A Little Puppy Training for an Extremely High Energy German Shorthair Pointer

devo-lighter

Devo is four-month-old German Shorthair Pointer puppy who is very high energy and isn’t listening to his guardian. His family set up a puppy training session with me to stop him from jumping up, not coming when called and help stop pulling on the leash.

Devo was sequestered behind a baby gate in the kitchen when I arrived for the session. As soon as he saw someone new had arrived, he jumped up on the gate excitedly and squiggled as much as puppily possible.

I recommended that the guardian and his wife refrain from petting or giving Devo attention when he was in an excited state of mind like this. A great habit to get into is to ignore a dog when you first arrive home and only open the gate after the puppy has sat down.

I spent the next few minutes going over how important it is to be aware of when we pet our dogs as anything it is doing at the time we pet it is what the dog thinks it is being petted for.

Its hard to refrain from petting a puppy who is so excited to see you. But if we keep in mind that we are training the dog how to greet and meet humans for the rest of its life by how we pet and interact with them, we can help them learn to adopt desired behaviors instead of jumping up.

I have actually developed a philosophy that helps dog guardians add a little bit of structure to petting their dog. I came up with this when I realized that petting our dogs is basically our way of paying them.

To help the guardians start petting Devo at the right times, I shared my Petting with a Purpose method.

It will be EXTREMELY important that everyone in the house only pet Devo after he does something to earn it. I have worked with close to 2,000 dogs and Devo is in the top 5 of the most excited / high energy category. Petting with a purpose wont stop the over excitement, but it will go a long ways towards getting the dog to listen to and respect their guardians. Right now, Devo is so jacked up energy wise that he had gotten into the habit of ignoring his humans as his mind was simply racing too fast.

I started to ask some additional questions about Devo’s daily routine, but he was all over the room looking for things to get into. Another perfect example of having too much energy. German Shorthair Pointers are a high energy dog and as a puppy, Devo was pushing things into hyperdrive.

His guardian was spending a lot of time walking Devo, but wasn’t having much success in completely draining his excess energy. I knew we needed to unload a good portion of this pent up energy before we would be able to do much work in the session so I showed the guardian my preferred way to exercise a high energy dog.

Considering this was his first time, Devo did pretty good. I could see him learning to stay in front or on the side of his handler with a little practice. The pup’s vet will need to sign off on having Devo pulling while he is still growing. But even if its a case of the pup running alongside the guardian on roller blades or a skateboard, this up tempo exercise will be far more effective.

Another great way to burn off excess energy is the Fetch. Because Im a dog behaviorist and not a trainer, I reached out to some colleagues who gave me a few youtube videos that can help Devo’s guardian learn to Fetch. The first is by Zak George. Zak has another great video on ten tips for the Fetch here. Another suggestion was the video from Ruff Beginnings that you can watch with this link.

I recommended that the guardian keep a journal that details the exercise Devo gets each day alongside a grade of how he behaved that day. By playing around with various exercises, durations and times, Devo’s family should be able to come up with a formula of exercise that helps the dog properly release its excess energy.

When we finished with the fetch and daily routine discussion, Devo had started to regain his energy. Guess I should have spent more time dog skiing.

Because Devo wasn’t fully cooperating, I made arrangements that should assure that we completely drain his energy. But it was going to be a little bit before reinforcements arrived so I decided to spend a little time going over the basis of the Recall exercise, otherwise known as; teach a puppy to come. This is one of the most common help requests I get as a puppy trainer.

It will be easier to teach Devo to come when he isn’t so full of beans. You need the dog to be able to focus and that’s hard to do for any puppy. But when the puppy hasn’t had a sufficient amount of exercise, its near impossible.

But structured training isn’t the only way to go. I recommended that Devo’s guardians start petting him and saying “here” or “come” out loud every time he comes over to them on his own. I call this passive training. Its not as fast as formal training periods, but because it only takes a second (literally), its super easy.

Right as I was finishing up the section on training a puppy to come, my apprentice Brian arrived with some backup; my Border Collie / Pointer / Dalmatian mix Cali and my newest pack member Quest.

I had Brian let Cali into the back yard then take Quest for a short walk so that Devo wasn’t overwhelmed by having two new dogs in his back yard. After about seven minutes Devo and Cali were clearly comfortable so we brought in little Quest.

Socialization is so important for young puppies. Because I plan on having him help me rehabilitate other dogs, I made a point of introducing Quest to 100+ dogs before he was three months old. As a result, he is very social.

It was great seeing how well Quest and Devo played together. I strongly recommended that Devo’s guardian start taking him to dog parks or arranging play dates with other dogs. The most important developmental period is a dog’s second and third month. While Devo is past that period, the more dogs and experience he has with new dogs for the next seven months, the more confident he will be around other dogs (Provided these are pleasant and positive experiences) for the rest of his life.

After about 30 minutes, the dogs started to slow down and added in some short play breaks on their own. This is usually a good sign that a dog has gotten a good amount of exercise.

When all three dogs decided to hit the water fountain, I knew we had indeed had a successful play date!

By the end of the session, Devo was finally spent. Its going to be very important that his guardian ups the exercise activities and adds in structure so the dog can listen better and learn to respect his family members. Nearly as importantly will be to arrange frequent puppy plat dates and many many trips to the dog park to up his social skills and confidence.

If they can find the right combination of exercise and consistently add in structure while training Devo, he should start listening better, respect their commands and corrections and stop spazzing out in public.

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