If you’re into dogs, you’d know that German Shorthaired Pointers are one of the most popular breeds in the US.
While the thought of bringing one home crosses the minds of many dog lovers across the country, it’s important to know the right way to train them. So, if you’re in the same boat, today’s guide is just for you!
What Is A GSP Like?
Before you start training your GSP, it’s important to know its features.
GSP or German Shorthaired Pointers are an extremely energetic breed traditionally used as “hunting dogs.” They helped their human friends locate prey in open fields, and the good news is that you can train them for hunting pretty easily. We will talk more about this in a later section.
Generally, a German Shorthaired Pointer is affectionate and intelligent, which makes it an ideal family dog. And in the following sections, we will walk you through the basic training regime of GSPs.
How To Train A German Shorthaired Pointer At Home?
One of the most important things to remember about a GSP is that it can quickly become destructive and dangerous if its boundless energy isn’t directed the proper way. If you’re a first-time GSP owner, then you’d be happy to know that these dogs are known to be highly receptive to obedience training. Hence, the training process shouldn’t take a lot of your time and energy.
On that note, here are the tips and tricks that will make for an effective German Shorthaired Pointer training process.
1. Begin Early
As we’ve already mentioned, GSPs are one of the most receptive breeds to training, and the best way to put this ability to use is by starting early. In fact, you can begin training sessions for German Shorthaired Pointer puppies that are as young as 8 or 9 weeks old.
2. Promote Early Socialization
Given their hunting instincts, GSPs raised without “siblings” can become violent towards other small animals, like rabbits, cats, or birds.
Properly socialized GSPs are relatively calmer and more friendly, which is why it’s crucial to encourage them to socialize with humans as well as other animals. This is yet another important step in their early training sessions.
One of the easiest things to do in this regard is to take your GSP to the nearest dog park, where it can socialize with other dogs and humans.
We also suggest taking it to public locations like busy sidewalks and streets. This way, you can introduce it to different environments, and your GSP can learn how to settle into different scenarios on their own.
However, you should always ensure that the dog doesn’t feel intimidated or threatened, especially while being petted by others. Strangers should bend down to get to your dog’s level and wait for it to approach them.
3. Introduce Leash Training
Like with any other breed, German Shorthaired Pointers can also be trained to start walking on leash. Keep an eye on them to see how far they can walk in one go. Stop walking the dog the minute you notice it has become tired.
Here again, you’d want to begin early, as bigger GSPs will have more strength and tug on the leash with greater force.
4. Acquaint Them To Basic Commands
There are a few basic commands that will come in really handy when training your German Shorthaired Pointer. These include:
- Name recognition
- Go inside the crate or kennel
- No or leave
A lot of trainers prefer starting with name recognition, grabbing every opportunity to call the dogs by their names. It’s one of the best ways to impart proper training for fast response.
As for the crate training process, you can throw in a treat inside the crate so that the dog sees it. Then, call its name and instruct it to get inside.
Likewise, you can allot short intervals throughout the day to teach them the other commands. However, always keep the training sessions short (ranging between 5 and 15 minutes) with plenty of positive reinforcement.
Also, remember that the puppies tend to get easily distracted by the sight or smell of other pets or animals, so try to be patient and refrain from using any negative reinforcement. Rewarding them with treats, playing fetch, and some extra petting will be much more effective in teaching them the commands than being aggressive.
If you feel that you’re losing patience, stop the session immediately to take a break. Come back when you’re feeling calmer.
5. Teach Them The Bathroom Schedule
Take your GSP out at specified times of the day for a proper bathroom training session. While the exact time for this will depend on the feeding pattern of the dog, we’d suggest taking it out at least thrice:
- Once in the morning
- Once after it eats
- Once after midday nap-time
You should ideally accompany the dog for bathroom breaks during the initial weeks. Keep in mind that these breaks shouldn’t turn into “sudden wake-up and play” sessions.
Once your dog turns 12 to 16-week old, it should be able to sleep through the night without requiring any midnight bathroom breaks.
6. Make Your GSP Exercise
Allowing your GSP to exercise will invariably tire it out, making it more obedient and relaxed. So, devote enough time to create an exercise schedule in the house training process. This can include playing fetch or going out on long walks. If you go for evening walks or runs, make sure the dog accompanies you.
Another benefit of exercise training is that it promotes good behavior and self-control among GSPs, doing away with separation anxiety, unnecessary barking, or chasing habits.
7. Enroll Them In A Puppy Kindergarten
Once German Shorthaired Pointers turn about 4 months old, they can be enrolled in puppy training classes, which facilitate both obedience training and agility improvement. Not only that, but they also teach them “good behavior” and help them socialize with other dogs in a well-controlled environment. Meaning, there will be fewer chances of fear or anxiety.
However, these puppy classes shouldn’t be too physically tiring for the puppies, as their growth plates don’t fuse at this stage. Hence, too much jumping or playing around can cause serious injuries.
How To Train Your German Shorthaired Pointer To Hunt?
As we’ve already mentioned, German Shorthaired Pointers were originally bred as hunting companions, and their physical appearance is a testimony to that. Most notably, their webbed feet are meant to retrieve birds and other small animals from water with ease.
Likewise, their hindquarters enable them to hunt quickly. But the question is, “how do you train them to hunt efficiently?”
Firstly, focus on obedience training and making the dog follow your “stay” command so that it stays calm and steady. Remember that an obedient hunting dog is your best bet for a successful hunting endeavor.
Apart from that, you can retrieve a few dummies or dead animals yourself to help the GSP observe the entire process. Your dog should be made to understand that it isn’t always necessary to bring back dead animals or prey. This form of training will promote the right balance between over-excitement and calmness.
You will also find several training devices like pheasant wings, training scents, tracking e-collars, etc., to aid in the process. But unless you know the right way to use them for training your GSP, the results will remain largely non-favorable.
Can Books Help You Train Your GSP?
Yes, there are several books that can help you train your GSP more effectively. And these are especially beneficial for first-timers.
One of the best books you can get for this purpose is The Complete Guide to German Shorthaired Pointer, which details the history of the dog breed and its behavior. These books guide you on how to use your GSP for fieldwork, the best ways to travel with it, and training the dog to its full potential.
You can also easily find books that will help “hunt train” your GSP. Besides containing the best exercises for your GSP, they list the various ways to redirect the dog’s energy in a better way.
These books tell you what to expect from GSPs as pet dogs and if they are the right choice for a family dog. Moreover, there are chapters dedicated to helping trainers implement the right training techniques to prevent bad behavior in GSPs.
How well a dog behaves is a reflection of the trainer’s teaching abilities.
Well, we aren’t intimidating you. But all we mean is that patience, love, and care are the basics of a good dog training process. And with a breed as devoted and loyal as the German Shorthaired Pointer (GSP), the sky’s the limit!