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Hi everyone!

We are new to the community having just picked up our handsome "Van" (short for a long breeder name, but my 5 yr old says it is short for "German "Van" Sheppie"), and 18 month male.

We have researched a lot, and this has been a 2 yr or more process, finding the right breeder, the right dog, and the right timing for us as a family. We love Van, but he does have some behaviors that need modification.

First and most importantly, when he gets excited to see us, especially the kids, he likes to "mouth." Problem is, for a child, the mouthing by an 80 lb dog can be painful. I got the good suggestion of a firm no, accompanied by a "yelp" or "ouch" and redirecting to a chew toy. While this works most of the time, it does not always, and while he is really wanting to play with the kids, he can hurt them. When he is really in a suuper playful mood, it is hard to get him to let go. It worries me. You can tell it is all in plau, but it can hurt the kids. Any thoughts? Obviously, I never leave them alone in a room together.

Secondly, crates. He was crate trained at the breeder. Enjoyed his crate. The first night at home, we had no problem with him going in for "night night" and if we had to go somewhere. We would treat him well and lavish on the "good boys" and all was well. Well, day before yesterday, he started to decide he does NOT like the crate and really wants nothing to do with it. We tried last night moving it into the bedroom, so he would be with us, and that helped as he settled down quickly and got a good night sleep, but he had to be pretty much put in it with a push (we are lucky, no signs of even wanting to attempt any aggression when we put him in it, just sadness!) and I just do not feel right about that. However, with his mouthing, and his strong desire to chew on things, and we have 2 other dogs I am not willing to yet leave freely with him, crating is the only option I can think of. Any thoughts of how to get him to like the crate again? I have to go out for a couple hours this afternoon and dread it, as I am going to have to put him back in it.


And finally, the car. He rode with us very well from the breeder, over 2 hours away. But, he has no interest to get into the car now. Even treats do not work. He ONLY likes "his" kibble (no fillers etc etc, which is great, but there is nothing we can give him for an EXTRA special treat!). I am taking him for a once over at he vet today, and a run in the park, and he really is going to be hard to get in the car.

Thanks so much for the help - the mouthing is my biggest concern right now. I would appreciate any assistance, as my kids have now become scared. And of course when they run or jump he thinks "ohhh playtime!!!"

By the way, I am continuing with his obedience training with a professional trainer starting next week. He has the basics. We chose him as he has much less prey drive than the other shepherds we have met, and researched. So he does not want to chase our other dogs and he is even "okay" with the rabbits. He doesn't pay attention to them. He thinks the chickens look interesting, but they are in a coop, so its okay. A firm "no" and he quits his interest.

Here are a couple pics of my big guy. He is so gentle, and loving. He thinks he is a lap dog. But these behaviors, especially the mouthing, I want to nip in the bud, and fast!
 
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