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Hello all! My girlfriend and I just adopted a 15 week old GS the other day. Today is day 5 since we've had him. He went to the Vet on Monday and he weighed in at 43.5 pounds so they said hes on the bigger side. The first night we had him I just put the child gate up and kept him in our kitchen since it is hard wood for easy clean up. I did not want to traumatize him right away with the crate since he had just been taken from all his brother and sisters and got sick on the car ride home. I do not think he has ever been in a crate before. The people we adopted from had a surprise litter of 9 and they had to get rid of them quickly but I do not think they had any individual training of any kind and had never been to the vet. They had said they were all just sleeping in their dining room. He is not housebroken yet, I am working on that. He is surprisingly pretty good on a leash already. The past 5 trips I have been able to get him to pee in the same spot yesterday and we did not have any accidents for once. But no luck with number 2s yet. We also live in a town home and have 3 floors I don't think he's ever seen stairs before.

So anyway, after the first 2 nights of him sleeping in the kitchen I introduced him to the crate. I let him walk in on his own to investigate and i have been having him sleep in there with the door open and i have been sleeping on the ground close by outside since he seems to fall asleep right away when I am near him. If he gets up he will walk on me and wake me up so I can rush him outside if he has to go. I have the crate in our finished basement, I know it is not the most ideal place because there are no windows or anything but if he barks I felt like that would be the best spot for him to not disturb the neighbors. He had never barked before in front of me besides one time when i put the gate at the bottom of the stairs to run up and take a quick shower but he only did a little bit. He is generally very calm and not noisy but that all changed the second we closed the crate door. I have been working half days so that he is not down there that long and having my brother go over since he gets done earlier than me to let him out. We were trying to potty train him and when my brother let him out he didn't go yesterday, so we put him back in there (he would not go in willingly this time so had to help him a little bit) and ran up the street we were gone maybe 5-10 minutes and were going to try taking him out again upon return. As we were walking upstairs he started barking bloody murder and was going insane in there so i thought if we left the house it would be better so he didn't hear anything. When we got back I slowly walked to the front door to listen if he was still barking and heard no noise. I thought to myself perfect hes calmed down already. I open the door and to my astonishment he was sitting there in the kitchen by the door waiting for us. Now how he somehow became a criminal mastermind and broke out of the cage and conquered his fear of the stairs in 5 minutes is beyond me. I went down to try and figure out what happened somehow he had broken the divider i had setup to only give him enough room to spin around and also he had pushed the metal tabs to the right of the door off their hinges so it created a small opening. I still don't see how he fit through there it was quite small but that is the only explanation. He now runs all the way up to the top floor but cannot go down. I took him out again and he went right away so that mission was accomplished and he was fine the rest of the night, slept in the cage again with me outside. I was leaving for work today at 11am, he went back into the cage (on his own) no divider this time and i reattached everything to make sure it was secure. I gave him a treat for going in. The second I walked up the stairs he started going crazy again, biting the cage and shaking it barking like a madman. The unit to our left noone lives there but on the right my neighbor works nights and sleeps during the day so I am concerned of the noise he is making. When I am yelling up to my girlfriend from there she can never hear a word I am saying but you could certainly hear him barking nonstop. I am very worried about the noise and his new found escape tactics. If he breaks out again I know he is going to go straight to the top floor and I am worried he will fall or get hurt some how. I did try to zip-tie the section he broke to make it stronger. He went number 2 when i walked upstairs so i did come back down cleaned it up and he went back in there on his own again before i left for work.

My main question is wondering if this is normal behavior? And if so is there anything I can try to do to make this transition easier? If he somehow breaks out again I am going to buy a new cage I saw that maybe a plastic aircraft crate may be best for the time being. Also the divider is shot so I am guessing I will need one anyway. This is my first experience with a puppy besides my family dog but I was to young to recall anything. I generally have rescued all the dogs and cats I have had in the past so this is a bit new for me (they were always older). I have been reading a lot of good information online but thought I would try posting here to see what the community thought. One other quick concern, we also have a 5 year old boxer. I try to keep them separate most of the time since the boxer is lazy and is not generally in the mood to play with the pup. We do not cage the boxer since he does not have accidents and just lays on the couch. The pup also seems to not want his puppy chow and wants to go for the older dogs food.. is it okay for him to eat that? I have been trying to feed him on a schedule however he only eats a few bites of his stuff. He gobbled down the adult food however. I apologize for how long this turned out to be but any advice is much appreciated! I will try to attach a pic of the little guy if my email ever loads.
 

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I have only raised one German Shepherd puppy and it was not that bad. I got her as a younger just weaned puppy and you have got a great big 4 month old GSD puppy who is not housebroken and now has what sounds like separation anxiety. Some more experienced people will show up to advise you soon.

We brought Inga home and she had a full size crate and since she was so small we put the divider in and covered it with a dark cover so it was like a cave. We took her outside as soon as she finished eating, sleeping or playing, and to the same place with much celebration when she deposited. At night we would put her in her box, really it was more like a box than a cage because of the cover. She would cry a short while then go to sleep. During the night she would start to cry and she got taken outside. The box is near the front door. Then she would go back to sleep through the night. The box is where her bed is. She was trained to go in there with the command Kennel. She likes it in there. At night we have always kept the box door closed and let her out in the morning. She never developed separation anxiety and was quickly housebroken within about a week.

Your puppy being raised in the people's dining room probably never got started on housebreaking. Maybe you sleeping next to the kennel has caused him to have anxiety when separated from you. I don't know how to advise but someone will I'm sure. One thing- get some heavy duty cable ties and reinforce the cage everywhere it can come apart. Cover it with an old blanket and keep it by the front door so he can quickly be carried out. Put a short drag line on him and watch him like a hawk. When he begins to sniff and circle wisk him out the door. Clean everyplace he has made a deposit or urine on the floor with an enzyme odor remover/cleaner for this purpose. Congradulations you lucky dog! Now you get to raise a GSD puppy. I am glad you are so considerate of your neighbors.

I just thought of something. Some people put a radio in the room with the kennel cage or box turned down low with a talk channel. So the pup feels like this is familiar, he hears people talking and is not alone.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello thank you for your reply! My buddy suggested putting the cover on as well I think I will do that tonight, I did have a small blanket on the top but it only covered the top portion. I did leave the TV on YouTube so it kept auto-playing talk radio podcasts, I figured he wouldn't mind the genre since he is so young and I left 2 of the lights on so it was not pitch black. I can certainly agree with your anxiety theory. He follows me around very closely whenever I am moving about. The first day we got him he wouldn't move from the spot i put him in for about 20 minutes so I sat next to him the whole time until he was comfortable. Another friend of mine suggested a shock training collar but I am really hoping to avoid that.. I don't want him to be afraid of anything.
 

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I have an 18 wk old GSD, and I took just about every bit of advice from this forum re crate training. The pup is still supervised when out to learn his boundaries and supervision will continue for at least another year.
POSITIVE SIDE: House-training was easy as such things go. He knows to go outside, and to let us know when he needs to go. Super-awesome is the new development of sleeping through the night. No more 3AM potty walks! (So far)
NOT GREAT SIDE: He never really has learned to like the crate despite our best attempts to make it a positive thing.

My best guess regarding the crate issue is that he gets too warm in there. We started him out in a plastic airline crate with a blanket in the bottom. He'd cry a lot when in there and we chalked it up to not liking being away from us, wanting to play and such. After he peed on the blankets a few times we took those out and he seemed not as distressed by the crate. In addition, he did not seem at all distressed when confined to the basement bathroom instead of his crate. We guessed he liked his dog bed and/or the tile floors.

NOTE: We do not have central AC. We have radiant floors for heat, which affect the main floor only and not the basement. In three seasons we open the casement windows and it's comfortable.

As the pup got bigger I transitioned him to a wire crate, figuring better airflow would improve his opinion of crating. It helped, but the cooling pad I put in there later helped more. He still whines, licks and bites at the wires some, but he is more comfortable in there and will not get as distressed.

Sometimes the pups just need to get used to the crate, but sometimes there are other conditions which can help or hinder their comfort. Adjust where the pup shows you it's needed.
 

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I think a good site for you to read is Leerburg. Leerburg | Article Categories
The Leerburg family actually trains their young GSDs and during the day keeps them attached to their assigned family member trainer.

I would forget about using an e collar right now.
 

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never ask that friend again about dog training. The dog needs more time, he may not most likely not associate any e collar correction to barking in the crate.

Treats for going in the crate, play crate games, throw a treat in let pup chase it in and come out, slowly work on having pup in crate door open treat, extending time slowly in crate and speed of treats, then start to close the door throw in a treat open the door, slowly increase amount of time door is shut, then create distance you are from the crate door closed toss in treats. Then work on going out the door slowly extending time.

Once you start building the positive association to the crate start trying to release from the crate when pup is quite and treat quite behavior.

Anytime dog is quite in crate mark and reward.

Once you get pup liking the crate you will have less barking then you can work on what barking is left.

You can feed meals in the crate.

The above is where I would start. Hope some more experienced people chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay i will check out that website when i get home. Looks like a lot of more good info. Maybe I will look at Wire crates tonight Trace thank you for the suggestion. I am thinking worst case scenario when I return home and prepared to find his cage in the same condition as the one from jaws after the shark got to it. I am not sure what else I can put in there to make him more comfortable I do not think it is to hot down there but just in case I set a fan up towards his direction, left lights on, and then the TV. In the crate I included a blanket and 3 strong toys so nothing would could break off to risk him choking on and then a puppy pad in the back section since the divider was toast.

Apex I will try that first I do not want to resort to the collar, I have these training treats I was using and gave him some when he walked in there on his own. I might have to get different ones because they are rather small and I do not think he can see them. I had to put them close to his face to get any kind of reaction from him but he seems to really enjoy them.
 

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Maybe try feeding some of his meals in the crate, leave the door open. Do various exercises where he gets a toy out of the crate and is able to come back out. Build up to leaving the door shut for longer periods of time. That way he doesn't look at it as some awful puppy torture den, where he goes in, the door closes and you disappear.

I would leave the crate in a common area - like the living room - leave the door open and my pup started going in there on his own to nap. It was his quiet place, he liked it. We eventually got to that point.

When they are crate trained it does make life easier, just try a different strategy. Good luck!
 

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My dogs learned to like the crate by sleeping in theirs right next to my bed at night. I trained them to day crates as needed by walking in and out of the room 100 or more times while they were in crates. I never left them at home crated for long period of time until they were comfortable in the crate. How long do you leave him crated while you’re gone? I missed that. Make sure if they are left with toys they are very safe toys for puppies. Mine could destroy almost any toy at that age.

New puppies should not be fed before a car ride home or they will throw up. If it’s their first car ride, they are already nervous about being in a car and away from family,
 

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Thank you guys for all the posts!!!! I certainly wont feed him before a car ride and I will check into crate games, sounds like a good idea. Quick update from last night, my brother got to my place around 4 and then tried getting him to go out and I guess he wouldn't do anything but sniff around. I got home around 5:30-6ish and had no luck either. I kept telling him to go potty a million times. I honestly couldn't tell if he had an accident in the crate or not that may of been why but when my gf finally got home at 7 and took our other dog out again with him watching I think he saw him go and got the idea. I spent the rest of the night cleaning out his crate and then getting him to go in with toys and treats and telling him how good he was and he seemed to go back and forth into it after a while just to get the praise. Couldn't get him to go out again before bed. This time when it was time for bed we did our usual routine and he put his head down and i was close by but then I tried closing the gate to the crate. He seemed okay about it and throughout the night I tried to put some distance between myself and him. He woke me up at 3am and we went out and he peed and then around 6 when I was ready to leave for work I tried again and he actually went a little. I am glad because normally he wont go unless he has to and it wasn't much. I brought him upstairs so my gf could watch him while I showered but I heard him jumping and scratching at the door the entire time. So this leads me to believe it may not be the crate necessarily but the anxiety of not being around anyone. She must not of been paying him any attention but I mean she was getting ready for work too. I will have to look at all of those websites. Then also I guess when I was showering he went number 2 at the top of the stairs so I still haven't been able to catch him in the act.. hopefully this weekend I can and work on a command to go outside and do it. I put him in his cage and gave him some more treats and sat with him a little and when he quit making noise I would give another treat. This lasted about ten minutes and then when I started to go upstairs the barking started. My gf was still upstairs however and she said shortly after I left the barking stopped so I am quite relieved about that. I am working another half day today so I'll be back home by noon to see how he did.
 

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SA can be very serious. In severe cases the dogs will injure themselves, at least one I know of injured himself so severely he died as a result.
That said, many pups suffer mild SA and the biggest thing to understand is that at that point we can stop it or increase it. For the most part we cause it. NEVER baby your dog when it is being needy.
Most SA literature, and my personal experience, says leave the dog confidently and quickly. Say see ya, close the door and walk away. When you return you enter, put your stuff away, do what you need to do and THEN let the dog out. The concept is ignore the dog for 15 minutes before you leave and when you return.
I start with 5 minute outings, actually leave the house, and increase the time gradually.

OP it sounds like your pup may be heading this way so read what you can and be sure you aren't increasing anxiety with inadvertent actions. But since you posted this I have been looking at it and thinking Who cares if the puppy likes it? IMO crating is a necessary skill, so like it or not puppies need to learn to deal.
I have had dogs that loved their crates and dogs that simply tolerated them, but they all learned. Unless your pup is actually doing harm to himself, put him in the crate, close the door and walk away. It's ok to work on it slowly in your spare time, make him associate it with good things but really it's a puppy and it just must do these things.
 

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Aw, it sounds like it isn't so much the crate itself, as that you put him in the crate, and he thinks you're leaving him? So he starts barking?
And he finds a way to escape, so he can be with you?

I have to confess that I spent the first 2 months sleeping on the couch, within view of the crate!
I lured our rescue dog in with a couple of treats, closed the door, and laid down on the couch where he could see me. He was panting and anxious, but eventually he laid down too. After a week or two, he was going in calmly, turning around a few times, and sleeping through the night. By the end of the 2 months, I could open the door and point, and he would go in and lay down. And I could sleep in our bedroom again, because now he understood that the crate is "his bedroom", he associates it with sleeping/relaxing and that I am not going to go anywhere and will not just disappear while he's in the crate.

It would have been easier to just put the crate in our bedroom!
But my husband has pollen allergies so we decided early on, that it would be best if the dog did not sleep in our bedroom.
 

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But since you posted this I have been looking at it and thinking Who cares if the puppy likes it? IMO crating is a necessary skill, so like it or not puppies need to learn to deal.

I have had dogs that loved their crates and dogs that simply tolerated them, but they all learned. Unless your pup is actually doing harm to himself, put him in the crate, close the door and walk away. It's ok to work on it slowly in your spare time, make him associate it with good things but really it's a puppy and it just must do these things.

This is what I think too. You just have to persevere.

I remember Scarlet was kind of a beast for a week when I first brought her home, howling and screeching like a banshee in her crate. She had been used to a crate at my breeder’s house, she just wasn’t having it at my house. She finally got over it, and at a year and a half is perfect in a crate.
 

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Oh, it didn’t take a year and a half to get get to like her crate, lol. That happened in just a few weeks.
 

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My experience when I brought home my 7 1/2 week pup: The 1st few nights he might react by whining, crying, or even biting the crate. When I 1st crate-trained my pup (he was 7 1/2 w), he cried ALL NIGHT the 1st 2 nights. But tough love WORKS. He's learnt that by crying and whining, he doesn't get attention. They will learn to self-soothe. Don't forget to PRAISE him like crazy everytime he goes into the crate calmly. He needs to be rewarded EVERYTIME he acts accordingly. It's okay to ignore, that's called a learning process. When he's successfully trained, and I hope he will be, it'll help diminish any separation anxieties and you will have an independent but loving dog. He needs to know that being in a crate means safety and security, and that you will come back EVERYTIME. For some puppies, it takes more than 2 days to stop crying and whining, but with tough love and consistency, they'll get there. Last thing, appreciate that your friend is trying to be helpful but please for the love of God don't ask him/her again for dog advices. Shock collar for a 15 week-old puppy who is scared? How so very Einstein-level genius. Shock collars are eg. For dogs who escalate out of fear or aggression amongst other things, and first and foremost NOT for a 15 week puppy who has yet to accomplish crate training. Just no. Other than that... Good luck on the training, it takes time!
 

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My experience when I brought home my 7 1/2 week pup: The 1st few nights he might react by whining, crying, or even biting the crate. When I 1st crate-trained my pup (he was 7 1/2 w), he cried ALL NIGHT the 1st 2 nights. But tough love WORKS. He's learnt that by crying and whining, he doesn't get attention. They will learn to self-soothe. Don't forget to PRAISE him like crazy everytime he goes into the crate calmly. He needs to be rewarded EVERYTIME he acts accordingly. It's okay to ignore, that's called a learning process. When he's successfully trained, and I hope he will be, it'll help diminish any separation anxieties and you will have an independent but loving dog. He needs to know that being in a crate means safety and security, and that you will come back EVERYTIME. For some puppies, it takes more than 2 days to stop crying and whining, but with tough love and consistency, they'll get there. Last thing, appreciate that your friend is trying to be helpful but please for the love of God don't ask him/her again for dog advices. Shock collar for a 15 week-old puppy who is scared? How so very Einstein-level genius. Shock collars are eg. For dogs who escalate out of fear or aggression amongst other things, and first and foremost NOT for a 15 week puppy who has yet to accomplish crate training. Just no. Other than that... Good luck on the training, it takes time!
Not. A shock collar on a fearful or aggressive dog could very well escalate the situation.
 

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Thank you guys for the other posts! I really appreciate all of the feed back. I was meaning to post over the weekend but he has been keeping me super busy. So quick update, he goes in his crate willingly now. He has been getting a ton of treats so now he goes in there and just expects one so I have been trying to cut down how many he is receiving. I am thinking all the barking is mainly from SA so but he is actually not doing it as long now which is good. I have been sleeping on the couch now which is still in eyesight of him but probably 15 feet away. We are still having bad accidents though any time we leave. I put him in the crate for 5 minutes and left and was back and he had a big accident. This morning I am trying to feed him in his crate to maybe get him to stop doing that. I also saw something on amazon called a dog anxiety jacket or something? Looks like it got pretty good reviews may try something like that. He isnt doing his business every time we go outside but it seems to help if we bring our other dog out and he sees him go. On a positive note we were able to teach him how to go down the stairs now too so he is cruising up and down pretty fast. He def seems like hes getting more energy by the day.
 
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