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My sincere apologies in advance for the novel I just wrote.

To start from the beginning, I am the proud and loving owner of a pack of 4.
Azula (Zu)- 19 month old blue nose pitbull 90ish lbs
Aeryn- 9 month old pit/lab mix 40ish lbs
Castle- 7 month old pitbull (possible lab mix) 40ish lbs
Godric- 13 month old GSD- 70ish lbs

Godric is my newest addition, I adopted him a little over week ago for my birthday from a family who could no longer care for him. He is quite underweight for his size and I'm in the process of trying to get him back to a healthy weight. There are a few issues I'm struggling with. For one, he was poorly crate trained. The previous owner told me he used to destroy his cage, which I have yet to see. He spins in circles, pants, and whines while he's in the crate and howls if he is left alone which is quite an issue because I rent a townhome and have neighbors on either side of me. When I have him out around the house he doesn't want to settle, constantly running back and forth. He does this in my room as well before finally settling to sleep in my bathroom. Barking is another issue. He barks at just about everything, especially when we are playing outside or on a walk. He's gotten better at this with some work but his bark still bothers many people because he is a bigger dog. It isn't aggressive in any way, just a "hey! There's this thing I see!" I'm struggling to get him to bond with me. He doesn't want to listen to me when I give commands and will run to my roommate to hide and seems to want to be by her more, which is an issue because I am the one who takes care of him and I need him to listen and respect my authority. He whines when she leaves, lays with her on the couch, follows her around the house. I don't know what to do to get him to form that attachment for me.

Under different circumstances I wouldn't mind so much if he was more attached to her. To start he is my dream dog, black GSD. Secondly, my roommate won't properly train or discipline her 9 month old puppy (who is the sister to my little girl) so she misbehaves and has poor manners. In addition to that she can barely afford to take care of her one dog let alone taking care of a second one. The past few months I have been feeding her dog because she doesn't have the money to do it and at 9 months old she still keeps puppy pads spread about her room for when she's too tired or lazy to take her dog out (it's a pit/lab mix so not exactly small).

I've been bouncing back and forth between hand feeding him his meals and feeding him in his crate, trying to show good things come from both me and his crate. I've been doing a lot of reading on how to introduce a new dog into a pack, how to establish yourself as alpha in the pack and various training. What I've read says I should ignore him at least in the beginning, as an alpha in a pack will generally be aloof to lesser ranking member. Also that I shouldn't allow him to play for the first couple of weeks, just walk him, feed him, back in the crate. It's just so confusing and overwhelming. I want to do everything right and get things started on the right foot. I want him to know I love him dearly and will care for him like no other, but I want him to love and respect me in return.

I realize this is going to take time to sort out, and he will be enrolled in training courses once he's settled in a bit more (I think he would enjoy doing nose work and schutzhund). I know things won't changed overnight but any training tips or suggestions to make this go as smoothly as possible would be vastly appreciated.

If you made it all the way through that, many kudos to you!
 

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first welcome to the forum..:) Sounds like you have alotta dogs which can add to the confusion? (that's not an insult just an observation)

since you've only had him for a week, at this point, I would be more letting him settle in, getting used to a routine, vs starting off on obedience..And forget the 'alpha' thing, I think it's overrated.

The best thing I think you can do right now, is work on bonding with him..Yes I would hand feed him. I would be praising him for anything "good" he does, without asking him to do it:) Or work on basics,,sits/come that type of thing..

He sounds like he has some separation anxiety, and since his previous living conditions weren't the greatest, he's probably just a confused mess trying to figure out 'what' to do.

He's probably clinging to your room mate because she isn't requiring anything of him. (since it sounds like she doesn't require much of her own dog)..

You may be expecting to much to soon and right now it sounds like he just needs to settle in and learn to be a "dog"..

How is he with the rest of the dogs in the house??

I'm sure others will chime in..
 

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Well i dont have a whole lot of advice or empowerment to give you.
I know some people have their dogs on a leash with them 24/7 for bonding for the first week or so. Also some other ways i've read in books are: Having them sleep in the same bedroom as you (they get accustomed to your smell), obediance training, playing and exercise! Just spending a lot of time commited to them, being there go to person! :)

For the Separation anxiety, boy do i know how that is. :) A few things you can try are: Thundershirts (Its the use of pressure to help calm dogs, you can buy them for $40.00 and if your not happy with it, you can send it back before 40 days to get your money back), Composure (I give my kiddo 3 chews when i leave for work), make sure you give plenty of exercise before you leave them, have the radio on, keep the room cool, offer two toys in the crate and rotate them, if they are bonded to you its helpful to put a shirt in the kennel that you wore that night. Never make a big deal of your comings and goings. Dont talk or look at them- just leave! I know it broke my heart at first because i just wanted to hug her and kiss her and tell her i loved her and that i will be right back. But that wasnt helping her, just helping me. So its no big deal if you leave! In fact, i will up and go as i please, i do not need to tell her anything-because she does not have to worry about me or where im going. So the longest that i left her in my room by herself while she was free was about 3 minutes. And she IS improving after a few months. Its still not perfect by any means. Its a long process. Really the best way to go about it, is to take a couple weeks off of work (at least) and work on it. Leaving them for 2 seconds in the crate and then coming back in without saying anything and then letting them out and ignoring them, than repeating this later. And then work your way up to 10 minutes, etc. Some dogs take MONTHS of time before they are able to be left alone for a couple hours. Your dog should be able to feel safe in their crate, mine will actually go in there herself throughout the day. Sometimes to just grab a toy, a few times she has slept in there on her own! Yay! So its just patience and lots of commitment ot help SA dogs. :)
I am sure there are other people here with more experience on this matter. That can help you out more. Because it is a very severe and stressful thing for both your dog and you, when they have separation anxiety.

Hope this helps some! Congratualions on your new addition! :)
 

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how to introduce a new dog into a pack, how to establish yourself as alpha in the pack and various training. What I've read says I should ignore him at least in the beginning, as an alpha in a pack will generally be aloof to lesser ranking member. Also that I shouldn't allow him to play for the first couple of weeks, just walk him, feed him, back in the crate. It's just so confusing and overwhelming. I want to do everything right
I just ignore a dog when I walk in a house to avoid them jumping on me etc. It stops them getting excited and shows them the pack structure doesn't fluctuate when I enter. With people who make there dogs excited when they enter you will find dogs free to compete for position. They will jump on each other and play fight or be jealous when affection is given to another dog. I aim for a calmness and stability and over time dogs will gravitate to this. They realize I bring calmness to the pack, so then I'm the leader. I give exercise to fully challenge the dog. I teach obedience and discipline. I feed.

Ultimately a leader has nothing to prove to dogs as the are beneath him or her.

With a new dog I would use what ever technique works to attract him to me. A 2 week shut down is used by some to get a dog used to a new situation and reset the dog and make sure unwanted behaviors aren't carried into new setup. I don't know if you need to be so extreme.

He doesn't want to listen to me when I give commands
Is he meant to understand English? Try to communicate through energy until he gets to know you. You are probably confusing the pup. If he comes to you throw him a ball. Or play some tug. Or let him smell nice food from your hands and follow the smell and get some treat instead of being authoritarian. It is a puppy and will respond better to fun than commands.

Basically I see that you have 4 pups in your house. I'm sure there are more needy dogs out there. Are you goin to rescue more? What happens if you get kicked out of your place due to the pup litter etc or barking.

I'm sure you can figure it out but wait until they grow up before adding more is my opinion. You might have had it sweet with 2 or 3 but the forth might give you more troubles as you can't dedicate all time to it even though it does need the extra time now.

Getting on to the new dog. It needs major walk time and exercise and time with you alone away from the rest of the pups.
He spins in circles, pants, and whines while he's in the crate....... he doesn't want to settle, constantly running back and forth. He does this in my room as well before finally settling to sleep in my bathroom.... He barks at just about everything, especially when we are playing outside or on a walk....It isn't aggressive in any way
It might not be aggressive now but it may be when he grows up. At the moment he sounds really excitable. Really 'Cesars way' would be a good book for you. He aims for calm submission from dogs and explains his techniques to achieve this. Also so many episodes contain similar dogs. I

I wouldn't let a pup or dog get so excited in my presence. This panting is annoying and a sign the dog is over excited. Again you have to be a source of calmness imo, so you can use food to calm this excitement. Also training and controlling the dog through ball play and tug is a really good way to calm the pup.You start to reward the dog for calmness and then it will start to be calm. The more calm the dog is the more you will reward and he will begin to associate being calm with your presence.

Hope that's not all too philosophical for you. Any questions and I will try to answer for you. Others will surely give there expert advice now too. :cool:
 

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I think there could be the possibility that having a houseful of 'other' dogs could be creating some of the anxiety in your dog. It doesn't know where it belongs. It may see you as the leader in your pack, therefore seeks the security of another member who is not in the 'pack' (your room mate).

If you are truly a good leader, you'll have no need to demonstrate your alpha ability. It is truly a lot of hog wash. A good leader will build confidence within it's pack and not feel the need to establish dominance. Especially to a dog who is already showing signs of instability.
 

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Those are classic separation anxiety behaviors (the spinning, panting, howling, etc.). Search separation anxiety on this board and you'll find lots of helpful threads. Most useful: check out Patricia McConnell's booklet, "I'll Be Home Soon."
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Thank you all for the replies! The advice is very much appreciated.

JakodaCD OA- I think you might be right, I may be expecting too much of him too soon. Someone I've been in contact with, not from this forum, who has raised Malinois suggested I research Leerburg. I've read several of his ebooks and have been trying to work off of his methods, though perhaps that is part of the issue? I have never owned a GSD so this is as much a learning experience for me as it is for him. He gets along very well with my other dogs. My roommate doesn't like to allow the dogs to play with each other in the house, and is always trying to get them to settle so he doesn't have much of a chance to interact with her dog but they get along when they are together. A few times a day I take him and my two younger dogs up the road to an open field and let them off leash to chase each other, play fetch and romp around which everyone seems to love.

VTGirlT- You underestimate your advice, you have been very helpful. Thank you! He sleeps in a crate in my room, my other dogs have their spots on the floor or crowding me out of bed. I think I may give him a special blanket that I have slept with for several nights to have with him when I'm not around.

MadLab- He knows basic commands (sit, down, stay, shake, roll over) and I managed to quickly teach him speak and in turn quiet to try and ease the barking when we are out walking or someone enters the house. Is he meant to understand English? I'm not sure. He does respond to English, but he could be responding more to my gesture at the time of the command than the command itself.
I realize that there are many needy dogs out there and that I can't save them all, but I could save the ones that I have and will provide them the best life possible. Honestly, I was content with the three that I had and wasn't looking to add another. My roommate kept bringing up the topic of getting her puppy a companion and I reminded that four in the house was enough (mainly due to the fact that she had been out of work for months and I was the one buying food for her dog). The reason I took Godric in was because the family that was rehoming him couldn't afford to feed him (he was extremely boney when I brought him home) and they were going to be evicted if he wasn't gone by morning. If they couldn't find someone to take him they were going to have him put down. I just couldn't allow it, so I agreed to take him. As for where I live, my landlord knows I have as many dogs as I do. She is also an animal lover and has 6 rescues herself so that isn't an issue. You are right, he is very excitable and I am trying to work with that, but it is a struggle. In reading some of the other threads in various areas of the forum I found the suggestion of making a flirt pole. Last night I went to Farm and Fleet to pick up a 55" lunge whip and stuffing free toy to attach to the end. All the dogs seem to love it! I will definitely be looking into the book you suggested. When he is the only one out it is a bit easier to get him into more of a calm state, but as soon as there is another dog out all he wants to do is play constantly. I'd like to get to a point where they can all be out and curled up on the couch or floor.

I'm starting to think that his whining, howling and spinning is not so much from separation anxiety but general anxiety. When he's in his crate he is in an area where he can still see me. The crate is large enough that him and my 40lb little girl are able to lie in there together comfortably, so I've been crating them together which seems to help a bit. He seems to be more comfortable being in the crate during the day with her in there with him. I've noticed that as soon as I get their food bowls together he starts whining and howling again which makes me think that his whining and howling is simply because he wants something and isn't getting his way. I may be completely wrong though. I have gone back to completely hand feeding all his meals, but a do make him work for it a little. Instead of working with basic commands I've been working with him on watching me. I hold a palmful of food in each hand, arms extended out and tell him to watch me. If he holds my gaze for a few seconds I tell him "YES!" and give him one of the palms of food.

I am wondering, should I not allow him to play with the other dogs and only allow him to play with me? When I play with all the dogs together he has little to no interest in the toys I bring out, rather he is more interested in playing with the other dogs. If I play with him one on one he is more interested in playing tug or fetching the rope braid.
 
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