- MemberJune 26, 2017 at 5:56 am24
For smart dogs like the GSD there’s all sorts of different things you can do and make use of and work to your advantage as well once you know how!
The ideas already mentioned about playing hide and seek for nose-work is always a great one and dogs tend to really enjoy it once they learn the rules and are made to work at finding whatever it is you’ve hidden.
After the basic obedience and general commands I generally like to work on other stuff that involves trick-training and tasks such as toy identification then extending on that to place specific items into a certain place i.e. tidying up for you.
When you have a smart dog like yours it’s relatively easy to teach them how to identify certain objects by just showing and repeating a word then placing it back down, saying the name and prompting them to nudge, nose or pick it up then give lots of praise for having picked out the right one. After that I’ll introduce another and do the same until there’s a few different objects they’re able to pick out.
Once they’re confident and pretty reliable in picking out the right object I’ll usually extend on what we’ve already done but when they pick up the correct toy – prompt them over to the tub either by physically moving it and putting it inside then taking it straight back and repeating it again.
So I might say “Get your ball!” and then when they pick up the ball immediately say “Tidy up” and prompt to place inside the tub or do it for them before putting it back and starting over with “Get your ball” and then doing the same thing until they start to pick up what you’re asking and move over towards the tub and try putting it inside. From experience it can sometimes take a while before they suss that they have to let the ball go so you may need to “Drop it” whilst they’re positioned in a good spot.
Once they’ve mastered the art of what “tidy up” means you can further extend it – for example mine have been given the job of taking plastic tubs and stuff for recycling. Just throw them an empty carton or bottle and tell them “Recycle” and having gone through the drill with that word they’ll trot off and put the cartons or plastics into the bag.
Same for “Laundry” which they take whatever you hand and trot off into the kitchen to put inside the washing machine or leave in front of it.
I find it’s best to work on trick-training little and often because if you keep it up too long they can get fed up, lose interest and won’t enjoy it or want to do it again. See a lot of people trying to get dogs doing the same thing over and over and getting frustrated if the dog has switched off. Don’t keep going when the dog isn’t focused or enjoying it and you’re more likely to keep his attention and make him want to engage and do more in future.
Surprising how even if you just do one or two things for a few minutes each day it soon becomes a whole range of tricks, behaviours or household chores.
My eldest dog now does things I hadn’t planned to do but she loved keeping her brain active and challenged so my daughter now does trick-training and heel-work and all sorts with her.
This video was taken when we were moving back home after a flood last year and I put the dog to use by sending her off to find and bring back any / all shoes she found. God love her she found every single one as well!