German Shepherd Dog > How do I raise a confident dog (100 replies)
How do I raise a confident dog
by mountain on 05 July 2012 - 18:20
|I finally got my new 8 week old GSD. Now I need advice. I don't want to do anything wrong in raising him. Are there any videos etc that could be recommended to tell me how to raise a confident dog. I will not be competing in any schutzhund and don't need a true personal protection dog. I just want him to be confident and not afraid of anything. I know how to train basic obedience but would be interested in training him for the bark & hold etc. My last GSD was a retired american line show dog we got at 5 yrs old and he was skittish of almost everything. So this time I did research and I have good puppy. Just don't want to do anything wrong and mess him up... Thank you!!!!|
by macrowe1 on 05 July 2012 - 18:34
Some of the confidence comes from genetics. Look through his pedigree and see the nerves on the dogs for a couple generations back. Then socialization is key. He needs to get super socialized, which the prime time is form now until he's 16 weeks. Expose him to everything. Take him places, a lot allow dogs (pet stores, lowes, home depot, tractor supply, some restaurants, some parks). Let him meet people and other animals. And when you're playing with him, always let him win. The socialization helps to minimize fear. But make sure he has a good time doing it. Bring treats, and a toy, and let him have a good experience. If it's a bad experience, it's worse than him not getting the experience at all. If you play tug or whatever, make sure he ends up with the rope in the end. Let him win. If he's super emotional and a soft dog, use softer corrections. Some dogs are extremely hard and need harder corrections (most of these aren't this young). A firm "no" will do the trick.
by YogieBear on 05 July 2012 - 20:09
|Raising a puppy to be confident is making sure you get the right kind of socialization, always setting him up for success, always let him be a winner and not being a heavy handed handler.... I personally don't think corrections -even a stern "no" sets him up for success to be a confident dog.|
You are the maker of the dogs environment......... Positive reinforcement of behavior - rather than negative repercussion is in my opinion the key to success......
Just a question to the poster - why would you want to teach the bark/hold, ETC - if you don't want to do schutzhund?
Just my opinion - if you want to teach bark/hold, etc - you need to study schutzhund and how to raise a schutzhund dog - there is a difference you know from raising a pet vs a schutzhund puppy.....
by djc on 05 July 2012 - 20:58
|Confidence is 90% socialization and 10% genetics. IMHO Maybe 80/20..... Socialize as much and as often as you can. Be creative and think up new places to go. Be very careful when approaching strange dogs. Unless you know them or are in a class situation don't take a chance in your puppy getting hurt or being traumatized by an unknown dog. Don't even trust the owner of another dog telling you it's OK, because most of them can't read a dog's body language. The other posters are correct in saying this is the most important thing until 4 months old.|
Your puppy will most likely be afraid of something along the way, but don't let that discourage you. How you handle the fear/lack of confidence is what counts. #1 rule for handling fear, is NEVER never never comfort or do anything similar to comfort. Don't tell them "it's ok", don't pet them or pick them up, don't feel sorry for them. Instead either change their focus to something they love, like a toy or food and turn it into a happy time. OR ignore the behavior and walk right by. OR using food, entice/lead the puppy to come up to whatever it is, and feed when they come up to it on their own. Remember they are learning and at this stage what they learn, be it good or bad they will remember their whole lives. By comforting a fearful dog/puppy you are actually reinforcing that fear. Because in a dog's mind comfort is affirmation. In other words you are telling them they are behaving correctly.
Make the puppy's life full of fun, love and positive reinforcement. Save the major corrections for when they are older and even then a correction should be fast and be over just as fast, continuing on with the fun immediately after the correction. Most "corrections" with a young puppy can be avoided by just distracting and focusing on something other than what they are doing. Save major obedience training for after 4 months old and even then all should be kept as motivational and positive as possible. Make training like playtime!
Hope that helps some.
by Gustav on 05 July 2012 - 23:04
|The two key components are genetics and socialization. The stronger the genetic, the less socialization you need. They all benefit from socialization, but if the genetics are strong you can have a confident pup with much less need for extensive socialization. If the genetics are not as strong, then you need extensive socialization and in some case that still won't produce a confident dog. Good Luck!|
by Red Sable on 05 July 2012 - 23:51
|Again I agree with Gustav. |
If you have the genetics, it is very easy to raise a confident dog.
It's more like 80/20 in favour of genetics, IMO. If you have a genetically strong nerved dog, you'll see what I mean.
by Jim Engel on 06 July 2012 - 02:39
"Confidence is 90% socialization and 10% genetics"
It is more the other way around. A genetically hard and strong dog will be
Socialization is absolutely necessary and good. Not so much to build
confidence, but to direct it. The strong dog can become confident that
he can intimidate any other dog or person and become difficult to live
with and manage. Confidence has been directed toward seeing every
new situation as a confrontation and winning it. Usually not good.
Or he can become confident that in neutral situations he can remain
neutral and deal with eventualities according to your command or
responding only to an actual direct threat.
Most confidence is genetic, the behavior that is exhibited by the
mature dog reflects socialization and training.
by darylehret on 06 July 2012 - 03:32
|I also disagree. I have raised confident dogs with no socialization that adjust to novel situations very easily, and I have raised less confident dogs where no amount of socialization could sufficiently conceal it's genetic predispositions.|
by mountain on 06 July 2012 - 13:17
|Thank you for the advice. I guess my main concern on the socialization is I am paranoid about taking him anywhere public until he is fully vaccinated. Is this a valid concern or am I being over protective? He is almost 9 weeks so he's only had 1 puppy shot.|
by YogieBear on 06 July 2012 - 15:12
|Get him another shot - he is old enough.......then can be 2 weeks apart.............|
But to me - people are putting a little to much in to you taking him everywhere..........
Your question was about confidence - you taking him everywhere isn't going to be the deal breaker in this situation - your handling skills however is what is going to be difference between confidence or cowardiness........
Just my opinion though.
by djc on 06 July 2012 - 16:43
|It is very rare for any dog to be totally confidant no matter what the genetics are with out any socialization. PERIOD. You're living in a dream world if you think otherwise. You can ruin a dog with fantastic genetics by not raising it properly, and you can build up a dog that is lacking in genetics. Even with the best genetics in the world, a dog who is abused, unsocialized and traumatized as a puppy will not be confident as an adult. Genetic predisposition in this poster's case is mute, because we are not talking about attaining a certain level of confidence for the higher levels of bite work or any other type of training. Yes, absolutely genetic predisposition WILL show through in high levels of stressful training and competition, on either end of the confidence scale. They want a confident PET not a world champion competitor!! In bringing up handling skills.... depending on handling skills to make a dog confidant only makes that dog get his confidence from you and not build it on it's own. It makes a dog nervous when you aren't around and promotes separation anxiety. Those are the Sch/IPO dogs that keep looking back for their handler instead of guarding the bad guy!!! I stand by my statement of 90/10 or 80/20 at the most. Sure genetics will make it faster and easier, but a dog that is not confidant as a puppy absolutely CAN be made confidant through socialization done properly and raising it in a healthy happy environment. It would be a rare exception to have a dog that has been raised in a healthy environment with humans and no trauma, not be able to BECOME confidant through proper socialization. To say that confidence is ALL genetic and can not be built up in a dog, is totally absurd!!! We can agree to disagree. It's all good. :) But the more you tell people who, you have no clue about their dog's genetics, they DON'T have to socialize their puppy, the more you are setting them up for failure. The more you tell them their puppy's confidence can not be built up is equally setting them up for failure. SOCIALIZATION IS THE KEY TO A CONFIDANT AND SOCIAL DOG! How much of it you have to do has to do with the dog's natural genetics! Handling skills are way way down the list until a puppy is older, other than generalizing and making handling skills part of how the puppy is raised and treated at home. Maybe we need to define confidence? I don't think this poster is referring to what's needed for bite work. That's a whole different story. Sounds like they just want a confident happy dog, which IS, I repeat IS attainable for them no matter what the genetics, if done properly. The amount of work it will take is what will vary for them.|
Rule of thumb for vaccinations is you can take them out after their 2nd shot. The pup should have gotten the first one at 6 weeks so the second can be as soon as 9 weeks but preferably 10 weeks. Over vaccinating has a whole set of health problems that can evolve from it so there is no way that I would do them just 2 weeks apart!!!
by djc on 06 July 2012 - 17:33
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me, you are speaking more of social aggression than confidence. A confident dog does not feel the need to dominate everything in it's path. A dog that is NOT confident feels that need. Social aggression is 90% FEAR based! THAT is taken not only from my opinion and experience, but from the experts in dog behavior. Experts YOU would know! A dog that is defensive with no real threat, and exhibits aggression with no real threat, is in no way confident and in fact is afraid. In a dog's mind if they are not confident and in fact are fearful, they want to chase away everything before it can hurt them. A truly confident dog has no problems with most real/non threatening situations. In fact I've seen dogs that were so confident that it was super hard to train them in Sch/IPO bite work because they knew the helper was not a real threat! Those kind of confident dogs will keep a watchful eye out and size up different situations, and only react if it is a real threat. When they do react, all hell breaks loose and you better have your best game ready, because they are for real!!
Again, Red Sable and others, The poster is looking for advice for raising HIS puppy, whom you have no clue about it's genetics. So you are wanting to tell them that either the puppy has confidence right now or throw it away?? It's hopeless? Come on! Join the REAL world of PET dogs! NOT competition dogs. This person has every chance in the world to raise his puppy up happy and CONFIDENT!!! TRY being helpful!!
by darylehret on 06 July 2012 - 17:56
|I myself wasn't commenting on the OP's dog, just disagreeing with you (and still do).|
I also disagree that "Social aggression is 90% FEAR based!"
I don't think anyone is saying that socialization is unimportant, or a waste of time.
by djc on 06 July 2012 - 18:31
|It's your prerogative, Darylehret to agree or disagree for sure. Don't really care one way or the other. Doesn't change the facts on dog behavior.|
BUT how about helping the OP out instead of arguing??? What's your advice for them??
You and Yogie have come across saying no socialization is needed.
"I have raised confident dogs with no socialization that adjust to novel situations very easily "
"you taking him everywhere isn't going to be the deal breaker in this situation "" " "
At least Yogie was trying to give advise. Now how about you?
by Red Sable on 06 July 2012 - 18:32
|A confident dog does not feel the need to dominate everything in it's path. |
Yes, and I had a dog like that, a GSD, and NEVER socialized him, , with people or other dogs. He barely left the property (except to my parents once and vet a couple of times) until he was over 18 months old. He was not the least bit dog aggressive, and thought he was king poop. Oh, and I also got him at 5 weeks of age.
He was genetically sound.
I now have a dog, who is also confident, but also socially aggressive to men. I did socialize the crap out of her.
You gave alot of helpful tips on socializing, however, some untrue facts IMO, so that is what I commented on.
by djc on 06 July 2012 - 18:48
Again, Red Sable, TRY to be helpful.
by Gustav on 06 July 2012 - 20:52
|Sigh......pretty much everyone has said to socialize him. Most just don't agree with socialization as being the magic bullet. I am paid to help people with less than confident dogs as well as overaggressive dogs. The first thing I want to do is see the dog so I can gauge whether the less than confident situation is genetic or environmental. Why....so I can give the owner realistic expectations about outcomes; ,IF they do what is prescribed( socialization or desensitization as examples) from my evaluation. I have seen so many cases of people who when they call me have listened to somebody tell them that socialization will make their dog fine or confident, usually the breeder, and have socialized them out of the wazoo and the dog still isn't confident. This is very discouraging to people and they really want the truth about what is to be expected. Dogs with good nerve blossom when they are exposed to training or socialization, even if abused or neglected. Dogs with weak genetic nerves even with socialization may or may not become comfortable depending on the severity of the weak nerves. Was talking to a trainer from the Morristown guide program this past year, and I asked her why you hardly saw any GSD anymore. She said Cliff the genetics are not there. People are breeding for show and sport and we find it's very difficult to find a dog suitable. The sport dogs are too driven and the show lines don't have the nerve. Now if anyone should have knowledge about " confident" dogs....these people should. It is difficult to prescribe anything special to do with his dog to make it confident. Obviously, socialization is something that is beneficial, but I think some of the people who have responded and are dog trainers, know that socialization will not overcome genetics in many cases and want the OP to be fully informed....no more, no less. It's not about perfect dogs....trust me.|
by Ibrahim on 06 July 2012 - 21:04
|Very good comments.|
Gustav, it's a pleasure to have you on this forum, your posts are educating as usual.
by mountain on 06 July 2012 - 21:10
|Thank you for those who responded. I understand there are different ways to train dogs so there are various opinions. His genetics are fine and he is perfectly confident now. I just have not had a GSD puppy in over 30 years so I want to make sure that I didn't do anything wrong to mess that up. Ex: it was good advice about if he does become afraid of something to not baby him but to redirect. I have no desire to do any sort of competition. However we do enjoy working with our dogs to see what we and they are capable of. So when I say bark and hold I am just saying this pup comes from a line of schutzhund and we may enjoy trying to reseach and work with him on some of those skills. But not to the level of Schutzhund. Just backyard fun... I just want my dog to be confident enough that if someone comes to the door or fence and runs at him to "test" him that he is confident enough to not run and hide.|
by Ibrahim on 06 July 2012 - 21:22
| I just want my dog to be confident enough that if someone comes to the door or fence and runs at him to "test" him that he is confident enough to not run and hide.|
Most probably you know this, I learned that to test a dog's courage he needs to be free so he has the chance to run away if he chooses to, many would fail this test. Some would not react at all and few would warn the approacher to stop or else. (I wonder how those who do not react at all and just look stupidly at the approacher would be evaluated !!!).