The German Shorthaired Pointer has been growing in popularity in recent years, and it’s easy to see why: their gorgeous ticked, patched, coat along with expressive almond eyes and big droopy ears make them adorable companions — perhaps that’s why they have a history of performing well as show dogs. This breed is also incredibly smart, loving, and playful, which all adds up to a great family pet.
After reading such rave reviews, it’s easy to assume that German Shorthaired Pointer training is a piece of cake, but this isn’t necessarily true. While they are indeed a highly intelligent dog, their cleverness can sometimes lead to stubbornness and a very independent animal that may not be the most obedient, but with patience and a steady training regimen, the breed has a good track record of being really trainable.
This also doesn’t mean German Shorthaired Pointers don’t want to learn. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Their breed history and nature makes them eager to have a job to do, so training is often just the ticket to try and channel some of their limitless energy.
History As Hunting Dogs
As the name suggests, German Shorthaired Pointers were bred to hunt and point out game, but careful attention was also given to create great companions. Breeders attempted to create a genetically superior dog, and many would tell you they succeeded.
Several different breeds of dogs were used to create the GSP, including the German Bird Dog and several German Bloodhounds as well as Spanish or English Pointers. This created a remarkably versatile dog that excels on land or in the water and is a loving, attentive member of any family.
Because of this breed’s history as a hunting dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer has a natural need to work, and will generally pick up quickly on commands. However, they can have some difficulty with household training. They have trouble focusing and will be easily distracted by any sight, sound, or smell happening around them. For this reason, our first tip is to make sure you limit the length of your training sessions.
Keep German Shorthaired Pointer Training Sessions Short
One of the best dog training tips is to keep your lessons short and entertaining. Not only are GSPs easily distracted, they also can get bored pretty easily. In order to hold your pups attention, you’ll need to keep your training sessions short. No longer than 15 minutes is a good rule of thumb. This will help to prevent your dog from getting distracted or bored with training because if and when he does become distracted, it can be nearly impossible to regain his focus.
Give Your German Shorthaired Pointer Daily Exercise
Your training efforts can be greatly improved if you give your German Shorthaired Pointer proper exercise. The GSP has tons of energy to burn, and will require somewhere around an hour of intense exercise per day. This should involve running off the leash, whether it be playing fetch with a ball or frisbee, running around your local park, going for a hike, or swimming. On top of the exercise, the German Shorthaired Pointer will also appreciate daily walks. How often should you walk your dog exactly? Well, professionals recommend twice a day for the German Shorthaired Pointer to keep them in tip-top shape.
Walks alone won’t be enough, however, as these highly athletic dogs really need to stretch their legs and run hard. When he isn’t able to burn off his energy through exercise, your GSP may, unfortunately, turn to some creative methods of release, which can often be less-than-ideal behaviors. German Shorthaired Pointers have been known to be avid diggers in the yard if they are left to their own devices, and may also enjoy chewing things around the house. Once these behaviors have been established, they can be hard to kick. But as long as your dog is given enough strenuous activity, he typically will not become destructive.
Start Your German Shorthaired Pointer Training Early
To help establish good habits and behaviors, you should train your German Shorthaired Pointer while he is still a puppy. In fact, start training a puppy as soon as you bring him home.
While he won’t gain full control of his brain until around age two, he is capable of learning quickly even at a very early age. Waiting to train your GSP will only create a headstrong animal that may be difficult to deal with.
Early Socialization Is Also Important
Along with training, you should also make sure to socialize a puppy right away. Socialization is a critical component of training your GSP to help him get comfortable with other people, animals, and new experiences. The German Shorthaired Pointer has been known to be wary of other dogs and humans if they aren’t properly socialized when they are young. This breed also may be nervous when placed in new situations if they are left alone at home, so as soon as your puppy is vaccinated, bring him around with you everywhere you go.
Take your pup to the dog park to socialize him with other canines and meet other people. Bring your dog with you to friends and family gatherings and even out to restaurants if they will allow it. If you have other pets, get them familiar with each other right when you bring your German Shorthaired Pointer home. This breeds hunting nature makes him want to chase small animals, so give proper attention if you have a cat, rabbit, or any other small, furry animal or bird in the house.
Since a German Shorthaired Pointer can be a headstrong animal, it’s often a good idea to take him to puppy kindergarten and obedience training while he is still young. This is an easy way to socialize your puppy and help him learn how to play nicely with other dogs in a controlled environment.
Your puppy will also learn basic commands while in puppy kindergarten. Obedience training can help your German Shorthaired Pointer learn discipline and self-control, which is vital for this energetic breed.
Because a German Shorthaired Pointer actually thrives on and has a need for structure and strong leadership, obedience training can help shape his behavior and teach him to respond to commands when they are given.
The training classes are good for both owner and puppy to learn how to give your dog the structure he needs. A German Shorthair Pointer can be so headstrong, that he may ignore you if he doesn’t feel you are a strong leader.
Giving Basic Commands
Your German Shorthaired Pointer will easily pick up on basic commands like sit, stay, and down, but may have issues with “come.” Because he is so easily distracted and fiercely independent, he may want to wander off if given the chance, but a firm hand will teach him that this behavior is unacceptable. Overall, it typically won’t take long to teach a puppy basic commands which will give you a strong training foundation.
Crate training your puppy is a great tool to keep your dog out of trouble when you aren’t able to supervise him. You should take time to introduce your puppy to his crate and make sure he is comfortable so he will see it as a place of safety, not a punishment. Put toys and blankets in the crate to make it into a welcoming space. You should also use the crate as your puppy’s designated sleeping space while he goes through house training, and may consider draping a blanket over the top to create a nice, cozy den where he will sleep.
Since German Shorthaired Pointers grow to be big dogs, you should make sure the crate is large enough to account for how quickly your puppy will grow. Some even are adjustable to allow you to increase the size along with your GSPs growth. You can begin the crate training process by teaching your puppy to go to his room (the crate), and rewarding him each time he does with a treat. Soon enough, your dog will go to the crate on command or even on his own.
House/potty training and house training will go hand in hand since your puppy will not want to go to the bathroom where he sleeps. This will help him learn to not go potty in the crate and to only go outside. You can actually create a bathroom schedule for potty training your puppy that you should follow consistently, early on you can bring him out to pee as often as every hour. When you do go outside, allow your puppy to choose an outdoor area to go to the bathroom and keep bringing him back to that spot to leave his scent.
Always make sure to give your puppy proper praise when he goes to the bathroom outside to reinforce that he is doing something right. Play with him after each successful outdoor session before returning him to the crate. And when your puppy does have accidents inside— don’t punish him. Simply clean it and move on rather than rubbing his nose in it.
If your dog doesn’t go to the bathroom when you bring him outside, don’t get discouraged. Simply return him to the crate and bring him back outside in a half hour or so and try again. Patience is a virtue with the potty training process as it may take several weeks before your dog learns the behavior and stops going to the bathroom indoors, but eventually he will catch on and associate the location and commands with going to the bathroom.
Leash training your German Shorthaired Pointer can be tricky because of their abundant energy and growing strength, but teaching your GSP to walk on a leash will make life much more enjoyable for you both. You’ll want to get your dog used to wearing his collar early on. He may not like it at first, but will eventually get accustomed to having it on. You can then practice walking your dog on the leash.
Proper practice is to have your dog walk beside you — not ahead of you tugging you along. When your dog starts to pull on a walk, do not jerk the leash. It’s actually better to stop walking and call your dog back to you, or even start walking in the other direction.
He will catch on that he is supposed to follow you. Bring treats along to help reinforce good behavior if your dog walks calmly beside you and doesn’t pull on the leash.
Control Your German Shorthaired Pointer’s Barking
Unfortunately, German Shorthaired Pointers do have a tendency to bark loudly and often. If it becomes a problem, you will have to train your dog to limit the behavior. You do this first by actually training your dog to bark on command when you say “speak,” then teaching him to be quiet on command as well when you say “quiet.” In tandem, this will teach your dog when to bark and when not to.
Manage Your German Shorthaired Pointer’s Hunting Instinct
Because the German Shorthaired Pointer was bred to hunt, they have natural hunting instincts. This means they will have a tendency to chase small animals, and will sometimes bring back dead animals as trophies if they are allowed to act on their impulses. You can help redirect this instinct by giving your pup toys to play with and keeping him busy by giving him plenty of exercise.
Use Positive Reinforcement In Training
Using positive reinforcement during training is the best method because it encourages your dog to continue doing the right thing. Use lots of praise, extra petting, and of course, healthy treats, during training sessions with your GSP. The most positive reinforcement you give, the more motivated your dog will be to train, and will also be more likely to follow commands and be well-behaved.
Yelling at your dog or punishing him physically will make him resistant to training because he will associate it with this negative reinforcement. German Shorthaired Pointers are very sensitive and eager to please, positive reinforcement will simply give you a happier dog.
During training, you also need to be consistent with your commands. Repeat the commands exactly the same way each time, and consider doing training in the same locations. This helps your dog maintain focus and associate training with locations where he will have less distractions and know he will be having a training session with you.
If you have multiple family members, make sure you all are issuing commands and going through the training regimens listed above in the same way so as to not confuse your dog. This will make training much more enjoyable and easier on you all.