Getting near the end of my rope - Page 2 - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 09:25 AM
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It seems like every week or other week, we get a first time dog owner on here freaking out over the so called issues. What you described is all normal...as everyone here has said. These aren't issues that a vet can or should "fix." And just because you're taking your dog to classes doesn't mean it'll instantly be obedient. You've got to do the work and even then it's a gradual process. Btw, I hope these classes aren't at Petco or PetSmart. You've got to find a real trainer/school. The breeder said she's calm. Maybe compared to her littermates, she is the calm one. And also, and this is important for you to know, THERE IS NO INSTANT FIX.

Let's go through each of your numbers. 1)She's 20 weeks old...about 5 months old!!! There is no way a pup that young can be left alone. Commands at this age are almost irrelevant. Of course she's chewing everything, she's a puppy and teething. Tethering a pup is the way to do things. But just tethering does nothing. You have to make her excited to be tethered to you. Treats, praise, fun and games, etc... Once she starts focusing on you and not everything else, things will be a little easier. As far as the cat is concerned, I've got nothing. I've never owned a cat.

2)The biting (or landsharking) - Again, normal behavior. There are tons of threads in these forums and others about it. Just do a quick search. There are NO INSTANT FIXES for biting. A year ago I went through 3 boxes of bandages and 2.5 large tubes of Neosporin. After he finished teething, things started getting better. All you can do is do all those things: the redirection, the stop play and walking away, etc... However none of it is an instant fix. It just takes time. I guarantee you that many of us in here have wanted to give up at one time or the other because of the biting. You just have to accept that it happens and that it will get better.

3)Like I said. I've got nothing for you concerning cats. But what I do know is that you should get this taken care of now. Because when she gets bigger, she will tear that cat apart.

4)Pulling on the leash. Again...she's 20 weeks old!!! Mine is 16 months old today and he still pulls. He's so strong that he can pull me down if I'm not paying attention and a deer crosses our path. It's a work in progress. Sometimes he's great and walks by my side, but it takes time to get him that way. Some in here may have better strategies for you. And yes, prong collars do help, but you should know how to use one or you could damage or hurt the dog.

We get the stress you're under right now. Your story is not unique. Most of us have been through the same exact things. All you can do is power through these "problems." If you decide to keep her, I promise you that one day you'll look back at these days and laugh.

The other option right now is to rehome the pup. It's 5 months old. It's still got a chance to really bond with someone else. It doesn't sound like you've really bonded with her. Some people just aren't dog people. Personally, in everything I do, I really hate giving up. A year ago, giving up meant that a small pup got the best of me. That just doesn't sit right by me. So I never really seriously considered giving up. Anyway, if you're ready to give up, call the breeder and maybe they can help you find an appropriate owner. If the breeder doesn't want to do anything for you, then find a good GSD rescue. Don't wait, do it as soon as you can.

I feel like you've been watching too many tv shows or movies. You're expecting these GSDs to behave and to be extremely obedient dogs, even at that young age. Your expectations are way too high. Depending on the dog, it takes weeks, months, and for some maybe years to get a dog that way. You've got to be realistic in your expectations for this dog. There are many experienced dog owners in here and maybe they can get their dogs to be obedient at that young age, but for most of us "average" dog owners, it takes lots of time and effort to get them that way.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 09:31 AM
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How much and what kind of exercise does she get? She needs to run and burn off that energy. She is bored and getting into trouble. You need a good trainer who understands the breed. If you want to tell us where you are located, we can help you find a good trainer. If not, then PM a moderator who can connect you with someone here who knows your area and can recommend someone. Or consider finding a dog club that does obedience but ask around for one with a lot of German Shepherds. It makes a difference being around experienced owners and trainers. Learn to use a crate. Spend a lot of time with her. She is desperate for good handling.
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 09:55 AM
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What @tc68 said.

She's a baby. My 8 month old is crated when I'm not around to supervise and will remain so until she's trustworthy. It keeps her safe. It keeps my house whole. It keeps my senior cat from having a cardio workout. It keeps my perfect 5 1/2 yr old male from having holes in his body from her biting.

You have a choice...get a good trainer and commit to the puppy and ACCEPT that she IS a puppy that you are expecting to much from. You will have the same issues with any puppy of any breed.
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Return her to the breeder.




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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 11:23 AM
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I do have a crate, in fact I have two, one upstairs and one downstairs. See my post from a few weeks ago about how I felt having her crated all the time. https://www.germanshepherds.com/foru...her-crate.html

And I've been scouring the internet, youtube, etc since before she came home. Sometimes I feel like I spend all day watching videos or trying to find an answer on this or that topic. My problem I guess is that I have a hard time applying what I learn to my personal situation. For example, none of the videos I've watched about cats being introduced to puppies are helpful at all. The animals never seem anywhere near as tense as my cats and puppy do when they're even in view of each other.



Yeah the breeder thing was a little sketchy. We let them know from the start that we were new to GSDs and wanted one that was less hyper. Two of the female puppies were absolutely crazy, biting and attacking everything in sight. One grabbed hold of my foot through my sock and would not let go. They had 3 that they said were more quiet, but the one we wanted was picked by someone ahead of us in line, one didn't seem interested in us at all, the third liked my husband but didn't seem interested in me. Savannah seemed really quiet and sat on my lap and licked me and didn't bite at all. So I asked about her and was told "she was worse when she was younger but now she's calmed down a lot". So we picked her and only when she was home and comfortable with us did she show her crazy bitey side.

And we've done the hand feeding with the puppy class, I still feed her a large portion of her diet by hand when I'm training or walking with her. Honestly she does better sometimes when we're out and about than she does at home. Seems kind of backwards.



I've tried that too, my male cat clobbered her multiple times right on the nose and she didn't seem to even notice. And he is not a small cat, he's a maine coon and almost fearless in most situations. His one weakness is his fear of feeling trapped (bad experiences with the vet). He also has a moderate heart murmur, and when he is stressed, he'll start shaking uncontrollably. So far the vet and now the puppy chasing/cornering him are almost the only things I've seen to get that response from him. I even have a video of when they first met, he was completely fine with her and they sniffed each other and interacted great, until he decided he'd had enough of being poked at and left the room.. and she chased him. It was all downhill from there.



I wanted a dog because I have some anxiety about being alone, and I want to spend much more time outdoors/hiking etc. My husband works a lot and is kind of reclusive when he's off work, so I need a companion to go out with, and one big enough to deter random strangers from, you know, "unwanted interactions". She was available at 8 weeks but I asked the breeder to hold her till 10 weeks as I was finishing up a temp job and wanted to have all my time to spend getting to know her. But even all the time in the world doesn't seem like enough and especially not now that my husband is barely able to walk.
Yes, a pup is a lot of work. All those books you've read didn't prepare you for how much work. It's going to be this way for the next half year or so, if not longer. In the grand scheme of life, it's not that long a time. Before you know it, she will have calmed down and you'll appreciate her as a partner/companion. Keep up with the training and everything and one day it'll just "click" with her. You'll be so proud of yourself when that happens. The more work and the more time you put into her, the more she will bond with you. Meanwhile you just have to suck it up and power through it. We've all had to "suffer" through these times. It's a matter of who you are as a person - if you have the determination and work ethic to see it through. If you don't, no big deal. We're all built differently. So, in the terms of poker and blackjack...double down or fold but make that decision soon for your sake and for your dog's.
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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The main problem now that I think about it more is that we're not working on mine or the puppy's timelines, but on everyone else's.

-My husband for wanting to hear her progress every week and how she's the best puppy in class.

-The other handlers in class, a couple of whom have given me dirty looks when my puppy barks or lunges at their puppies. They all have multi-dog households and know nothing about cats. And most of them have smaller dogs (Savannah is the biggest in class). Side note, it's not petsmart, I actually drive 40 mins out of my way to AVOID petsmart. It's a local place that's been around a long time, teaches agility/competition classes as well as obedience and holds competitions there.

-One of my neighbors who has 4 dogs, 3 of them big boxers, that all bark at my puppy whenever we walk by his house. He came out once while we were walking by, told me he'd had GSDs for years and I was doing everything wrong, tried to correct me on things that I was already working on (pulling, chasing cars, etc). His way of managing her from what I could tell was basically to keep her on a tight leash at all times and drag her every step to keep her next to me. Sorry, not doing that with my puppy. I just politely thanked him for his advice and walked away with her. Now I feel self conscious about walking past his house.

-The shelter I foster for, they're already asking when I can take more kittens. I've told them I'm working with the puppy and will let them know when I'm ready.

Anyway I'm not a confrontational person, but maybe I need to try harder to tell people to cut us some slack.

Regarding youtube videos and educating myself, a lot of the videos DO make it look like you can fix any problem in like, 20 mins. I know they're professional trainers but they make everything look easy. I'd really love to at least have a mentor to let me know what's normal and what I'm doing horribly wrong. Everyone I know who owns dogs around here doesn't even train them though.
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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 12:37 PM
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Here are my main issues right now:

1) She is still totally unable to be left alone in the house, even for a second. She steals anything she can get her teeth into, chews everything including the floor, and if I accidentally lose my grip on her leash, she'll run around like a maniac hunting for my cats in every corner, ignoring all commands to come back to me no matter what I offer her. I've tried keeping her tethered to me, with partial success in some rooms, but it hasn't helped her learn to stay near me at this point. She knows what "stay" means but really doesn't care.
Your puppy is too young to be left unsupervised and is also too young to have much in the way of impulse control. Keep her in a crate when you can't put eyeballs on her. In fact, put her in the crate when she acts up and let her calm down. Maybe let her have a chew toy while in the crate.

To help redirect her chewing, take a look at the types of things she chews and get chew toys that match the material. If she's chewing on the carpet, get her a frozen rag or a rope. If she's chewing on smooth surfaces, get her something smooth.

Quote:
2) The biting. OMG the biting. I've tried everything under the sun to get her to stop. From screeching "ow", to biting back, to going off into the corner of the room and pretending to sob about how mean my puppy is. I know that she's in the middle of teething right now. Problem is, she doesn't usually bite during play or anything like that, or I'd just tell her to stop/disengage or crate her if she was being too hyper. Nope, she bites when I'm doing things I NEED to get done, like putting on her harness when I'm buckling her into the car, or wiping her muddy paws when we're coming inside. I know it's partly my fault, she doesn't bite hard enough to break skin but being treated like a meaty chew toy by the creature I'm dedicating so much time to is infuriating and I have a hard time staying calm with her.
Don't screech. Ever. Growl or use a deep voice for your "NO!" instead of "ow". Give her the stone eyes. Look mean and don't look away until you get some kind of appeasement (usually a quick look away from her). Don't pull your hand away, instead push it into her mouth and it'll make her disengage (kind of like "Bleh! Stop! I can't fit this thing!"). Then, the moment she disengages, change your tone, shift to calm and soft, and praise her.

Lol, by the way, I actually DID collapse into a ball of real sobbing one time when puppy Jack nipped my face and tore my work pants. He became very, very confused and concerned about that turn of events. Oddly enough, he stopped nipping at my face after that. I think he understood he was seriously hurting me.

Quote:
3) Harassing my cats. I really need her to understand that they're off limits. I've tried very hard to keep her from chasing them (and they're also getting pretty good at disappearing when they hear her crate being opened). But she also barks at them, LOUDLY, whenever they're in sight. And my younger cat likes to peek around corners and stare at the puppy from afar. She seems very curious about the puppy, just doesn't want to be chased. I've been working with the two of them together on the barking. While Savannah's in her crate with me sitting next to her with (high value) treats, I let the cat come close at her own speed. Every time puppy barks, I hush her and redirect her attention to me, once she's been quiet for a short time she gets a treat. It's worked a bit but when the cat goes past the crate, she just goes ballistic, jumping and barking like crazy and ignoring me completely.
Pet gate with a little door will work perfectly. Set up a section of the house that is the cat-only area where their litter box, food, water, and scratchers/tree/whatever are. This is a place where they can escape and feel safe from the dog. Also put some kind of tree or shelves in the living room (or wherever the family gathers). This will let the cats get out of the way of the dog, and they can watch the puppy from afar. It'll take a loooong time before your puppy can ignore the cats. A very long time.

Make sure you teach the puppy "Place" or a long down. The goal will be to get the dog to stay put while the cats wander around the room. Again, I would start with getting her to understand the general goal and keep your expectations very low. You're not going to see proper self-control for a long time. But now is the time to start shaping her little clay brain so she understands the word and the action. At least she knows roughly what you want.

Quote:
4) She still pulls on the leash. We've been working on this for many weeks now. It's gotten a little better but I'm considering getting her a prong collar just for my husband's sake, as much pain as he's in right now he can't handle her at all. Also it's very hard to walk her with him in any case as she focuses on me even if he's holding the leash, and if I'm walking her, I end up forced to stop a lot to correct her for whatever behavior I don't like, and if he gets too far ahead she tries to drag me to catch up with him. I hate asking him to stop every time and she gets distracted by him as well.
The below steps will have to wait until you get other commands and training shaped clearly and she's older. For example, she'll need to know sit effectively. You need to work on that, engagement, and bonding first. This means more time needs to be spent training basic commands, more time needs to be spent playing, and more time needs to be spent exercising her (not just walking, I mean running around and exploring). Throw training into play if you can by teaching her fetch and teaching her to sit/down before you throw the ball.

But I'll tell you what our trainer told us to do for an adult dog that pulls. So, keep this notation until the time is right for it and if you even need it at a future date. A martingale or a prong collar works best for this (she's far to young for either of these tools right now), but you might be able to correct with a flat collar.

1. When you are stopped, the dog sits. So, before you start walking, put the dog in a sit. Praise for the sit.
2. When you want to start walking, say "Let's go." followed by "Heel". Keep the leash loose enough to make a "J" shape.
3. When the dog gets behind you or ahead of you, pop the leash (not a yank, but a short, strong pop) and say "No. Heel." Always pair your "No" with the correction followed by the command.
4. Every single time the dog is in the correct position, you praise. If you correct and the dog comes back to heel, praise. If you don't have to correct and your dog is staying in place, you praise.
5. Periodically stop and tell the dog to "Sit" (auto-sit will come with time). If the dog doesn't sit in 2 seconds, pop the leash and say "No. Sit." Praise for the sit.
6. Repeat 1-5 as necessary.

For what it's worth, Jack did not know what the word "Heel" meant when we started the exercise. However, he's 3 and has been trained in other aspects (hence my first advice to you) so he picked up on the idea fairly quickly.


For now, train train train, shape shape shape. Teach her the actions and the words, and keep your expectations low.
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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 01:10 PM
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I often feel like a lone voice here telling busy newbies not to get puppies, but instead find an easy-going adult to build skills, learn about the breed, and just enjoy owning a dog. The reason is hard experience in breed rescue: GSD puppies lose homes at an astonishing rate outside the rarified world of high-end, ethical breeders selling to experienced owners who already know how to raise and train them. The return rate for GSD pups out of shelters is astronomical -- and it used to be for our breed rescue too until we brought down the hammer on placing pups only in homes that had owned GSD pups in the past and know what they're getting. I'm quite sure the BYB rate of pups losing homes is just as high as with shelters/rescue as they're not screening homes or providing post-adoption support.

Stories like the one here are very, very common in my world. I get emails from owners like you wanting to give up a very young GSD they bought as a pup from some breeder almost weekly. Owning this pup won't get easier for a couple of years! Adolescence will bring its own set of deeper challenges with most dogs -- the puppy biting may resolve, but butt-headed boundary testing can be even worse.

My current foster is 14 months. She was bought from some breeder somewhere as a darling puppy -- she's a gorgeous dog. She spent most of her time from after age of 3 mo.-4 mo. at my vet's social/playcare boarding because her owner couldn't handle her, was frustrated, and pretty much was done with the dog. They'd leave her for weeks or months, take her home for a bit, apprently then remember how aggravating she was, and then take her back to boarding. The dog grew up very social but so out of control that she had to walk into the vet clinic through a side door -- if she went through the lobby, she'd try to pull all the products on display off shelves and destroy anything she could touch. She was a whirling dervish of wild energy -- they even had her on a low-dose of trazedone to calm her down.

Then the owner told the vet to find her a new home -- and so naturally they called me. I took her in for breed rescue. I took her off meds immediately. She gets lots of exercise, clear leadership, and started OB training immediately. Within two weeks, she walked into the same vet clinic lobby and sat calmly next to me while I paid a bill -- a perfect dog. The difference? Who's holding the leash (and prong collar). All she needed was a home that understands she's an energetic adolescent who needs an appropriate outlet, leadership, and clear communication. She's super-smart, highly biddable and great at obedience games -- but she's also not given freedom to get herself into trouble at my house. We set her up to be a good dog and crate her when she's not being supervised. Can she still be frustrating? SURE! Is it her fault? Nope.

There's nothing "wrong" with my foster dog. She's just young, rambunctious and curious--as a dog should be at this age. She was just in the wrong hands before.

Think about whether your pup might be too -- and rehome sooner than later if she is, as it will probably only get worse for you during adolescence.

Last edited by Magwart; 05-11-2019 at 01:16 PM.
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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 01:14 PM
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Oh dear. I can feel your overloaded stress thru this post. You need to learn to say No and set boundaries. It's truly liberating.

1. Tell your husband to stop. You don't need that pressure. It should be fun, not a contest.

2. Find a private trainer. You will get so much more out of it. Those group classes really aren't cut out for high drive dogs. A private trainer will help you with engagement too which will solve a LOT of your issues. The agility people can really show you how to do this and redirect her energy. Then put her in a group class for exposure and control. And make sure it's a class where the dogs are ahead of her in obedience so you only have to focus on her, not what others are doing.

If you continue with the group classes, ignore the other people. Focus 100% on your puppy.

3. Tell your neighbor to Shut It and keep your hands off your dog. And to control his own dogs.

4. And just tell the shelter No. You will get back to them when you are able to foster again but right now you need to focus on your own. They WILL understand. I know it will make you feel guilty but you are not responsible for other people's poor choices. You are responsible for your puppy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Amancila View Post
The main problem now that I think about it more is that we're not working on mine or the puppy's timelines, but on everyone else's.

-My husband for wanting to hear her progress every week and how she's the best puppy in class.

-The other handlers in class, a couple of whom have given me dirty looks when my puppy barks or lunges at their puppies. They all have multi-dog households and know nothing about cats. And most of them have smaller dogs (Savannah is the biggest in class). Side note, it's not petsmart, I actually drive 40 mins out of my way to AVOID petsmart. It's a local place that's been around a long time, teaches agility/competition classes as well as obedience and holds competitions there.

-One of my neighbors who has 4 dogs, 3 of them big boxers, that all bark at my puppy whenever we walk by his house. He came out once while we were walking by, told me he'd had GSDs for years and I was doing everything wrong, tried to correct me on things that I was already working on (pulling, chasing cars, etc). His way of managing her from what I could tell was basically to keep her on a tight leash at all times and drag her every step to keep her next to me. Sorry, not doing that with my puppy. I just politely thanked him for his advice and walked away with her. Now I feel self conscious about walking past his house.

-The shelter I foster for, they're already asking when I can take more kittens. I've told them I'm working with the puppy and will let them know when I'm ready.

Anyway I'm not a confrontational person, but maybe I need to try harder to tell people to cut us some slack.

Regarding youtube videos and educating myself, a lot of the videos DO make it look like you can fix any problem in like, 20 mins. I know they're professional trainers but they make everything look easy. I'd really love to at least have a mentor to let me know what's normal and what I'm doing horribly wrong. Everyone I know who owns dogs around here doesn't even train them though.
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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 01:22 PM
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Good trainers might be able to solve some problems in 30 minutes or less. The problem with a new dog owner is that they don't see the subtle signs and indications that the pup is starting to get it. They don't know what those things look like and don't react appropriately when that change happens, giving the pup the chance to do the right thing. They keep repeating what they are already doing and the puppy gets confused, not knowing how to react, when she thought she was starting to understand what was wanted of her.

It has happened to us all. We all started somewhere. The good thing is that dogs are incredibly forgiving and will keep trying even if the owners can't see that they are.

Training is about training the owners how to communicate with their pups and see those subtle changes. A good trainer should teach you how to react appropriately to the pup at those times. It's not that everyone can't learn to see these things. But that takes time and work and learning what to watch for, and it takes a lot of concentration on your part. Look for those subtle clues and reward the pup when you see them. Those are the building blocks of making a good dog and reliable partner.

I hope I'm making sense here. I'm not very good at explaining what I mean.

At this point, I would not walk this pup with your husband. He doesn't need any more injuries that could easily happen with the puppy. Walk the pup at a different time. Put her in the crate when you can't watch her 100% of the time. And make sure she has plenty of time to run and expend her energy to tire herself out.
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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old 05-11-2019, 02:00 PM
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Here is another lone voice in the crowd.

First and most importantly, NEVER LET A DOG AND A CAT WORK THINGS OUT. Things can go south in a few seconds and there won't be any turning back. Don't do it!!!

Your dog is not much different than a four or five year old child right now. Keep your expectations in line with this.

Dogs have inherent drives and needs that need to be addressed. When you don't do this, that is when problems really start to develop. My first words of advice to any new German Shepherd owner is that this breed needs to run free, unfettered by small yards, fences and long lines. To simplify, they need space where they can run long distances without interference, long distances for them, not what you think is a long distance. That doesn't mean the area can't be fenced, it means the area must be large.

Sometimes that is not always possible and it is not always necessary. There are other things you can do. Read the the two short articles linked for things you should know about how to walk your dog.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/b...ink-positively

https://www.behaviormatters.academy/...-hate-his-walk

Doing the above will eliminate a lot of the problems that people inadvertently create in their puppy.

1) You stated that you were looking for a hiking companion. Do it and make sure that your puppy gets to be a puppy and do plenty of doggie things. Do not micromanage. Chill and enjoy your hike and let her have fun too.

2) Have you tried giving her some big, raw, meaty soup bones to satisfy her teething and to occupy her time? How about deer antlers or something similar?

3) I am retired from cat rescue, still have some here looking for homes that will probably spend the rest of their time here as they are getting older. I specialized in ferals and special needs, the types that dogs find extra appealing. Never let your puppy chase cats. Tethering her to you, keeping her loose but on a drag line, or crating will help you with that. See the above about keeping her well exercised, and for addressing her drives and needs. Those two things alone will resolve most of your specific cat issues.

4) There are a lot of people on this forum that don't put a leash on their puppies until after they are a year old or more. Constant leashing can create a lot of bad habits such as leash frustration which can escalate to things much worse. Of course there are times when traffic and other things mandate a leash. I would like to think that you are not doing most of your walking on manmade surfaces as that is very hard on a puppy's joints and is not recommended for any distance or duration. Have you tried hiking off leash with her in a quiet and less traveled area?

IMO, the behaviors you are describing are that of a puppy screaming to be a dog, to have fun, to do things she wants to do, to be a dog sometimes. My advice is to address the above items before paying money to a dog trainer. Your money will be much better spent training a puppy that has been well exercised and has had its drives met. She will be far more receptive to you when she is not overloaded with energy and frustration.
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