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how to train a german shorthaired pointer

Is your GSP a handful? Then you’re not alone! German Shorthaired Pointers were bred in Germany during the 19th century for hunting. They’re full of energy and if not managed, they can become hyper and dare I say it… a tad bit crazy!

The German Shorthaired Pointer makes a good companion for active families. They are known for being a loving, loyal and gentle companion.

But there is a caveat; they were developed and bred to have strong stamina and energy for their original role as a hunting dog.

Frequently, a GSP who doesn’t get enough exercise will be climbing the walls with frustration and be what we consider hyper.

The situation can be stressful for all concerned, including your GSP!

Why is Your German Shorthaired Pointer Hyper?

GSP’s have seemingly endless energy, and they require long walks with runs for an hour twice a day. If you can include regular swimming in their exercise regime it will go a long way in helping them with their excess hyper energy.

Why they are hyper is a common question among GSP owners. It’s no fun to have a hyper out-of-control dog in your home.

Because they are naturally energetic, we need to take responsibility and make sure we meet their needs.

A GSP who is under exercised can direct their excess energy into destructive behaviors. If your GSP is digging holes, chewing up everything, barking, and running around the house, then they’re just finding an outlet to burn off their pent-up energy.

Consider this though: If your GSP is a puppy their hyperactivity may not be exercise related.

If you own a GSP puppy then we highly recommend you read our complete guide on crazy puppies. While an adult GSP might just require more exercise, a puppy may not be getting enough sleep, and they’re simply overtired.

Other reasons could be associated with learning boundaries, and again, if you have a GSP puppy have a read of our blog post to get a thorough understanding of hyper puppies and ways to calm them down.

What Age Will Your German Shorthaired Pointer Calm Down?

A GSP will calm down and mature around 2-years of age. They will always be a high energy breed of dog, ready to run and hunt, even into their older years. With adequate training, exercise, and boundaries in place, they will be better managed.

The German Shorthaired Pointer is a breed that suffers from the human equivalent of the terrible twos from about 6 to 20 months.

If your hyper GSP is within that age group, it will get better! But in the meantime, exercise, training, and positive reinforcement will ease the situation.

It’s best to be patient with them during this stage – they will become calmer by the time they are two years old.

I just want to quickly jump in here and say we’ve created a mobile-friendly, speedy video course on dealing with unwanted puppy behaviors, and one of the modules covers this exact issue, so be sure to learn more about it here.

If you think your GSP may also have a problem with aggression, please read our post: German Shorthaired Pointer Aggression.

GSP Diet and Energy

Another reason that your GSP may be hyper is the food you are feeding them. Many people make the mistake of believing that because their canine is a breed that is a “hunting / working breed” that they should feed a “working dog” complete food.

If this is you, you’re not alone – it’s a common misunderstanding. The working dog complete foods are almost always high energy and designed for a dog who is out running around, on the go all day such as a sheepdog or a gundog in work.

For a family German Shorthaired Pointer, then they won’t require such a high energy diet. We recommend Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula, or Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free.

Calming Down Your German Shorthaired Pointer

The first part of the solution to get your GSP to calm down is to give him/her plenty of fast-paced exercise and feed them a low-energy diet.

Another way to tire them out and to work their brains is with plenty of training. Training sessions will also help to redirect their boundless energy into positive outcomes.

It’s also vital to establish clear and consistent boundaries.

The best method for creating these boundaries is to not yell or scold the behaviors you don’t want. We have had far more success through distracting the bad behaviors into what you do want them to do.

Our guide on disciplining puppies goes into more detail on setting boundaries.

If your GSP is digging in the garden, then distract them with a command, such as “Come” and then treat and praise. If they chew shoes, then you don’t want to scold them because it’s natural for them to chew. But you want to direct that chewing to a toy.

We also strongly recommend you teach your GSP the “Place” command. This command will get them out from under your feet when you most require it and is a great way to settle them down.

Treat the good behavior and distract from the bad.

Calm Your Crazy German Shorthaired Pointer - HoundGames

Best Exercise Methods

If your is a puppy, then be sure to read our Complete Guide to Puppy Exercise.

A good exercise regime could include free-running or swimming or a combination of the two.

If you’re not a runner, teach your GSP to run off leash. Here is a great video of a GSP owner who rides their bike and lets their GSP have a run.

He explains the method of training to achieve this, but it is a little quiet so turn up your volume. Watch how he treats often around the space he wants his GSP and how he uses a voice command as he treats.

Because of their high level of intelligence, they are not a dog that is ideally suited to a treadmill for their exercise as they will soon get bored. They can, however, play catch or fetch in the yard.

They are well suited to owners who want to take their dog horse riding or mountain biking, and these are both excellent forms of exercise for them to do as part of the family.

Another method of exercise to do with your dog is Canicross – a sport where you run cross country with your dog and are attached via a long leash. It’s a good fun activity to have with your GSP on a one to one basis.

River canoeing or paddle boarding in areas safe from crocodiles and alligators is another fun way to get your GSP burning off their energy, too.

For a complete guide on exercising your GSP, be sure to read our post: German Shorthaired Pointer Exercise Guide for Owners.

Training Your German Shorthaired Pointer

Training can be as simple as regular obedience and trick training. However, pick your times to do it.

If your German Shorthaired Pointer is hyper in the home, jumping around, chewing, barking, and being excitable and running in circles, they will need a fast run beforehand.

In this situation, a good hour of fast-paced exercise is advisable before you do any training with them.

Best Training Games

The best training for your GSP are those activities that are associated with their hunting instincts.

Get your dog to go and find something you hid in some undergrowth. Take advantage of that brain and stamina and work them hard, rewarding them often with praise and treats.

Fetch will also be a great activity to do daily with your GSP, as it taps into their hunting instincts and gives them a good run, even in your own yard.

If your GSP doesn’t know how to play fetch, use this video to teach them:

Another great activity is to play hide-and-seek around the yard or house. Get your GSP to sit and stay while you hide a handful of treats around the house. Then let your dog go to work!

GSP Jumps on People

A hyper German Shorthaired Pointer is difficult to control, and this is especially the case when you have a guest come over.

One of the most important things you can do for a young dog is to give them socialization, so never be hesitant to invite people over. The more people you have visit your GSP the better.

But of course, you also want to have control over your GSP not only when people come over, but in general day-to-day life.

In this video dog trainer, Zac George helps a family train their five-month-old GSP. If you skip about a minute in, you can get to the good stuff!

How to Teach a German Shorthaired Pup Not to Bite

GSP’s are not aggressive dogs but may bite in play. Because they are bred as gundogs, they are what is known as a soft-mouthed breed, and therefore you wouldn’t expect a GSP to cause damage to someone if they bite.

Puppies also bite to play; young pups and older dogs will bite each other in play. Often if you have a GSP who is biting it is because the boundaries have not yet been set.

A GSP puppy needs to learn that we are not their littermates or canine play buddies. Be sure to always have plenty of chew toys, especially when teething.

You want to be able to redirect them to a toy if they’re chewing or biting on your hand.

If your GSP bites your hand, always be sure to yelp high and loud and pull back your hand. If it continues to happen, then stop play time. This will show them that the behavior is not acceptable.

Teach others in the family to do the same action and be consistent. And if they’re playing nicely, be sure to reward them with treats!

You may need to do a few sessions, but consistency is key to success.

Final Word

Once into a regular exercise regime and with a quality lower-energy food, and of course with age, your GSP will calm down.

Tiring out your GSP may be a difficult task. The level of calmness you achieve is always going to be dependent on the level of exercise and training you do each day.

One of the most endearing features of the German Shorthaired Pointer is their carefree, happy nature; they really are friendly dogs who love their human family and want to be loved!

You might be interested in reading: Puppy Won’t Take Naps; Relax Your Puppy.

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