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German Shepherd
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Training and behaviour

You may be unsure whether you need a dog trainer or a dog behaviourist. There can be some crossover but in the main, dog trainers will help train your dog to respond to various cues, such as for recall, or help your dog to perform certain behaviours, such as walking on a loose lead. Dog trainers often run dog training or puppy training classes and deal with the mechanics of teaching behaviours.

Dog behaviourists will look at the causes of the unwanted behaviour, the emotions behind the unwanted behaviour, and create a plan to change this unwanted behaviour. Most behaviourists will work with an owner’s Vet.

A behaviourist has a responsibility to work with the owner to identify the dog’s unwanted behaviour, and to explore the owner’s options in respect of changing that behaviour. You should be provided with a plan that is tailored to you and your dog. If you are not comfortable with any of the suggestions within the behaviour/training plan, ask questions.

Be wary of statements such as the number of years’ experience working with dogs. This does not necessarily mean the person has up to date knowledge, or indeed any knowledge at all. Most professionals will belong to a membership organisation and their membership will be monitored to ensure they keep up to date with their knowledge and carry out a specified number of hours of professional development.

There is no place for using aversive or punishment type training when working with dogs. We know that dogs are sentient beings and that the relationship with their owner is the most important foundation. Using punishment can cause a breakdown in the relationship and may even increase any behaviour problems exhibited. This can be true of dog walking, dog home boarders and day-care as well as trainers and behaviourists.

Many research studies have looked at some of the confrontational methods applied by owners before their dogs were presented for a behaviour consultation. They also found that dogs presenting for aggression to familiar people were more likely to respond aggressively to confrontational or aversive techniques. It is essential for owners to understand the risks associated with such training methods and to seek a reward-based trainer/behaviourist who can advise resources for safe management and change of unwanted behaviour. One study found that using aversive t raining methods (e.g., positive punishment and negative reinforcement) can jeopardise both the physical and mental health of dogs.

A number of well-known and respected dog rescue organisations including RSPCA, Blue Cross, NAWT and Dogs Trust only promote positive reinforcement, force free methods as the way to train dogs.

If you are at the stage of considering trying to rehome your German Shepherd or are seeking help with your dogs unwanted behaviour, Dog Behaviour Clinic offers a discounted Zoom consultation (£50) for German Shepherd owners who are struggling with their dogs unwanted behaviour. You can contact Dog Behaviour Clinic by emailing and quoting GSDWF50 for the discounted Zoom session.


We believe in trying to keep up to date with scientific research and current thinking in respect of dog training and behaviour. Many of our volunteers and kennel staff have completed courses with Without Worry Canine Education.

We ask potential adopters to complete their Adopting A Rescue Dog mini course. The education provider also offers comprehensive courses for dog owners that can help you work with your dogs unwanted behaviour.

You can view their courses here under the tab For You And Your Dog

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