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Discussion Starter #1
Gypsy just had her 4 month birthday and despite near constant attention and training, she is completely out of control. For example, out of the blue she decided to jump onto the bed on pee. (She is potty trained, so this was a surprise.) She is destructive as well. And despite numerous reprimands, she continues to want to bite. (My arms are in shreds from puppy teeth. I've taken to doing physically grabbing her by the scruff of the neck and pinning her to the floor when she bites. This correction lasts about 15 seconds and she's right back doing it again. It's like trying to tame a mountain lion. The odd part is that is actually learns commands easily. She just decides that she doesn't want to behave and goes into the "I'm going rogue. Try and stop me" mode.

I've tried to tire her out. I run her nearly two miles every morning and that used to be good for a few hours of peace. But now that just fires her up.

This is not my first shepherd by any means. And I've had a wolf hybrid. But Gypsy is a whole order of magnitude more of trouble than her predecessors. A shock collar is starting to look really attractive about now. This is the most headstrong dog I've ever come across. I'm open to suggestions.
 

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Is she crate trained? When she gets really amped up, I’d crate her. She’s probably overtired. Are you working on teaching her to be calm? That’s just as important as tiring her out with exercise. Also, a puppy as young as yours should not be run for 2 miles. Free running and playing is fine, but the forced pace and repetitive motion of a longer run are terrible for growing puppies.
 

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I would also immediately stop pinning her when she bites. That is not going to get you anywhere, and she will stop trusting you. It will only damage the relationship. Instead, get a toy and play with her with it. Don’t just expect her to play on her own. If you can’t play in that moment or that isn’t working so well either, put her in her crate for a little while. She likely needs time to herself to rest and calm down.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
She outgrew her crate and she never really accepted it. (Lots of screaming.) For now, I've taken to tying her to tree outside when she needs a time out. I would just let her run free, but she throws herself at the windows trying to get back inside and I'm afraid there's going to be broken glass and a lot of blood.

Teaching her to be calm has been fruitless so far. She quickly gets bored at being calm and the problems start right up again. Right now, I've decided to go from your basic alpha-leader to hard-core drill instructor. Enticements with treats and simple verbal corrections are just being ignored. I don't want to go full-bore nasty with her. But I think she still hasn't accepted that there is just one boss.
 

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You need a trainer. Your puppy has learned that if she fusses enough, she’ll get her way. This is not a problem with her, this is a problem with how you are managing her. No puppy likes to be forced to practice being calm. That doesn’t mean we give up and don’t work on it. She’s very young, and if you go full on drill sergeant with her you are just going to damage your relationship. Stop thinking you need to dominate your puppy and work on building real engagement instead. I’d reintroduce an appropriately sized crate. Try Susan Garrett’s Crate Games.
 

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She outgrew her crate and she never really accepted it. (Lots of screaming.) For now, I've taken to tying her to tree outside when she needs a time out. I would just let her run free, but she throws herself at the windows trying to get back inside and I'm afraid there's going to be broken glass and a lot of blood.

Teaching her to be calm has been fruitless so far. She quickly gets bored at being calm and the problems start right up again. Right now, I've decided to go from your basic alpha-leader to hard-core drill instructor. Enticements with treats and simple verbal corrections are just being ignored. I don't want to go full-bore nasty with her. But I think she still hasn't accepted that there is just one boss.
Don't mean to be harsh, you are not the "boss", instead it sounds like your approach has already been WAY too heavy handed! You are not teaching your dog, you're bullying her. It simply is not possible to correct the puppy for being a puppy, biting is an integral part of that! Peeing on your bed is her way of telling you what she thinks of that! She sounds like a good puppy!

So take a step back, change your perspective, lead your bundle of energy TOWARD behaviors you want to see. Praise and reward profusely! Learn to read her better and preempt the biting with play, loose this whole domineering attitude, play, engage, steer her with praise. Keep plenty of plastic bottles and cardboard boxes on hand for her to bite and play with! Lead her on exploration adventures in the backyard, or on trails. She's not being bad, she's showing her frustration (just like you are showing her yours)!

If you opt for your "full out drill instructor" mode, as you put it, I predict this dog will retaliate in the future!
 

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I will apologize, in advance, for the abrupt quality of my comments but I literally have 5 minutes before I have to jump on a call. Here's what I see and would recommend, in no particular order of priority.

1. Re-examine your attitude. Whatever her size, this is still a baby. A baby who apparently hasn't learned the rudiments of self-control. That's on you. Ditch the alpha/drill instructor stuff and refocus on training with a healthy dose of patience and what may feel like endless repetitions. The old adage is still true: "Training Takes Time."

2. I don't know about you, but I've never had a puppy that learned to calm down overnight or completely on its own. We (owners) have to teach that and we do it by restricting the puppy to a smaller space (e.g., laundry room) or, preferably, a crate. I don't like tie-outs, frankly, and I abhor them for puppies. What tie-outs seem to do (IME) is ramp up frustration (hence the noisy protest) with very little benefit and a LOT of risk (e.g., injury, death by strangulation, etc.).

3. Go back to crating, but do it better this time. Search this list for Crate Games; lots of good ideas there. You've got to teach her that the crate means quiet time; no exciting encounters with you (or anybody else) no matter how much she protests.

4. Find a GSD experienced, reputable trainer and have them observe how you interact with and train the puppy. S/he will likely have more than a few suggestions for the best way to go forward and we all can benefit from an extra set of eyes, no matter how experienced we may be.

5. Post pictures; I like hellions myself. ;)

Gotta go,

Aly
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Gypsy has learned to take advantage of people being patient with her. There's a real concern that she's going to carry this idea into adulthood. Being her best friend has become something to exploit. I do hear you and understand that there's a potential downside to zero-tolerance training. But her behavior is exceptionally bad even by puppy standards and it has to stop. I don't want to do it, but she's become a hazard in the household. Everyone here has been bloodied by her. I've lost count of how many shirts and pants she has ripped up (while I was wearing them no less). I'm not kidding when I say a mountain lion would be safer in the house.
 

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I do hear you and understand that there's a potential downside to zero-tolerance training. But her behavior is exceptionally bad even by puppy standards and it has to stop. I don't want to do it, but she's become a hazard in the household. Everyone here has been bloodied by her.
But do you understand that your "zero-tolerance" approach is what got you here? Continue on this path and you'll either (a) completely break your dog's spirit, or (b) escalate the biting to a point that will soon become dangerous for you and your family! Seriously, hire a trainer to help you get a handle on repairing your relationship and training methodology, or re-home this puppy before you ruin her!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
But do you understand that your "zero-tolerance" approach is what got you here? Continue on this path and you'll either (a) completely break your dog's spirit, or (b) escalate the biting to a point that will soon become dangerous for you and your family! Seriously, hire a trainer to help you get a handle on repairing your relationship and training methodology, or re-home this puppy before you ruin her!
I think you misunderstood about the zero-tolerance. I have been using the reward and patience method up until now. The zero-tolerance is something that was started today because being the nice guy/best friend method was simply not working. Let me say this again in another way: Her behavior is physically injuring members of the household. Everyone's arms are covered in scabs, cuts and scrapes from her biting behavior and it's been that way for the last 2 months despite patience and attempts to redirect her teeth to her toys. I've taken to wearing thick blue jean pants and a heavy denim long sleeve jacket as protection despite the near 100 degree heat. Not very comfortable, but my arms are finally healing.
 

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I think you misunderstood about the zero-tolerance. I have been using the reward and patience method up until now. The zero-tolerance is something that was started today because being the nice guy/best friend method was simply not working. Let me say this again in another way: Her behavior is physically injuring members of the household. Everyone's arms are covered in scabs, cuts and scrapes from her biting behavior and it's been that way for the last 2 months despite patience and attempts to redirect her teeth to her toys. I've taken to wearing thick blue jean pants and a heavy denim long sleeve jacket as protection despite the near 100 degree heat. Not very comfortable, but my arms are finally healing.
This sounds like a GSD puppy. There are so many members here that have scars from their pups. That is completely normal, and there is nothing wrong with her. Going after her in an aggressive manner and treating her like she's being a bad dog is not going to help. She is doing what puppies do. She is not doing anything wrong.

She does sound like she needs work on impulse control and consistency, but you keep saying things that imply you think something is wrong with her. She is 4 months old. She is not an adult. It will take months of patience, and if you can't handle that, you should not have a puppy. Please get a good trainer and stop expecting so much of her.
 

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Do you have Gypsy on a leash? Energy like this needs control. I would have her tethered to me when not confined until she learns how to behave.

Have you redirected the biting with tugs and toys? I carried toys around with me with my puppies. Seriously! I have an apron thing with pockets, and would pull out their favorite toys. When they got mouthy, I offered or enticed them to bite a tug instead of me:grin2: and made a game of it.

I may not be getting the whole picture correct, but she sounds like an energetic pup who wants to engage and play with you. She wants your attention.

If redirecting works, then you can use that to get little OB behaviors. Example: "Sit" then offer the tug or ball or toy and play.

Maybe more of that kind of engagement, instead of just running , would work to tire her and help her to relax more.

OR, you can send her to me! I love the little whirlwinds!>:)
 

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I think you misunderstood about the zero-tolerance. I have been using the reward and patience method up until now. The zero-tolerance is something that was started today because being the nice guy/best friend method was simply not working. Let me say this again in another way: Her behavior is physically injuring members of the household. Everyone's arms are covered in scabs, cuts and scrapes from her biting behavior and it's been that way for the last 2 months despite patience and attempts to redirect her teeth to her toys. I've taken to wearing thick blue jean pants and a heavy denim long sleeve jacket as protection despite the near 100 degree heat. Not very comfortable, but my arms are finally healing.
I don't think reward, patience and zero tolerance are mutually exclusive. It seems like you've swung from one methodology to a far extreme other one.

I don't think scruffing the pup and pinning her to the ground is going to get you anywhere.

I don't think tying her to a tree is going to get you anywhere.

I agree start over with crate training and best case scenario find a trainer to teach you that you can be a patient, fair leader and offer a ton of rewards, WITHOUT being a pushover who is used as a chew toy and not respected.

Does she know how to eat a kong? Bully stick? Raw marrow bone? Get this little beastie busy gnawing on something that isn't you.

Does she know how to play tug?

Any mental stimulation? Can you start feeding her by making her track for her food? That'll wear her out without wrecking her joints and bonus she will know how to do something cool when you're done. Except, you may be in fire ant country so that may be a no go.
 

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I think you misunderstood about the zero-tolerance. I have been using the reward and patience method up until now. The zero-tolerance is something that was started today because being the nice guy/best friend method was simply not working. Let me say this again in another way: Her behavior is physically injuring members of the household. Everyone's arms are covered in scabs, cuts and scrapes from her biting behavior and it's been that way for the last 2 months despite patience and attempts to redirect her teeth to her toys. I've taken to wearing thick blue jean pants and a heavy denim long sleeve jacket as protection despite the near 100 degree heat. Not very comfortable, but my arms are finally healing.
Perhaps I did get that wrong if it's not something you've done in the past. My apologies! What I was going by is what you said in your original post:

And despite numerous reprimands, she continues to want to bite. (My arms are in shreds from puppy teeth. I've taken to doing physically grabbing her by the scruff of the neck and pinning her to the floor when she bites. This correction lasts about 15 seconds and she's right back doing it again. It's like trying to tame a mountain lion. The odd part is that is actually learns commands easily. She just decides that she doesn't want to behave and goes into the "I'm going rogue. Try and stop me" mode.
I just raised a puppy, who is now 18 months, and I can count on 1 hand the number of corrections I have given her before she was 6 months old! I never "grabbed her by the scruff of the neck for anything, nor did I ever feel the need! What I did do, and what I'm suggesting you do, is lead your puppy to behaviors you want. Just a little preemptive redirection works wonders! And the thing is, this is a battle you will only win by absolutely breaking that poor puppy's spirit! A much more desirable situation is to form a bond with your puppy so that the 2 of you are partners. And that includes developing a dialog between you that is well-defined and clear - in both directions! The puppy, as others have noted already, is not bad or even unusual. The "problems" you are having are not at all unique, I can't tell you how many times I've seen this exact scenario! It is a handler/owner problem...

I've tried to tire her out. I run her nearly two miles every morning and that used to be good for a few hours of peace. But now that just fires her up.
This is also normal, but again, running a 4 month old puppy 2 miles is not healthy for the puppy! Your puppy needs less forced exercise and more engagement with you, and probably much more mental stimulation. Again, these things are on you. Bored puppies WILL be more destructive and bitey! If you want it to stop, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a new tack. Work with a trainer, which doesn't mean a HUGE expense! Just a few sessions with a good trainer can reset you and your puppy, and you'll see a HUGE improvement very quickly!

This is not my first shepherd by any means. And I've had a wolf hybrid. But Gypsy is a whole order of magnitude more of trouble than her predecessors. A shock collar is starting to look really attractive about now. This is the most headstrong dog I've ever come across.
I am not anti e-collar, though I have only ever used them on hunting dogs. But I can tell you that most people use them for proofing behaviors. That is, one must first teach the dog such that you're seeing a high level of compliance - >80% - with a command before using the collar! I have personally seen several instances of GSDs set back by e-collar "training" at these big-box training facilities where they really only know a single method - compulsion! Please don't head down that rabbit hole!

Honestly my friend, I did not spend this much time responding to your post just to pick on you! I know that once you and your puppy get into this kind of contentious feedback loop, it seems like upping the corrections is the only thing that seems to make sense. But please contact a good GSD-experienced trainer first, you, your puppy, and your family will all be glad you did!
 

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Dave Kroyer is in Hutto. I would suggest you make the drive. Look for a local IPO club and ask for a trainer. You need professional help. Not because she is that bad, but because she's past your knowledge base.

Stop pinning her. All that is accomplishing is making her mad.
 

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I hope you are not chaining her to a tree, because that is illegal in San Antonio.
 

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Get another crate, a good strong one she can't get out of and one large enough for her to grow into. and crate train. go back to basics. she should not be screaming in her crate and if she still is a 4 months then it shows shes used it to get her way and get let out for being noisy in the past

Go get a trainer, stop man handling her that only gets her more riled up and mad. any type of physical control like that wont get you the results you are looking for.

In the meantime, crate train her, if she isn't actively doing training, exercise, or being tethered to you,(you, not a tree or anything in the home) put her in a crate. Shes a puppy they need lots of sleep and a structured life.
 

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Gypsy has learned to take advantage of people being patient with her. There's a real concern that she's going to carry this idea into adulthood. Being her best friend has become something to exploit. I do hear you and understand that there's a potential downside to zero-tolerance training. But her behavior is exceptionally bad even by puppy standards and it has to stop. I don't want to do it, but she's become a hazard in the household. Everyone here has been bloodied by her. I've lost count of how many shirts and pants she has ripped up (while I was wearing them no less). I'm not kidding when I say a mountain lion would be safer in the house.
I'm back and wanted to comment on the above. First, puppies/dogs don't think like this. Puppies do, they don't think very much until they're older. (In that respect, they're very much like adolescent boys ;)). What you've written is the construal that only a frustrated human would make, not a dog. I well understand your frustration, puppies can be challenging to raise and train; some puppies can be extremely challenging and that is not limited to GSDs.

Second, I guarantee that your pup will carry what she understands of her interactions with you/your family into adulthood, but let's look at what that's likely to be. Based on what you've described, I'd bet she'll believe: (1) that you are totally unpredictable (sometimes soft and sometimes mean --- for the same thing); (2) that you get mad a lot; (3) that when she invites you to play, you get mad and pin her to the floor; (4) that when she tries to investigate you (puppies are curious by nature and she doesn't have fingers, so what else is she gonna use but her mouth and nose?), you get mad and pin her to the floor; (5) sometimes, when you get mad, you throw her outside --- by herself; (6) sometimes, when you get mad, you tie her to a tree --- again, by herself; (7) that you (possibly the entire family) don't like her at all; and (8) therefore, that none of you can be trusted.

That's a heartbreaking message for any living creature to receive. I doubt that you want that either. Fortunately, dogs (especially puppies) are very forgiving and generous souls, so all isn't lost. It may become lost if you continue on your current path, but it doesn't have to be. Simply put, you have to decide whether you/your family have the time, resources and emotional commitment to turn this around. If you don't, my advice would be to either return her to the breeder or find a home that has the time, resources and commitment. You both deserve better than this.

If you decide that you do want to improve your relationship with this pup, here are the things that I'd suggest that you do.

1. Start over from the beginning, literally. Treat her like she's a brand new puppy that you just brought home. Set up a reasonable schedule for her (e.g., meal times, play times, quiet times, exercise times) and follow it.

2. Make sure to build in appropriate exercise periods during the day, everyday. Not just walkies (do that too!), but something that both exercises the puppy *and* teaches her that you are a desirable companion. Tug is good for this, as are flirt poles. If she's too rambunctious, get a doggy soccer ball and play kickball with her. Some of what you've described strikes me as a growing puppy that's insufficiently exercised. If so, that's easy to address.

3. Buy and set up a properly sized crate. My local craigslist typically has multiple 48" crates for sale at less cost than a brand new one. Yours may, as well. Search this forum for tips on crate training, they're invaluable; follow them.

4. Ditch your current ideas about alpha status, corrections, etc.; that's what got you to this place. Find a good, GSD trainer. You've gotten at least one referral already, so look into that.

5. Take a deep breath (okay, take another and another). Do that multiple times daily. ;) Puppies can be hard work, especially if you've got to turn things around.

This list is a marvelous resource, so don't hesitate to come back with more questions if you run into any bumps along the way. I've found folks to be very generous in sharing their experiences and expertise.

And, please come back to share your successes.

Aly
 
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