Surviving the puppy - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 07:34 AM Thread Starter
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Surviving the puppy

I need help with my GSD/BC girl. I've read so many threads and so much advice but I'm struggling with multiple behaviours. I've had pups of other breeds, and did some reading about the breeds in this girl before I got her, and I thought I knew what I was getting into, but she's 9 weeks old and we are already struggling.

A big problem that's arisen is to do with toileting. She has to be carried downstairs many times a day to toilet outside. She's taken to biting my arms - hard and with intent - when it's time to come upstairs again because she doesn't want to come. The only way I can carry her without dropping her because of the biting and thrashing is to scruff her, and she's still managing to get hold of me. It's not safe to leave her outside alone and downstairs isn't enclosed so it's not like we can just put her in a downstairs room and spend time with her there; she has to be upstairs. I could (almost) cope with it, but when I'm at work I have to leave her in the care of my adolescent children. They are no longer willing to carry her downstairs, and it's not safe for them to do so anyway due to her biting and trying to escape, which means they can't toilet her when I'm not there. Waiting for her to grow out of this isn't an option.

We always have toys on hand to redirect her, and sometimes it works, but a lot of the time she actively seeks our hands around the toys. She snaps at ankles, nips calves, grabs clothes, lunges at faces. Yelping and withdrawing from play doesn't bother her. Telling her no doesn't bother her. Scruffing or pressing her lip just winds her up more. Putting her back in her crate stops further biting but only because she can't reach us, and then she sits there and barks at us.

Problems 2 and 3 are cat-related. She tries to play with them, which is fine and to be expected, and I deal with it by not allowing her near them unsupervised and giving her a correction when she tries to chase (she's always crated or on a lead at the moment so can't take off after them). On the rare occasion when she sees a cat and doesn't react she gets lots of positive reinforcement. More concerning is the way she's started going into a really focused BC crouch and stalk when she sees them, especially one cat who has had a previous traumatic run-in with a dog and takes no rubbish from this pup. I'm worried that she's going to turn out to have too much prey drive to be safe with them. She's also very aggressive in guarding her food from the cats, lunging and snapping at them if they even walk past at a distance. She's watchful with us but only when she has something really high value, and she's learnt that even if I have to move her food she will always get it back so she's becoming more trusting with me.

The children want to rehome her because they've become afraid to go near her. They are also worried about the welfare of the cats, as am I. I'd like to keep her but the safety of the children and cats has to take priority. So I have three problems that all need to be solved - landsharking, stalking cats, and food guarding against the cats.

Spaniels were so much easier.
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 05:54 PM
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For carrying her downstairs, I would suggest putting her in a small plastic dog crate that will just fit her and has a handle.

For the landsharking, it takes time and repetition. This sticky thread has some good ideas:

https://www.germanshepherds.com/foru...nhibition.html

For the cat chasing, this older thread:

https://www.germanshepherds.com/foru...hase-cats.html


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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 07:03 PM
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Please tell me just WHY this dog has to be carried down the stairs? Is she made of bone china?

Some vets/breeders will tell you this is necessary to protect the dog's joints. I don't agree. Allowing the pup to negotiate the stairs on a leash is perfectly okay. Allowing them to jump down the stairs on their own is not.

You have a combination of two very high-energy herding breeds. As a matter of fact BC are SO high-energy, most of the people who use them for what they're genetically bred to do WILL NOT sell a pup to a non-working home. I certainly would not be trying to raise a BC pup without at least a safely fenced backyard where the pup can get exercise.

Watch this video of young border pups playing and jumping over fences, and you'll get an idea of just how athletic this breed is:

What your puppy needs is EXERCISE, lots of it, as well as mental stimulation. I don't think she's getting enough of either.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 07:44 PM Thread Starter
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Our stairs are external and unenclosed, with big gaps between them and only hand-height railings. They're not safe for her at this stage as even on a lead she can slip between the treads. She has already fallen from the balcony at the top of the stairs and is on cage rest for a broken bone in her foot. We're doing what we can to keep her occupied while she's on enforced rest (with the advice of others on the forum) but we're struggling because her activity needs are so high. We have a large fenced yard but can't let her loose in it.

I knew about the BC energy levels and never thought I'd have one but was reassured by how laid back her mother is. Would you consider that she is likely to be an ongoing problem with the cats? Their safety has to be our top priority.
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunsilver View Post
Please tell me just WHY this dog has to be carried down the stairs? Is she made of bone china?

Some vets/breeders will tell you this is necessary to protect the dog's joints. I don't agree. Allowing the pup to negotiate the stairs on a leash is perfectly okay. Allowing them to jump down the stairs on their own is not.

You have a combination of two very high-energy herding breeds. As a matter of fact BC are SO high-energy, most of the people who use them for what they're genetically bred to do WILL NOT sell a pup to a non-working home. I certainly would not be trying to raise a BC pup without at least a safely fenced backyard where the pup can get exercise.

Watch this video of young border pups playing and jumping over fences, and you'll get an idea of just how athletic this breed is:

What your puppy needs is EXERCISE, lots of it, as well as mental stimulation. I don't think she's getting enough of either.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-KNHvIos1E
The reason you carry them out is they don't get a chance to pee on the way out. If you let them walk out, they get a chance to pee on the way out, then it defeats the purpose of potty training. It's house training 101. I don't know how many times I had to clean up after I walked mine out. While carrying him out, not once. Am I wrong? Did I read the wrong book or read the wrong thread here or googled the wrong website or learned from the wrong trainer? Every one of those things I learned from said to carry the puppy out. I did it for the previous dog and I did it for the current pup.


To the OP: The biting is normal. There is no instant fix to the biting. Mine was just like yours, constantly biting. You have to power through this stage. It's tough, I know. We all do. You think it'll never end. Almost everyday you'll think about giving the dog back to the breeder. Some puppies take weeks. Some take months. Mine is now a little over 5 months old and he's finally starting to bite a lot less, mainly because he's finally teething. He's been losing teeth left and right the last week or so. And coincidently he's been biting a lot less in that same time. Hang in there. I went through 3 tubes of Neosporin and boxes of BandAids. Boxes! My hands, arms, fingers, legs, feet, etc...were all cut up, punctured, and scratched. If your family's checked out already, then maybe this breed is not for your family and you should think of rehoming it ASAP since doing this by yourself is a lot of work. No one will think ill of you. GSDs aren't for everyone.
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 08:02 PM
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Apologies, Feather, didn't know the pup had a broken bone in her foot. You are in a really tough situation with the stairs being so open, plus the broken foot.

IMO, the herding behaviour does not mean she's going to attack the cat and hurt it: she just wants to herd it. Watch the collies in the video: it's part of their play. It's genetically hard wired, and you're not going to be able to change it.

My cat plays with my youngest dog. The dog chases the cat, the cat runs and jumps up out of reach on the furniture. Or sometimes he will stand his ground, and refuse to run. The dog has suffered a few scratches on her nose, but the cat has never been hurt. I think your cats may work it out eventually with the pup.
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Well that was heartening. I caught her in a relaxed mood so we just had the best training session outside. She can do sit, drop, crawl, stand and a short stay, and we're working on heeling without jumping up. I probably let her bounce around a bit too much afterwards but she badly needed it and we're both feeling better. I think she's going stir crazy. My usual response when she bites me is to yelp (involuntarily, because it hurts) but I've switched to a deep growl, which she actually seems to be listening to. We managed a game of tug without me getting hurt. The growling hurts my throat though.

I'm going to get another pen and set it up in a shaded area of the yard. I'll try leaving her there when I'm not home so the children don't have to manage her toileting. They'll just have to go down to her periodically to check on her and have a play. It does mean that she's likely to be digging but hopefully she will tone it down if it's hurting her foot.

I grew up with a GSD/Rotti and a BC/Weimeraner. Both amazing dogs, really smart and awesome family dogs. I don't remember either of them ever being overly bitey even as puppies. When I brought this girl home I was looking ahead to the dog I want her to be. I hadn't really considered the journey to get there!
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 10:39 PM Thread Starter
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Any thoughts on the resource guarding? The cats aren't interested in her food, they're just walking past and usually at a reasonable distance, but she's behaving as though they're actively trying to take her food. I don't want to have to police her with food for the rest of her life.

And how can I get this moved to a more appropriate forum, like maybe the puppy behaviour one?
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 11:18 PM
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Every time I hear about a GSD/BC I cringe. This is a horrible cross and I really wish people would stop doing it.


You have a cross between two drivey, high energy, highly intelligent and prone to OCD breeds. Plus two breeds that are kind of alright with taking stuff to the next level. And they are both herders, so they are ok with being pushy.

But you have the dog now and it's a puppy so begin as you mean to continue. This is a pup that should have structure, structure and more structure. Everything routine, stay on schedule. When feeding, in the interest of preserving both cats and kids, puppy should be in a crate. Start working on a leave it command and use that if you need to interrupt feeding. And if you need to take the dish away add something really good before you give it back. Start working on trade games. With everything.
Crate train and use baby gates to give your cats an escape if they need it. If the gates aren't an option, use raised platforms or cat stands to make sure they are safe.
As far as the potty thing, how many stairs are we talking about? Keep her leashed and if she is being a beast can you leave a crate downstairs for her while you are at work and just have the kids take her out a few times and then pop her back in her crate? Play games with her that exercise her brain, make her find things, work on basic obedience.
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Last edited by Sabis mom; 06-22-2018 at 11:22 PM.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-22-2018, 11:41 PM
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You should absolutely get an X-pen or two and set it up in the living room where you all hang out-would help a lot of problems. But...the biting is normal no matter how sure you are that no other pup bites as much as your puppy!

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Last edited by Chuck94!; 06-22-2018 at 11:49 PM.
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