Bay Area German Shepherd Rescue

Some times when one of our dogs goes 'missing' at home, we will find them curled up in their crate. It's ironic because we often meet people who have an allergic reaction to dog crates.  They see crates as some form of jail for the dog and part of a punishment for the dog. 

Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

As humans, we see things very differently.  We know the concept of the prison and having freedom restricted as a punishment.  Crate is an unfortunate word as it has so many negative associations for us humans.

The dog sees the crate through very different eyes. If you look at dogs in the wild, they look for somewhere to sleep and hide that will be safe.  The ideal spot is a cave because they can reverse in and sleep knowing they are protected from all approaches apart from the front.  he has his teeth to protect him there.  The dog sees a crate as a den or a cave.

We think that crates are an important part of training and an invaluable part of day to day life.  Lets look at some uses:

1) Give your dog a break - Kids running round the house, neighbors everywhere, why not give your dog a break and let him sleep in his caret for an hour? He will appreciate you for helping him get away from a stressful situation.

2) Set your dog up to succeed - many people complain that they went out and the dog chewed a shoe or something.  Put him in his den/crate and unless you throw a shoe in there - he won't be chewing it.

3) Give yourself a break - you need a quiet few minutes.  put your dog in the crate with a chew / bone and you'll both be happy.

4) Super fast house training - dogs don't pee or poop where they sleep.  A crate is a brilliant part of getting your puppy or new dog quickly house trained.  make sure that you don't use an adult sized crate for your pup though!

We work with our dogs and the crate is a positive part of their lives. We NEVER put a dog in the crate for doing something wrong. It's never a time out.  It's a safe space!

german shepherd rescue bay area

Does your sweet, fun loving dog turn into Cujo at the end of the leash when another dog is in sight? Does he go bonkers at skateboards or bikes? Managing leash reactivity is one of the most common concerns that we hear as trainers. It can be embarrassing and stressful. It turns, what should be a time that you look forward to each day, into times of anxiety and stress for both you and your dog.

The time that you spend with your dog on the walk is one of the most important parts of your relationship. Most people only think of the walk as a way to physically exercise their dog, but walking your dog in a proper heel position works them mentally as well. A dog that is focused on where you are and what you are doing during the walk requires your dog to use impulse control. It also helps to solidify you as a leader in your dog's eyes.

The question, "why is my dog reactive on leash," is one that boils down to whether your dog feels that you are in control of yourself, the situation and environment and him. If your dog is reactive on leash, he feels that he HAS to be. You dog needs to be able to trust in you and your calm leadership.

So...your dog is reactive on are a few tips:

    1. First and most importantly, DO NOT stop taking your dog on walks. Dogs need a minimum of two 30 to 45-minute walks per day. Pent up energy and anxiety due to lack of exercise is only going to make the situation worse.
    2. What happens before you step foot out your door dictates the tone of your walk. Does your dog immediately start jumping and barking when he hears you grab your leash? Or does he fly out the door the instant you open it? By allowing you dog to leave the house in an elevated state, you are setting him (and yourself) up for failure. Work on getting your dog in a calm state of mind before leaving the house.
    3. Manage your dog's environment. Safety for you, your dog and others should be at the top of your list. Manage distance from known triggers. Be aware at all times, cell phones and text messages can wait. By managing your dog's environment, you help set him up for success.
    4. Do not stop moving! We see it all too often, a dog starts to react and the owner just stops. This allows the dog to escalate and fixate. Keep your dog moving!
    5. Learn proper leash handling skills. Is your dog at the end of the leash? Walking on a harness or retractable leash? If your dog is at the end of his leash pull or reacting at another dog and he's on a harness, you have allowed him to put himself in that position without an effective way to communicate.
    6. Control your own energy levels. Do you immediately tense up when you see another dog? When you dog is reacting to another dog, do you yell and scream? When your dog senses your anxiety it only adds to his and takes away his trust in you as a calm leader. A dog that has a leader is a dog that is respectful and relaxed. A dog who is put into a leadership position is stressed and anxious.

The most important thing to do...NEVER GIVE UP on your dog.

It’s amazing how often we encounter this problem as dog trainers and how often owners tell us that they have “tried everything”.  Yet we can usually fix it within an hour or two and set the owner up with some handling skills that will lead to a happy owner and a … happy dog.

Koru K9 Dog Training + Rehabilitation provides private dog training and puppy training in the San Francisco Bay Area. We specialize in obedience training and behavior problem solving for dogs with behavioral issues, including, but not limited to: leash aggression / reactivity, dog or human aggression, obedience, dominance issues and anxiety.

I could watch my dogs run and play and have fun for hours. There is this pure freedom and childlike quality that just puts a smile on anybody’s face watching them. That being said, I strongly dislike dog parks and advise our clients against going to them.

Yes, you heard me correctly...

Dog parks are definitely a well-intended idea...but that doesn’t make it a GOOD idea. Living in San Francisco, not many people have large enough backyards (or backyards at all), so many people use them as a place to exercise dogs. The other reason...socialization with other dogs. Socialization is hammered into a dog owner’s brain from the time they get the dog. You MUST socialize your dog with other dogs. Well then, isn’t a dog park a perfect place to do just that?

In my recent post about Socialization, we discussed PROPER socialization and establishing solid leadership with your dog. The unfortunate truth and fact of the matter is that the majority of dog owners at the dog park don’t understand the concept of pack structure, nor have they taken the time to establish it within their own home. Resulting in a park full of dogs that are, quite frankly, out of control.

As humans we love to watch dogs play and have fun. But the fact of the matter is that it’s not about’s about your dog. You are responsible for them and their safety and well being. If your dog displays signs of fear or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, dominance, then it is up to you to protect them or correct them.

Here’s the gig, I understand that we are all busy people and, sometimes, the dog park is necessary. One of the things I DO like about places like Fort Funston or Ocean Beach is that they are large enough that you can keep moving or, even better, find an isolated area to play with your dog one-on-one. As a matter of fact, I take our dogs to Ocean Beach often. We go during off hours and when we are there, it’s play time for us as a pack. If you must go to the dog park, here are some rules to live by:

  1. Be aware, alert and responsible. You are there for your dog, not to drink coffee, talk on the phone and catch up on the latest episode of whatever show you were watching last night.
  2. If at all possible, go when the parks are lightly traveled.
  3. Go to the park and play with your dog. Make them realize that you are more fun than all those other dogs around. It’s GOOD for your dog to only want to play with you vs. other dogs.
  4. Unless you plan on playing one-on-one with your dog, DO NOT bring a toy. Allowing your dog to have a toy and not all the other dogs is a good way to start a fight.

The bottom line is that you have to be honest and ask yourself:

  • Do you have control of your dog in the home or on your regular walk?
  • Is your dog’s recall 100%?
  • Do you know how to read a dog’s body language and look for signs of aggression or fear?
  • Do you know how to break up a dog fight properly?

If the answer is no to any of those...if you can’t control your dog in those basic environments, or read what your dog or other dogs are “saying,” then how can you expect to control them or keep them safe in a dog park with a lot of other dogs?

Koru K9 Dog Training + Rehabilitation provides private dog training and puppy training in the San Francisco Bay Area. We specialize in obedience training and behavior problem solving for dogs with behavioral issues, including, but not limited to: leash aggression / reactivity, dog or human aggression, obedience, dominance issues and anxiety.

Welcome to the first installment of our monthly guest blog post by Koru K9 Dog Training + Rehabilitation. We will be covering common training topics and tips to help you and your German Shepherd Dog (or any dog for that matter) have a happy and balanced relationship.

First topic...crate training. 

Crates often get a bad rap, particularly in new dog owners. As humans, we view them in this prison-like manner. But remember, your dog is, well…a DOG. He doesn’t know about San Quentin, Alcatraz, the hole or striped uniforms. What he does know is that his little lizard brain tells him that he should seek out a safe and secure shelter for sleep and rest. Has your dog ever rested under the dining table or in a dark closet? Now you know why…he’s following his instincts.

Crates are useful for a variety of reasons, but the number one, in my book, is to housetrain a puppy or dog. Dogs have an innate instinct to keep their den clean, which means you can take full advantage of that fact and help him learn that he needs to eliminate outside.

As with all things, you want to ensure that you introduce the crate gradually and with positive associations. The crate needs to be the party place. Remember when you were younger…there was always that one house party that everybody HAD to be at? That should be how your dog views his crate. Giving your dog a special toy or treat that he ONLY gets when he’s in his crate is a really great idea (Kongs are great for this). NEVER force a dog or puppy into a crate. NEVER shut them in on the first experience. NEVER leave them alone on the first experience. NEVER use the crate as a punishment. Remember…fun, positive and rewarding experiences. You want your dog or puppy to LOVE their crate. As your dog becomes more and more comfortable with his crate, you can gradually increase the amount of time spent in the crate. But please do not abuse or overuse the crate.

Look for a crate that is large enough to allow your dog the room to stand up and turn around and stretch, but not too large. You don’t want your puppy to use one side to rest and the other to eliminate in. If you do want to purchase a larger crate so that you don’t have to purchase another as the dog gets older, there are models that also include a divider so that the crate can be expanded as the dog grows.

When you release your dog from its crate…immediately take him outside to eliminate. Don’t just let the dog or puppy outside in the backyard, make sure he is supervised. The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. When he does…praise! Help him to understand that this is the best thing EVER.
  2. You can take him to one spot in the yard so that becomes the potty spot.

Another important thing to remember is to not release your dog from his crate if he is whining. Your dog will quickly learn that whining equals being released from his crate and, guess what, he just trained you! Only release your dog when he is in a calm state of mind and don’t make a big production about him coming out of the crate.

For puppies or dogs that are not housebroken, you will need to continually supervise them once inside the house (there should be boundaries determined in the home). By keeping them on a consistent feeding and crate training schedule, you should quickly have a housebroken dog.

So, what do you do if you did force your dog into the crate? Or if you didn’t use a crate to start with and now your dog eliminates in the house? Or if you have an older dog who was never crate trained? I’m not going to lie, depending on the dog, you might have a bit of work ahead of you. You will need to be consistent in your schedule and, in the case of any negative associations with crates, do some counter-conditioning to get the dog over any fears that it might have with the crate. It takes hard work and patience and time.


Koru K9 Dog Training + Rehabilitation provides private dog training and puppy training in the San Francisco Bay Area. We specialize in obedience training and behavior problem solving for dogs with behavioral issues, including, but not limited to: leash aggression / reactivity, dog or human aggression, obedience, dominance issues and anxiety.


Come Adopt A Lovable Pet

Wine and Wags - Sunday June 2nd

June 2nd !!

Mark your calendar for this wonderful 2nd Annual Wine & Wags event, in Livermore. Big White House Winery/John Evan Cellar has graciously offered us a spot at their beautiful winery where we will have our BAGSR table ! More than 15 wineries are sponsoring this event and many rescues are participating. Please plan on a beautiful Sunday and come do ya thing....with the wine glass thing and support our dogs. We will have a few ambassadogs there. Thank you for Carmen and Mark Battle, as well as Kathy Ramirez, who reached out to us. Who wants to have some fun in the sun?

Holiday Pup Pics 2018

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!

Holiday Pup Pics

Come and join us and get great photos of your dog!



Our dogs are super smart and learn very quickly with the right direction.  We are often asked to recommend a dog trainer by people who adopt their new dog.  Our belief is that trainer works with you to help you train your dog. Over the coming days and weeks we will be creating a list with contacts.  We will only list trainers that our members have personally worked with and recommend.

Based in Novato, they offer an extraordinary range of training and behavior classes at very affordable prices. Many of our volunteers have undertaken their dog training classes with their personal dogs.  We are huge fans of Dawn and her entire team. See them on line here and call them on (415) 883-4621


Lisa Caper runs DogOvation covering Marin County.  Several of our volunteers have worked with her and they give great reports.  Like all the best trainers her focus is more on training the owner to train the dog.  You can read all about Lisa's philosophy on her website here and phone her at : (415) 299-1158 


See our dogs

Click below if you would like to see all our dogs. They are available to be rescued right now.



How do I adopt?

Check here if you would like to see just how easy it is to adopt one of our wonderful dogs.



What is BAGSR?

We are a proud group of volunteers who love German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois. Click here to learn more.