Adalheit German Shepherds
How we Raise our Puppies
Firstly, our dams are treated like royalty and are fed a diet that will put them in good shape for breeding, carrying then caring for a litter of puppies. Currently we are feeding our dams a high-quality kibble along with salmon or cooked beef liver. There has been much interest and research in why so many dogs are not carrying their litters to term and one of the very possible problems comes in dog food. It simple contains too much plant estrogen which throws off a female dogs' hormones. So, we are very careful as to which kibble we do feed, and our girls are doing very well now.
They also get the exercise they need to have good muscle tone so they are in great shape and ready for the vigorous challenge of being a mom.
We do not like to breed our females at every cycle, so they may have a litter every year to 18 months. We want our girls to be healthy and in good shape at all times and with this we are not striving to produce as many litters as possible. This way we can spend quality time with each litter, socializing and evaluating each puppy. Our whelping area is separate from the other dogs so mom and babies are in a quiet, private area. As the pups age, more stimulation will be added and normal household and outdoor sounds will be a part of their socializing. They will have time in a household environment as well as other areas to prepare them for the changes they will experience.
Along with this, we do also give our girls supplements and will be giving the puppies a supplement as well. We have decided to partner with NuVet, after hearing many good reports of the quality of their products. If you would be interested in knowing more about them and the products they have, I've included their info below:
As socialization is a very key ingredient in having a well-adjusted puppy, we do a variety of things to prepare them for their new homes. Socialization is more than just introducing them to new people. It entails many other aspects of their lives. We play CDs of different sounds and noises so they may be exposed to things they may experience, such as thunderstorms, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, etc... We get them used to different textures to walk on, grass, cement, gravel, sand, carpet, and vinyl. We will put them in different situations they will need to work through to get to their food or siblings.
Crate training will be started, we will get them exposed to a crate, spending some time in one so they are familiar with it.
They will also socialize with our other dogs and people so they may begin to know how to interact with different dogs and people to help them learn proper social behavior. This training will occur from 3-8 weeks of age. We use many ideas and aids found in a great video series called Puppy Culture, the Powerful First 12 weeks. Notes from this series will be included in your information packet.
We are also implementing the "Super Dog" Program: Developing High Achievers. This is a method of training for puppies developed by the U.S. Military in an effort to improve the performance of their dogs used for service. After years of research, the Military learned that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects. This first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day Each of those days the puppies will be handled individually and each exercise (there are five) will be performed in order and for the specified time. These five exercises will produce neurological stimulations which do not occur naturally during this early period of life. These are not being done in place of normal socialization, training, and play time but rather in addition to. Even though we are not raising our puppies for military use, we feel this program can have a tremendous effect on any puppy and will be a benefit to you, the new owner.
This stimulation has been observed to produce five benefits:
1) Improved cardiovascular performance (heart rate)
2) Stronger heart beats
3) Stronger adrenal glands
4) More tolerance to stress
5) Greater resistance to disease
In tests of learning, the stimulated puppies were found to be more active, exploratory and in simple problem-solving tests they showed less stress- only giving an occasional show of distress when stressed, and they were calmer and made fewer mistakes. This will be a help to you as you work towards acclimating your puppy to his or her new home.
Weaning through 7 weeks
After the pups are weaned, they will be exposed to a potty pad area for potty breaks. They naturally like to be clean and keep their play and sleeping area separate from potty area; a potty pad works great for this. It will help greatly in housebreaking, as they will be used to going potty somewhere else other than in their living area. And as they are able to go outside, a doggy door will be available so they may use the outdoor kennel for potty, further helping with the housebreaking.
They will also be introduced to a high-quality dry puppy food, which you will be given a bag of. We first grind it up and mix it with warm replacement milk for them and slowly transition to just dry kibble.
We do not have many visitors around our puppies until they are 5-6 weeks old for a variety of reasons. It is unknown just how long the mothers' vaccines protect the babies through her milk, so we feel this reduces the possibility of someone unknowingly carrying in any virus that could be harmful to the pups. We don’t feel this sets them back in any way, and we do like to be careful with our babies.
We also do not allow dogs on our property that are not our own, for the same reason that they may carry in something that they are perfectly immune to but could harm the puppies.
Also, around 6 weeks we will introduce crate training. With this we will slowly work them towards eating and sleeping for short periods by themselves in a crate as well as getting used to going on car rides. The goal is being able to help out both they and their new family on that car ride to their new home, and adjustments after their arrival.
At 7 weeks old as well we will have had each puppy micro-chipped as we feel it is a very good way of having permanent identification. Dog collars and tags can be removed or lost, and the last thing you want is for your new puppy to be lost to you forever.
They will have their full medical check by a qualified veterinarian to make sure there are no physical problems. Socialization, car rides, crating and house training will continue until the puppy leaves our home for yours. One HUGH note here, at 8 weeks the puppies are again going through a fear stage. Many breeders are waiting until the 9 week period before pick up just so they have them through this time. Please do not try to test your puppy during this time with new, startling "tests". You could ruin your pup for life by scaring them through having them have a very bad experience during this time. Let this week be one of slow introductions with a calm, no surprises environment, including no meeting new dogs or animals that you are not sure will react to the puppy in a positive way.
The puppies dam will have been wormed for a total of 5 weeks, both before and after whelping. We are doing this in place of worming the pups every 2 weeks and it has proven to be a very effective worming protocol. It is important that when the new owner takes the puppy to their first vet check to again have a fecal check done as part of their exam to make sure they are clear.
They are vaccinated at 5 weeks for parvovirus and again at 7 weeks with a combination vaccine without leptospirosis. Again, talk it over with your own vet at their first checkup to see what type of vaccination schedule they feel is right for your puppy. We will provide you with all of this information when you pick up your puppy including what brand of wormer and vaccines were used.
Our puppies will come with either a full or limited registration. We are not breeding to produce breeding dogs and we strongly recommend that you have your puppy spayed or neutered after 18 months of age. If you do decide to breed, have their hips and elbows x-rayed and OFA checked after the age of 2 to make sure there are no problems. Bad hips or elbows can happen even with the best breeding, the parents can be rated excellent and you still may have a pup with problems so get them checked before your breed. But again, we do not breed to create breeding animals, and we do not have any guarantees pertaining to any possible problems associated with breeding.
What will go home with you and your Puppy
When you pick up your puppy you will also receive paperwork--AKC registration paperwork, microchip info, contract, vaccination paperwork and a packet of information for our new puppy owners. You will also receive a stuffed toy that has been with the puppy and his siblings, thus infused with all of their odors (we feel it helps in the separation), another play toy, his/her own blanket, a leash, a collapsible cup for water and food if needed and you have a long journey home, a small jug of water to help in the transition, a small bag of the puppy food they are currently eating if you need it and a bag of homemade doggie cookies along with the recipe! We want to make this transition as smooth and as easy as we possibly can for both you and your puppy and this is one way we can help!
You will want a crate, bowls, toys, a slip collar or slip lead for training and a vet at the ready in case of emergencies. We also recommend bottled water if you live in town and have treated water, as they won't be used to the chemicals and will have tummy troubles. If you are going to want to keep your puppy contained to a certain area of your home at first; you may want to get some baby gates beforehand. Remember, no taking the puppy to any public area until they've had their vaccines and are protected.
You will also have our phone numbers and e-mail address; we will always be available to you for any questions that may arise.
Our goal isn’t to raise breeding dogs, but we breed as if we are, producing quality, healthy dogs that will be a wonderful addition to your family. Our puppies are warranted against any genetic, hip or elbow problem for 2 years that will prevent it from having a full and healthy life as a companion animal as is stated in our Guarantee/Contract.
We also do not leave your stranded, we offer support to you for the life of your new family member.
We are striving with all of this prep work to be able to have a solid assessment of each puppy and what they will be best suited for so that we may provide you with a stable well-adjusted puppy that, because he/she is exactly what you were looking for, will be a joy to you for a lifetime.
Tips, Information and Advice for New Puppy Owners
How often does my puppy eat?
When you receive your new puppy, he/she will be used to having been fed three times a day. It is important to keep them on this schedule, as it aids in their transition to your new home. Offer your puppy the recommended amount of food listed on your dog food bag in the morning (around 8 a.m.), at noon, and then in the evening (6 p.m. or so). Let your puppy eat until they are finished, if there is any leftover food; remove it until the next feeding. If the puppy doesn’t eat after 15-20 minutes, take the food away until the next feeding. Don’t be alarmed if your puppy doesn’t eat for a couple of meals, they are just getting adjusted into their new home.
What should I feed my puppy?
When we start our puppies on kibble, around 3 ½ weeks of age, we first grind it and mix it with replacement dog milk or goat’s milk to make it more palatable. We slowly transition to kibble only so by the time you take your puppy home they have been on hard kibble only for about 2 weeks. We feed a 4- or 5-star quality puppy food (we check often at dogfoodadvisor.com) and please do not feed a different food until your puppy is well settled in. After that, if you wish to change, do so very slowly. We have found out the hard way that Shepherds seem to be very sensitive to food changes.
And most importantly always make sure you feed a large breed puppy food as these are best formulated to keep your puppy from growing too fast. Never feed your puppy adult food, as this could harm their growth. And along those lines, within the AKC Canine Health Foundation site, the article on Bone Cancer in Dogs also brings up this issue. Quote: "Rapid growth: the use of Large Breed Puppy foods, have reduced levels of available energy to increase the time needed for these (large breed) dogs to achieve their full size and mass potential. The risk for males (if this is not done) is 20-50% greater (of them developing osteosarcoma cancer, which usually forms in the legs)." So, you do NOT want your puppy to grow as quickly as possible. Use an Large Breed Puppy food and keep your puppy as healthy as you can!
One dog food we don't recommend is Blue Buffalo large breed as it has shown to cause bladder or kidney infections in female dogs. And with all the information about grain free and possible heart problems, if you feed a grain feed food make sure that Taurine is in the ingredient list. It is the lack of Taurine that is causing the heart issues.
What should I name my puppy?
We don’t require our new puppy owners to put our name on their puppy’s papers, but if you wish to follow German standards, that is what they would do. In Germany, your puppy would automatically have the breeder’s kennel name on his/her papers which is their way of telling people where the puppy came from. For example: Behr von Adalheit. There are many websites, including our own, that have many German names for puppies, have fun!
When will my puppy’s ears stand up?
If they are not standing up when you receive your puppy, be patient! Some have their ears up by 8 weeks, but most take a little longer, possibly up to 6 months. If they are not up by the time they are done teething (usually between 4-5 months old) don’t panic, it is not uncommon for ears not to be up by this time, or they may go up then go back down when they start to teethe as the calcium going to developing ear cartilage is being transferred to developing teeth. If this happens, again don’t panic, as they will come back up again.
If a puppy hasn’t had his/her ears up by 5 months, you may want to consider using ear forms. There are forms you can purchase and then glue inside the ear to help them out. Just be sure to use a safe glue that will not harm their skin. Some people use moleskin as well and there are many good videos on the internet showing how to do this correctly. Or you may consider getting their ears taped. Do not tape them before 5 months, if you have never taped ears you will want to take them to a veterinarian who does have knowledge and experience with German Shepherd ears.
We have also found that providing the puppies with many chew toys that work those ear muscles seems to help. We do not recommend rawhide chews as puppies tend to swallow large chunks of the rawhide which do not break down in their system. This could lead to an impacted bowel and surgery.
When will my puppy need its next vaccination and worming?
Your puppy will have had at least 2 (depending on its age) of its puppy vaccines before it leaves our kennel. They will have a parvo/distemper vaccination at 5 weeks and a combination vaccine without leptospirosis at 7 weeks. Follow your vet’s recommendation as far as when your puppy will need its next combination shot and what it should be. Your puppy will also need a rabies shot around 4 months of age. Some of what your puppy may require will depend on where you live so please follow your vet’s recommendations.
We are starting a different protocol with our worming program. Instead of worming the pups every two weeks we have put the dam through an intense worming program. She is started on Safe-guard wormer (a very complete, eradicates everything but heartworm wormer)3 weeks before whelping then 2 weeks following. With this, the pups should be totally clear of any type of worm. This program was developed by a qualified Vet/Breeder and they have had tremendous success with it. We do still advise getting your puppy checked and having a fecal done just to be sure. And again, please follow your vet’s recommendations on any additional de-worming/ heartworm treatments.
Should I spay/neuter my puppy, and when?
If you have no plans on breeding your puppy, by all means it is much healthier for your puppy to have it spayed or neutered. It is crucial to wait until after he/she has reached full maturity and all growth plates have closed (after 18 months) as this will prevent any large growth spurts that can be hard on your puppy’s bones and joints. This can lead to problems in the future, and recent studies have linked some types of cancer, including bone cancer(osteosarcoma), to large breed dogs that are spayed or neutered before they go through puberty and reach full maturity. Again, this is found in the AKC article, Bone Cancer in Dogs, on their AKC Canine Health Foundation site.
Here are some photos (used by permission of the breeder of the puppy) just to show you how much their growth plates are not yet connected. This is a 7-week-old lab puppy, so very similar to what a shepherd would look like. This is why we stress no jumping, excess walking or running or anything that would cause undue stress on those forming joints!
Information on Possible Health Issues
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) or in other words, Bloat
We take every precaution we can to prevent this horrible problem, and we encourage you to do the same. GDV is when the stomach twists or flips 180 degrees, closing off the input and output into the stomach. Gasses build up then in the stomach with no-where to go. To help prevent this potentially deadly problem here are some rules of thumb: the #1 culprit of producing GDV in a dog is from feeding or watering the dog too soon after vigorous exercise.
1) Wait at least an hour before feeding or watering,
2) Never let them get a big drink before or after eating.
3) Feed twice or even three times a day instead of once a day. This prevents your puppy from getting overly hungry and gulping its food. If he/she is still a gulper, feed them in a very large bowl or in a bowl designed to slow down the fast eaters. You can make one yourself by affixing a smaller bowl (upside down) into the center of a larger bowl if you can’t find one at a local pet store (you can also find them online).
4) Prior to previous belief, never feed your dog in an elevated dish instead, always feed on ground level.
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
We are working very hard, as are many conscientious breeders, to eliminate hip and elbow dysplasia from the German Shepherd breed. We have genetic testing done on all of our dogs as well as taking a long look at their pedigrees and their siblings to check on any problems in their histories. However, there are environmental factors that can lead to these problems- it isn’t always the “breeders' fault”. I’ve listed these factors below, please be aware of these and avoid them with your puppy:
Obese or overweight puppies or adult dogs. Keep your puppy on a well-balanced, large breed puppy food. If your puppy is growing too fast, your vet may recommend switching to an adult food around five months. This depends on your puppy, so be sure to go on your veterinarian’s advice. It has also been found that excess calcium intake during these growing months can also be a factor in developing hip dysplasia.
Excessive running/jogging before 18 months. I know, I know, you purchased your new best buddy to go running together, and yes, he/she needs daily exercise for their mental and physical well-being. Just be aware that excess running or jogging can be hard on them (even excessive running back and forth in their outdoor kennel or yard). They don’t know how much is too much; you have to be the one to regulate their activity. Keep it light with a nice daily walk and moderate chasing of his or her favorite ball or toy. The rule of thumb is 1 block of exercise for every month of age. Such as: a puppy 3 months old can go on a 3-block walk. Or, if you don't live in town, you take your puppies' age (in months) times 5 minutes of walking time. So, if your puppy is 4 months old, he or she can go on a 20 min. walk.
Excessive playing with other dogs at a young age, tug-of-war can be damaging to growing elbows.
Jumping on and off beds, couches, stairs, in and out of cars, trucks, etc. at a young age as well as jumping while playing, such as for that Frisbee sailing through the air!
Any trauma to the hips caused by kicking, bumping, etc. How funny is it when that puppy goes running across that hardwood floor to end up sliding and splayed out? Although it is funny to see, this isn’t a good scenario for your puppy, play should be done on a firm surface with a good grip for his feet.
DM (Degenerative Myelopathy)
DM is a very sad disease which usually does not show up until the dog is over 5 years old. It affects the nerves in the hind quarters of the stricken dog, first showing as the dog drags it toes then progresses to not being able to move its hindquarters at all. It isn’t a painful disease for the animal, but cannot be reversed nor treated except for possible vitamin supplements. It is a disease compared to ALS in humans.
DNA testing for this disease is available, although some think it isn’t very profitable as there have been dogs that have tested clear ending up with DM in their old age. These reports lead some to believe that this disease is not just genetic but that other factors may also be involved. We, after much reading and studying, have come to the conclusion that the testing done for DM is not reliable, especially for the GSD.
Why? Well, as mentioned, #1) dogs tested negative have ended up getting DM #2) dogs with 2 clear parents have gotten DM #3) dogs that have been tested at various ages have test results that changed #4) and finally, this test is basically not the correct test for Shepherds. Yes, they can carry the hereditary gene that the DM test is designed to detect. HOWEVER, it has been found that this is not the gene that produces DM in Shepherds. In other breeds yes, but not Shepherds.
Yes, we have tested our dogs and post the results. But we just do not feel that it is an accurate test, and we wish the University which produced the test would continue on and develop breed specific testing.
Our dogs are healthy, we have had no issues with this nor can we find any DM problems in their ancestry which is limited information as they do not test for DM overseas. This does not mean that it can't show up, but we do all we can to prevent it.
DM, as a disease is horrific. And the only way it can be diagnosed is for the affected dog to have a necropsy done after death, which many do not do so actual numbers are unavailable.
DOD (Developmental Orthopedic Disease)
DOD is much like DM; it affects the structural elements of a puppy, or, its bone and joint structures. This disease is found to be due to feeding and food issues, such as over-feeding or feeding the wrong diet for a large or giant breed puppy. Since these puppies can have large growth spurts and need a good solid structure to hold up over a lifetime, it is essential to feed a proper diet. Your puppy needs to be on a restricted diet, follow the instructions on a quality, large breed puppy food. It has been formulated for large breed puppies for a reason. Nor should you give your large breed puppy supplements as excessive calcium intake, excessive mineral intake at a young age and an imbalance of Vit. D can all be detrimental to your puppy.
Also do not feed High-energy diets as they can promote increased metabolites, concentrations of growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, thyroxine and insulin. It has been studied and found that raw and home-made diets are usually high in phosphorus and low in calcium, predisposing puppies to nutritional hyperparathyroidism, making these diets unbalanced and possibly dangerous for a puppy. So please, use a quality LARGE BREED puppy food! They have studied the needs of a large breed puppy and have the proper balances between protein, fat, calcium and phosphorus. You will be doing your puppy a lifetime favor!
MDR 1 (Multi-Drug Resistance Gene)
MDR1 is a problem found mainly in herding dogs but can be in other breeds as well. Multi-Drug Resistance Gene, (MDR) codes for a protein that is responsible for protecting the brain by transporting potentially harmful chemicals away from the brain. In certain breeds, a mutation occurs in the MDR1 gene that causes sensitivity to Ivermectin, Loperamide, and a number of other drugs. Dogs with this mutation have a defect in the P-glycoprotein that is normally responsible for transporting certain drugs out of the brain. The defective protein inhibits the dog's ability to remove certain drugs from the brain, leading to a buildup of these toxins. As a result of the accumulation of toxins, the dog can show neurological symptoms, such as seizures, ataxia, or even death. Dogs that have 2 copies of the mutation will display sensitivity to Ivermectin and other similar drugs. Dogs with 1 copy of the mutation may still be sensitive to the drugs but not as extremely. We have tested our dogs to make sure they are not homozygous for the MDR1 gene so you will not have to deal with this issue.
Hyperuricosuria is simply put--excess uric acid in the urine. This disorder can lead to bladder and kidney stones. It has been found in German Shepherds, so we have tested for it and our breeding dogs are clear of this disease.
This is by no means the totality of problems or diseases your German Shepherd could have in its' lifetime. However, these are things which we check for as they seem to more predominant than other diseases in the German Shepherd breed. We feel that if we, then you, care for these puppies as we should, then the possibility of them having any problems from puppyhood through adulthood will be tremendously diminished.
Raising Your Puppy, From Us to You
As stated above, we will be implementing the Early Neurological Stimulation Program with our puppies. This will help to give them a great start, as research is showing that there are many benefits to using this program.
This does not replace our routine handling, play, socialization or normal bonding but takes it to another level. These tests have shown to produce 5 benefits: Improved cardiovascular performance, stronger heartbeats, stronger adrenal glands, more tolerance to stress and lastly, greater resistance to disease. In other tests, stimulated puppies were found to be more active, more exploratory and remain calmer in stressful situations than puppies that had not gone through the program. This is a test program done from their 3rd to 16th day of life and no farther, or you will actually do them more harm than good. We are excited to see how this prepares our puppies even more for their new lives in their forever homes.
Socialization and training
One of the very most, most important things you will need to work with you puppy on is socializing him/her with people and other dogs. However, DO NOT go from picking up your puppy straight to Petco, etc… as they are not ready for the exposure yet as far as their vaccinations go. Please get your veterinarian’s recommendation on this, be patient and just introduce them to people and animals in smaller doses until they are around 4 mo. old. You can, however, enlist your puppy into a small puppy training class- you just don’t want a lot of exposure to many different dogs at this time.
We do a limited amount of socialization here before they leave us, but it is very strictly regulated as we do not want to expose them to any disease they are unable to fight off. Socialization is very important to your puppy to build their confidence, stimulating their senses and helping them to be able to deal with everyday life. Some think socialization applies only to introducing your puppy to new people and dogs, but it also involves introducing your puppy to new situations and stresses very carefully. And with that, your puppy does not have to have direct contact with the other person or dog. Just seeing them and being taught how to correctly respond to a visual connection IS socializing your puppy.
Training classes, if you are able to do so, will help your puppy socialize, learn obedience skills and also help teach your puppy just who is in charge. This is very different from proving you are "alpha". Dogs don't need an alpha, they need a secure leader who will correct their wrong, inappropriate behavior such as jumping on people, biting, becoming leash aggressive, etc. These puppies are not small hairy people, they are dogs and need to be treated as such, not as another human being. If you’ve never had a large breed puppy and do not have classes available to you, there are many good resources out there that you can take advantage of. One YouTube channel is Upstate Canine Academy. Fantastic information on training, especially if something has gotten out of sync and correction is needed.
With any children who may be involved with the puppy, please supervise these interactions closely. Children don’t think like adults, puppies don’t think like children and there could be problems for the puppy as well as the child. Children run, scream in high-pitched tones and flap around, all so very appealing to a puppy who likes to chase, catch and chew! Also, do not allow children to tease your puppy at any time, this will possibly lead to problems with aggression. Please supervise as any interactions with your puppy and any pets you may already have. Introduce them slowly and please do not leave them unattended.
When introducing your puppy to a dog you may already have, do not have your puppy on a leash and make sure you have a place he/she can retreat to if they are feeling overwhelmed or frightened, such as a low chair, something they can get under to get away. Let them do things in their own time, they will come around when they are comfortable and not feeling threatened.
Older pets can be jealous of or just plain not care for newcomers, and it could end tragically. Even if they get along with other dogs, cats, etc. having a new puppy in the home can be a different story. Most adult dogs do not care for puppies, so much care must be taken as you introduce them. It has also been proven that a bad interaction with another dog or animal will affect your puppy in the future. It may not show up until puberty, but you will suddenly find yourself with a puppy that is dog aggressive if it has had a bad experience in the past. Other things can cause aggression as well, but this is just one you need to be aware of. So NEVER try to introduce your puppy to an animal or person you know will be aggressive towards your puppy, it will have negative affects you may not be able to correct in the future.
With your training, the best things your puppy can learn quickly are the basic commands, sit, stay, down, kennel or place, and come! The place command can be anywhere that you have designated is the puppy's safe place. It can be his/her kennel, a dog bed, or just a certain area you want him/her to go to until he/she is released. You will also want a "release" word, as the puppy should not leave a command until you have released them. Some use "ok", some "break". This will help greatly in their and your lives, especially when new people are introduced and they are so excited to see them!
When someone comes to the door, a 'sit/stay' or 'place' command for your puppy can mean the difference between torn clothing and claw marks on the arms to a really good relationship with your family and friends instead. Training is a joy and fun! When done properly, it will create a closer relationship between you and your puppy.
Also, keep in mind as you train that dogs/puppies cannot transfer an experience from one environment into another without training.
For example: you can train your puppy to sit in your home, he'll learn to do it on command. But then take that puppy on a walk and try the same command. The first few tries the puppy will likely have no idea what you want him to do. The pup, or dog, must be trained on the same task in multiple environments. He then builds up that body of knowledge of what you are asking him to do. So don't feel like you have a 'less than smart' puppy! He just needs to learn that the commands mean the same thing in different places!
Leadership in the form of YOU
Your puppy is looking for leadership and love from you, so you always reward their good behavior. Punishing a puppy has been found to be detrimental to the puppy, so instead of punishing what we see as bad behavior, (they are usually doing what they do for a reason only they may know) instead reward the behavior you want. You may use food treats, as training continues you can gradually wean the puppy off of them. However, don't treat them every time they do what is right, that way when you go off of treats, or just use them occasionally, they don't totally rebel.
Now, there is a positive punishment you will need to use in training. No hitting, kicking, screaming, etc. but instead using a slip lead which is placed just behind their ears at the top of the neck, or a leash connected to a slip or martingale collar you make a correction with a quick snap of the lead. No jerking, pulling, excessive pressure, but just a quick snap. This can be used when walking and the puppy gets ahead of you or starts to act wrongly towards another dog or person. A puppy DOES need correction, but it must be done correctly in order for it to work and have the desired outcome. If you are not sure how to do this, watch a video or talk to a trainer or another puppy owner who knows and uses the proper technique.
For older pups or dogs who are not responding well to a slip lead/collar a Herm Sprenger prong collar (not a cheaper imitation, they don't work) may have to be used, but again get proper instruction on how to use it. In extreme cases, an electronic collar that uses sound and/or a vibration may need to be used. NOT an electric shock collar, but vibration. All you need to do is provide something to get their attention away from what they are focused on, to break that intensity.
We also do not rough-house with our puppies or dogs, as they are too large and strong, and will knock over or bite grandma or the kids when they are around as your puppy will see them as just another playmate to conquer. Their teeth are like razors at this early time, and they can do much damage to tender skin on people just by “playing” with you. By all means play with your puppy, but organized play with toys, etc. Never use your body or clothing as the "toy" to be bitten and jerked around.
Correction and Praise
When you do praise your puppy for doing well, use a happy tone to your voice and it will pay off in the end. Because to your puppy, when you praise him and reward him for his good behavior, he knows you like it and probably want more of it! One thing people do that tries to “humanize” a puppy is to try and sooth it with a soft voice or pet him when they are showing fearful behavior. This, in effect, is rewarding the puppy for being scared and you are doing what- reinforcing the fact that you approve of this and want more of it. Instead, try to figure out why the puppy is frightened, back up and see if you can work through the fear slowly and at the puppies' pace. Now, if you accidentally stepped on a tail or foot, by all means comfort your puppy!
We DO NOT encourage any type of punishment for wrongdoing. Puppies are learning and are very sensitive to you and your emotions. Focus on the good behavior with rewards, and you will find you have a puppy seeking to please you instead of being terrified of you and your possible actions. See the statement above for needed CORRECTION, not punishment.
On the positive side, any commands you give for positive reactions should be given in a happy, high-pitched voice, such as the COME command or “OK” when they have done well. Simple one-word commands work the best and they will learn them quickly. And with this, all members of the family must be on the same page when it comes to correction. As with all things puppy, be consistent! And you will be rewarded with a well-behaved, well-adjusted puppy.
Biting and Nipping
In the course, How to Train a Dream Dog by Michelle Lennon (I highly recommend her training courses online) she covers this issue very well. First, is knowing Why puppies bite, this will help you in your correction.
#1) They are Exploring
#2) It is a Natural Urge
#3) They are Teething
#4) Movement (Shepherds are very prey-driven, fast movement is very appealing)
#5) Bite Inhibition (learning how soft or hard to bite).
So how to deal with this? Here are 10 suggestions she has; you can get online and see her full explanation but due to space I'm just going to give the short version:
1) Have plenty and a variety of toys on hand. Kongs, nylabones, hard toys. She does not recommend soft toys as they fall apart and then have parts the puppy could swallow. If they are teething, freeze their toys or fill with frozen treats, it will help their gum pain.
2) Always be prepared to re-direct. Always have a toy in hand.
3) Yelping Ouch/Making a Noise. This must be done so they take you seriously. Loud and gruff as opposed to soft and gentle.
4) Playing Without Touching Puppy. Play fetch, or do gentle tugging, not throwing the puppy around the room!
5) Rotate Toys. Every few days rotate their toys around so it seems they have something new to play with. We do that here, a few things out at a time then we'll take those away and replace them.
6) Supervise at All Times. Do not let your puppy run free in the home without supervision. If you have to, crate them for a short time.
7) Exercise. Both mental and physical exercise will help your puppy feel fulfilled and will be less likely to bite.
8) Watch Body Posture. If they are bad bitters, do not sit on the floor with them, rather, sit in a chair as you play. Being on the floor at their level stimulates them to a more excited level.
9) 3 Strikes and You're Out! If they are not responding to attempts to stop biting, they may need a time out in their crate to settle back down.
10) Never Play: "I'm Gonna Get You!" Fast, jerky movements will just entice them to bite, and they are fast themselves, so they'll get in a bite or two before you know what happened.
These are great suggestions, and I hope they will be a help, as ALL puppies bite, they don't know any better and it's how they learn about certain aspects of their world. Because of this, never punish a puppy for biting, it's just a matter of training them to do what is right, and this will take time, they're just puppies!
Housebreaking and Crate training
If you read in our website what we do with our puppies, you will see we have started them on both of these items. They will have used a potty pad inside and transitioned to using the outdoors for their potty breaks. However, moving to a new home may throw them off, and you will need to keep an eye on them. The general rule is to take them out immediately after a meal, 10 minutes after playing and immediately after waking up from a nap or nighttime sleep. When they are awake, immediately pick them up and carry them to the area you want them to potty in. They will not be able to hold it if you try to make them walk on their own, this will greatly help in your training until they have enough control to hold it.
It is okay to take away their water in the late evening, about 1 hour before bedtime. During potty training the most important factor is consistency and getting them on a schedule. This is harder to do if you are not home, it will increase the time it takes to train your puppy, not that it can't be done, but it will take longer.
They have also been exposed to being in a crate for an hour or so, we use open wire crates so they can either take in their surroundings as they are in their private space or to also get used to being alone and quiet just by throwing a cover over the crate. Just don’t over-use the crate so it becomes a place of punishment instead of a place they love to be for some quiet time. The crate needs to be tall enough not to interfere with their ears coming up but just big enough for them to turn around and lay down comfortably in. They usually will not poop or pee where they sleep, so having the crate at the right size will help in continual potty training.
Some large metal crates come with an extra dividing panel for the inside of the crate; this may be a good option that will allow you to have a crate that lasts longer than just through puppyhood. You just remove the divider when you are sure the puppy
is completely trained. One note: please do not leave your puppy in his/her crate for more than 4 hours unless at night. After training, some people do not use the crate for night-time sleeping. We do, as it keeps them from sneaking onto beds at night. If you do not crate them at night, make sure your training extends to staying in their own beds and not creeping into yours! They need down-time as we do, and a good nights’ sleep is good for everyone.
We recommend using disposable human bed pads (not the puppy pads infused with pee odors) in your puppy’s crate until they get through the chewing/having accidents stage, (then after they have gone through the worst of the chewing and are well potty trained, by all means use a crate pad and blankets for comfort) it will help soak up any accidents that may happen (you can, however, give them their stuffed toy. It may get chewed up, but the odor of their siblings will be a comfort).
We have found with all of our dogs that a stuffed toy that is in the crate and never allowed to be taken out doesn’t get chewed up. The second it’s out of that crate, however, stuffing mayhem! So, it may help to settle your puppy at night if you put it in their crate with them and they smell their littermates.
Crying is a given, but never take your puppy out of the crate if he is barking or crying and you are 100% sure it doesn't have to potty. If it has been in the crate for a few hours and starts crying, I recommend taking him/her out for a potty break. Up to this time they have not been crated all night and aren't used to holding it for that long, nor can they as their little systems aren't mature enough for that yet! Like a human baby there will be sleepless nights with crying and getting up, but in the end, it will be worth it!