Looking for Advice
Hi everyone! I have had Bryce since he was 8 weeks old and he will be 11 weeks this coming Tuesday. I'm a first time shepherd owner and was wondering if someone would look over how me and puppy are doing and offer any advice please.
Bryce has slept through the night in his crate without any accidents since day 1. I'm very lucky lol We walk him outside to his "spot" before and after every nap, playtime, and meal. He goes to the back door sometimes to let us know he has to go but usually we take him out before he has to do this. Every once in a while he will have an accident in the house. We never punish or yell, we just pick him up and take him to his spot. I'm assuming an accident every once in a while is just because he's still so young?
He, for the most part, knows sit, stay, come, lay down, up and will chase after a thrown ball for fetch but rarely brings it back.
He is crated while me and my husband eat and then eats after us. As soon as I put the bowl down he eats the entire thing and then the food bowl is removed after he is done. He has access to water up until a couple hrs before bedtime. I am giving him about 3 cups total of food a day that is rationed to 3xs a day.
He is teething so he tries to bite on everything. We have plenty of chew toys and he's really good at listening to "leave it" when he goes for something other than a toy. We are trying to teach him bite inhibition. If he bites us and it even remotely comes close to pressure we say ouch and pull away for a few seconds. He seems to be getting it because he is becomming more and more gentle with us and we will be slowly weaning him off of any biting towards us.
I think our biggest problem is leash walking. He goes for 2 walks a day, one in the morning, one at night for about 10-15 min each. Half the walk is does well at our side but the other half consists of him cowering from cars that go by, trying to get to the people walking across the street, trying to cross in front of us, or trying to pull ahead. We say "good boy" during good walking and stop for healing and hold the leash tight next to us when he pulls. Just wondering if and how long leash training may take and if we're doing the right thing?
He has seen a vet and is healthy. Once he has all of his vaccines and I can introduce him to other dogs, is there any advice you can give to how to go about that?
Thank you for reading :) Considering his age, any advice or suggestions on his behavior and how we are doing would be greatly appreciated!
Also, we are not big on giving him "treats" but his rewards for good behavior consist of a small cut up piece of apple, carrot, or green bean or a peice of his kibble. He seems to love any of these so I'm hoping these are better options then dog treats.
Wow Christine!!! For an 11 week old that you have only had for a couple of weeks, you guys are doing great!!! You should be giving advice instead of asking for it. :)
Very impressed with how well your little guy is doing, and I think your expectations at this time are a bit high - you couldn't really ask for a better pup for his age.
For accidents in the house - yes, pretty normal for his age - now each pup is different. People on here say that they have had completely house-trained pups at 8 weeks, but some pups may take a few months to be reliable. Think of an accident not as an accident from the pup's end, but from yours for not watching him closely to pick up on the signs that he needs to go potty. Keep doing what you are doing, it is exactly how potty training should go.
For fetch, to get him to bring the ball back, be ready with another toy, ball or treat in hand, and call him all exited and animated, and run the other way so he'll chase you. Once he catches up to you, you throw the other ball, or give him a treat if he is treat motivated. Training with treats for puppies is great way to lay down some foundational behaviours - in their brain, there is a strong association of doing an action and the action being paired by something very rewarding - down the road, you can phase the treats out, but the positive association in their neural circuits will still be there.
Three cups a day separated into three meals sounds fine. Watch him and how he is filling out and adjust amounts as needed. Pups sometimes go through growth spurts where they seem to sprout up overnight, and look thin and lanky - feed a bit more during that time - cut back to his regular amount when he fills out a bit and looks more visually balanced.
He isn't chewing on everything because he is teething, he is chewing on everything because he is a German Shepherd puppy! Teething starts at around 4 months, and ends at six months. For now, chewing on things is how intelligent, curious, pups who like to explore their surroundings interact. They use their mouth the way children would use their hands to examine something (and then pop in their mouth - so kids aren't that different from pups! - kidding!).
Another great way to deal with mouthing and land-sharking is to redirect the biting to a toy - when a pup bites a person, they are trying to interact and play the way that mother nature has wired their brains for interaction and play - I for one want to encourage a pup to interact with me, and develop and foster that desire, so instead of discouraging biting, one way to deal with it is to redirect to a toy. Always have toys at hand, or stuffed in you pockets, and when pup is trying to bite, whip out the toy, stuff in pup's mouth, and PLAY!!!! Play play play!!!! Playing with you is the BEST most FUNNEST thing in the world, but now pup learns that to have fun with a person, it is WITH a toy. With a bazillion repetitions, pups learn to bring you a toy to play with you. It does work, but be patient. This is a process or re-programming and shaping a pup's instinctual behaviours into specific actions. Takes repetition and time. :)
Leash walking is just fine for his age - they have such a short attention span! Be happy with the attention and control he does have at the beginning of the walk, then recognize that when he starts to wander all around, he has reached the limit of his ability to concentrate. Plus, leash walks are really boring for pups! Bring treats or a favorite toy with you, reward good walking with treats, and have little tuggy breaks during the walk to break up the boredom. If he cowers from cars, get his attention on you as a car approaches and before he reacts, and keep his attention engaged with tugging or some obedience drills rewarded with treats or more tugging, so that he can't even focus on the scary car, but rather on how much fun YOU are. Ignore his cowering or fearful reactions, and carry on in a matter of fact way - your energy and behaviour is the cue he is looking at for direction.
As for introduction with other dogs - be very careful to make sure that all his experiences with other dogs are positive. I would limit interaction to dogs that you know and know that they are safe and a positive influence on your pup, and avoid dog parks or random dogs that you know nothing about.
I'd say pat yourself on the back, you are doing a great job, and are well on the way to have a great pup!
That is a great video!
Thanks so much for the replies! This makes me feel much better and I really appreciate the advice. I am a small 25 yr old female. I am not worried about my husband at all but I definitely want to be able to control my german shepherd when he's bigger than I am! lol But at the same time playing with him and loving him are so important to me. He's a great little guy with so much personality already. It's great to hear we're on track :)
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