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Hi all. I adopted a 3-year-old GSD (or mix...not quite sure, see pic!) about a month ago. It was kinda hard at first, but I think we're getting into a routine. She went into heat 5 days after I got her which complicated things, but I've had her wearing a diaper in the house while I'm home, not leaving her outside unsupervised, and crating her (sans diaper) when I go away. Her heat is winding down now so I'm thinking I can lose the diaper.

Anyway...I have a rather busy full-time job (I'm a wildlife biologist) with a sometimes unpredictable schedule, and I'm single with no other dogs, so I kinda worry that my life is not going to be stimulating enough for her. Plus I'm trying to do all the right things with feeding schedules to reduce the odds of bloat. So what do you think about the schedule below?

6:20: Wake up.

6:25: Feed breakfast to pup.

7:25ish: Go for a relaxed walk to pee and poop, generally only 15-20 minutes and low intensity. She likes to sniff a lot and I let her because I just want her to pee and poop (she refuses to do it in the yard).

7:45: Back home, she goes in the crate and I go to work.

12-2ish: I come back home to let her out (she usually doesn't have to pee--she has mondo bladder) and play with her for a bit. I'd really like to be able to just leave her until 4 when I get home from work, but I've been nervous about doing that. So far she seems fine when I come home, like she's just been sleeping in there all day. Ideally I'd like to just let her roam in the house or, even better, outside (I feel like she'd be less bored in the yard) while I'm gone, but because of the heat and my not quite trusting her to be alone yet, she's in the crate. Luckily she loves her crate, it seems.

~4:00: We go for a longer walk or a run, about an hour. There's a park where I can let her off leash and she trots around and we work on recall (she is REALLY good on recall, and I usually let her run ahead, then run backward and she turns and sprints back to me). When I'm sure the heat is over, and after she's spayed, I'll take her to the dog park some days.

~5:00: Hang around the house, I watch the news and let her decompress after exercise. She's generally pretty annoying because she wants her dinner, so she follows me everywhere and kinda paces and whines.

6-630ish: Feed her dinner.

6:30-rest of evening: Hang around, maybe do some training for 15-20 minutes, cuddles. I'll take her out for one last bathroom break around 9pm which she may or may not pee (like I said, mondo bladder). I'm trying to train her to pee on command but it happens so infrequently it's taking some time.

Bedtime: Back in crate.

Sometimes I'll go out for a couple of hours in the evening and she goes back in the crate. Sometimes I get to do field work during the day, like hiking/driving around, and she'll come with me and get some really good exercise/stimulation. She's pretty annoying in the car/truck (whines incessantly) so that's making me hesitant to take her places that aren't close.

She generally is pretty calm and will just lie on her bed and sigh and seem kinda bored. She hasn't shown any destructive tendencies, although one time I took a shower before I fed her, and came out to find she'd pulled her treat bag off the table and torn it apart and eaten everything in there (luckily there wasn't much left). She's really not into toys and she powers through chewy treats. I've taken to putting some stuff in a Kong and leaving it with her in the morning when I crate her, and she likes that.

Sorry, TLDR, but...I just worry that I'm not giving her enough exercise/stimulation. She gets at least 1.5 hours of exercise every day, and more when I can. She's not hugely into playing; I wish I could just throw the ball around for her, but she's not really into it. She's HIGHLY food motivated and pretty smart, so I'm hoping to teach her some new tricks. I really wish we could do something really cool like tracking or agility but I live in a small town and there's not a whole lot of opportunities. Maybe I can build some agility stuff in the yard...

ANyway, still TLDR! Sorry. But I'd love to hear your thoughts. and I know there have been lots of posts about daily schedules and I read them ALL! But it seems like every case is different so....let me know what you think.
 

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I think you are overthinking this. Give her the time you can during the day. Take her for hikes or other activities when you can on the weekends. Not a fan of dog parks. Our dogs don't need to play with dogs outside their pack. YOU are her pack now. I'm willing to bet she'll get more pleasure playing with you than with strange dogs.

Dogs really are simple life pleasures kind of creatures :) Just enjoy her.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I can take her with me some days, yes. She's pretty good on trails (I live in Montana so there are LOTS of hiking opportunities), though she's timid and scared of strangers so when we encounter someone on the trail it can be a little tense.

But a lot of my job involves me flying in planes (can't take her), going to meetings (can't take her, or she waits in the vehicle), or doing office work. My office does allow me to bring my dog sometimes but she gets REALLY anxious there because of all the strangers. I might bring the spare crate there so I can bring her and she can feel safe in there. Plus she's just really distracting and I don't get as much work done.

Thanks for the replies; I sure hope I'm giving her a good life, but yeah, being single and having a 40+ hour/week job and then being pretty mentally and physically drained on my time off, I just worry she's going to get too bored and/or not have a great quality of life.
 

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though she's timid and scared of strangers so when we encounter someone on the trail it can be a little tense.
so help her. If she'll take treats from them, ask them to help you. I've only had one person tell me no. When strangers pass by, stop and let her sit if you can get off the trail, or on the side of it. Let her just watch them go by and reward her for just watching.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am. We're doing quite a bit of training to try to help her be more confident. She's generally OK with people once I "introduce" them to her, and she may never rush up to strangers wagging her tail, it'll just have to be something we manage. I carry treats on our walks, am planning on having them available for house guests so they can feed her, I just haven't had a lot of house guests since I got her.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
What's wrong with dog parks?

For the record I live in a small town, and our dog park is generally pretty lightly trafficked. I've taken her there only once so far (before she went into heat), and she loooooved playing with the two other dogs that were there. She really likes playing with other dogs so I feel bad depriving her of doggy friends. But I am hoping I can take her to friends' now and then, dogs I know she'll get along with and they can wear each other out.

That one time we went to the dog park, she was really having fun playing fetch with the other dogs. She won't play fetch with me (doesn't show much interest in balls at all), but it was almost like she was learning how to do it by watching them. She was chasing the ball right along with them, just didn't know what to do with it.

**edit** I should also point out that this dog park is technically the only place in town we're allowed to let dogs off leash. There are three other river parks but they have leash rules. I break these rules frequently because my pup has good recall, I want her to be able to run around, she always stays pretty close, and I watch for other people/dogs like a hawk so I can leash her back up before we get to them. I have taken her to the dog park a couple of times early in the morning when there were no other dogs, so she could run around off-leash.
 

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What's wrong with dog parks?

For the record I live in a small town, and our dog park is generally pretty lightly trafficked. I've taken her there only once so far (before she went into heat), and she loooooved playing with the two other dogs that were there. She really likes playing with other dogs so I feel bad depriving her of doggy friends. But I am hoping I can take her to friends' now and then, dogs I know she'll get along with and they can wear each other out.

That one time we went to the dog park, she was really having fun playing fetch with the other dogs. She won't play fetch with me (doesn't show much interest in balls at all), but it was almost like she was learning how to do it by watching them. She was chasing the ball right along with them, just didn't know what to do with it.

**edit** I should also point out that this dog park is technically the only place in town we're allowed to let dogs off leash. There are three other river parks but they have leash rules. I break these rules frequently because my pup has good recall, I want her to be able to run around, she always stays pretty close, and I watch for other people/dogs like a hawk so I can leash her back up before we get to them. I have taken her to the dog park a couple of times early in the morning when there were no other dogs, so she could run around off-leash.
Hi there! Also in MT. Sounds like you're doing great by your pup, bet she'd love some mental stimulation and an at home agility course could be fun. And then depending on where you're at depends on my advice, any of the bigger cities Missoula, Helena, Billings, Bozeman I'd stay away from dog parks. The ones in Bozeman are awful for dog fights and diseases. Somebody brought a ferret to one of them. There should be some good places to go offleash and in the smaller city areas leash laws usually aren't reallyl enforced if you keep track of your dog. The main places leashes are enforced in say Bozeman would be in town and in some fishing access areas but on trails it isn't enforced at all. Over on the eastern side of the state/small towns nobody really cares to be honest from what I've grew up with. They did start enforcing no dogs in my hometown in one big park though because people weren't picking up poo and too many big events go on there.

If you're in Montana though it should be pretty easy regardless of where you're located to find some great places to let your pup offleash. There are more than just parks there's so much state land/forest etc. all over surrounding most towns.

It sounds like you're doing good activity wise and I totally get the frustration on trying to teach a dog to play with toys. If you keep at it you might have luck. I got a big soccer ball type thing I threw my pup for awhile because it was more fun for her to chase and worked my way to tennis balls. It took a long time to get her really into toys. I just bought a couple of them and danced around and tried to make them as fun as possible for her and she started getting the hang of it. Like if she bit onto the rope toy I'd run with her instead of tugging because she didn't understand tug yet.

Also random but I'm pretty sure I saw this pup advertised on Facebook, hope you're enjoying her!
 

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Hi there! Also in MT. Sounds like you're doing great by your pup, bet she'd love some mental stimulation and an at home agility course could be fun. And then depending on where you're at depends on my advice, any of the bigger cities Missoula, Helena, Billings, Bozeman I'd stay away from dog parks. The ones in Bozeman are awful for dog fights and diseases. Somebody brought a ferret to one of them. There should be some good places to go offleash and in the smaller city areas leash laws usually aren't reallyl enforced if you keep track of your dog. The main places leashes are enforced in say Bozeman would be in town and in some fishing access areas but on trails it isn't enforced at all. Over on the eastern side of the state/small towns nobody really cares to be honest from what I've grew up with. They did start enforcing no dogs in my hometown in one big park though because people weren't picking up poo and too many big events go on there.

If you're in Montana though it should be pretty easy regardless of where you're located to find some great places to let your pup offleash. There are more than just parks there's so much state land/forest etc. all over surrounding most towns.

It sounds like you're doing good activity wise and I totally get the frustration on trying to teach a dog to play with toys. If you keep at it you might have luck. I got a big soccer ball type thing I threw my pup for awhile because it was more fun for her to chase and worked my way to tennis balls. It took a long time to get her really into toys. I just bought a couple of them and danced around and tried to make them as fun as possible for her and she started getting the hang of it. Like if she bit onto the rope toy I'd run with her instead of tugging because she didn't understand tug yet.

Also random but I'm pretty sure I saw this pup advertised on Facebook, hope you're enjoying her!
Haha yep, bet it's her. She was on both craigslist and facebook.

I live in Hamilton. Pop: 4000ish in town. I can absolutely take her to trails in the forest, I just like the city parks because they're right outside my door (one of them is literally a block away) and we don't have to drive (she's SUPER WHINY in the car, from excitement I think, and I don't know how to stop it). The dog park is maybe 1-2 acres in size and I probably won't take her there if it's especially busy; when I took her there before, we were the first ones there and I kinda evaluated each new dog as it arrived. I was totally prepared to go home if things looked at all like they were going to get out of hand. I think most people go there because they have dogs that like to fetch, and the dog park has enough room to do that.

Honestly I think SHE might end up being the problem in dog parks....she loves to play with other dogs but she can get a little rambunctious. I definitely feel like she was never properly socialized so while she gets along with dogs, she doesn't know when to back off. Yesterday we went for a walk in the park, off leash, and met some friends of mine; my pup and her pup played and chased each other and it was awesome, until my dog ran full speed right into my friend's knee.

Anyway...I've had her for about 4 weeks now so we're both still learning.
 

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Haha yep, bet it's her. She was on both craigslist and facebook.

I live in Hamilton. Pop: 4000ish in town. I can absolutely take her to trails in the forest, I just like the city parks because they're right outside my door (one of them is literally a block away) and we don't have to drive (she's SUPER WHINY in the car, from excitement I think, and I don't know how to stop it). The dog park is maybe 1-2 acres in size and I probably won't take her there if it's especially busy; when I took her there before, we were the first ones there and I kinda evaluated each new dog as it arrived. I was totally prepared to go home if things looked at all like they were going to get out of hand. I think most people go there because they have dogs that like to fetch, and the dog park has enough room to do that.

Honestly I think SHE might end up being the problem in dog parks....she loves to play with other dogs but she can get a little rambunctious. I definitely feel like she was never properly socialized so while she gets along with dogs, she doesn't know when to back off. Yesterday we went for a walk in the park, off leash, and met some friends of mine; my pup and her pup played and chased each other and it was awesome, until my dog ran full speed right into my friend's knee.

Anyway...I've had her for about 4 weeks now so we're both still learning.
Ouch! Yeah I've had to work on my dogs to learn to keep space when they're playing. I get after them whenever they run too close while playing because it could be a bad wreck. It works pretty good once they learn it though.

There's a couple things you can do with vehicles. One thing is just working in the vehicle without going anywhere. So put her in there, load and unload. Maybe sit in there for a few and then hop back out. I know people who fed their dogs in their vehicles for some meals, but that's more for dogs who were scared of them. Ideally though you're teaching her that she doesn't need to get so worked up when in the vehicle because you aren't necessarily going anywhere. Could also just try a quick drive around the block eventually. She may start looking at you like you're crazy but hopefully help tone her down. But the goal is hey yeah we're in the vehicle but it isn't anything special.

Also wondering if it's excitement or some stress? Ever since I took my dog into be spayed she's been a bit stressed by car rides. Maybe the sudden move could have her unsettled? Or could it's just she's learned car rides mean fun time.

They do sell calming stuff at petsmart/petco if you can make it to one of them sometime or try ordering online. That might work as well.
 

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Off hand the only adjustment I'd make with your mild mannered dog would be to not crate her at night while I'm in the house. I take comfort that saint sleeps by my side and when I get up ...he's up with me.
 

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She may never rush up to strangers wagging her tail, it'll just have to be something we manage.
She shouldn't do that instinctively anyway. She's a German Shepherd. They're not meant to be like a lab or a golden. They naturally prefer to just ignore everybody and be a little aloof.

I'd shoot for just ignoring strangers on hiking trails. She needs to learn that when strangers are present, nothing happens. Nothing at all. People just go by, minding their own business, and there's nothing for her to worry about. No one's trying to pet her. No one's getting in her space. Everyone's just doing their own thing. That's a lot more comforting to an anxious dog than meeting people. Meeting people just makes the anxiety worse.
 

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Off hand the only adjustment I'd make with your mild mannered dog would be to not crate her at night while I'm in the house. I take comfort that saint sleeps by my side and when I get up ...he's up with me.
We're getting there; that'll be my next move. I was waiting until she was out of heat; I'd rather she was able to sleep in her crate without her diaper on, than having to wear the diaper all night. I don't know if I'll let her sleep in my room or not; I kinda like having one place in my small house that is relatively hair-free (she sheds like a maniac), plus she fidgets a lot and I'm a light sleeper. Her crate is in the living room.

She shouldn't do that instinctively anyway. She's a German Shepherd. They're not meant to be like a lab or a golden. They naturally prefer to just ignore everybody and be a little aloof.

I'd shoot for just ignoring strangers on hiking trails. She needs to learn that when strangers are present, nothing happens. Nothing at all. People just go by, minding their own business, and there's nothing for her to worry about. No one's trying to pet her. No one's getting in her space. Everyone's just doing their own thing. That's a lot more comforting to an anxious dog than meeting people. Meeting people just makes the anxiety worse.
Good point. I'd be OK with that. Right now she low growls and avoids, but occasionally she'll kinda get triggered somehow and bark ferociously and it has scared some folks. I've had two sessions with a trainer so far who came to my house. The pup seems to be OK when people come in and she's loose in the house (growls but then approaches, sniffs, and then either is fine or backs off) but we tried putting her in the crate as people came in and she LOST HER MIND barking. The trainer didn't quite know what to make of it, thought maybe she was resource guarding me. Regardless, she's a pretty insecure dog. Maybe that will get better with time.
 

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Here's what I would do if I were in your situation.

The things we know are: She likes her crate. She likes to be with you. Car rides are fun, but SPECIAL so they are super exciting. She has good recall and she's a little nervous around strangers. You can take her to work in the office. You can take her along on some of your outdoor activities. You like spending time with her and want her to lead a fulfilling life.

I would take this dog everywhere with me that I could. I would take her to work at the office. I would crate her in the car when I had to. Appropriate equipment and practices are necessary here, but it can be done. I have trained in death valley with dogs in the vehicle 12 plus hours a day for months at a time.

You will see some changes in the dog pretty quickly. Rides will become normal, so the over excitement will fade over time. She will become better with strangers because that will become normal as well. I don't see the need to encourage people to interact with her. If she solicits attention, that's fine, but I would politely ask people to leave her be unless she approaches them. The more normal things become, the more she will realize she doesn't need to worry about stuff.

There is no more fulfilling life for a dog than to be with you as much as possible. Getting to go on little adventures everyday with daddy is just the best thing ever.

You could also train her to find antler sheds or bear scat or something that may be fun for her and helpful for your job.
 

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Good point. I'd be OK with that. Right now she low growls and avoids, but occasionally she'll kinda get triggered somehow and bark ferociously and it has scared some folks. I've had two sessions with a trainer so far who came to my house. The pup seems to be OK when people come in and she's loose in the house (growls but then approaches, sniffs, and then either is fine or backs off) but we tried putting her in the crate as people came in and she LOST HER MIND barking. The trainer didn't quite know what to make of it, thought maybe she was resource guarding me. Regardless, she's a pretty insecure dog. Maybe that will get better with time.
She was scared and might have felt cornered while in that crate. Is the trainer teaching everyone to ignore the dog? How about teaching you to help her settle and calm herself? If not, I'd ask them to teach you about that.

A good goal would be: Guests mean nothing happens, yawn, boring, dog decides to go lay down quietly. A dog laying down quietly and at peace is a dog that is comfortable with what is going on around it. Confident that nothing particularly nerve-wracking will happen.

Maybe teach her to go into her crate for laying down. Now you've added an out for her. She can go escape to her crate, confident that she will be left alone in her own territory. The humans, by ignoring her, are showing that they respect her space in her territory and will not further intrude.
 

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She was scared and might have felt cornered while in that crate. Is the trainer teaching everyone to ignore the dog? How about teaching you to help her settle and calm herself? If not, I'd ask them to teach you about that.

A good goal would be: Strangers or guests mean nothing happens, yawn, boring, dog decides to go lay down quietly. A dog laying down quietly and at peace is a dog that is comfortable with what is going on around it. Confident that nothing particularly nerve-wracking will happen.

Maybe teach her to go into her crate for laying down. Now you've added an out for her. She can go escape to her crate, confident that she will be left alone in her own territory. The humans, by ignoring her, are showing that they respect her space in her territory and will not further intrude.
To add to this idea, which I think is a great one, I would get a crate for her at work. I like the plastic crates for shy dogs as they create a better sense of security.
 

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We're getting there; that'll be my next move. I was waiting until she was out of heat; I'd rather she was able to sleep in her crate without her diaper on, than having to wear the diaper all night. I don't know if I'll let her sleep in my room or not; I kinda like having one place in my small house that is relatively hair-free (she sheds like a maniac), plus she fidgets a lot and I'm a light sleeper. Her crate is in the living room.



Good point. I'd be OK with that. Right now she low growls and avoids, but occasionally she'll kinda get triggered somehow and bark ferociously and it has scared some folks. I've had two sessions with a trainer so far who came to my house. The pup seems to be OK when people come in and she's loose in the house (growls but then approaches, sniffs, and then either is fine or backs off) but we tried putting her in the crate as people came in and she LOST HER MIND barking. The trainer didn't quite know what to make of it, thought maybe she was resource guarding me. Regardless, she's a pretty insecure dog. Maybe that will get better with time.

Crate Games. The DVD is only about $30. Make going in to the crate a game and a safe, calm, place to be. All good things happen in the crate. Treats. Meals.
 
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