German Shorthair Pointer rescued, lots of problems!

This is a forum for bonding with your fellow Dogsters about the traits, quirks and idiosyncrasies of your favorite breed. Please remember that there are absolutely no animal sales or requests for studding or breeding allowed on our sites. All posts and interactions should be in the spirit of Dogster's Community Guidelines and should be fun, friendly and informational. Enjoy!


Member Since
Barked: Wed Sep 4, '13 10:52am PST 
My boyfriend and I recently adopted a GSP from the Humane Society. 6 yr old neutered male. We already have an older mix dog in the home but were looking for another. We are both dog lovers, and I have experience professionally training labs for hunting and fowl retrieval. We love hiking and camping and running, and understood this is an active breed, so we thought this dog would be a good fit.

The dog was never house trained apparently, and not just territorial marking. We have made significant progress there. He is crate trained. We give him plenty of various toys and bones to chew on. He knows sit, lay, but will not come when called, will not stay. We live on one acre land but unfenced. We will throw him a ball to get his hunting edge off but he runs away after five minutes. He has run away five times and will run from us when approached after. I have tried playing with him in a fenced area but he immediately knows he's contained and sails over the five foot fence. I've been training him with the leash and treats but he's never interested and pulls and pulls. I even tried bacon but nope. We thought of putting up a fence but he'll just sail over it. And my research says he may not respond well to an electric fence or shock collar. We are patient and use positive reinforcement but I'm getting stressed out. I know I can handle an active breed but this is quite a lot and none of my training tactics are working. He is sweet and I care for him, but if this doesn't get better I don't know what to do. I would feel terrible handing him over again. What would you suggest?

Member Since
Barked: Thu Oct 24, '13 1:34pm PST 
One thing I have noticed and I am sure you as well in your training (I am no expert) is a tired dog usually responds better in more active dogs. Can you try and put him on a treadmill, tire him out and then begin your training?

Member Since
Barked: Tue Nov 12, '13 10:15am PST 
your situation sounds very common to anyone who has worked with GSP rescue.

The previous poster is right about tiring him out before training to take the edge off. so thats a start.

Also take out your best batch of patience because it takes at least 4-6 months for a rescued shorthair to settle in and be consistent in personality or behavior and over a year to train them to a level most pups can learn in several weeks.

Realize that he has spent 5 years leaned these habits/skills of running and fence jumping. Some shortairs can clear a 6 foot fence and thats often why they end up in rescue over and over. so...
- until the training is complete (a year maybe?) don't take him off leash if there is any chance he can escape. Every time he does escape or run away, he gets a reward for his effort and un does your training efforts. Don't call him unless you can enforce the recall and make it happen (ie he is on a leash or long line). YOu can even play fetch on a long line.
-work on recall on a 30 ft long line. Try teaching him to come to a coaches whistle which cuts through the noise in his head. Don't use the whstle for anything except recall and use high value treats. Make sure he is hungry before beginning training. Start on a weekend and practice in 15 minute sessions at least once an hour for the first few days. Use a chain /web martigale combo or if his is a hard one, a prong collar, let him wander off a short distance, toot the whislte and call his name. if does not spin and come immediatley, give him a sharp correction tug , reel him in and toot again and reward with high value treat (meat or cheese in tiny bits). if he does come, big TREAT. But everytime he comes (whether you drag him in or he comes willingly) praise him and make sure he feels like the best dog in the world! EVERYTIME. he may have been 'trained' by a previous owner who scolded him when he finally caught him or he finally came. NO no no. EVERYTIME you manage to put a hand on his collar, he is the BEST DOG IN THE WORLD. An electronic collar can be used in this training on the long line but buy a session with an experienced trainer if you want to do that. timing of the zap is very important.

Fence is a given for this dog though. He might eventually be able to handle an invisible fence. But more likely you will need a 6 ft wooden fence. (most fence jumping shorthairs can also climb a 6 ft chain fence) You might have to run an electric wire along the wooden fence to help him teach himself that he cannot jump the fence. Also an opotion we have used with rescues is running invisible fence along the wooden fence (see the various invisible fence websites for this concept) will help in training him not to jump a fence. But even with a fence, don't let him run free until you have a good recall and don't recall him from the yard unless he is on the leash or long line til he is 99 percent solid with recall. if he does get out there, just wait and try to look tempting. Don't ever call him unless you can reel him in.

Keep working on the leash skills. Get a trainer to work with you on this if you are having trouble. you and your boy are going to spend a lot of time on the leash and you want him to have good leash manners.. Luckily its good brain and body exercise for him and will help him settle.

Don;t give up, be consistent,treat him with kindness not harshness, train on the recall often. don't give him any opportunities to escape or run away and time. Unlike a new pup, he has had years to develop this skill set so its going to take a while to give him a new one.

GSPS also respond very well to structure and repetition. Incorporate some structure into his in the house lifestyle. Sit before eating, crate for a few hours a day with the same procedure, crate at night for sleeping, teach him things like 'on your bed' or to sit and be still when the door bell ring, sit and wait in front of an open door, then move out the door and sit and wait again instead of rushing off immediately. repeat repeat repeat. They have a little OCD like all hunting dogs so use the OCD to your advantage and give him rituals and routines. And establish yourself as his leader -not with harsh discipline or stern talk but with subtle things like no dogs on the sofa, people always out the door first, sit before being fed, move him out of the way with your feet don't go around him, make some rooms off limits, etc. Work on getting his respect and HIS ATTENTION by doing watch me games and making him meet your eyes for treats or affection. Find some tricks you can teach him - find it, scent work, in house fetch, shake, roll over, etc. engage his brain under controlled conditions so you can engage it outside later. he needs to learn how to learn. . Leash work in the house is really effective also. good luck!!