high quality, less responsive, that that for a dog at a veterinian.  My goodness, maybe I would rather be treated like a dog.

I have look in awe at the amazing culinary fare in specialized dog pastry shops, eye-popping masterpieces created for our dogs….or for us I think.  A number of my students at the university have researched the incredible world of designer dog clothing with human designer price tags.  I have lived to see PetsMart build doggy hotels with premium rooms with TV.  I have supped on dog frozen yoghurt (with of course better than human grade ingredients, lactose free, etc. etc.).  I have been seen people shell out a pretty penny for a birthday party at PetsMart for their dogs, spent money for Christmas pictures for their dogs with Santa.  I had one client who told me, in front of her child, that she loved her dog more than she did her children, and her daughter verified it.  Doggy weddings, pet limos with chaffeurs, jewelry….what are we doing?  The pet industry in the United States is over 40 billiion a year.   What a mess we are.  Treat them like a dog.

A dog needs to be treated as a dog.  Do you really think dogs can distinguish between a dirty old rage or a designer dress (they probably would like the rag better), or the difference between table scraps and haute cuisine?  We do this to please our own vanity.  And, in the process of not treating dogs as dogs, we distort who they are, confuse them, hide their natural beauty, keep them from doing what they do naturally, feed our own need for affection and control.  Treat them like a dog.

And please, get your priorities right, humans first, animals somewhere after.  Please don’t get me wrong, we have a responsibility from God to be trustees over this earth and all his creation.  I go to great lengths to protect my dogs, watch after their health, feed them the best food, get them good exercise, find them a purpose, and give them the pack leader approval they crave.  My dogs appear content and respectful and have a sense of purpose.  So many of the aberrant behaviors we see are the result of treating dogs as humans, thinking they have the same emotions, fulfilling our own needs in them.  For us they are substitutes for human emotions that we should give to our children, to family and to other human beings.  We refuse to discipline them as we also will not our children.   We might want to guard against being duped by the pet industry into carelessly wasting our financial resources on things that really are for us, every new fad catering to our emotions.  We need to help these animals fulfill their natural purpose and we should enjoy them for what they are in their natural state, dogs.

These animals are majestic and beautiful creations.  But, even if you won’t be, they will be happier if you TREAT THEM LIKE A DOG.   I hope these blog posts help you enjoy you German Shepherd puppy or dog to its fullest.  They are truly amazing ANIMALS and more easily remain so if treated as such.  Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.

 

Is Your Dog Spiteful, Intentionally Vengeful?

 

Anthropomorphizing our Dogs:

I hear it all the time.  “Fido is spiteful and gets back at me by destroying the house when I leave.”  “Oh that dog, she knows I hate that.”  “My German shepherd puppy defecates in the house when I leave him to pay me back for leaving him alone.”

First of all, be VERY CAREFUL not to attribute our human qualities and characteristics to dogs, German shepherds specifically.  This can lead you to become personal and lose your objectivity when training.  I have done it too.  I should know better.  Here are a couple of helpful things.

1. Dogs live in the moment.  If we were really able to see the thinking process of a dog, we would realize that they don’t have the capacity to plan out a complicated premeditated payback. They just think in the moment.  Certainly they remember queues about certain smells, sounds, people.  But rather than those being personal vendettas, they become more like programmed scripts.

2. Dogs are very basic and think in terms of a limited set of goals, pack order, food, shelter, defense, mating, sleeping.  They don’t have career goals, nor do they have aspirations.  They don’t read self-help books or worry about what their peers think of them.  They don’t get up in the morning and look in the mirror and wish they looked prettier or younger.  They aren’t looking to improve their socioeconomic status:  Pack, eat, roof, fight, mate, sleep.  We are sooo much more complicated.

3.  Stimulus/Response:  Don’t get personal.   Don’t react out of emotion.  Don’t attribute to your dog more intelligence than he/she has.  Train dogs to develop their programmatic software.  Be deliberate, consistent, disciplined, objective and emotional.  Don’t think they are disloyal when they don’t complete a discipline, just reinforce and go back to the beginning.

4.  STEP ONE:  Do a dog assessment.  They are not all the same!!!  Dogs, including different breeds, have differing levels of intelligence, different skills, different levels of tolerance, physical abilities.  Within the breed, some have more drive, some better noses.  Each is different.  Some dogs will wilt at a harsh word.  Some need a prong to get the idea.  They are not one better than the other, only different.  Certainly some are better at one task than another, but dogs which are better at SAR are not superior to therapy dogs, visually impaired guides.

5.  Don’t expect your puppy to live up to your preconceived ideal:  If you buy a dog for a specific purpose as a puppy, you can’t get personal and lose interest in them when they don’t live up to you.  You need to be flexible and find what they are good and and participate with them in it.  Also, if you are demanding certain qualities, buy from the right lines and don’t expect it all.  Some people buy show lines in hopes of having a gorgeous black and red, but also a top, tough, sharp, sport schutzhund competitor.  That usually doesn’t happen.  Most will do great, but will extra effort.

6.  Dogs, generally, are loyal by nature.  Honoring the pack leader is natural.  What they are seeking is your presence, not your presents.  Don’t try to substitute toys for time.  Dogs want to be with their leader.  If they aren’t loyal to you, one might ask, are you the pack leader or not?

I will write more on this later.  Especially about how treating dogs like humans can have some horribly undesirable repercussions.

I hope these blog posts help you enjoy you German Shepherd puppy or dog to its fullest.  They are truly amazing ANIMALS (as opposed to people) and more easily remain so if treated as such.  Please visit our K 9 University for more useful articles and links.

 

The Critical Training Tool for German Shepherds: THE WALK

Hello German Shepherd puppies lovers:

Walking your dog is one of the most enjoyable and useful bonding AND training experiences you can have together. It cannot be underestimated. It is tool for correction of bad habits, setting pack order, superior exercise, wonderful for developing your relationship, good for socialization. It is so essential for your dog from German shepherd puppies to older dogs, that I would like to elaborate some important facets of the walk.

First, get rid of the flexilead. This can only lead to less than optimal behavior. First, the dog can wander too far from you. Secondly with the variable distance from you they won’t know the limits and can start learning to pull. Thirdly, unless you have your finger ready at the button, your dog can veer into danger or into a fight with another dog. Flexileads can lead to lazy supervision and getting your German shepherd puppy into trouble such as eating other dog’s feces, poisonous plants, etc.

What you need is a good strong 3-5 foot lead (I like 4). Your German shepherd should always be on the left side, his/her right shoulder on your left hip, on a loose lead. When you head out on the walk, allow them to get excited and dash too far forward. Then quickly yank the lead and pivot to your right and say “phooey”. This will set the tone and initialize training mode. As you walk intermittently stop, they sit, start, you walk. When you stop and they sit, it is time for positive reinforcement. Every once in a while have them platz (lie down). Do a number of reverse turns.

When a dog walks by, tell them “look at me”. And when they do obey and switch attention to their two footed bipedal friend (you) you can reward them for their effort. When you stop to talk with someone who has no dog with them, your dog should sit courteously at your side. If the other person has a pet, your shepherd should be disinterested but pay attention to you. It is not cute to have your dog jumping all around and getting your leashes tangled. If dogs fight, this can make it difficult to intervene and you could end up being bitten.

Do not ever let your dog step out ahead and pull. If they do, use this time to set pack order ad address this dominant behavior before they pull you through the mud. When you round the corner home, they will sometimes begin pulling. But the walk is not complete until the kennel door shuts. Be sure to keep them in order, loose lead, by your left side. Please visit our home page links to our litters and our K-9 University. Most of all, make this a time enjoyable and rewarding for your German shepherd.

 

CAUTION: Dog Parks

Hello German Shepherd puppies lovers:

Well I feel I should deal with this issue.  A client just emailed me and said her German Shepherd has an aggression problem.  When she brings her to dog parks she can be aggressive with other dogs.  Please don’t blame Hilda yet.

First of all, let me say that taking dogs off leash in dog parks is just a bad concept for dog in general for a couple of reasons.  First of all, as I have written in another one of my blogs, dogs thrive on a clear pack order. In a dog park it is in constant flux and undefined.  For natural dogs, with strong natural instincts this can create a situation where they might feel their position attacked or need to fight for position at any moment as the fluid pack moves around off leash, not connected to the authority of the owner, left to its own to defend itself.   This is a dangerous situation for owners who can be bitten while trying to separate dogs that are in battle for position.  Secondly, you cannot really be certain that other owners discipline their dogs as you do.  Dogs may have developed behavioral problems due to the environment in which they have been raised.  Third of all, not all owners believe in spaying or neutering their dogs.  This can really spice up the situation.  And dogs mate largely by smell.  This smell is a powerful attractor and can be smelled from a good distance and can be irresistible to males.  Also it is clearly unsafe for your German Shepherd puppies.  Can you be certain that all of the owners have had their innoculations up to date?

Lastly, I believe that our dogs should be taught to bond to us as their owners and friends.  We should be their focus, their world.  Playing with other dogs can lead to a redirection of focus to other dogs rather than toward the master.  Playing with unknown dogs can lead them to think this behavior is acceptable in public even while on lead and your friendly Fido could end up dragging you through the dirt to get to that buddy they just have to meet across the street.  Now imagine this happens while you are on inline skates.

It is so enjoyable to take a couple of balls, a frisbee, some things to track with, and take your German shepherd puppy or dog to an open field, undefiled by the undisciplined riot one can find at dog parks, and enjoy come private time with your best friend.  As a common practice I would never let my German shepherd dog play off leash with other dogs.  Please visit our K9University for more useful articles and videos.

DESTRUCTIVE CHEWING: German Shepherd Puppies

Hello German Shepherd puppies owners:

So your German shepherd is mouthy and driving you nuts. Join the crowd. German shepherd puppies are especially mouthy during the teething stage. They are cutting teething and chewing is like rubbing something that hurts until it gets numb. Some people find relief for their pups by getting a teething toy with water which can be put in the freezer. The cold toy appears to give some relief to these burning canines.

But how do you get them to stop chewing on the things you don’t want them to (your new Florsheim shoes) and to chew on what you want them to (click on toy list for some recommendations and advisements)? Redirection. Redirection. Redirection. If you catch them in the act, firmly say “Phooey”. I use this word rather than “no” due to the fact that I do not want to use no which is used often in conversation. Remember, one strong correction is worth 1000 weak ones. If you correct weakly, you will end up having to increase the intensity.  Now, after you say “phooey” then hand them their toy.

An important final step is when they start chewing on their toy, you should praise them lavishly. Please remember, as with a correction which must be strong enough to get their attention, a praise must be lavish.  Make them feel as though they just did the best thing in the world. This will allow the dog to easily differentiate between bad and good behavior.  You might think of it this way if you are squeemish about a firm corretion.  It is unfair and cruel to not let a dog know clearly what is right and wrong. Also, you don’t want to have to correct them over and over again.  That is even worse for them.

So, destructive chewing behavior in German shepherd puppies should be corrected using “redirection” of the behavior to an acceptable object. With older dogs, you can use a leash correct along with the verbal correction for unwanted chewing, and then redirect the behavior to the appropriate object.

 

Puppy Development for German Shepherd Breeders

 

Hello GSD lovers

Puppy Development Techniques:  Please look online on youtube at our new German Shepherd puppy video on helpful techniques for puppy development for Geman shepherd breeders.  In it we show some of what we do here at Banffy Haus to prepare your puppy.

Please take a look at it on our growing instructional video webpage. (click here).

Giving puppies a head start is so vital.  Make certain your breeder is not so big or so commercial that they don’t take the time to nurture and individually treat each puppy in a litter.  Since we normally only have one litter at a time, we can know each puppy individually.  We can know them by name.

We will be sharing more and more about this issue, and will reveal things as we learn through our experimentation with our puppies.

My goal is to make your life with your German shepherd puppies as enjoyable as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two ball: the Ultimate German Shepherd Game

 

 

Hello GSD lovers

TWO BALL:  THE ULTIMATE GERMAN SHEPHERD PUPPY AND DOG GAME.  I just love two ball.  It is a great way to get phenomenal exercise for your dog, teach obedience, and prepare for training skills for competition later.  Two ball also allows the owner to not have to be in great physical condition and still be able to participate in training the dog.

These balls are hard rubber to guard against your German Shepherd destroying them.  They have a rope handle to give you leverage to launch the ball for a much greater distance.  Here is a picture:

 

Ok. So you get two of these balls and then march out to the field with your overly excited, exuberant dog to play “two ball”.  Remember to integrate training into the games.  Take one ball, ask your dog to sit (this is so difficult as, if they have some prey drive, they are chomping at the bit to scramble after the ball.  Sometimes I make them platz (down) and only release them after I have thrown the ball and allowed them.  So swing the ball with the rope and let it fly.  Send the dog who will bound after the ball and tell him/her, “bring” or other command.  When they are young, start with very short distances and exaggerated commands and praise, coaxing them constantly to return to you and rewarding them with excessively.

When they bring it back, then bring the other ball out and say “aus” (out).  As they drop in, launch the other.  This sure beats running after then all around the yard to get the ball out of their mouth.  You can mix it up by one time requiring a down, throw, slight pause, release to pursue.

I can’t tell you what a great game this is and how much fun you will have with your friend.  However, if you need to work off that holiday culinary excessiveness (too much food!), then maybe “one ball”, with you chasing your dog, might be in order! smiley

Please take a look at it on our growing instructional K-9 U (click here) for more helpful articles .

I hope you enjoy playing this game with your German shepherd puppy or adult as much as I have.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banffy Haus German Shepherds: Correcting for Disobedience

Hello German Shepherd lovers:  This is Dr. Banffy.  This blog post covers proper correction for dog disobedience.

First of all you must first understand the appropriate level of correction for you specific dog.  You must know the level of correction which will push them into avoidance and submissive behavior.  Watch tell-tale signs such as ears back, tail between the legs, hunching down, urination and/or running away.  If you see this type of behavior, you need try a lower level of correction.

Next, I am a true believer that a firm voice and a leash correction is all you need for training most dogs.  We use a Herm Sprenger stainless fur saver to save the hair on the neck, and a 4 foot Amish leather lead to keep control.  When you correct, use a firm, low voice, put slack in the lead and yank briskly up and to your left (that is if the dog is on the left as it should be).  A well known saying in training circles is one firm correction is worth 1000 small ones.  Dogs learn to adjust if you incrementally increase severity from gentle to firm.

You are probably saying that the last two paragraphs seem to have conflicting advice, don’t be too harsh yet be very firm.  Well, it is a balance. But what I am saying is if you know their limit, then correct to that limit rather than below and then incrementally raising it.

What is so good about a leash correction as opposed to the hand or foot (which I don’t like even though many German trainers use it), is that you are less emotionally connected and less physically connected to the dog when correcting.

There are a few dogs that have to use a prong collar.  Don’t be shy.  It does not hurt the dogs.  Never sharpen the tips of the prongs as some trainers do.   And understand that the collar is made to evenly distribute the force around the neck.

And remember another important training tip.  Never correct a dog who doesn’t yet completely understand the skill.  Don’t use correction to teach the skill.  It is a lot better to use motivation for that.  Please visit our litters page to see current litters.

Finally, for German Shepherd puppies, until they are at least a few months old, use as much positive reinforcement as you can to develop a love for training.