Today I am going to discuss one of my favorite basic obedience exercises to socialize German Shepherd Dogs puppy and adults to strangers and strange dogs. I call this exercise “Leap Dog”.
After a new basic obedience class has become fairly competent in heeling and sitting in a stay position next to their owners, I will line up my German Shepherd Dog class in a row with German Shepherd Dogs approximately three feet apart and facing the same direction and placed in a sit Stay. Our average class is 15, but this exercise can be accomplished with as little as five participants.
One at a time, I have each owner and their German Shepherd Dog heel by weaving through the line of owners and dogs. It is important that the owners of the German Shepherd Dogs that are on a sit stay during this exercise maintain a tight leash in case there is aggression shown by one or two German Shepherd Dogs as the person is heeling through the line.
I also make sure everyone in the class understands the proper procedure to separate two dogs that get into a ruckus. This is done by each owner of the aggressive German Shepherd Dogs to turn and walk in opposite directions to separate the two aggressivors. Never stick any part of your body in between two dogs that are showing aggression.
This exercise serves several purposes, first for those dogs in the sit stay position, they learn to remain in the sit stay position even when a stranger and strange dog are walking around them in close proximity. In addition, it teaches the heeling German Shepherd Dog to concentrate on heeling and their owner and to ignore distractions of strangers and strange dogs.
More importantly, it teaches passive and/or insecure German Shepherd Dogs to develop confidence around strangers and strange dogs. Most importantly for those German Shepherd Dogs that are people or dog aggressive, it teaches them to be under control when in close proximity to strangers or strange dogs.
Try this exercise or ask your trainer to incorporate this exercise into your basic obedience class and you will be pleasantly surprised about how quickly your German Shepherd Dog will improve their social skills around strangers and strange dogs.
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