How to train a GSD the RIGHT way!

There is a myriad of contradictory information on the Internet all of which can become very confusing. As a general rule, always follow positive methods and do not apply anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Whether it is toilet training, leash training  or manners, you will find the essentials concepts you need to know are to overcome most dog behaviour problems.

The information provided is simple, the most difficult part is YOU following through with your dog training! As a general rule, if a dog is not doing something right … it’s most likely the human’s fault.

THE GOOD NEWS: you can learn what to do and help your GSD to understand and follow your instructions. It’s all about  communication ~~ intra-species communication. To achieve this, you need to learn the techniques of universal learning.

If something is not working,

try a different method of training it.

Learning HOW to train your GSD requires YOU to understand how animals learn

Dogs and all animals learn through the principles known as Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning and Extinction.

When you read about these principles you will notice that animals learn with both rewards and punishment. 

Rewards, of course! Forget about electronic collars, choke/check chains or any other form of punishment.

Why punishment is NOT the best option? Simply put, it is inefficient:

  • When you punish your GSD for something it did wrong, you are not providing it the information needed to do it right! Your GSD is maybe super intelligent BUT it is not a mind reader. It confuses the dog forcing it to continual guess without any clues. 
    Training with punishment will take longer.

When you use rewards, you are telling your GSD exactly what it is that they did right, and they WILL repeat that behaviour to get more rewards!

  • Most animals are smart enough to find loopholes in rules taught by punishment. A perfect example of this is, that your GSD will learn to obey everything you say on leash, but as soon as the leash is off, they don’t respond any longer.

When using rewards, you’re creating a positive association with the correct behaviour. Your GSD will want to do as commended even off-leash and even without treats!  (Learn here how to use food treats the correct way).

  • Most people find it difficult to give a true punishment because it’s too harsh. An example of this is, if the jerk on a leash was not hard enough! Would you give a harder one? 
    Probably not, because you don’t want to accidentally hurt your GSD.
    Inevitably, our GSDs get a multitude of mild punishments that are not enough to stop the unwanted behaviour. 

Instead give a reward for the correct behaviour. What if the reward is not good enough? would you go higher? Yes, because the worse that can happen is that you are just pampering your GSD!

  • Using punishment makes us, humans, incorrectly believe that it works when, in fact, it really doesn’t. An example of this can be, you jerk and the dog instantly stops pulling (this feels rewarding to us) … but in actuality your GSD will only stop pulling only for a few seconds! (You were fooled – the joke is on you)You were reinforced by jerking on the leash, believing it actually worked when it really didn’t.

When using rewards the right way, you will also be reinforced when you see the desired behaviour you want occurring more frequently!

  • Punishment can cause dogs to shut down, be shy or use aggression themselves. 
    If you keep punishing your pet because he can’t get it right, the dog might shut down and stop responding at all.

    Picture this: you are learning to play an instrument and the teacher continually slaps your hands when you do something wrong. How many classes do you think you will endure before giving up?

    Having said that, some dogs might react aggressively, when punished and this can put you in danger.

When using rewards on the other hand,  the exact opposite happens, your GSD will feel joy and happiness during training sessions! Your GSD will actually feel joy and happiness in every aspect of its life. Positive reinforcement makes us, and your GSD feel good and learn at the same time!

Please don’t misunderstand , to clarify, you will be using punishment, mostly inadvertently. Punishment is defined as something that when given, reduces the likelihood that the unwanted behaviour will happen again. There are some things your GSD might not like, for example, when you hug him/her or when you completely ignore him/her.

Focus on the positive way, REWARD good behaviour
IGNORE your GSD when it does something wrong.

Classical conditioning is how we learn to associate a neutral stimulus (like a sound, or a light) with a consequence. Classical conditioning means “basic learning”.

Operant conditioning is a form of associatory learning process through which the force of a behaviour is modified by reinforcement or punishment.

Extinction learning refers to the gradual decrease in response to a conditioned stimulus that occurs when the stimulus is presented without reinforcement.

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