German Shepherd Training Series – The Art of Calling Your GS

Welcome to the second part of the GS training series! In the first part of this series, we went over an important tip to training your German Shepherd, that is, gaining your dog’s attention. Now that you’re able to better grab your dog’s attention, let us now go into the art of calling (or recalling) your dog.

The goal for the process of recalling your dog is based on first getting your dog to sit in front of you with the command “come.” Following much training through the treasure hunt game, your German Shepherd should now really enjoy sitting in front of you to earn positive experiences and when this happens, you should name this behavior “come.”

Similar to gaining your dog’s attention which required the use of positive markers – the association of a particular sound and action – the art of calling your German Shepherd too requires the same strategy. The idea is to guide your dog towards earning something he likes by sitting in front of you when you say “come.” You can help your dog sit facing you by using your hands to pat the insides of your dog’s legs, helping him maneuver his position to face you and once that is accomplished, associate these actions with “come.”

This, like any other training, requires lots of patience and time. However, once you feel that your dog is trained in this aspect, you can test your dog by executing the command “come” with different distractions and locations. The difficulty level (the amount of distractions) of these “tests” should be varied to accommodate the performance and obedience of your dog. The goal of these “tests” is to know how much additional training your dog needs to understand the command “come.”

There are a few important things to note down if you’re training your dog to “come,” with a retractable leash. If, in such an instance your dog just sits or stands at his original position or even moves in a different direction, do not jerk, or reel your dog towards you. This can not only cause pain to your dog, but also serves as a trigger for your dog to falsely establish that the command “come” is a bad thing as your dog is always in pain (because you are reeling him in) just moments after the command. Instead, you can utilize a correctional marker, such as “Eh” to help guide your dog to understand that his current actions are wrong and are being corrected. The important thing to keep in mind is that dogs learn by trial and error. They’ll try to act differently when presented with different options at any given situation, and based on the outcomes of each particular situation, they’ll learn what will result in positive experiences for them. Sure, during the German Shepherd training process, your dog will certainly make mistakes (who doesn’t?), and your duty as a dog owner is to guide your dog towards the right behavior, and not punish him. In a way, whenever your dog makes such mistakes, it’s actually a good thing; good in the sense that your dog is making progress in figuring out what works and what doesn’t. You can read more about why you shouldn’t punish your dog here.

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