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So I've had my puppy a little under a month now. I'm at home almost all the time and I take her outside and try to play/interact with her as much as possible, but really, she spends most of her time in her crate. If I let her out she's either chasing/terrorizing my two cats, or if I tether her to me, chewing everything in sight (my chair, the rug, baseboards, etc). I've tried giving her toys to chew, but she gets bored of her rope toy quickly, the Kong she only wants if it's stuffed with something messy and she empties it in minutes anyway, and she destroys rawhide/nylabones at an alarming rate. (I take them away as soon as she starts breaking bits off.) Bully sticks seem kind of expensive in this area.

Living like this is not ideal and I really want to be able to spend more time with all 3 animals. My cats have their own room with a baby gate blocking it so they can just hop over and retreat there when she chases them, but none of us are happy with this arrangement. I've tried getting the cats and puppy accustomed to each other, they're fine walking near her crate if she's locked in it, but as soon as she's free she'll go hunting for them. The only advice I can find is to associate the cats with treats and distract her with the treats whenever they're near, but even with the best high value treats she'll just eat them then go back to barking/trying to chase the cats. Any advice would be really appreciated as we're all super frustrated right now.
 

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I don't have great advice about the cats. I've had dogs that have gotten along great with cats. My big-boy isn't one of them. Not that he wants to hurt the cats but he would just be too rough and accidents happen.
You will have to be very firm with your pup when ever it even thinks about going after the cats. If you distract her all the time you'll never really solve anything. It will have to be a firm NO with no reward unless she chooses on her own to look at you instead of the cats. Reward that big time. Some dogs have more prey drive than others and you will need to adjust your training accordingly. I hope someone who's been successful at it chimes in.

As far as living in her crate for now, that is not a bad thing. Pups need to earn the right to be free. Pups also need many naps. If you are taking her out and about and playing with her now and then throughout the day, you are fine. The chewing will slow down once she is past teething. In the meantime, play a little tug with her. Use her mouthiness to your advantage and let tuggy-bitey games be a reward for good behavior. Let her tear up cardboard boxes. She can spend a day crunching rinsed plastic juice bottles if you have them. Remove the cap and ring around the neck first.

IN a few years you'll look at your grown dog and wonder where that little terrorizing scamp went.
 

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Have you started any learning games with her?

When she understands "how to learn", some of that manic energy will get burned off - it'll be channeled into something purposeful.

- Shaping. The puppy learns to offer behaviors, and the possibilities are endless. Start with simple things, the sky is the limit. Shaping sessions are QUICK, but really work their brain.

- Luring. Teach positions - sit, down. Then teach dynamic commands - spin/twist/around (turn clockwise, turn counter-clockwise, back-up, bow, sit pretty, and so on).

- Target games. Teach the puppy to "touch" (nose your open palm). You can transfer this to inanimate objects, like a tupperware lid. Start small, work your way up to sending the puppy to "Touch" the target from across the room, under the table, etc.

All of those are 100% safe and appropriate for a young GSD puppy. Once your puppy has these basic learning tools under her belt, the combinations are endless, and she will be thinking the whole time.

At first you'll be rewarding a LOT.... basically for every good effort or correct behavior. But as her understanding grows - and these dogs learn fast! - you'll gradually fade the reward, so a quick game might be "Spin (clockwise) - Down - Back-up - Around (spin counter-clockwise) - Touch (my hand) - Sit - YAY, TREAT!"

There are awesome videos and more detailed info about engagement games all over the internet, the above are just some things that have worked well for me.

Personally, I don't add my cats or other small animals into the equation until the puppy has a baseline understanding that good things (food, toys, praise, games) come from me. A cat 25' away is easier to ignore when the puppy is pushing on me to continue a game that the puppy already knows and is excited about.

I absolutely add correction later, but not until the puppy is old enough to understand Yes/No. By then, the young dog also tends to give a darn about what I want, making it much easier to learn respect for *my* small animals - thereby understanding that *my* small animals are *not* their furry or feathered chase objects.
 

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The four videos in the puppy series are short and teach exactly what you are looking for. Briefly, wear her out with exercise, then go through the steps. They show you how to teach your dog to be calm and quiet when you need her to be. Most are very short so it won’t take you much time to watch them all

 

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Discussion Starter #5
car2ner - thanks, I feel a little better about her being locked up so much now. She does love cardboard and plastic bottles, I'll try those.

WIBackpacker - Hadn't heard the term "shaping" before. I have a couple training books, so I understand the concept. So far she's learned "sit" and "crate" to go in her crate, she still kind of does them when she feels like it though (or when a treat's involved). I've also been trying to teach her "stay" and to walk nicely on her leash without pulling. The main problem I have with training her is that she just doesn't seem to focus on me very well. Even when I have a "high value" treat (bits of chicken or cheese, which she loves), a couple minutes seems too much to ask, then she just wants to wander off, get a drink, sniff around, etc. Yesterday I was working on leash training with her and she walked away and went into her crate and sat down. I was like, really, you'd rather be locked in here than get tasty treats? So I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong to not be able to keep her attention.

By the way, what's a general age range to be able to expect a dog to "give a darn what you want"? lol. My impression was that they're MORE interested in pleasing/interacting with their people until they reach adolescent age at 6ish months, then they stop caring. (For the record, my puppy is 14 weeks tomorrow.)

Here's the little rascal, having a floppy ear moment.
 

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WIBackpacker - Hadn't heard the term "shaping" before. I have a couple training books, so I understand the concept. So far she's learned "sit" and "crate" to go in her crate, she still kind of does them when she feels like it though (or when a treat's involved). I've also been trying to teach her "stay" and to walk nicely on her leash without pulling. The main problem I have with training her is that she just doesn't seem to focus on me very well. Even when I have a "high value" treat (bits of chicken or cheese, which she loves), a couple minutes seems too much to ask, then she just wants to wander off, get a drink, sniff around, etc. Yesterday I was working on leash training with her and she walked away and went into her crate and sat down. I was like, really, you'd rather be locked in here than get tasty treats? So I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong to not be able to keep her attention.

By the way, what's a general age range to be able to expect a dog to "give a darn what you want"? lol. My impression was that they're MORE interested in pleasing/interacting with their people until they reach adolescent age at 6ish months, then they stop caring. (For the record, my puppy is 14 weeks tomorrow.)
Start doing the basic games (lure - touch - start shaping games) in a small boring room with the door shut. No toys, no cats, no open door, no TV, no other people. Just you. And don't be afraid to make her "work" for her meals - waiting to feed breakfast until after some training won't harm a 14 week old.

Once she is reliably playing all those games, understands the words, and will do them reliably in a small boring room, you can gradually make the environment more distracting.

Move to a slightly larger room, or even take a smaller first step like opening the door. Baby steps! You want to build a very good foundation, and don't be afraid to scale back if you're losing her focus. Have a quiet person sit on a chair in the corner of the room. Highly exciting things like running cats comes later.

Aim for a few minutes of really good quality interaction, then break it off with some happy praise, take her out to potty, and immediately time for a crate nap.

Repeat later in the day.

Everyone has a different opinion about what to expect from young puppies, and when to expect it, and you can always course correct as you go. :)

For my goals for my own dogs, conceptually I want my dog to understand there is a "verbal leash" in place long before I worry about teaching physical leash manners. Obviously if you're in public, you need to be safe, leashes are important - but if you focus on your dog wanting to interact with you, a lot of things will be easier in the long run.
 

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You have a couple of years of ups and downs in their attention span and wanting to please. How it comes together depends on your dog's genetics, your own frame of mind, which way the wind is blowing, etc. At this age she has the attention span of, well, a young puppy...not long at all. Be patient. Reward short interactions. I walked my pups with a harness the first few months because they were often impulsive and distracted. I started doing more with collars at 6 months. That's not a firm rule. It's just what a few folks have done. To me it must seems more fair to the pup. After that I used a harness only for those times when I allowed pulling, for instance with tracking or playing tug games and general goofing around. I found a collar is better for communicating to a pup where you want them to be during a walk.

As an aside, I always remove collars in a crate. You don't want that cute tag getting caught between the bars.
 

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You can try a toy/praise instead of treats. Not all dogs are super motivated by food. Personally my dog will work to food for an extent but her mindspace isn't what I want while training when I use treats so I use toys.

Keep it fun and engaging and she'll be more likely to pay attention. Also she's a puppy, she'll get bored. Try playing fetch/tug of war etc. to tire her out for a bit so she can settle better in the house. I don't know if you can get any where you're at but they make small balls for small dogs that I used with my dog when she was a puppy. You just have to make sure to throw them away once they get bigger and could swallow them.

As far as cats go I got lucky in that two of one of my cats had no tolerance for puppy play and another would correct her when she got too rough. The other cat I had to get after my puppy whenever she played too rough to teach her how to behave around them. (He let her drag him down the hallway by his tail and did not care at all. Was just laying down completely fine with it.)

One of my biggest rules is no chasing the cats ever. Once dogs get big they can seriously hurt a cat on accident and chasing could trigger more prey drive type behaviors or encourage them. You can always keep her on a leash and say NO or ah ah in a sharp tone when she tries to run after them and with the leash on she won't be able too. Make sure to watch her though so she doesn't get tangled or start chewing it up.
 

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Well and there's this: Puppy out of crate without active human engagement = puppy getting in trouble (and thereby getting active human engagement.) So - crate is OK, coupled with the activities suggested. And crate games can be fun for the pup and the human.
 

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Cats can be tough. I was unhappy with the living situation (similar to yours), and I've been struggling with the cat issue ever since I brought Steel home. I am proud to say last night when I accidentally left the baby gate open to the cat room (stupid mom!), Steel bolted in there and ate the left over cat food with my female cat sitting on the floor next to it. He didn't even care she was there. I've had him since 11 weeks and he is now 8 months. I've been bringing him into the room on a lead so he can see the female cat and marking/treating him every time he breaks eye contact with her. I have a hard shell cat carrier that I brought her out with so he could see her and did a similar thing, enforcing him to stay calm and keep away from the cage with a stern "leave it." (We worked on that with food first, though).

I don't care if they never get along, I just want my female cat to be comfortable roaming the house with him loose. I do not think he will be a dog I will be comfortable uncrated because of his drive, though. He's a cat harasser.

I agree with shaping and luring for now. Keep it fun. At 14 weeks, Steel lived in his crate too. He'd come out for some play time, then naps, then more play time. She's still really young. He didn't really get to stay out of the crate until night time until he was 6 months. He just started sleeping out of the crate this week at 8 months. Have you thought about a trainer?
 
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Do you have a yard? You can either fence in part of it or buy a 6' high enclosure that can be as small as 10'x10'. That would give your dog access to sunlight, more fresh air, many different stimuli and you wouldn't have to be as concerned with your dog's need to relieve herself. I think the amount of time in a crate you are exposing your dog to is an impoverished environment. I never understand why people don't plan for a pup's living situation prior to getting the pup, especially a GSD that needs room to run safely and burn up some energy.
 

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Yes we have a fully enclosed yard, however a runaway trailer went through one part of the fence and we're waiting for it to be repaired (should be some time in the next few weeks). In the meantime I keep her on a long leash and let her run around/play fetch as much as she wants, a couple times a day.

As for training, that starts next week, so we'll see how that goes.

Anyway thanks for all the responses, lots of information still seems contradictory to me though. Guess I will see what the trainer thinks and what works best for my puppy and cats.
 

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car2ner - thanks, I feel a little better about her being locked up so much now. She does love cardboard and plastic bottles, I'll try those.

WIBackpacker - Hadn't heard the term "shaping" before. I have a couple training books, so I understand the concept. So far she's learned "sit" and "crate" to go in her crate, she still kind of does them when she feels like it though (or when a treat's involved). I've also been trying to teach her "stay" and to walk nicely on her leash without pulling. The main problem I have with training her is that she just doesn't seem to focus on me very well. Even when I have a "high value" treat (bits of chicken or cheese, which she loves), a couple minutes seems too much to ask, then she just wants to wander off, get a drink, sniff around, etc. Yesterday I was working on leash training with her and she walked away and went into her crate and sat down. I was like, really, you'd rather be locked in here than get tasty treats? So I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong to not be able to keep her attention.

By the way, what's a general age range to be able to expect a dog to "give a darn what you want"? lol. My impression was that they're MORE interested in pleasing/interacting with their people until they reach adolescent age at 6ish months, then they stop caring. (For the record, my puppy is 14 weeks tomorrow.)



Here's the little rascal, having a floppy ear moment.
No offense, but maybe her perception is that you’re boring. You might need to try and sell yourself so to speak. Play games and be exciting doing so. I’ve noticed some people can be “flat” when playing or training and their pup will quickly lose interest, being vocal and animated can help keep your pup focused on you and training more productive.

Someone mentioned using toys in an earlier post and worth trying imop. Two of my gsds prefer them over food rewards and using them helped leaps and bounds over treats.
 

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Yes we have a fully enclosed yard, however a runaway trailer went through one part of the fence and we're waiting for it to be repaired (should be some time in the next few weeks). In the meantime I keep her on a long leash and let her run around/play fetch as much as she wants, a couple times a day.

As for training, that starts next week, so we'll see how that goes.

Anyway thanks for all the responses, lots of information still seems contradictory to me though. Guess I will see what the trainer thinks and what works best for my puppy and cats.

Sorry, I should not have assumed you didn't have a proper area for your dog. As for dealing with your pup's behavior, if she has high prey drive, I would focus on engaging her with making prey movements with a toy teaching her to engage and play with you so that the cats don't become more interesting than you. Also training with food will help her wanting to be with you.
 
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