Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Understanding German Shepherd Puppy With High Prey Drive

Understanding a hard German Shepherd puppy with very strong Prey Drive

Hard puppies can be made easy with strategic handling and appropriate corrective measures

A lot many of our readers have emailed us seeking for advice on how to raise a GSD puppy with very high prey drive. A high prey drive puppy is often a hard puppy, and the owners usually face real challenge to teach them the meanings of the commands. High Prey drive GSD pups have often been returned back, as handlers consider them to be problem pups. Fact is Prey Drive in German Shepherd (also called Booty Instinct) is one of the most important in instincts typical to this breed, and a need for the pup to grow up as perfect working dog. Please understand that Prey Drive is highly desirable in correct degree in German Shepherds; Excessively high level of Prey Instincts makes the puppy hard to train.

Understanding Prey Drive

It is important to know what actual Prey Drive or Booty Instinct means. This is the drive that stimulates your German Shepherd puppy to chase a moving object and bite. This is a genetically inherited instinct, which is not too commonly found in all German Shepherd puppies. It is a genetic instinct by which the dog tries to experience the nature’s moving objects like a running squirrel, flying butterfly and hopping grasshopper and seizes them. Higher Prey Drive stimulates your puppy to chase the fly until he gets hold of it, and until he seizes the moving object he cannot pay attention on other things going around.

What’s There in This High Prey Drive That Makes Your German Shepherd Puppy Hard

Candidly speaking, raising and training a puppy with high prey drive is not every one’s cup of tea. The reason is that not many of the dog trainers possess adequate basic skill that he or she may require to handle a strong prey drive puppy. Very high level of patience with a calm and assertive energy, enough time and technical knowledge about correct implementation of Positive Reinforcement Training approaches are the basic needs that a trainer should have to handle a puppy with Higher Prey Drive.

An experienced trainer will want to strengthen the prey instinct and at the same time train the puppy the desired skills. He will understand that the temperament and behavior of the puppy is governed by his/her drives that are:

i) Naturally expressed through his instincts
ii) Stimulated by Positive Reinforcement Training methods

High Prey Drive in a German Shepherd puppy can make it a hard specimen. If not channelized correctly, in the right direction, the puppy’s High Prey Drive may develop into undesirable behavior towards his surroundings, making the puppy unmanageable.

What is Most Challenging in a Puppy With Very Strong Prey Instinct

A lot of people have not got opportunities to handle very High Prey Drive GSD pups, because they are not very common. Do not get confused with puppies having prey drive and puppies having very high prey drive. While it’s too common for all working line German Shepherd to have adequate and desirable degree of Prey Instinct; It’s not very common to find a pup with this instinct in a very high degree. The challenge lies in the fact that a puppy with very high degree of this instinct usually:

i) Remain aloof to other happenings and even remain aloof to commands
ii) Have very very short attention span
iii) Easily rebounces back to his own activities (that not desirable at a particular moment) even after corrections

All these three factors merge together to make it a hard puppy that gets corrected, but immediately turns back from corrections and get back to his own unique form.

Another most important thing that makes it really challenging to handle a hard puppy is handler’s inability to understand whether really his puppy has very high prey drive. If you think that you are raising a high prey drive puppy because he is hard to train, you may not be thinking right. Chances are there that your puppy is genetically stubborn. Some puppies are born stubborn which makes them hard to train – that does not mean that they have high prey drive. Stubbornness and Prey instincts are not same.

May be your puppy has high prey drive, but with correct handling and Positive Reinforcement Training approaches he can be easily trained. Not all hard puppies have very high prey drive, but most of the very high prey drive puppies are hard.

Is there anything that is good about a puppy with higher degree of this drive?

Yes… obviously every cloud has a silver lining! If you really have a hard puppy (hard due to very high prey instinct) you should feel lucky. Such puppies are usually not influenced by minor handling errors. Softer puppies can be easily trained because they can be easily influenced and better influenced compared to their harder counterparts. Minor handling problems due to low handling skill set can lead a normal puppy in the wrong direction, thereby developing problem points in the future.

What does it take to raise a Strong Prey Drive Puppy?


Strategic handling accompanied with Positive Reinforcement Training approaches is the most important method of handling. As discussed above, as a leader of the pack you need to be assertive, confident, patient, understanding, compassionate, and at the same time you should have zero-tolerance for all undesirable behaviors in your puppy.


Treat him like your human child. If you are being asked to choose a teacher for your child, what kind of a teacher will you choose? I am sure you would want your child to be taught by someone who is patient, understanding, and teaches at a speed that your child can easily follow. I am sure you will not like the teacher to punish your child suddenly for small mistakes.


Raising a hard puppy demands more dedication that raising their softer or normal counterparts. While “consistency” is the key to all types dog training, but for a hard puppy “consistency” should be a way of life – not just an option. You need to be consistently firm and strict as long as your puppy becomes a fully correct specimen. Corrections Punishing a Strong Prey Drive Puppy doesn’t work much, because he would instantly rebounce back from  punishment mode and go back to his natural form (as discussed above). Corrections should not be in a punishing mode. You need to be firm, calm and with a positive attitude (Must). The moment you go impatient, the entire endeavor will go waste. However, very strong and firm shakes and several shakes by the neck’s nape may be necessary for a hard and Strong Prey Drive puppy to bring him back to desirable mode.


If you are among those who consider firmness in a handler's attitude and firmness with repetitive in the corrective shakes as abusive training approaches, then you are probably wrong (Myth). You have to have a different temperament as an owner and take different corrective actions to train a puppy with strong prey drive. Without firm handling and strict corrective measures a hard puppy can grow into a big menace very shortly. If you believe that being too strict in handling a High Prey Drive puppy will destroy the working ability of the dog, you are probably wrong again (Myth again). Strategic handling comes to play here. Strategic handling involves conditioning the “Drive’s redundancy” to gradually fade out the undesirable behavior that generates due to the redundancy and at the same time developing the Drive/Instinct to use it more productively.

Starting Age for Correction

Starting off at a very early stage of around 8 to 9 weeks is appropriate.


One very important factor in Prey Drive that plays in favor of the handler is that , the effect of this instinct (excessive chewing, excessive chasing etc.) eventually gets diminished as the puppy gets tired. A correct amount of exercise (proportionate to the age) is a must to diminish the effect. The motive is to letting the excess energy go out.

Related Reads - Understanding German Shepherd Basic Instincts 


Points of Confusion:

1. Not all chasing behaviors are stimulated by Prey Instinct. Chasing driven by behavioral issues is not related to this drive.
2. Strong Prey Drive puppies have biting tendencies. Not all puppies having biting tendencies necessarily have Strong Prey Drive.
3. Abusive training approaches and too firm training approaches are not same. Handler need to be very strict and firm to correct a Strong Prey Drive puppy


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Why is your German Shepherd Dog Overly Aggressive?

Overly Aggressive German Shepherds is a big problem!

If you are a German Shepherd lover, there are chances that you like to meet new German Shepherd owners and mingle with new dogs. I am sure that by doing so you have met shepherds with strange behavior. Overly aggressive German Shepherd Dogs are threats to not only the owners, but also other animals and friends of their owners. The fact is, it is due to the lack of knowledge of the owners that many shepherds become aggressive. Well, aggression is a genetic trait that stimulates the protective drive of the breed. Over aggression in German Shepherd Dogs is a psychological imbalance and a serious fault in the breed. Such behavior is a deviation from the standard of GSD behavior.

This post includes tips and tricks to handle an overly aggressive German Shepherd Dog. You can get some important points that may help you make your German Shepherd Dog learn good habits. Teaching should start at the very young age, but since most dogs start displaying aggressive behavior in the later age you need to be well equipped with the technical know-how of teaching good things that can be applied at any point of time in the dog's life span. Remember GSD is a very intelligent breed and has an instinctual tendency to please his master - its important to understand this. Make your dog please you and show that you are pleased when he shows desirable behavior.

Most GSD owners, I have come across, cannot understand how to get their overly aggressive shepherds to learn good habits. Dogs are not humans. They understand things in a very different way. So most often, when an untrained trainer is training your German Shepherd, he is actually contributing to the dog's behavioral problems, thereby making them worse! My first tip to solving this problem is to find the right trainer, who knows how to communicate with and train a GSD with scientific methods. German shepherds are different from other breeds. A professionally trained trainer understands this well! Slashing, yelling and forcing him doesn't really work. A good trainer is a canine behaviorist first; he should be able to understand what your Shepherd actually need.

An untrained German Shepherd Dog can be a nightmare. So, before you have to make a decision to have your monstrous shepherd put down, you should in for some effective training session. An overly aggressive German Shepherd Dog does not just show up its wildness one day suddenly. It might have displayed warning signals quite often in his life that he had never been a friendly pet. As a young pup he might have been a timid dog that has always disliked strangers or strange places or he could have showed aggression at people coming near him and his food and toys. As a responsible owner you should be able to observe your pup's subtle behavioral changes and identify what's wrong!

 All dogs must be well socialized and should undergo a serious obedience training session either at home or in classes, in order to make them almost no-problem dogs. Proper socialization mitigates dominance and over aggression. Your dog's handler should be knowledgeable enough. The handler's aggression towards your German Shepherd will never mitigate the dog's aggression. It will never work. The handler MUST have a thorough understanding on:

  • Temperament in dogs and its relation with dominance and aggression
  • How genetics play its role on the dog's behavior and contribute to aggression and dominance

The control of all types of behavior in a dog is a very complex process, and is hugely influenced by genetics and environmental factors.

1. Most important problem area: Unscientific breeding is the most common factor that contributes to aggression of a dog. This area needs serious attention. An overly aggressive German Shepherd Dog, all through his life, shows warning signs that it is not like the other friendly canine companions. Choosing the right breeder is very important. Both the fear based aggression and dominant aggression are due to poor breeding, while territorial aggression and predatorial aggression in German Shepherds are normal and desirable to a certain degree. A well-bred GSD has a stead nerve and stable psychological health. Over-aggression and attack behavior are very rare in a well-bred specimen. 

2. Training sessions: Training process starts by boosting up the pup's the confidence level and making it feel secured. Overly aggressive German Shepherd Dogs usually have some kind of fear. They are often psychologically weak with low degree of hardness in their character. A pup with lack of confidence and psychological resiliency to unpleasant and strange situations, cannot be corrected easily. I suggest creating a perfect environment around the training zone. You can invite a few friends of yours whom your dog knows well. With the gradual passage of time you can invite a stranger along with your friends and go on for stroll in the park with them and your dog. Gradually increase the number of friends and strangers. This can be a very effective socialization technique and should be a slow process. By making haste in this process you may unknowingly contribute to your shepherd's behavioral problem, instead of solving it. A gradual and slow process in this socialization technique will keep pup's stress under control, and he will feel comfortable, and eventually get socialize to strangers and strange situations.

3. Mingling with other dogs: Often times aggressive dogs cannot tolerate other animals within their vicinity, which makes the dogs show aggressive behavior towards them. This is not a desirable characteristics of a well-bred GSD. Such problems can be solved, although not a very easy task. Mingling session has to be started immediately Today is the right time! Keep your dog on the leash in a region having a few other more confident and calm dogs. Hold the leash tight and as soon as he shows signs of aggression, just give him a mild jolt with a sharp "NO". Repeat it whenever he shows signs of anger. Keep a constant eye on him and you can predict how he will be behaving on a specific situation a few seconds before he actually shows the aggression. As soon as you can predict his behavior, give him a jolt with a sharp "NO". It will take a lot of time to socialize your German Shepherd Dog with other dogs. You need to be patient and consistent and handle him correctly, and with firm hand.

4. Keep your dog away from other aggressive adult dogs: Remember dogs are pack animals and they live a pack life. Their specific behaviors are usually the resultant products of staying together within the pack, which is very natural. If they do not consider their owner as the pack leader they will take it upon themselves to become the leader of the pack which turns out to be quite detrimental. If you have a new addition to your kennel, keep the new dog or puppy away from the other aggressive members of your kennel. Studies have shown that dogs and puppies that are in contact with the other aggressive pack mates usually become aggressive with time. Get the new dog surround with cool tempered, confident, well mannered, playful dogs with positive behavioral traits.

5. A battered German Shepherd loses trust and confidence: A German Shepherd that is being tortured physically and/or mentally today, will become an overly aggressive monster tomorrow. An abused dog is prone to become frequent biter and usually turns out to be overly aggressive towards human. Do not make your dog lose trust no you. If you are the second owner of your GSD, who is highly aggressive. You (yourself) are the right person to reduce his aggression. Help him regain his trust and confidence on you. Take him to walk... long walk. Take him to swim and play frisbee. Serve him treats when he listens to your commands. Try to develop a bondage with your dog; make him understand that you are his pack member, BUT DO NOT FORGET TO ESTABLISH ALFA MEMBERSHIP IN THE PROCESS.

6. Establish Alfa Membership: German Shepherds instinctively try to establish a rank within their pack. Dominant German Shepherds have been studied to have problems with their pack and rank within the pack. You need to be an established Alfa member of the pack. If you are an owner of a dominant German Shepherd Dog, you have to learn to become the alfa member of the pack, which most owners are not aware of or give this an afterthought. Establishing the leadership is a continuous and consistent process, which should be started since its puppy-hood. Crate training is of utmost importance here.

7. Lack of Exercise: German Shepherds are working dog. Less work and less exercise makes the dog easily frustrated. Aggression may be a result of this too! Frustration and aggression are directly related in working breeds like German Shepherd Dogs. A tired dog is a contend dog. Put him to heavy exercise. Long walk, trot, swimming, playing fetch are best exercise you can give to your dog, backed with good food and sufficient rest.

8. Poor Nerves: Dogs with poor nerves can be fierce biter. Indication of poor nerves are shrinking away from the strangers or fear of loud noises. Poor nerve is a breeding fault... this means such a behavior is wrongly controlled by genetics. It is hence important to look for the right breeder and his breeding programs.

Related Reads - Aggression in German Shepherds 

 More Related Reads From Welcome Dog Lovers

Aggression is a seriously detrimental behavior that needs be adjusted with the help corrective training.

To conclude, the first and the major step to dealing with an overly aggressive German Shepherd Dog is to understand why the dog acts the way he does, and then figuring out what strategic drives should be taken as corrective measures.


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Friday, August 23, 2019

Study on German Shepherd Dog Skull

German Shepherd Dog Skull - Morphometric Study

A morphometric study has been carried out at Istanbul University, Veterinary Faculty, Department of Anatomy, Turkey on the skull of the German Shepherd Dog. Skulls of 33 GSD puppies between the age group of 45 days and 105 days had been researched on. Breeders who breed for look, often times tend to set a goal for large heads. It is one of the most important criterion in determining the specimens that are close to the standard. Understanding and evaluating the indices and ratios of the skulls are best way to define the structural types.

Two groups had been formed in order to carry out the research work.

  • Group 1 included German Shepherd puppies between 45 days and 60 days. 
  • Group 2 included German Shepherd puppies between 61 days and 105 days.

Group 1 (GSD pups between 45 days and 60 days)

Research work had been carried out with detailed measurements of the skulls of German Shepherd puppies between 45 days and 60 days. The measurements obtained were as follows:

  • a skull weight of 36.95 g 
  • a skull length of 113.96 mm 
  • a maximum zygomatic width of 66.52 mm 
  • a cranial length of 71.31 mm 
  • a maximum neurocranium width of 52.11 mm 
  • a viscerocranial length of 50.28 mm 
  • a skull index of 58.43 
  • a cranial index of 73.24 
  • a facial index of 133.13 
  • a cranial volume of 55.38 ml
German shepherd Dog Skull - Ventral Section

Group 2 (GSD pups between 61 days and 105 days)

Research work had been carried out with detailed measurements of the skulls of German Shepherd puppies between 61 days and 105 days. The measurements obtained were as follows:

  • a skull weight of 61.17 g 
  • a skull length of 143.38 mm 
  • a maximum zygomatic width of 73.54 mm 
  • a cranial length of 83.38 mm 
  • a maximum neurocranium width of 53.70 mm 
  • a viscerocranial length of 68.64 mm 
  • a skull index of 51.44 
  • a cranial index of 64.57 
  • a facial index of 107.96 
  • a cranial volume of 75.75 ml
German shepherd Dog Skull - Lateral Section

Researchers in charge of the project calculated the correlation coefficients in order to determine the likely relationship, that could have existed, between the indices and the other parameters. It was determined that all the measurements increased with the increase in age of the dogs. This was not the end of the research! Most interestingly, with the increase in age the indices decreased, and an insignificant positive correlation between cranial volume and skull weight had been discovered. The research carried out by the Veterinary Faculty of Istanbul University has been of high significance when it comes to considering the German Shepherd Dog types and for advanced study for breeders.

Researchers suggested that for German shepherd dogs of dolichocephalic type (i.e. a dog with a long narrow skull, and having a cephalic index of under 75), it should be agreed that, with the increase in age of the puppy, the farther the values are from the mean value, the higher the chance of defect of a puppy will be. The outcome of the study is also very important for the vets to investigate the correlation between certain very significant health issues, for instance, nasal cancer risk and the skull shape.

A true type GSD skull should be mesocephalic form (medium proportionate structure) which is in between dolichocephalic (long skull - breadth less than 75% of length) and brachycephalic (very broad and short skull - breadth almost 80% of length) types.

True type GSD skull should be mesocephalic form

Further research work had been carried out in order to find the closeness of the German Shepherd Dog skull and that of the other hounds and wolf. The German Shepherd Dog breed has earned a great deal of a repute as a highly potent guard dog, with a fierce bite. Even then the muzzle and teeth of GSD breed had been found relatively weaker compared to the African hunting dog and the wolf.

Related information

Described below is the desirable head type for German Shepherd according to the current SV/FCI breed standard No.166 23.12.2010/EN:

​The GSD head should be desirably wedge-shaped, and proportionate to the size of the body. A true type GSD head should not be too elongated and moderately broad between the ears. The head should not be plumpy of roundish in shape. The front and side profile of the forehead should be very slightly arched. The middle furrow (if present ion the forehead) should be only very subtle and slight.  The ratio from the cranial region to the facial region is 50 % to 50 %. The width of the cranial region should be more or less equal to the cranial length. Seen from the top the cranial region should tapers evenly towards the nasal bridge with gradually sloping, not sharply depicted stop in the wedge-shaped facial region (foreface) of the head. The jaws (both upper & lower) should be exhibit a powerful structure. The nasal dorsum is straight. The nasal dorsum should not have any dip or bulge. The lips should be well dark pigmented and should be taut and closed well.

Result of the research:

The mean values and Standard Deviations of the angle measurements of each group were determined. The values of variability‐with‐age were noted. For a detailed understanding click here


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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Basic Instincts of German Shepherd That all Breeders Need to Understand

Note: This post was published in this same blog on Feb 06, 2008. After a long 11 years I noticed that the health of this breed (both psychological and anatomical) have considerably worsen, while the health should have improved. Owing to this fact, this post has been reproduced again because this is the need of the hour.

GSD instincts as inseparable part of its behavior

German Shepherd or Alsatian Dog is one of the most Versatility canine breeds in the world - this is beyond all controversies! A well bred German Shepherd Dog is his master's truest companion, although not all shepherds are equally versatile. If bred scientifically a German Shepherd puppy will grow up with all the desirable and mandatory instincts that would make it a true type royal dog and a perfect protective companion of his owner.

While working on the development projects of make a true type working dog, Captain Max Von Stephanitz emphasized more on the working ability of the breed, rather than the look. Insofar its capability as a protective working dog is concerned it is mandatory to have the 5 basic instincts of a GSD. Here are the 5 Basic Instincts of well bred German Shepherd Dogs that are genetically inherited by a puppy from dam and sire. Idea of selective breeding comes to play its role here. Responsible breeders try to retain the basic instinct of the breed through planned and scientific breed programs. Breeding scientifically will result near-to-perfect progenitors. Remember no dog is a 100% perfect dog in this world.

The 5 Basic Instincts of a "well bred" Alsatian dog have been broadly categorized into two categories, viz. Critical / vital Instincts and General Instincts. Both these types of instincts in Alsatian or German Shepherds are of utmost importance and aspiring breeders must keeping in forefront of their mind the importance of retaining them in progenitors while breeding German Shepherd Dogs.

Critical Instincts in German Shepherd Dogs 

1. Booty Instinct OR Prey Instinct: This is one of the two Critical Instincts of a well bred Alsatian or German shepherd dog. This German Shepherd instinct triggers the dogs character trait to chase moving objects like flies, moths, butterflies, mosquitoes, etc. and seize them. This is one of the most vital GSD instincts for excellent Schutzhund protection work. The Booty or Prey Instinct plays most vital role in acting as one of the most critical motivator of striking with speed and power, which is a mandatory part of a German Shepherd Dog characteristics. This critical instinct starts to develop as the puppy reaches 6 months of age and eventually becomes prominent as it grows.

2. Fighting Drive: Another Critical instinct in a well bred German Shepherd Dog is his Fighting Drive. This GSD instinct is also referred to as "Active Aggression" or "Offensive Aggression", which is as important as the Booty Instinct, because it stimulates the dog's working ability as a protection dog. This GSD instinct helps the dog to deliver "rhythmic & explosive barks" during protection. Each of those regular deliveries of bark helps the dog to get positively stimulated, which in turn helps him to give high degree protection service. The Fighting Drive instinct of German Shepherd Dogs is highly desired for the Schutzhund protection work.

 Photo courtesy: Kraftwerk K9

3. Hunting Drive: Hunt drive or Hunting drive is another critical instict of GSD breed that helps the dog to use and combine all other drives to find a prey. More intense the hunting drive is, better the dog is for detection work. Hunt drive is important for any GSD to be a perfect patrol dog. Intense hunting drive helps the dog to effectively find the criminals.

General Instincts German Shepherd Dogs 

4. Self Preservation OR Defense Instinct: The Self Preservation of Defense Instinct is also called "Reactive Aggression". This GSD instinct should not be confused up with Prey Instinct and Fighting Drive Instinct in German Shepherds. Reactive Aggression, as a typical Alsatian dog or German Shepherd Instinct, helps the animal in developing an inherent protective trait related to territoriality. This German Shepherd instinct denotes the degree of Sharpness of its behavior as a protective dog.

This is one of the most significant part of GSD character and behavior. Reactive Aggression Instinct in GSD or Alsatian dog acts as the catalyst for the two Critical Instincts, viz. Active/offensive aggression and prey instincts, as it heavily stimulates the booty instinct and active aggression. However the Reactive Aggression Instinct of well bred German Shepherds also stimulate the Social Aggression Instinct.

5. Pack Instinct: This instinct is almost common for all pack animals including dogs, wolves, foxes, jackal etc. The Pack Instincts is not unique in German Shepherd Dog breed, but is commonly found in almost all the canine breeds in the world. In a well bred Alsatian dog the Pack Instinct is noticed quite prominently, compared many other other breeds. This is another most important German Shepherd Instinct that is highly significant for the Schutzhund trial, as it stimulates the inherent behavior of the dog to protect the pack members and act alike. Acting like all other pack members helps the dog to act in the way the handler or the owner wants him to act like. This in turn makes it easy for the owners/handlers/trainers to train the dog and teach him desired tricks. Remember... viewing from the dog's perspective, the dog considers his the owners/handlers/trainers as his pack members. Easy to train GSD (i.e the dog with desirable degree of Pack Instinct), backed by the correct blend of Territorial Instinct and Social Aggression makes the dog stay closer to his pack members. This stimulates the dog's protective behavior, which is one of the most important trait considered for Schutzhund.

6. Social Aggression: Social Aggression is another desirable German Shepherd Instinct. Like the other instincts of Alsatian Dogs Social Aggression also increases the degree of trainability -- especially for the Schutzhund protection services. Social Aggression Instinct makes the dog deliver "deep grumbling bark" towards any threatening situations, thereby proving its territoriality and dominance. This typical male German Shepherd Dog instinct can be considered as a warning signal to the threats or the strangers. Each of such barks stimulates the dog by generating power within him, which in turn helps him express himself more dominantly. This is one of the most important and desirable determinants of a guard dog character. This particular GSD instinct called "Social Aggression" is exclusively a male instinct found in most canine breeds that have been recognized guard dog breed. Found prominently in well bred male German Shepherds this instinct usually remains un-exhibited until the dog is made to face a threatening situation. Social Aggression is profoundly backed by right degree of Territorial instinct in German Shepherd Dogs and in all other dog breeds used for guarding services.

A Few More words About German Shepherd dog Instincts

It is probably due to some of these typical instincts that this majestic breed - the German Shepherd Dog has been stigmatized as one of the aggressive dog breeds. This has given a hard blow to the breed's popularity, although Alsatian Dogs is still one of the most popular dog breed in the world. It is to be kept in the forefront of the mind that these instincts are typical for the German Shepherd Dog breed and has to be genetically engineered to the heirs through proper breeding. Without the right degree of such aggression, a particular dog would be an incomplete German Shepherd. It is t be noted that German Shepherd Dog is quite friendly to the pack members including kids, but not so to the strangers, which is of utmost necessity for a perfect protection dog.


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Breeding Goal For GSD

Photo: Qvido Vepeden
Bred in: CMKU (ČeskoMoravská Kynologická Unie - (CZECH REPUBLIC)) FCI
Date of birth: 11.03.2012
Height / Weight: 65 cm / 43 kg

Dog breeding, alike breeding any other animal, is a dynamic process, and has to have a transparent, clean and meaningful goal. It is important for a breeder to stay focused on the science and art of breeding – especially when it comes to breeding working dogs like German Shepherds that was actually created to work with man and not to be kept with family as a token of status and pride. Successful breeders look back often times to check what are those things that were advised yesterday and are still important today, and what are those that should be filtered out.

With the increasing popularity of the breed – especially after the world war II, breeding GSD became a livelihood for many people around, and the practice is carried out even today. These days the people who do not even understand the breed properly are breeding these dogs to earn a living, which is a serious concern. The result is the rise in the number of backyard breeders who run after look, rather than working ability, still cannot come up with puppies with correct expression and proportion – the two major criterion for 'look'. The concept of breeding for working ability started to diminish at a faster rate; and today there are only a handful of breeders in the world who keep their focus set on the producing structure for actual working ability. DDR Line - East Germany Working GSD Has Maintained Its True Heritage. However, it's less popular.

Fact is that a few original breeders across the globe, who responsibly do it right, can't make money out of breeding German Shepherd Dogs.

Breeding for look:

Breeding for look has only started during the mid 19th century. A trend has developed to breed for look. So-called breeders tend to breed head turner GSDs with rich tan marks, big bones and huge volume. These dogs are much different from what is actually demanded for the working ability. Unlike breeders, who are inclined to produce head turner show piece specimens, the breeders of DDR and Checz lines are way more focused in producing actual German Shepherds that are more effective while working with police, military and sentry etc. and are more able to work under stressful situations, in any environment and in different terrains.

Breeding just for look unfortunately gave rise to a number of problems – especially anatomic, physiological and psychological defects, some of which have gone to such a degree that they are transmitted to progenitors genetically, having balance problems, with back issues and hind quarter issues.

Breeding for working ability: 

The idea of breeding for working ability is gradually fading out with time. Up till the first phase of 1960s German shepherd breeders did not any choice but to breed according to the what was advised – breeding for working ability. But in the fag end of 60's lots of Creative things started to be taken into consideration to produce award winning specimens, that could be further bred with a goal to produce dogs with conformation for championship – rather than for actual workmanship.

Breeding German shepherds for working ability– doesn't necessarily mean that they would have to be bred to work only as shepherds for herding sheep. The goal should to producing dogs that are physically healthy, anatomically perfect and mentally stable to work as army dogs, sentry dogs, police dogs, sniffer or drug detection dogs, and not to be forgotten, as therapy dogs, companion dogs, seeing eye dogs... which means producing specimens to fit in all faucets of work. The breeding goal for original working line is aggressive eradication of dogs with slightest indications of dysplastic hips or elbows and weak temperament. Simultaneously the goal is to breed dogs with straight toplines, large and strong head, strong and bones, perfect agility. The working dogs are bred for innate strength, athleticism and ability to work under stress and in all weather... in one word – a perfect functional dog.

A Note About DDR and Czech Lines German Shepherds 

On the contrary, the DDR Line - Deutsches Demokratische Republik Dogs (German Democratic Republic) – East Germany in English and the Czech lines - German Shepherds in the Czechoslovakian Republic have always been the finest examples of working GSDs. Both there lines used to have a single motive – breeding original working dogs for police and soldiers, and they still carry their heritage with pride.

DDR - Deutsches Demokratische Republik German Shepherds are actually bred for working as border patrol dogs, war dogs, sentry and the likes. In the past most of their training used be carried out during the night for night maneuver exercise sessions. The Diensthundefuehrer ( Dog Team Leader ) used to be responsible for the overall maintenance, care and training of the DDR border patrol dogs. On the other hand in the Czechoslovakian Republic breeding GSDs had just one single goal, and that is breeding original working and service dogs. The breeding for Czech GSDs was carried out in a single highly organized kennel that was owned and maintained by the Czechoslovakian army, with approximately 30 staffs working in the kennel per day. Czech dogs were bred to trigger the ingrained protective instincts and were trained to protect their handlers (border patrol force) when attacked by any illegal intruder. Simultaneously these dogs were also responsible for stopping these offenders while they attempted to escape.

Take away from this chapter 

The breeding goal of German Shepherd Dogs or any working breed should be producing dogs with purpose. Breeding demands immense responsibility – NOT TO EARN A LIVING OR TO WIN CHAMPIONSHIPS. Compared to the yesteryears, today's breeders have loads of scopes to use technology and methods to determine the goods and filter out the bads. Breeding German Shepherds or any other breed should have a well formulated program supported by science and NOT by emotion.
A couple of good reads here: The 5 Basic Instincts of German Shepherd Dog that the modern breeders need to restore. It's the need of the hour!

Schutzhund – The Breed Evaluation Test: Developed For German Shepherd Dogs


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Using Motivational Factors in Dog Training Techniques For Your GSD

Positive Motivation Dog Training Techniques With Corrective Measures

One of the undeniable aspects in dog training techniques is motivational dog training. Whether for your German Shepherd Dog or a Chihuahua positive motivation dog training techniques should be adopted by trainers. A handler can only be considered as a good trainer if s(he) has learned the art of using motivation in his/her dog training endeavor.

At the very beginning, it is important to let know that any reward based dog training techniques cannot be considered as positive motivation dog training, although both are considered as positive dog training methods. Many dog trainers – both freshers and experienced – are found to confuse reward based training with motivational dog training.

Reward Based Dog Training Vs Motivational Dog Training

Reward based dog training and motivational dog training are both positive dog training techniques, with very subtle conceptual distinctions - Semantic Deviation. Reward based dog training techniques are designed to positively reinforce and facilitate the development of the desirable behaviors and actions by offering them reward. Motivational dog training, on the other level, is one of the evolving positive training techniques in which your German Shepherd needs help to perform as desired, and this can be done though effective inputs of all motivational factors that stimulate the dog to learn what is taught.

Reward Based Dog Training

Reward based dog training is a positive training technique where the dog is allowed to succeed, followed by rewarding for successfully performing the desirable action –Positive Reinforcement. Reward based training method is a form of teaching, which is fundamentally called Classical Conditioning, though which connections are set to form between the event (what the trainer tries to teach while showing the reward - treat) and the subject’s reflexes (involuntary emotional responses in the dog – drooling). The reward is given when the dog does what is desired and is refused to be given when the dog doesn’t do what he is required.

Motivational Dog Training

Positive motivation dog training techniques involve creating the friendliest environment for your dog. This environmental engineering to optimize your dog’s performance level is aimed towards helping your dog to get rid of all fears and shyness and gain confidence, which help him to effectively trying to understand what his handler wants from him.

How to motivate your German Shepherd During Training?

The challenge lies in setting up the methods of motivating the dog to learn new tricks. The first step to creating the motivational environment for the dog, is helping him to:

a. Trust his trainer (building trustworthiness)
b. Get rid of fear (strengthening nerves)
c. Gain confidence in every experience related to training (diminishing shyness and gaining mental strength)
d. Choosing a place that the dog likes (a zone friendly to him)

These 4 steps are critical for effective positive motivation dog training. You absolutely cannot start off with training a dog that doesn’t trust you or that is fearful and shy or that is not confident about his safety. Once your dog is happily confident and trusts you it will become easier to build a strong relationship with him which is again essentially necessary. Remember strong trainer-dog relationship acts as one of the most potential motivating factors for the dog.

Following the above important ways to creating motivating environment for our dog, there are next set of methods that should be viewed as the connecting steps. Connected to the above factors, the other ways to motivate your GSD to learn new tricks is Positively Reinforcing Your GSD To Act Desirably By Rewarding Him, which means motivating him by giving rewards for each of his desirable actions. Here are how you can motivate him:

a. Motivating your shepherd by using food as a reward
b. Motivating your shepherd by using alluring toys as a reward
c. Motivating your shepherd by lavishly praising him as a reward
d. Applying force as corrective dog training techniques - Using force to make the dog do what he is required to do

Using Food as Reward in Positive Motivation Dog Training Technique

Using foods to get things done by dogs is one of the most traditional methods, and has been into practice probably since when man started domesticating dogs – a few thousands of years ago. This is hence quite commonly known to any dog owners, and even to those who have never stayed with a dog. What is challenging here is to master the art of presentation and timing of rewarding your dog with his favorite treat when he does what is desired. Remember, the treat is used as a reward to trigger motivation and drive to perform an action when desired. This is an art that gets mastered over time and with experience. The food based training is considered as a successful positive motivation dog training endeavor only when it motivates the dog to perform the desired action, and not just motivate the dog to participate in the training session. If the food motivates the dog just to participate the training session, then the trainer may have applied the process incorrectly, and the dog requires vigorous corrective training.

Using Alluring Toy as Reward in Positive Motivation Dog Training Technique

Not all, but a few dogs may refuse treats, and they become tough to be positively motivated by offering food. Alluring toys comes to play one of the most important roles here. But if the dog doesn’t have adequate prey drive, which is one of the basic instincts in the German Shepherd breed then even alluring toys doesn’t work good as a potential reward. Prey Instinct or Booty Drive may be genetic inherited by your GSD. This instinct stimulates the dog to chase a moving object. If this instinct is present in your dog then you can be pretty sure that your dog has ability for Schutzhund protection work. Prey drive in GSD starts becoming prominent as the puppy reaches 6 to 7 weeks of age. The trainer can enhance the instinctive quality of Prey Drive starting from the age of 8 -9 weeks. If a puppy is born with Prey Drive, it is important to strengthen it through optimal practice and drive building exercise, else the drive will be naturally diminished. Most of the dogs naturally lack in extreme Prey Drive, but many of them will have it in an adequate degree so as to put this instinct effectively to motivate it in the training as a reward.

Using Lavish Praise as Reward in Positive Motivation Dog Training Technique

When you are training your GSD for a new trick make sure you always praise lavishly for any good job done. Handler’s praise is crucial as a motivation factor in positive dog training technique. However, praise doesn’t work alone. It needs to be combined with other factors of motivation – like food and prey factors (toy). Another most significant component for “praise” to work well is a strong and positive relationship of the dog with his handler. Without a good dog-handler bonding praise will turn to be a big flop. Building relationship is a time consuming process. And building relationship that will be fruitful for “positive motivation dog training” is more challenging as it is required to be supported by trust and leadership (Alpha Membership); hence for “praise” to work really effectively as a motivational reward is not something that can happen within a fortnight. Establishing alpha leadership in the pack is an art and requires understanding of your dog's psychology.

Using Force in Positive Motivation and Corrective Dog Training Technique

‘Force’, which may sound weirdly awkward when it comes to dog training, is something that should be a part of positive dog training techniques, as long as ‘force’ doesn’t become abusive. Corrective dog training techniques requires the handler to allow the dog to do mistakes by its natural instinct, and then correcting it by firm handling.

However, applying force and being firm to a dog that is under a rigorous training session sounds easy; unfortunately it’s not. The challenge lies in understanding how much force to be applied and on what situations may be dog be forced to do what is desired. Many so-called professional dog trainers have been noticed to have applied force even to a degree that compromised the relationship. Such ‘force’ contributes to the decline in dog’s confidence and trust on the handler, accompanied with an increase in the degree of shyness, which merge together to end up with all trash, making the dog even harder to be trained.

While using any of these rewards as motivational dog training techniques do not forget to counter-conditioning the related behavioral issues. Subtle behavioral issues linked to good work done may be enhanced to bigger shape if rewards are given without conditioning the issues. Your German Shepherd may be intelligent but he doesn’t know that he is being rewarded only for the good work minus the behavioral issues.

The motivational dog training method requires the handlers to communicate with their dogs in a prominent, positive clear and compelling way. It is hence most important to establish a strong bonding between the handler and the dog. A strong positive relationship with the dog, building trustworthiness, strengthening nerves and helping the dog to gain confidence are the foundation of positive motivation dog training.


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All you need to know about German Shepherd Dogs. Read out what I have to share with you regarding the amazing German Shepherd Dog breed. Are Alsatian dogs and German Shepherd Dogs same? Who was Max Von Stephanitz and What is SV? Also learn a bit more in depth on German Shepherd Dog training tips, German Shepherd puppy care tips, German Shepherd Dog behavior, German Shepherd instinct, German Shepherd Dog standard and history of German Shepherds.

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