We get a lot of queries about training. We don’t consider ourselves “experts” at training. We believe you can’t earn an expert badge at dog training as a side result of working with your own dogs, or a handful of other dogs over the years.
Maybe we’re wrong, but to us, expert trainers are folks who engage in training other folks’ dogs, full-time for a very long time.
That said, we know how to work with GSPs. Whether we’re teaching fundamentals or putting them through a more advanced course of forced fetch, bird work, or agility.
Here are some general puppy tips. We’ll add to this page periodically.
Socialization of pups, with other dogs and other humans, is critical to their mental and social development.
Even if we are in a covid lockdown, or some other future lockdown, you must find a way for your young pup to engage other dogs and people.
Do not make the mistake of “putting it off” until circumstances are easier. Take them to a friend’s place, a neighbor, a busy street, or dog park. Teach them they are part of a much larger world and social organization.
Many pups will be scared when introduced to a busy, frantic dog park with a ton of strange dogs or people. First, let the dog go at their own pace. If they want to hide between your legs, that’s Ok. (Though this isn’t a typical GSP response 🙂
Second, if your pup is showing signs of being overwhelmed, keep their introductions to new environments brief.
While there’s a good chance you’ll have more trouble getting your GSP to leave a dog park, or getting him to stop playing with everyone at the farmer’s market; introducing your pup to new environments for only 5-10 minutes at a time, will build up their confidence quickly.
Limiting new environments to 5-10 minutes at a time, may also beneficial for a pup’s immune system. A pup can collect a much smaller dose of germs walking around Lowes for 5 minutes, rather than 95 minutes.
If the whole covid mask thing has taught us anything, it’s that the immune system has an easier time fighting off lower amounts of germ exposure.
When you get your GSP pup home, instead of peeing on the broken tile in the kitchen you’re replacing next month, he’s gonna pee on the new $600 living room rug.
Instead of chewing your kid’s sneakers he’s already outgrown, the pup is gonna to chew your Prada dress shoes.
When you tell your pup to sit and chew his toy, he’s gonna jump on your arm just as you sit down to eat your soup, spilling said soup all over the both of you, requiring a bath on his part.
This is what puppies do.
They are agents of Murphy’s law.
They have orders from the puppy militia to assess your command structure, and find your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Even if they love you, it’s their duty to relay this information back to headquarters.
The single biggest advantage you can give your pup, is to have endless patience.
Do not allow anger to disrupt your bond with the pup.
Reward for doing the right thing, rather than punishment for doing the wrong thing, yields better results when the pup doesn’t yet know what is expected of him.
Once the pup knows what’s expected of him, punishment for the wrong thing, reinforces, what he knows and then, begins to work as a deterrent.
We’ve found GSP pups particularly susceptible to car sickness.
Take your pup to get coffee and check the time as you leave.
Note how many minutes until your pup pukes, then next time take them on a drive for HALF that time.
Take that trip every day for a week, then increase the time.
Keep going till pup outgrows the car sickness.
Don’t forget to get your free Pupachino if you go to Starbucks. 🙂
Mizuki was an angel who took to sleeping in her crate at night, like a Pointer takes to pointing birds… with our other guys and girls, we weren’t so lucky.
Here are some tips on getting through the night with at least a few hours of consecutive sleep;
1) Use the right size crate. Too big and the pup won’t feel secure.
2) Cover it with a blanket EXCEPT for the side facing you.
3) Place the crate in the bedroom with the unobstructed side of the crate facing you. The pup should be able to see you, and you should be able to see the pup at a glance.
4) When the pup starts to scream, ignore him. If he really goes on about it, you can try a shout to “quiet,” but at this stage, he doesn’t really understand what that is, so it’s not likely to do much, except help you release some frustration. DO NOT coddle or try to comfort the pup by voice; “It’s ok, puppy. We’re right here, quiet down… etc.”
If the pup gets your attention while screaming, he’ll never stop. And don’t let him out “just for a few minutes to settle down.”
If you do that, the dog will be sleeping on your bed for the rest of its life.
5) Pull all tags from blankets going into a kennel.
6) Don’t leave any toys in the crate overnight.
7) If you’re in the room, or around, you can consider leaving a blanket or toys in the crate, BUT the safest kennel experience is one where there is NOTHING the pup can chew apart when you’re not looking.
8) Anything you put near or on top of a kennel is likely to be mauled and pulled into the cage as if a starving lion lies within. You’d be amazed what they can get in there.
9) Pups and even adult dogs can get limbs, noses and teeth STUCK between the wire of a wire cage. It’s best if someone is present the first bunch of hours the pup lives in his cage. If you hear blood curdling cries of pain, DON’T PANIC, most of the time, the pup is stuck and more stuck and scared then causing actual harm.
Keep a level head and work quickly to free the pup.
10) Do not leave collars on your pup/dog when you put them in the kennel unsupervised or for an extended time. If the pup/dog manages to squeeze his head through the door, it could get snagged and choke him.
11) Feed your pup in their crate.
12) Send them into the crate and sit down next to them for a few minutes throughout the day. Just get them used to it being a nice place, where they are not abandoned by their humans.
13) Some dogs acclimate to kennels faster than others. Some dogs respect the kennel, understanding that they will stay put until they are released from doggy jail.
Other dogs are more like Clint Eastwood in Escape from Alcatraz. They consider it a personal duty to escape the crate you’ve wrongfully imprisoned them in and get into as much trouble as possible in the house, before you notice.
You should know which type of GSP you have in fairly short order.
The number one rule, take your pup out frequently. Always 15-30 minutes after;
And immediately after;
During the night, take him out every 3 hours or so, unless you’re lucky and he’s sleeping through the night.
Remember, PUPS can not control their bladders at this point.
So the focus should be on affirming the good places to go, outside, with praise and even a small treat, and making them understand not to go inside, with a firm “NO or not inside!”
Don’t be too harsh on them now, if you’re too firm on them making mistakes inside, it can actually cause anxiety pee problems.
Because GSPs love their humans so much, when they’re yelled out they can get so upset, they lose control of their bladder. They can learn bad habits as quickly as good habits, so JUST BE PATIENT!
The first few days are the hardest, but they’re smart dogs. You still might have an accident here or there, but your pup will catch on!
MORE TO COME…