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Old 01-03-2013, 01:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New Owner - Pacing Outdoors Problem

This is my first post, and I did my best to search for a similar issue. I am fairly familiar with dog care, and have fostered dogs from the shelter. Because I'm on a foster list, I was called when a registered white GS was brought in owner surrendered to be put down. She's 2 years old, and I don't know anything about the previous owner other than she was kept outside in a kennel and was living with a sibling GS that was a male. The owner was moving and gave them up rather than take them and the male had already found a home.

We decided to keep her, and originally gave her free roam of our property. We found that she stayed home while we were there, and learned our work schedule and would leave home soon after we left and go visit the neighboring dogs 1/2 mile away and be home by the time we got back. We live in the middle of nowhere at the end of a dead end road, so traffic is not an issue. When we learned she's a roamer, we got an underground fence and trained her on it. It keeps her contained even though if she's really insistent she'll run through it without wincing to get to one of us if we are separated from her. She lives outdoors 100% of the time. We bought her an insulated and heated dog house for the winter, even though we live in Alabama and it doesn't get extremely cold. She seems to like it.

My wife and I both work and have to drive an hour each way to get to work, so we leave early in the morning and get home after dark. We aren't able to socialize with her as much as we should. We still spend between 30 min to an hour each day in our garage or outside working on training her. However, she's started pacing outdoors. She goes to one part of our property and paces back and forth along the width of the property about 200 feet in the middle of the property (not along the underground wire boundary). I've read posts about dogs pacing when kept up or indoors, but this is the first dog I've seen to pace/jog a distance that far and keep on doing it obsessively. When we come outside she stops and runs to us, but will be back at it later when we leave her alone.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how we can fix this? We want her to be as happy as possible, but our work schedules don't allow for a lot of socialization. We even considered another dog, but even though she seemed to love the dogs 1/2 mile away, our nearest neighbor's dog free roams and she doesn't like him very well. He's also a white a german shepherd and will sometimes visit and steal her food or toys. I would be afraid to commit to another dog that she ends up disliking. We also have indoor cats that prevent her from becoming an indoor/outdoor dog. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Last edited by chemlabrat; 01-03-2013 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I don't understand why having cats would preclude her from coming inside? I am a cat breeder and have several cats inside and I also have 4 GSD's that live inside with them. One does like to chase, but he is learning. It sounds to me like she needs more stimulation/time with her family.
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Old 01-03-2013, 01:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You make a valid point. Our neighbor has a flock of guineas that come in our yard and our GSD never bothers or chases them. We have two cats, and one is what can only be described as mean. I'm more concerned with the "mean cat" doing something to instigate a fight with the dog while we aren't home and the cat getting injured/killed. It may just take a lot of training and then hoping for the best while we are away, but I don't know if I can get the cat to behave properly with a dog in the house. If I can overcome that hurdle, there's still the one of talking my wife into allowing a large dog in our small home.

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I don't understand why having cats would preclude her from coming inside? I am a cat breeder and have several cats inside and I also have 4 GSD's that live inside with them. One does like to chase, but he is learning. It sounds to me like she needs more stimulation/time with her family.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Lol, I have a home that is 1600 sq and I have 9 dogs living in there with my husband and I! What I do when we have to leave Jacob alone with the cats is that we put him in a bedroom and put a baby gate across the door. That way, if a cat gets in and wants to get out and away from him, the cat can get out and he can't. Works for us I have a couple of cats that let the dogs know that they mean business and it only takes a swat or two before they get the lesson
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You fix it by either spending time with her, keeping her inside (she still needs training at this point), or rehoming her. These are not dogs to be left to their own devices all day, every day, with no interaction or socialization. The only way keeping them outdoors works is to spend a LOT of time with them...much more than 30-60 mins a day.

There is no quick fix for boredom/anxiety/OCD-potential behaviors such as pacing other than stimulate the dog.

A working breed such as this means that a bored dog is an anxious dog...and an anxious dog is probably going to develop a whole host of other problems. I'm sort of baffled by leaving her outdoors unattended in the first place and then wondering why she'd "leave when you left"? Is she not contained in any way to begin with? This isn't safe for the dog, for a variety of reasons...not just traffic. Also, if she's so anxious... she's a huge liability. At the very, very least, contain her in a meaningful way... the more bored she gets, the more "insistent" she'll become.

If you get home after dark, install lights outside so that you can train/play/etc after dark. Bring her inside to train/play/etc. Bring her inside in general.

Adding another dog to the mix is not going to solve the problem, rather leave you with TWO bored, anxious, understimulated dogs who now see each other as a pack where you have no place.

Good luck. I don't mean to be harsh, it just sounds like for the sanity of both the dog and YOU, you seriously need to re-evaluate whether or not you guys can provide the right home environment. It's never a good feeling feeling like you're not doing right by your dog.
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Old 01-03-2013, 07:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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My house is pretty small and we have four dogs(two big, two small) and 3 cats living in it so it is doable!

There may be better people better qualified on how to introduce cats with an older dog, all of mine were raised from puppies with the cats.

If you're gone during the day then you can crate train the dog and leave the dog in the crate in another room while you're gone so that it cannot bother the cats.

These dogs are not meant to live outdoors by themselves, they need to be with their people and getting another dog is DEFINITELY not the answer... Like Love said you'll just end up with another neurotic dog. And letting the dog have free roam with no fencing or anything like that is setting the dog up for a disaster

If your wife won't let the dog stay inside then the best thing for the dog would probably be finding another home where they can provide the things you can't. Not meant to sound harsh, you just have to think of what's best for the pup.

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Old 01-03-2013, 10:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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you say you know about dog care but you allow your dog
to wonder a 1/2 mile away, umm. you know about dog care
but you don't have time to train and socialize, umm.
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Old 01-04-2013, 12:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Well ,as you're finding out, GSDs don't make good yard dogs. They do want to be with their people. They also are "high maintenance" in that they require a lot of time in training, exercise, attention from their people. If you are serious about keeping her, I do have a couple of suggestions. She should be inside with you when you are home. As was suggested you can use a gate to confine her because of the cats. You can also put her on her leash and hook it to your belt so she follows you around. She can practice her down/stay while you eat and when you are sitting. Since you are gone for all day and she is outside, if you can, fence in your yard that will prevent the other dogs from stealing her food and coming into her territory. Also provide some type of interactive toys (kongs, and so on). She will still need to be exercised before you leave for work and when you return. A good walk (at least a mile) and also interact with her if she likes to play fetch or chase after balls. See if you can hire a dog walker to come and walk her at noon and give her attention. With increased exercise and playtime, attention from you and being indoors with you, she should calm down and the pacing will gradually cease. If you have classes in your area, you may want to sign up for that.
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:36 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chemlabrat View Post

We still spend between 30 min to an hour each day in our garage or outside working on training her.
I understand that not all dog owners can keep their dogs inside. But your GSD requires a lot more time with you then 30 min to an hour each day. She will continue to act out and even become destructive. That has no reflection on your ability to raise a dog. It's a simple fact.

Also, even though she has a lot of room to roam, that doesn't count as exercise for your dog. She has to have a lot more exercise both physical and mental.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveEcho View Post
You fix it by either spending time with her, keeping her inside (she still needs training at this point), or rehoming her. These are not dogs to be left to their own devices all day, every day, with no interaction or socialization. The only way keeping them outdoors works is to spend a LOT of time with them...much more than 30-60 mins a day.

There is no quick fix for boredom/anxiety/OCD-potential behaviors such as pacing other than stimulate the dog.

A working breed such as this means that a bored dog is an anxious dog...and an anxious dog is probably going to develop a whole host of other problems. I'm sort of baffled by leaving her outdoors unattended in the first place and then wondering why she'd "leave when you left"? Is she not contained in any way to begin with? This isn't safe for the dog, for a variety of reasons...not just traffic. Also, if she's so anxious... she's a huge liability. At the very, very least, contain her in a meaningful way... the more bored she gets, the more "insistent" she'll become.

If you get home after dark, install lights outside so that you can train/play/etc after dark. Bring her inside to train/play/etc. Bring her inside in general.

Adding another dog to the mix is not going to solve the problem, rather leave you with TWO bored, anxious, understimulated dogs who now see each other as a pack where you have no place.

Good luck. I don't mean to be harsh, it just sounds like for the sanity of both the dog and YOU, you seriously need to re-evaluate whether or not you guys can provide the right home environment. It's never a good feeling feeling like you're not doing right by your dog.
Agree 100%. Look at it from her point of view. She is a lonely, bored out of her mind (OCD) dog. You rescued her, then I would find her a permanent home where she can thrive and you don't have to worry about her anymore.
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