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Categories: Puppy Training

Q. My 8 month old GSD has suddenly become destructive! Is this normal?
I am a little frustrated with my DDR GSD. Out of no where he has become destructive. One pair of glasses, 5 pairs of shoes and vacuum parts. I understand he is entering adolescents. I expected he would become hard headed which he has like I haven't taught him a single thing lol. But the destruction was unexpected I never dealt with this with our lab or Mal. he is our first GSD. I guess my question would be is this normal or am I missing something. I have followed Michael Ellis' training as I did with our others. He has limited freedom and has never chewed on anything except what is his. Then BAM he is in lock down cause it seems everything is fair game.

Our Lab 5 yrs is a pet dog but knows exactly what is expected of her and listens to commands without hesitation. Our Mal 2.5 yrs has been trained in detection work along with IPO. He is a master of focus and no matter what is going on around him listens regardless. Our GSD has been far and away the hardest dog I have ever trained. All I have heard is how smart they are and how quick they learn. I guess I am spoiled by an amazing Mal that can learn something new in one session. Our GSD takes session after session to learn something basic. He has decent focus for a 8 month old and we are still just working on the basic 3 since 8 weeks old. Sit, Down and recall cause the only one he is solid on is sit. He plays well tug and ball games. We do at a bare minimum one training session a day if not more. Oh and he is 83 lbs. larger than my Mal and Lab weight wise.

A. What you are experiencing can be normal and you may have given him too much freedom before he was ready for it. At 8.5 months old he's entering puberty and after raising a LOT of working puppies of many breeds from puppy to adulthood I can say that 7-12 months is my least favorite phase. They are like teenage kids, they push boundaries and basically drive you crazy (in many cases).

Dogs, like people, mature mentally at different rates. I've had very few working line dogs that have been off leash in the house at 8 months old unless it's for a split second. I am a micro-manager and I'd rather not let the pup think that being destructive is even an option. It's frustrating and when it's a puppy you are raising it seems like it's taking FOREVER for them to grow up.

I'd look at how much mental exercise he's getting and possibly change your approach to training sessions, have you done any tracking or scent work games with him?. I am raising a GSD puppy right now (and I am a Malinois breeder) and when he starts getting wound up I do a few food searches in the grass or hide something for him to find with his nose and not only does it redirect him when he's getting wild , it really seems to drain his energy and focus his mind. Some dogs require us to think outside the box for training. If he's not getting the concepts of normal obedience, I'd have him start working for ALL of his daily food. I actually do this with all my puppies to build engagement and value for the work. It's exhausting but sometimes the really challenging puppies not only teach us the most, they are the most rewarding to train once you get past the roadblocks.
  
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