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Hey guys, I've been reading through these forums for weeks and found some really helpful information from you guys but I'd love some advice on a couple of specific issues I'm having. Apologies in advance for the long post.

Our little boy Diesel is exactly 10 weeks as of today and we've had him since 8 weeks. I've taken 4 weeks of leave from work to house train him and settle him in as much as possible. Once I go back to work, I'll work around my girlfriends roster as much as possible and he will be home alone for 8 hours or so 2-3 times a week.

We currently live in a very reasonably sized 2 story townhouse with a courtyard/garden that leads into a large enclosed garage and we also have a large balcony upstairs (roughly 7ft by 14ft). Our initial plan before we got him was for him to have access to the courtyard and garage while we weren't home but once we got him we realised it really isn't suitable for him to be alone there at this age because he loves to try and eat pieces of bark and rocks and we also have some water piping and cables for the air conditioning unit that he would have access to.

So, although it sounded horrible at first, we decided that the balcony would be the best 'puppy proof' place for him to stay when home alone. I have bought him a kennel which is full of nice warm blankets and he of course has access to plenty of water and his toys. We have also have a drain in the corner of the balcony opposite his kennel which he knows is where he goes toilet which he does whether we're home or not.

So, first question. Is this sort of arrangement ok for him? Our goal is to have him stay inside when alone once he has matured, with maybe access to the garden but for now I just know if I leave him alone for 10 minutes, I'll come back to a demolition site. I'm sure having someone visit him for an hour or so in the middle of the day would help, but I'd love suggestions other then that :).

Second question. The last few days we have been leaving him home for an hour or 2 at a time to slowly get him used to being on his own. As we leave he obviously cries and howls a bit but I assumed he would tire himself out after a while eventually be ok. However, when I come back home, I park the car up the street and "sneak" back to the house to try and see/hear how he is and it seems he is just as bad if not worse than what he was when I left. I'm sure he didn't sleep at all because as soon as I let him in, he runs around freaking out for a couple of minutes and then just collapses on his bed and sleeps like a log. Am I doing something wrong? Is this just something that will only get better with time? I've read that I shouldn't make a big deal about leaving or when I return so I've been doing that. I hate to see him so upset and stressed out and I also don't want to annoy my neighbours.

One last thing. He sleeps in his bed in our room and is doing fine in there. He needs to go out for toilet breaks 2-3 times a night which is fine, however he will go and sit by the door when he needs to go out but won't make any noise to wake me up and will eventually just go on the carpet. We've started putting newspaper down simply because it makes noise when he walks on it which wakes me up but this obviously isn't a permanent solution. Is there something I can do to make him wake me up when he needs to go? We have chosen not to crate train him so I would love to hear some ideas that don't involve a crate, however if we can't find a solution, we may need to think about getting him one.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and I look forward to your ideas/feedback. Sorry again for the long post!
 

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First let him sleep in his bed just outside your room. Then go from there.

Our guy at that age would cry every time we went downstairs because he was afraid of the stairs. We just went down and watched a movie.. He learned to quickly conquer his fear of stairs.

When it came to separation anxiety, we started putting him outside within sight of us, but not letting him in when he cried. if the dog gets attention when he cries they think that they will get anything when they cry . Reward good behavior.

Baby steps, and confidence will pay off. Also give them something to do. Toys that squeak or something. Our guy will literally chew on one for hours.
 

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Okay, my advice:

  1. Bring his crate in the home where your scent is. Put it in the living room where, in the course of the day, he's in and out of it on a schedule and gets used to it. Crate time should not always equal nobody's home time. Plus, your neighbors will appreciate. But first and foremost, it's best for your pup.
  2. While you are gone, he should be in the crate. This is for his safety and to prevent natural, chewing destructive behavior while you are gone. Try leaving the TV on something benign (like the food channel; no stressful talking, no dogs barking like dog tv... lol)
  3. Having someone come midday to let him out to relieve himself and play with him would be GREAT! :laugh:
  4. At night, either crate him or put him in your bed. Okay, I know I'll get backlash for this one, but Myah slept with me until she was 3-4 months old (never an accident, because she naturally didn't want to soil OUR bed). She easily moved to her own bed on the floor in my bedroom (with my door closed, so she wouldn't wander the house at night). Worked well for us. However, I will admit, every dog I've had prior was crated at night until about 1 year old (past the destructive/chewing stage).
Enjoy your pup! :wub:
 

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EXERCISE!

Since I am a first time owner with our puppy, I can tell you what worked for us.

I did use a crate later but first week or two he slept on the floor next to us. Before we leave him for a few hours(max has been about 6 hours at 4 months and he seems to be doing okay), we take him for a walk and make him run in our yard to tire him out. Then a drink and a meal ( if it is in order) and I put him in the crate with a chew. A hollow bone stuffed at the ends with cream cheese and tiny pieces of hot dog and kibble. You could freeze this for a couple of hours if you like.

At 10 weeks yours is fairly little and moderate amount of exercise should wear him out. And ours seemed to have slept the whole day at that age, except for the meals and going out to pee.

How about stepping out for half a minute, treating him if he is calm when you step back in and gradually increasing the time?

I think the puppies do come to view the crate as a safe place. Nowadays if I step out for a half hour and don't bother crating our puppy, I come back to find him lying in his crate. He seems happy enough.
 

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Oh and your first question:

How secluded is your balcony? I personally would not have liked to (and still don't) keep our puppy by himself outside our house, even a balcony or a yard.
He is crated , or put in a playpen indoors where he mostly just sleeps because of the exercise. Reason being he is a puppy who has the need to feel safe, be with the pack. Out of doors is a lot of stimuli that is bound to attract him and he has no way of investigating it(birds, squirrels, insects, people, even just the grass and trees)
and it would be frustrating for him without you there to distract him and make up for his need to explore. You also have the chance if you are with him outdoors in the beginning months to shape his behavior towards these stimuli. This is probably one of the reasons why dogs kept in a yard become very reactive to people or other dogs walking by.

Just my intuition though.
 

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Does he have a puzzle feeder, or Kong to distract him when your gone?
A new toy, like a squeaky one (though nothing that will hurt him if he eats it) we give our dog Knee cap bones that we buy at our local Co-op, though you can get them at walmart.
These measures don't always last that long, but if he associates having non-destructive fun when your gone, it would help.
Someone might have said that already... Not sure.
Can you teach him to bump the door when he needs to go out? My dog jiggles our door knob and whines whenever he wants out. It took a LONG LONG time to house train him, but he hasn't messed on our carpet since, ever. Maybe put a bell on your door knobs and have him bump them any time he wants out?
Good luck, he sounds to me like he's got it made!
:gsdhead:
 
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