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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone.

We have two GSDs, one is a GSD/Great Pyr mix named Thor and is about 14 months, but we also got Zelda back in December. She is a 6 month old AKC GSD, but she has been more trouble than our stray Thor was at that age. We are at wits end, and have run out of ideas. We are looking into local trainers, but it will be a few weeks before that will be a viable option, so I am trying to figure out what else we can do or maybe what we are doing wrong.

So both dogs live inside, they have their own kennels in different rooms. Neither are afraid of their kennel, and will go in there and lay down when we tell them to. The problems start when we leave the room or when Zelda can no longer see/hear us. She doesn't bark, but she whines loudly. We do our best to ignore her, and usually we can, but sometimes it goes on for hours. This behavior has been happening for the past two months and seems to be getting worse. We have been working with housebreaking, but lately that seems to have backslid to the point that she is waiting to eliminate once we are gone to work and she is in her kennel. There has been multiple occasions in the past three weeks where we were both at work, and come home to find the house smelling of poop, and can see where she has laid in it. We feel awful about it, and have no idea what to do about it. Unless we are in the living room/kitchen (where the dogs are confined to), they are not out. If we have to walk outside for a few minutes, we tell them to go to their kennels. A time like this is when she usually eliminates in her kennel. She gives us no signs that she needs to go potty, and her poop is usually runny when this happens (compared to the solid stool when she goes potty outside). I understand that dogs get this sensation when they poop that helps their anxiety, and I am assuming this is what that's about. On top of that, she is terrified of certain objects such as the trash can outside (big 90 gallon) but not the one in the kitchen. She is afraid of the fire hydrant at the corner of my property. There are also other things she is afraid of, and I just don't understand. We got her at 2 months old, and she hasn't had any neglect or traumatic experiences (at least not that we are aware of). We walk both dogs every evening, usually 1-2 miles, and they also get to play with each other inside several hours of a typical day. They both eat twice a day on a schedule, and have water available to them up until 8PM or so. We feed Pro Pac Large Breed Puppy.

What are we doing wrong, or what can we do to fix this? The carpet in the living room is getting ruined, and this is my first house which is only a year old. It's easy to get frustrated, but we do our best to not show it to her. We don't yell at her when she does something wrong, and we definitely don't physically abuse her.

HELP!
 

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They are very beautiful dogs.

Potty training is nearly a 24/7 job and can be done in a number of ways. Some of these you may have already tried.

I think the key to succesful potty training is consistency. You must, MUST follow the same repetitive routine until it clicks with them. And it will. They are intelligent dogs, they will catch on, but you have to control when and where they go potty. It is not up to them. It's not enough to make them understand that potty is performed outside, but also that it is NEVER acceptable to potty inside.

You may have to modify the times since these dogs are older than brand spanking new puppies you just brought home.

First, they need to go out after every nap, meal, drink, play session or training session, and probably for their age, every few hours to poop. Maybe sooner depending upon what you are feeding them.

Second, you need to control their intake to regulate their output. Don't free feed if they are pooping everywhere the second you back is turned. You need to use set times for feeding and then find out how long it takes them to eliminate.

Hopefully, outside.

Same with water if you are having a peeing problem.

Also, no food after 1900 and no water after 2000. You might have to modify this because of their ages.

While you are not home, and until you can get a handle on their toilet habits, they need to be crated while you are not home, or, start saving for that new carpeting and installation.

You can pay your money upfront with crates or down the road with new carpeting, padding, and labor.

Once you find out how often they are going based on when you are feeding them, the real training can begin now that you control the input and the output.

They should have the control neccesary to hold it for several hours. It's getting them to understand where it is and isn't acceptable to relieve themself. It's really too bad they are already this old as potty training should progress with their ability to hold it until allowed to go.

First thing in the morning take them out individually and take one to a designated spot and tell them to 'Go potty' or whatever command you decide upon. Wait until they go and don't come back in until they do. Whether it's five minutes or an hour, it's important that they go so that they receive the praise that is neccesary for the reward. Positive reinforcement works miracles with potty training. Once they go, you need to praise them very enthusiastically.

If you don't have time in the mornings now, you will have to get up earlier and make time. There is no other way around this. You must make them understand where it is they MUST eliminate.

Potty time is not playtime. No toys, no chasing. If the dogs mind starts wandering make them focus and say 'Go potty, hurry up!'

I'm her to tell you, if I can potty train a GSD, anyone can if you are consistent.
 

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Sorry, I didn't see that you already have crates for them.
 

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There is a different thread going about playing radio or tv for pups while owner is gone. I suggest that you try that for Zelda. I would start with her theme song.


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If the pooping is new then I would take her to the vet and have a stool check and urinary analysis done. Catch the first pee of the morning. She may have parasites or a UTI--both can cause pooping problems.

IF she checks out on the health front then this could be from anxiety--it sounds like she might have separation anxiety. A great supplement for calming is melatonin. You could try giving her some of that before you leave. If she does have separation anxiety I highly recommend using Patricia McConnell's protocol to counter-condition her. It is found in her little booklet called, "I'll Be Home Soon." I used it for my dog Rafi and had excellent results!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the responses.

I first want to clear up that it is only Zelda with the problem. Thor is potty trained, and has been since 5 months old. Both dogs eat on a set schedule (11:30am and 6:00pm) and have access to water until 8:00pm, as stated in my original post. They both have their own kennels in separate rooms, as stated in my original post.

For the past 5 nights, we have started leaving classical music playing for Zelda, but that honestly hasn't seemed to help at all. We do take her out first thing in the morning, as well as a second time before we leave for work. For her, it's usually two pees and a poop in the morning. She is at the age where she should be able to hold it until we get home from work (I have been leaving work early for the past month in an effort to combat this). It's just like she refuses to wait, and I think it's out of anxiety.
 

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Try moving her crate into the same room as Thor. Maybe being able to see her brother will ease her stress.


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Its going to be the unpopular opinion, but have you tried NOT putting her in the crate? I know that most people on this forum use crates successfully, but I also have a very high anxiety dog... to the point that he busted the door on his crate. We found that being confined escalated the anxiety. (He also has to be examined in the waiting room at the vet because their small exam rooms freak him out...think doggie claustrophobia) He loves his crate, as long as their is no door.
Since he has been crate-free (or door-free), he isn't destructive anymore and his anxiety has mellowed big time.

Just an idea if the other ideas don't seem to work...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the advice. I do suspect that Zelda is getting more attached to Thor, than we wanted. Thor is mostly attached to me since I am his primary handler/trainer, and the goal was for Zelda to get more attached with my girlfriend. Maybe it has something to do with how she can't see him when she is in her kennel, and that makes sense because she whines when he goes outside, and when she comes out of her kennel, the first thing she does is run into the laundry room to his kennel. We didn't have room to put another kennel in there, which is why hers is in the living room on the other side of the kitchen.

We could isolate her to the kitchen as well. No carpet, and hope that a baby gate would keep her off of the carpet in the living room. I don't think she would be able to destroy much in there anyway.

The ultimate goal for both of them is to not have to use the kennels when we leave, and be able to leave them out together in the living room and kitchen areas.

Only problem I can see is that isolating her to the kitchen when we leave and not her kennel, it would have her slidding open the door to the laundry room to jump on Thor's kennel. I'm not sure if that would cause more problems or not. I actually have heard that confining a dog to a specific room instead of a kennel can help in this situation, I just never understood why.
 

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So right after posting that, I moved Zelda's kennel into the laundry room next to Thor. Maybe Thor will lead by example?

I put them both up for about 5 minutes, while staying in sight, but not giving her attention. For the most part, she was pretty good. Once I turned the corner of the kitchen and she could no longer see me, she started barking and whining, so I definitely think there is some kind of stress or something from either being in a confined space, or being away from her humans.

Thoughts? Should we just start over with crate training and see if that helps?
 

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How is Thor uncrated?

I'm not anti-crate by any means, but she sounds so much like Knuckles - even the age when he started doing it. He had been crated from 5 weeks old until he just increasingly hated being crated (with the door closed).
What I do, and I know it's different depending on how your home is set up, is put a baby gate on the stairs (luckily he is afraid of the gate), so the cats can still get upstairs to the litterbox. I close the bathroom door (because he tried to get out once through the window when he was home for 10 hours... the window leads into the backyard, which is his "bathroom"). I open the blinds in the living room & my bedroom (or he opens them himself.. sure glad Walmart sells cheaps blinds!). After all that, he's fine home by himself. He does have our Golden to keep him company (we've never had a problem with her having run of the house... honestly, Knuckles is the first dog I've ever tried to crate in my life) I leave the tv on for them, mainly to drown out outside noises that might distract him.
 

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How is Thor uncrated?

I'm not anti-crate by any means, but she sounds so much like Knuckles - even the age when he started doing it. He had been crated from 5 weeks old until he just increasingly hated being crated (with the door closed).
What I do, and I know it's different depending on how your home is set up, is put a baby gate on the stairs (luckily he is afraid of the gate), so the cats can still get upstairs to the litterbox. I close the bathroom door (because he tried to get out once through the window when he was home for 10 hours... the window leads into the backyard, which is his "bathroom"). I open the blinds in the living room & my bedroom (or he opens them himself.. sure glad Walmart sells cheaps blinds!). After all that, he's fine home by himself. He does have our Golden to keep him company (we've never had a problem with her having run of the house... honestly, Knuckles is the first dog I've ever tried to crate in my life) I leave the tv on for them, mainly to drown out outside noises that might distract him.
Thor is fine crated. As long as he goes to the bathroom outside before we leave for 8-10 hours, he just lays down and sleeps, and has never had an accident in there. He has never been uncrated alone in the house while we were gone, but he is perfectly fine to leave through the house if I am in the office or bedroom or something. Half the nights he sleeps with us in the bed, and he stays on the bed all night. I have no doubt that we could leave him uncrated while we were gone and everything would be fine. I would love to get to the point of not having to worry about the crates, and leaving the uncrated at all times. As it is right now, Zelda would take her run on the carpet in the living room making a nasty mess.
 

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I would try testing them out without the kennels.. if you can somehow block off the living room. Just try 1/2 hour, or maybe even 15 minutes at a time and see what happens. You said they would still be able to get to the laundry room, right? Leave the kennel doors open...
 

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BTW... I can't edit my post anymore... the first night Knuckles was out of his crate, he whined & paced all night. It took him a couple times to get used to not having to be in his crate. Don't go by the first reaction with any suggestions.

And... I did block him from the living room in the beginning, but he kept getting through my block and didn't do anything to the living room, so I just assumed he was telling me that it was ok if he was in there. I have hardwood floors, though, so not sure about the carpet idea.

None of these suggestions have potty training in mind though.. K was potty trained at about 10-12 weeks old (the only thing I never had a problem with with him!) .
 

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Your trouble is not her poop, but separation anxiety, at least you guessed it right. Even if you managed it quickly, Zelda might start ripping furniture to tell you how bad it is to be without you. Her loose stool is a sign of extreme nervousness, it has nothing to do with potty habits, she did it once and from now on she will do it because her phyche found the way to relieve the feelings. Here you can end in tragedy if it continues for much longer. You don't need any trainers, you need a vet who will prescribe drugs for anxiety, I'm afraid there's no other option. Besides medical treatment you can also use aromatherapy. I find clove oil quite effective, she might respond to some other essentual oils, you just type "aromatherapy for dogs" in Google and you will find the names. A little drop of oil on her elastic collar just before you leave every day will help.
What concernes training, time for her to learn something about patience. It is you who knows that you will be back from work, she doesn't! She is saying "Forever!" with her whines every time you leave.
I don't know about your hours, because it will take some time, but this exercise works with anxiety. Somewhere in the park, if you tether her to the tree and start walking away from her - you will see how bad it is for her. Instead of just walking away, give her a command. Ask her to sit, for instance: "Sit!" and then "Wait!". Every time she gets up from sitting position (she could be mad at the beginning) - come back to her, ask her to sit. Walk around, walk further away from her, walk around for longer, she should keep sitting (not getting up or laying down) untill you return to her. It would be better if you worked on it on your own without a second person, bringing your dog to one and the same tree. Later, she must do this exercise without any leash, it will be unnecessary to tether her, she will know that SHE HAS A TASK, she was given a command she should not forget or disobey, she will know what to expect, you will return and give her something tasty for being patient. Leaving home, don't give her any commands, but ask her to heed and talk to her for couple of minutes in the same tone as you give commands. It could be good to occupy her with a big bone, while you are away, leaving it in her crate, but I don't know how good it will be with your other dog...
 

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I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that medication is the only solution.

We have moved her kennel into the laundry area next to Thor's in the hope of "lead by example" for crate behavior. We train with both of dogs, but not as much as we would like to. I have been unusually busy with work lately (lots of overnight travels) and my girlfriend has been busy with both work and school, but she just finished her finals. This next week we will both be able to spend most of our time working with her on this. We will also venture the uncrating, and confining them to the kitchen and laundry areas, while their crates are open for them if they want.

She at this point knows sit and down (both are automatic stays, instead of saying "sit", "stay" -- they sit until released with "OK"), as well as a pretty good recall (good enough to stay off leash in the yard). Once she gets a little older, we are wanting to work with some tracking and see if she enjoys that (this is also what I am wanting to do with Thor). I feel that if we spend more time training, and doing more physical activities (walking/jogging, fetch, etc) that she will exert more energy making her feel the urge to sleep when she is in her kennel, or when we are not home.

Does anyone else have any other recommendations or opinions?
 
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