We’ve just wrapped up two days of training with Moose’s owners who have made a 400-mile round trip to work with us and ensure they’re doing all they can with their first working line German Shepherd.
Moose’s owners initially reached out to work with us after they’d been having a couple of incidents involving him biting and grabbing hold of them. When they’d be walking down a country lane and a van or lorry would pass he’d begin jumping up, biting, grabbing hold of them, and vocalising.
After assessing him in person and looking at his responses we identified the issue they were experiencing was likely the result of a drive related self-soothing behaviour triggered by environmental stress in the form of large vehicles passing. Essentially the combination of stress and drive was resulting in Moose initiating a game of tug to reduce the perceived pressure he felt.
When initially looking for help with his issues they received so much conflicting advice that ultimately left them unclear and unconfident about what they should be doing with him. One of the main issues was centred around Moose’s owners being advised to not play with him as it might bring something out of him that they wouldn’t be able to handle.
The truth with dog training is that there are many ways to train many dogs, and you just need to find what you can see works for both you and your dog. We personally believe that play is an unbelievable motivator and relationship builder, that absolutely every dog will hugely benefit from. You can use it as enrichment, in obedience, to help shape behaviour, for physical conditioning, or even just for fun.
With driven dogs it’s important to develop and harness an outlet for their desires in a way that places the emphasis on thinking and performing tasks. If you don’t, they are likely going to direct that drive somewhere else in a way that’s less than desirable.
We spent our time together going through a list of areas that his owners really wanted to become clear on including separation anxiety, how to play, teaching impulse control, addressing redirection when frustrated, living arrangements, environmental exposure, and handling greetings with other dogs in a calm and neutral way.
Due to Moose’s owners current living arrangement they’re sharing a house with relatives and their 3-year-old Golden Retriever, Jasper. Moose and Jasper used to get along well, however due to primarily age and energy level differences, their interactions had become a source of frustration and chaos. We covered how to make changes to structure and routine in the home to establish harmony, and revisiting the way in which we can manage their interactions together that doesn’t have the associated frustration they’d been seeing.
It’s awe-inspiring to work with people who’re as committed to their own dogs as we are our own. Moose’s owners researched trainers and made their decision based on what felt like the right fit for themselves and their dog. Not how cheap or conveniently close they were. Since working with Moose and his owners they’ve been all ears, inquisitive, passionate, dedicated and supportive. You really couldn’t ask for better clients.
Really solid work guys, you should be damn proud of the work you’ve put in, what you’ve achieved, and what you’ll continue to achieve moving forwards.