Training Your GSP
As mentioned above, GSPs are very active, creative, fast and strong. Training your GSP is a must or you will be faced with many undesirable surprises when you get home. This breed is magnificent as a companion but you will not be able to enjoy each others’ company if your puppy isn’t well trained. Training method should be gentle with consistent positive reinforcement.
My plan is to bring you tips and advice on a monthly basis from Naomi Heck, a professional trainer. on this website.
I introduce to you, Naomi Heck!
Hi! I’m Naomi Heck, proud mom of a 5 year old male German Shorthaired Pointer named Chase. I own Trusting Paws Dog Training, LLC, a canine behavior consulting business based in Camp Hill, PA. I do private in-home consultations for all sorts of dog behavior problems including fear, anxiety, aggression and rambunctiousness. My website is http://www.trustingpaws.com.
I was thrilled when Yazmin asked me to write a monthly training column for her website. I’ve trained hundreds of dogs of many breeds and temperaments. But by actually raising a super-high energy sporting dog (more like the Energizer Bunny™ on speed) whose main passion is pointing at and chasing furry little critters, I’ve experienced first-hand the feelings of amazement, embarrassment, and even frustration that you may also have felt with your own German Shorthaired Pointer.
In many aspects, GSPs are just like any other dog (or animal, including humans). They obey the laws of learning perfectly. They learn to repeatedly do the things that get them what they want or need. They learn what is safe and unsafe. And they learn what’s fun and not-so-fun. You are probably already familiar with behavioral tendencies of the GSP (like their endless need for exercise). But there is wide variability within any breed of dog. Each dog is an individual, and what one GSP finds enticing, fun, and rewarding might not apply to the next GSP.
Of course, it is wise to research general behavioral tendencies of a certain breed before deciding to adopt a dog or puppy, but it’s equally important to discover what motivates your dog so you can make the most of the time you spend training. I’d like to point out that if your dog is awake, he or she is learning. And what’s more, if you are with your dog, one of you is teaching the other! So start thinking about training as brief teachable moments throughout the day rather than an hour long lesson.
In future posts I will talk about how to manipulate your dog’s motivators to help you overcome some common training challenges. I will also show you how to increase the value of a weak motivator, turning it into a more effective training tool.
In the meantime, I suggest you make a written list of things that your dog absolutely loves. Include foods, activities, games, events…once you start this list, you’ll probably think of things to add over the course of a week as you observe your dog in her daily activities. Even sniffing a just-peed-on tree can be included on the list. The degree of motivation may vary depending on the situation, so make any notes of that, too. For example, Chase loves steak, but he won’t bother eating it if he is pointing at a bunny in the yard.
On the same page, make a second list – of the things your dog does not like. They can be things he avoids, runs away from, barks/growls at, or turns a deaf ear to. Or his reaction can be more subtle. Maybe he ducks his head slightly when you reach over to pet him. Chase doesn’t like coming inside when I call him if he is out in the yard having fun. He loves being outside where the wild things are and wouldn’t mind being out there all day if the weather’s nice. Keep in mind that training can be impeded or even undone if we are not careful about how we handle things on this “Don’t Like” list. In the months to come, I’ll point out common training mistakes people (including me) have made and also discuss how to turn a “Don’t Like” into a “Not So Bad” or even “Hey, I Like This”. So start your lists and I’ll see you back here next month!