When my husband and I adopted Princeton, our German Shorthaired Pointer, 1 1/2 years ago, we did not know how much he would teach us. We did not know what it was truly like to have a dog with too much energy. We did not know the repercussions of adopting a fear-based dog. But all this a more has been taught to us by this amazing brown-ball of pure energy.

Recently when walking four dogs, a cop pulled over next to me. My first thought was, “uh-oh”. Either he’s going to ask to see all the dogs’ city tags (which has never been requested of me, but I’ve heard some dog walkers get ticketed if all their dogs don’t have tags), OR he’s just stopping for a friendly chat. Luckily it was the later. “How old’s your Shorthair?” He asked. “About 3” I say. “Please tell me he calmed down when he turned three” the cop says “because I’ve got a 6 month old that’s driving me crazy!” He asked what I’d learned from Princeton and after the conversation I felt like there was so much more to be said. Thus this post…

Reflections on living with a GSP in the city:

1- You MUST exercise your dog everyday or you will have an out-of-control pup. If your dog has a strong retrieving instinct, you can give him the job of fetching the tennis ball every morning in the park and burn the edge off that way (if you don’t know what a Chuck-It is, you really ought to!). However the best way to build a relationship with your dog, assert your leadership, and tire your pup out is to take a walk. Yes, your dog can run for hours without stopping, but making him walk gives him purpose. And making him walk NEXT to you, solidifies your leadership. You can read more about mastering the walk here. When the dogs are at my parents house they get exercised on the treadmill. Yes, the treadmill. It’s totally realistic and a HUGE help when you are sick or tired or it’s bad weather. Train your dog to ride the treadmill by reading this article.

2-GSP’s love routine. Peeing on the same tree, eating around the same time everyday, exercising around the same time everyday, etc, really gives them structure which they love. My guy knows that we walk in the morning, and I take them out for a quick pee around 5pm and 10pm. During the quick pee’s they are to empty their bladders on the tree outside our home and then come back inside. Princeton no longer needs a leash on for these afternoon/evening outings. He knows what to do and how to do it. It’s great.

3- Utilize their strengths and give your dog a job. If you hunt with your dog, you will know that you must have high training expectations since a fault could result in the death of your dog in the field. By all means, utilize your dog’s hunting instincts to build the relationship and give him a job. My Princeton couldn’t hunt if he tried. He points every once in a while, but he’s flighty and wanders; and we’re happy with him being a pet instead of a working dog. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t utilize his strengths: running! First time we took our guy to a 5 acre dog park, he ran without stopping for 5 hours! So, we taught him the art of bikejoring. German Shorthair’s are the second most popular breed used in the sport of joring next to huskies. We taught Princeton that when he has his x-back racing harness on, it’s time to pull. He pulls us on a bike or rollerblades, and I’ve even had him pull a log thru town. It really drains his energy and NOT mine (the ever present problem when owning a GSP). Sounds crazy, and I’m sure several of my neighbors think I am, but it has helped take the edge off his energy in our little condo.

Other things we’ve learned apply to all dogs: teach obedience early, good leash skills are a must, socialize early and often, expose to children early, and exercise, exercise, exercise!

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