White German Shepherd Annual 
Evolution of a Trainer


        Years ago, I won a Pony, and a Cart for the Pony to pull and me to ride in!  Boy was that ever fun! I would hitch the pony to the cart and away the Pony would go.  If I jumped into the cart quick enough, I wouldn't be left behind.  If I didn't, well, it soon became clear I would have to learn something about "training a pony," if I wanted to ride in that cart behind that pony!  I didn't know it then, but that was the beginning of my training animals.  I started with a pony and a cart, the lessons learned and the fun doing it soon had me training dogs, too.

        It was apparent, as I began to train the Pony, I needed to communicate with this animal in a way we both could relate to.  Trial and error, lots of luck, and a few pets and kind words soon showed me how easily an animal as large as a pony would respond to a gentle touch and a kind word. This Pony and the cart introduced me to the wonderful feeling you can only share with such an animal.  When you and the animal find common ground and mutual respect, training is an easy matter.  Enjoying the animal's efforts and actions and reactions , which it seems to do only to please you, makes all the repetition and time spent special and very worthwhile.

        Not satisfied with just a small pony to train and enjoy, I adopted a wild Mustang off the range who I named Misty.  She would become the first large animal I would train.  Misty and I made a discovery that would help me a great deal in the years to come.  While training one day, I found if she acted up, I only had to cup my hand and pop her on the side of the neck.  It isn't necessary to hit with the idea of hurting the animal, but the air escaping from my hand made a loud  "pop" as the air exited on the side of her neck.  That sound got her attention, and the effect on her was to stop jumping around and acting up.  That was all that was needed, and it worked for both of us!  I still use that method today along with others I have found.  I even use this method on my dogs along with other means of "correction."  It is an absolute must to be in control when you are training an animal.  Without that, you end up being trained.

          Another great method of correction is a "shaker can."  I put three or four small rocks into a soda pop can and tape the can’s top so the rocks won't fall out.  An aluminum soda can is very lightweight and makes a great sound when you shake rocks in it.  When my young dogs start to run at people walking by the front fence and begin barking, I can shake the can and even throw it in their direction to divert their attention away from the "chase.  Should you accidentally hit one of them, the can is soft and weighs little so it won't injure them.  A shaker can serves to let my dogs know bad behavior is not tolerated.  These methods become available after the dog or other animal has been being trained and becomes aware they are doing wrong.  There were several years beginning with the Pony and the Cart, when I worked with and learned to train horses.  That experience became invaluable to me later on.

        I got my first white german shepherd and I knew I needed to learn how to train dogs. Even though the dog was smaller than the horse, I soon was being pulled down the street behind the dog. I made the decision to take lessons on training from my local training club other than have to learn to become a "Cross Country" runner!  Fortunately, my area had a great Dog Training Club and they were able to help me with the lessons I needed.  I recommend anyone with a puppy to consider their local training club as a resource to aid with their training needs.  Such things as potty training and any other training you might contemplate is generally available.  Check your local telephone directory or ask your Vet about such facilities in your area.  What a great experience and it was so much fun with my dog as we learned to train together.   I was interested in obedience trials and tracking tests.  That information was there for the asking for me.  My first trip to the Dog Training Club was just the start of many fun times with my dog as we learned together what we could do.

        My first White German Shepherd was named Mikee.  Together with the aid of the Training Club, we learned to "Heel" and that she must sit immediately when I stopped walking.  She learned how to come to me from about 30 feet away when I called her.  When she came and sat in front of me I taught her to go around behind me and to sit by my left side. I learned this maneuver is called a "Finish."  Learning these three things was very rewarding as we now could enjoy each other on an even basis.

        Our next job was to stand and have some one touch the top of her head then her back and her rump.  This is called a "Stand for Exam."  We were now beginning to learn the things that would soon have us "competing" in an Obedience Trial in a ring.  Now it became fun as we expanded our heeling to include heeling "off leash" as well as "on leash."  We expanded our heeling even more and learned to heel around two standing people tracing the path of a figure eight. At this point, we had some skills and wanted to test our abilities and experience.  I found we could do that at a "Fun Match" or a Dog Show.  I felt we  were doing well so I checked the newspaper classified ads under Pets and Dogs to see if one was advertised. Most local newspapers run such ads and they are easy to find. We also call a Fun Match a "Show and Go."  These are where a Dog Club sets up a ring and has a Judge score your efforts.  The nice thing is, they also aid you with your dog's training.  They are quick to help by making suggestions and pointing out things you may be overlooking or unaware of completely.  They’re also able to show you which areas you need more training in.

        It's a lot of fun for me to take my lawn chair and a cooler of goodies for myself and my dog and head out to a Fun Match.  Some of my best days have been at the park with my dog, enjoying a fun outing with people who also like to enjoy doing things with their dog!  My dogs love to go with me and become very excited when I start to gather up the stuff we take to the park.  Several evenings each week, I will take my dogs walking to the park, which is only a few blocks from my home, where we train with a few exercises to relax my dogs.  A walk to the park and a few practice exercises make them more content than if I had them retrieve a ball until they were tired.  It seems to me dogs love to play in a disciplined way.  They enjoy doing a prescribed task and love repetition.  Because of this, it is easy and very fun to train them.

        My dogs like most dogs, love to jump and like to retrieve.  These tasks added to our Obedience exercises are variations and parts of the Obedience trial exercises.  We learned the obedience jumps and they love to practice.  We also learned to retrieve.  It's great fun for them to retrieve the "dumbbell."  As I worked my way through the obedience classes, I found each new thing added to the next and we soon developed a natural rhythm of exercises.

Briefly, here is a listing of the exercises required in Obedience listed by Class:
 
Novice:  Heel on and off leash, Stand for exam, Recall, Finish, Figure eight.

Open:  Drop on recall, Off leash heeling and off leash heeling around the figure eight, Jump over the broad jump, Jump the high jump, Retrieve a dumbbell on the flat, Retrieve over the High jump.

Utility:  Hand signal heeling, Scent articles, (nine leather articles, nine metal articles), finding one leather and one metal article with the owners scent), Directed retrieve, Moving Stand, Directed Jumping.
 
    My job, like lots of folks these days, is a rather high stress one coupled with sitting in front of a computer much of the time.  Probably very similar to what most of us do each day.  But when I go home in the evening and take my dogs out to run through a few exercises, it feels good!   It feels good to get out and stretch my legs, to get my mind off my work, and to train and play with my dogs.  I have my dog's kennels in my home office.  When I spend time in the evening at my home computer, my dogs are there with their front feet and heads hanging out of their kennels watching me.  I find no greater relaxation than to be with my dogs!

        I enjoy being with my dogs and love to work and train with them.  You may wish to consider learning to train and practice with your own dog.  Most dogs love to be played with or just walked with.  I train my dogs to walk in front of me.  When we come to a street corner, I have trained them to "sit."  When we go to the park or to the schoolyard, I keep them on a Flexi line to have control of them, yet be able to let them move a distance away from me.  I do allow them the full length of the flex line when possible.  I call them back when they get out to the end of the flex line.  When they return, I praise them and give them a little "treat."  This teaches them to come when I call them.

        Showing your dog is for everyone of all ages.  I know a lady who is 79 years old and shows her dog frequently.  I have seen her at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, the Christmas Parade, and even at dog obedience demonstrations at the State Fair.  Young and old alike enjoy these activities and so do I.  My dogs and I have been in TV commercials and in the newspaper.  It is very fulfilling to watch a dog as it performs and know you were a big part of it.  When I hear people say how beautiful my dogs are when they are going over the jumps in a dog ring, our training receives another of its rewards!

        Over the years I have learned that keeping a regular schedule with my dogs and their care, such as feeding, potty times, and bed times, makes for an easy time for the dog and me.  I show my dogs in Obedience, Agility, Rally trials and also Tracking Tests.  We have to travel sometimes rather long distances to do this.  Having them in the habit of a regular schedule makes things much easier for them and for me.  I like to feed them twice a day.  I believe this causes the dogs to eat better.  Also, I can better monitor the quantity of food they are eating.  Each dog has his own bowl and I make sure each dog only eats his food.  Then if the dog goes off its food I know it and can watch the dog for any signs of illness.   Another benefit of specific feeding times is that the schedule will also continue on as it relates to “Potty time.”  When I feed my dog the same time every day they need to go out at the same time.  I like to go out with them with a Poop Scoop .  A few minutes daily keeps me from spending a lot of time cleaning the yard later on.  I have found that shortly after I feed my dogs is an ideal time to let them out.  I let them out separately which keeps down the horseplay.  They are more likely to tend their business and come right back in when they are finished when they are alone.  My dogs still adhere to their schedule when we travel to Dog Shows and it makes it much easier on them and me too.

        There are many different types of activities sanctioned and available to the dog owner and their pets.  AKC, (the American Kennel Club), encourages such activities as Herding, Tracking, Agility, Rally and Obedience.  There are many Dog Clubs, local, regional, and national, that participate and offer varying degrees of training assistance and show facilities.  You may wish to find out more about these activities.  I would like to recommend the Internet as a source of information, also.  Much information can be found on all subjects regarding the white german shepherd dog as well as all other breeds.  For those of you who may be unaware, the white german shepherd dog not only can be registered with AKC, but many of them are!  Even though these beautiful dogs are of an uncommon color, they are not a "rare breed" of dog.  They are pure German Shepherds and are registered as such.

        My experience in training for these years helped me succeed in having my dogs acquire a multitude of titles.  Among these are several instances of  "Utility Dog, Companion Dog Excellent, Tracking Dog, and many others," ranging from the Novice classes to Advanced classes.  After training numerous dogs over the years, I sat down and attempted to list the titles I had earned with my dogs.  I was astounded and amazed at just how wonderful my dogs had done for me!  To have achieved this with my dogs made me think about those who don't know how to,….or don't have the knowledge of,….are wondering about, and so on.  I remember all those feelings.  I can't say enough about my local training club! They were my help and encouragement.  They can be yours also!  It would be my recommendation to those who enjoy their dogs, to seek out your local training club for assistance.  Remember your breed's local dog club, your Vet, and the Internet for added resources. The members are all folks just like us with a desire to enjoy their dogs, too.  Who knows what might have happened to me without their help?  But to let you in on a little secret, I've always wondered how fast a white german shepherd could pull a cart.