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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, this is my first question on the board so I'll probably provide a little more background than is probably necessary. Please be patient. :)

We got Morgan at 8 weeks old and she's a very sweet puppy but with lots and lots of biting. Luckily this forum has taught us that she's normal and that we didn't accidentally get a piranha by mistake! She turned 15 weeks old yesterday and she's definitely starting to teethe. Things that she had sort of lost interest in chewing in the backyard (wood chips and rocks) and in the house (chair legs and curtains) are now delicacies again. We can handle that, but we're less prepared for some other new behaviors.

The first thing is that when she does get something we don't want her to eat, she's VERY upset when we take it from her mouth. I know we need to work on "leave it" or "drop it" but we didn't realize how important those were so we're just starting to teach them. If she gets something she knows we don't want her to have, she tries to eat it as quickly as possible. If we grab her and force it from her mouth, then she turns and bites hard and intentionally to show her displeasure. I'm ok (not ok, but understanding) with her biting while our hand is in her mouth, but I'm definitely NOT ok with her biting because she's mad.

The other thing is that last night while playing tug in our tiled dining room, she stopped playing, trotted into the carpeted living room, and peed on the carpet. This has never happened before. She was incredibly easy to housetrain. She has accidents periodically but they're almost always due to too much excitement and owners who aren't mindful enough that excited puppy + activity = go out frequently. But she has never trotted away from the door and willfully chosen to go somewhere else instead.

Are we being tested? Or is she just not feeling well? We know she's teething because there's some blood on her gums or on toys after she plays with them and ice has become the most coveted treat ever. She always liked it, but now she can't get enough of it. Same with frozen washcloths (which she can't have for too long because she eats them), frozen kongs, frozen marrow bones, frozen anything.

She's still sweet and playful and mostly obeys our commands, but I don't want to give her a pass on bad behavior just because she doesn't feel well. I know she's still very young. She gets her final shots next week and starts puppy training the week after, so we're being as proactive as possible. We've also socialized her around people as much as we can (she's met about 100 people so far) and we plan to do a lot more once we can take her more places.

I'd love any advice from the voices of experience. Thanks!
 

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Your pup is only 15 weeks -not even 4 months, just a toddler. When you take something from her mouth that she shouldn't have - have something else to give her in its place. I kept toys and chew items all over the house when my Sting was a pup, so I could redirect him. A toy that squeaks is a great way to redirect - make the toy squeak - when pup looks up - say happily "this is yours" and encourage pup to bite and hold it. For the accident - that is why I played outside with my Sting - it is the exercise that gets the bladder going and a pup has very little control. What I found to be the best help against chewing and accidents, was to keep him on a leash tied to my belt, or when he was loose in the same room with me - I had a gate up to block the exit - that way I could redirect with the toy, watch if he needed to potty. If I couldn't watch him, I would put him in his crate with his toys.
 

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Thanks so much for the reply Mary Beth. I know, she's just a baby and I know she's hurting some right now, which is probably confusing to her. We had been making some progress with the constant puppy biting but the teething has reset the clock on that some. I wish we had worked on drop it and trading from the very beginning because we're running a huge deficit with asking for things, so of course she doesn't trust us to take something from her now. This is going to be a priority to work on lots of fun games to take things from her, treat her, and then give them back. And in the meantime we just have to work harder on not letting her get things in the first place. She got something small from the patio today and had swallowed it before I could pull her back. That's my fault and I need to do a better job of scoping the area before letting her sniff around. Hopefully it wasn't anything that can hurt her but all I can do about it now is watch her.

We never have her outside of the crate if we're not with her, but the accidents happen quicker than we can react to sometimes. The concerning thing in this case is that she intentionally went into another room. She knows where the door is and she will go to it if she wants out. Or sometimes she doesn't make it there because she's too excited. But this is the first time she's gone somewhere she's not supposed to go on purpose.

I'm not frustrated or mad at her at all, I just keep being reminded of how much we don't know what we're doing. :) I want to be sympathetic to her teething but still not let bad habits develop. She's only a puppy but she's a giant puppy and I want to make sure we're always working toward good behavior while still having reasonable expectations. I keep telling people that she's so smart that she's very easy to teach but not so easy to train. The first part is her and the second part is us, so we're the ones who need to keep working on it. I just want to make sure we're doing all we can to be consistent and that we're not letting her get the best of us from an early age. I'm hoping puppy training will help immensely. It's been a loooooong seven weeks waiting until she has all her shots and we can expand her world some.
 

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I wouldn't worry about her getting the best of you at such an early age and no matter what the size, a puppy is still a puppy. Sure, the more intelligent ones, like the gsds, learn fast but because they are so young, they forget fast. That is why it is often easier to train an adult dog - because though it may take longer, they retain what they have learned. So, your puppy really hasn't learned the housetraining. She has the idea she shouldn't go in the house, but she can't hold it, she forgets about going to the door, so because she knows that you will be upset, she sneaks away. So for the housetraining, the important thing is to have a schedule and let her out to go potty on a regular basis, also let her out to potty, after playtime, after you take her out of her crate, 20 minutes or longer depending on the pup after eating. She is too young to go to the door when she needs to potty. For the grabbing things - puppies explore their world by putting things in their mouth - so yes, it is important to puppy proof your house, but try to relax about it -not everything she puts in her mouth is going to hurt her - she may chew on a stick or a bit of grass - that is harmless. I once read somewhere, that a puppy will put everything in her mouth, and it will come out one end or the other :) Right now she is a puppy - try to enjoy her - it is fun just to watch a puppy explore the outdoors -chasing after a butterfly. What she may enjoy and is a wonderful outlet for that biting, is a flit pole - but play outside :) Also for tug, - be sure she ends up winning -let her take a victory lap with the tug, chew it a bit then have her come to you and exchange it for a yummy treat praising her all the while - that helps to build the bond with you and develops her confidence. I got the impression that right now she is one confused little pup - she wants to please you but knows she isn't and that is making her all churned up inside and frustrated and so she acts up.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's just so interesting raising something with its own motives and personality. Can you tell I don't have kids? :p We never get upset if she has an accident and she prefers to go outside, not because we've trained her that way, but just because that's how she is. It was just odd to see her choose a different option. We do let her out as often as we can, but we're guilty of "just one more" whatever (fetch, find the duck, etc) and sometimes that's one more than she was able to wait for.

We do enjoy her and her favorite game is a game I call "holy ****, butterfly!" :D She's positively obsessed with the flirt pole. I think she wants to run away and marry it! As far as we can tell, she's much more treat and toy motivated than motivated by pleasing us and that's fine. I'm sure she is confused and we're definitely not always as consistent as we could be. I had no idea that having a GSD puppy would be such a constant job but we love her to death so it's worth it. I just feel like there's more that WE need to learn than SHE needs to learn, so I want to make sure I'm doing the best I can. Thanks for the advice!
 

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Is your Morgan a working line gsd? That could explain a lot of her behavior also as those pups usually have a very high drive, love the flit pole, are work orientated, are very much the landshark. My Sting was my first pup and my first gsd, (I had adopted my previous dogs as adults) and I have no kids either - so I do sympathize with you. And I was lucky he was an easy pup. He saved his terrible twos for his adolescence :) I did take him for outings to places where there weren't a lot of dogs to catch any disease from early on before he had all his shots. He got to see different places and watch people. Get used to cars going by and bikes. All to help with socialization. I did do a lot of reading, and the books I found most helpful were The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete and On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas.
 

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Yes, she is a working line and she's definitely high drive. We take her out to meet people all the time and she's very good at it ... until tonight. Tonight has been bizarre. She was way more mellow affectionate and cuddly at home than usual. We took her out and she freaked out in the car, barking at everything and everyone. She's usually very calm and curious in the car. We went to Petco and she barked at other dogs (which she always does) and at people, which she's NEVER done. We came back home and took her for a walk and she was our normal Morgan pup walking by people and stationary cats with no problem (moving cats are a different story). I went out to get some food while my husband stayed home with her and when I got home I could hear her barking. According to my husband, she got scared of the refrigerator when it made its refilling the ice machine noise ... the same noise it's made at least every other day for the last 7 weeks. She was clearly amped up but licking at me when I came to settle her down. None of this behavior worries me in and of itself, but I feel like I'm losing the handle on my dog. Not on controlling her, but on understanding her. I'm really hoping this is all just because she doesn't feel well. I'm not always the most rational person when I don't feel well either. ;) So mostly, I'm confused by new behaviors and wanting to make sure I react appropriately while also giving her some sympathy.

Thanks so much for the reading recommendations. We did read some books before getting her, but in retrospect we definitely underprepared.
 

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I feel your pain. Tucker Is teething now as well...I was so proud that he wasn't big on destroying things previously. But now he's a mobile woodchipper :banghead:

I woke up to find his $60 dog bed shredded. He has never put his teeth on it before. I can't take him to work with me right now because he chews on my desk, my chair, my files, you name it. My boss is tolerant but if he chews thru a server cord he might not understand :eek:

He hasn't peed in the house in awhile, but he did have a couple of times last month when he just walked off and peed in another room before I reacted. Doesnt seem to have undone his housetraining.

He IS better about not biting me...now it usually just happens when he's tired and working up to a tantrum, or been cooped up too long.

It WILL get better. I thought it would never end but it seemed almost overnight he "grew up" a little.

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Oh and he just started barking in the car. My first response is to get after him, but then I remember he is supposed to be learning to be protective of me on the car and I don't want to stifle his instinct right now. Once he is out of the car, he is perfectly willing to meet anyone. So I try not to make a big deal of it.

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Yes, she is a working line and she's definitely high drive. We take her out to meet people all the time and she's very good at it ... until tonight. Tonight has been bizarre. She was way more mellow affectionate and cuddly at home than usual. We took her out and she freaked out in the car, barking at everything and everyone. She's usually very calm and curious in the car. We went to Petco and she barked at other dogs (which she always does) and at people, which she's NEVER done. We came back home and took her for a walk and she was our normal Morgan pup walking by people and stationary cats with no problem (moving cats are a different story). I went out to get some food while my husband stayed home with her and when I got home I could hear her barking. According to my husband, she got scared of the refrigerator when it made its refilling the ice machine noise ... the same noise it's made at least every other day for the last 7 weeks. She was clearly amped up but licking at me when I came to settle her down. None of this behavior worries me in and of itself, but I feel like I'm losing the handle on my dog. Not on controlling her, but on understanding her. I'm really hoping this is all just because she doesn't feel well. I'm not always the most rational person when I don't feel well either. ;) So mostly, I'm confused by new behaviors and wanting to make sure I react appropriately while also giving her some sympathy.
This isn't related to the teething but could have been triggered by her age - a fear period which is common at around 5 months and all the sympathy she is getting with her teething, plus she is all hyper from all the play. I suggest and there is a great explanation of this in the book by Turid Rugaas, that you yawn when she is afraid - that is a calming signal to dogs and pups. No words of sympathy because for pups and dogs, that has the opposite effect. Morgan thinks - "wow, there is something to be afraid of - I am acting afraid and my human is saying it's all right, so I will keep barking ". For the refrigerator - when she acts up - yawn, calmly go up to the refrigerator and pat it - open the door - close it - but totally ignore Morgan. Morgan will be watching. She will see from your actions that the refrigerator is nothing to be afraid of. For the hyper behavior, Morgan needs to learn to relax . One of the exercises I did with my Sting when he was a pup, was to put him on his leash -give him his favorite toy, put him on the down, and just sit and read. If he got up - I calmly put him down again then turned back to my book. I started with 5 minutes and worked up to 30 min. He got no attention from me, at the end of the session I released him and praised him . First it was a struggle -every 10 seconds he stood up, I would also yawn and turn away - again giving calming signals. After several sessions of practice, he started to take a nap. For the barking, Turid Rugaas (her books are short ), has another helpful book , "Barking the Sound of a Language".
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I keep feeling that she's early for some of these things because she's not even 16 weeks yet, but maybe she's just advanced for her age. :D Just kidding, I know there's no precise age when this stuff happens. A fear stage would make a lot of sense. She definitely needs to learn to relax. She was used to being calm in her pen and lots of play when she was out. I think we used the pen as a crutch because we could see her and be around her without having to actually engage her constantly. So now she doesn't know how to relax around us in the open space. If I know she's overtired and put her in her crate, she complains for about 30 seconds and then she can't complain anymore because she's snoring. :) I'll start working on the down. She's great at dropping into a down immediately when we have something she wants, but she doesn't know how to stay there. Thanks again for all of the advice. All three books are currently on their way to my house. We have already detected at least some variations in her barking. There's "play with me" which is higher pitched, "I need to go out" which is lower and more staccato, and "that cat is moving" also known as "why is there a dog right outside the door who looks just like me and only shows up when the lights are on at night?" and that one gets her big girl bark. But I'd love to learn more.

I should also mention that my husband thinks most of this behavior is just stages of growing up and that even though her environment isn't changing, SHE'S changing so she's reacting differently to things. This seems obvious, but is a difficult concept for me, because yesterday she was doing one thing and today she's doing something else and what would make her do that? I want to figure her out and I want her to behave predictably, but I'm going to have to let go of some of that compulsion, I think.
 

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Your husband has an excellent point that Morgan is growing so she reacts differently. Also different things affect her, the weather, or if she is tired or hungry. But she is also testing you to see if the rules are the same. When she finds they are -providing you are consistent then that reassures her. If you are not consistent, then she starts to try to get away with breaking more rules, and climbs up the pack order and that can lead to defensive behavior because she has to defend her position against you, also it increases her insecurity which leads to more bad behavior. For your practice on the down/stay - I found it helps if the pup or dog is on the side of the chair (and sitting on the leash helps also) so when she gets up - just reach down and press on her back so she has to go back down. Since she is teething, make sure she has something to chew on so it wouldn't be the chair :) It also helps to end the session on a good note - after she has held the down/stay for even 1 minute when you first do it. Also take her for a walk before so she is a little tired and has had time to potty. My Sting is showline and a big gsd so he took longer to mature - he experienced the stages later than average. From what I had read in posts on the forum, it does seem that the working lines mature faster and are more advanced.
 

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you have to teach your dog you can take anything from her at
anytime. teaching "leave it", "drop it" "no" helps with taking things
away. she's only 15 weeks old with training and socializing she'll learn.
i was out and about with my pup after his 2nd round of shots. he was
in a puppy class at 10 weeks old.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
We've started working on drop it, but she doesn't understand yet. I can trade her for something, but she doesn't make the association. I'm working on drop it, treat, give it back, but she's not picking it up yet. So I'll just keep working on it multiple times a day. Boy, I wish we had worked more on this than some of the less important commands.
 

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The peeing thing at random is normal. Just make sure you correct it with a no if you catch her and then immediately move her outside and praise when she continues outside. It will generally self resolve just stay on top of her potty training and it will be fine.

You should stop playing tug with her. You don't want her being turned off by the addition of pain to the game so wait until her adult teeth are in before continuing.

The ice helps soothe her itchy hot irritated gums. Keep offering it. Another thing you might consider getting is a cow knuckle. The whole hoof cut off with the fatty meat still in there. It has a ton of different style surfaces for the puppy to chew and they will generally pass on all of your beloved household items to go for it instead.
 

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As an aside when you are teaching drop it start off making sure the item you are exchanging for the one she has is of higher value to the puppy. This should ease the exchange a long a bit.

The off command is significantly easier to teach than the drop it command IMO. The puppy generally picks it up faster, and it can be used in place of a drop it command too.
 

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Thank you. We have stopped tug for now and we're giving her marrow bones. If I put her flirt pole and her marrow bone in the same room, I think she might lose her mind trying to figure out which she loves more. :) The only problem with the marrow bone is that we make her space limited because we don't want the raw meat drug through every possible surface. But she doesn't mind. I think she'd live in a cardboard box if it meant keeping the bone!

Thanks for mentioning the off command. I've watched video on how to teach it, but I think we've created a problem. When we first had her and she was full of biting, we played a game called "I'm ok with that" where we taught her to lick our closed hand for a treat. We still use it some times to calm her down if she's amped up and biting a lot. My understanding of "off" and "leave it" is that the point is to get them to leave your hand alone and then reward them for that. I've tried it, but it confuses her, because we've already taught her that licking the hand with the treat is good. Should we "unteach" that? Or can I start from a different point for off? It's part of the reason why I've tried to start with "drop it" instead. We do always try to trade up in value with her. We'll keep working on it.
 

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If you want to keep the hand licking thing you should put it on an auditory cue. For example kisses. Whey you say off it should be totally leaving it alone. When you mark and reward for kisses but don't for kisses when you say off the dog will get the point eventually.
 

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Ah, got it, thanks. I realized that I always let her lick my right hand for treats so yesterday I tried holding the "leave it" treat in my left hand and rewarding with the right. That had more success, although she ended up backing away from my hand completely and giving me her "I'm completely confused" bark so we'll take it slow. :) I'll work with the auditory cues when I'm having her lick so that there starts to be a distinction.
 

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Do you use any verbal mark to mark behavior? For example in the place of a clicker click using the word "yes." You can use these to help a dog learn behaviors really quickly.
 
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