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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good afternoon from frigid Wisconsin.

I'm fostering a 6 month old GSD that a young person purchased against the strong advice of myself and another, more experienced GSD parent. The young person admitted to us after about 11 weeks that she was in over her head and I agreed to take him until she could possibly decide to sort things out and/or decide to place him with me or someone else permanently. Therefore, while I do not consider myself his owner, I consider it high likely that I may become so. And, to be fair to him and have fun, I want to make sure he is a well-behaved young dog. It's clear he had no socialization before I got him and was not potty trained. He pooped and peed in his crate freely. Knew "sit" and had a soft mouth though, and clearly wasn't abused. Mostly loved but neglected a lot.

I've had Aussies and Border Collies in my adult life. No issues with them. I've raised 2 from pups and 1 from about 18 months. Great family dogs.

I don't know anything about GSDs except what I've started to read--wicked smart, like my Aussies and BC.

Two major issues right now, complicated by extreme weather and lack of opportunity to exercise. First, Jett is highly reactive to people and other dogs. Second, he is not/was not house broken. He had not had any accidents for over two weeks and then today, he peed and pooped in his crate. He hadn't pooped in there since Jan 1. Sigh. Back to the beginning, I guess.

We had one private lesson to help me learn how to start working with him--an experienced trainer, and one who worked well with him and me. She recommended a specific class to begin Jan 31. I'm on board!

I've been trying to get Jett out to public places to start working on exposing him to sights and sounds from a distance. Cue extreme weather starting here about 10 days ago--snow on top of snow and dangerously cold temps. He has not been out of the house except to potty for 1 week now. I let him play with my Aussie/BC mix a lot so the two of them aren't as bored. It does help some but not enough. I'm thinking the weather may have contributed to potty accidents b/c neither dog wants to stay out to do his business. I also put a blanket back in the crate b/c of the cold and that's where he pooped and peed and then moved the blanket to the side of his crate and had a cleanish spot for himself. The crate has been shortened all this while and I'm hoping with no blanket, he won't go in there again. He gets out a lot--I bell trained him, and he is in that "ringing the bell constantly" state. I'm not sure I want to continue using the bells now that I've read it might be better for me to take full control of when he goes as part of the NILIF strategy I generally employ.

So, if you have gotten this far through my novel, please let me know where to start trouble- shooting! I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. I would never have gotten a puppy at this time of year in Wisconsin b/c of the issue of getting enough exercise in our winter. It will get better, but I'm not sure what to do in the meantime when we cannot spend time outside and he cannot play fetch on the stairs b/c he isn't reliably potty trained. Oh, well. I know it will be easier in another week or so when we start hitting 20 degrees again and then windchill isn't below zero every day.

FTR, he is an incredibly sweet dog with me and my daughter. He is doing well learning basic commands--sit, leave it, crate. I'm teaching him "Yes" as a cue-word and he's on it.

Thanks.
 
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I hope you get to keep him, you sound like a good home for him.

BC's and GSD's share some really great qualities but keep in mind that there are vast differences as well. Try to avoid comparing, it could lead you into trouble. While BC's and Aussies are generally pretty social, GSD's are most often not. They seem to largely prefer their own people and dogs, sometimes even that's a stretch.

As to your issues, I have taken pups out of bad spots who were conditioned to go in their crates due to a lack of options. I do something I call potty training in reverse where I put them in the crate keeping a close eye on them and when I take them out and the crate is clean we celebrate and reward. Timed intervals same as potty training. Extend the time as you move forward.
And I know it sucks in the cold but he needs exercise. So bundle up and get him out. Deep snow is great for wearing them out if you have it. Leash reactivity is a pain, I think most of us walk in isolated areas at odd hours. Forcing any interaction may make it worse, just let him work through things from a distance, if he is freaking out you are to close.
Hopefully your class will help you sort it out.
 

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Welcome to the forum! Really, you sound like you're doing a great job so far, considering the circumstances.

Sounds like you're figuring out a lot as you go along. Yes, socialize the pup as much as possible at this stage.

With strange people and with other dogs, if possible. Make all the dog get togethers as calm and relaxed as possible.

Just like a human baby, puppies will have accidents when potty training and then suddenly they don't. It must be

difficult with your weather. Here in Central Fl. it's cold and rainy today and not good for much outdoor activity.

My dog wore a slicker raincoat or she would have been soaked to the skin, it was pouring so hard.

I'll let the experts give you more advice, but just keep up the good work you're doing.
 

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I’m glad you have this dog. Smart move to enroll in classes. Get out as much as you can for exercise. Worth the effort. You’re doing great!
 

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I live in the U.P of MI, so I feel your pain with the cold weather.
I got my gsd in June, but even then a lot of the socialization we did was from the car. Especially before he got all his shots. We would ride with my mom down town, and just sit in the car and he would watch people, dogs, and what not go by. Especially shopping carts, since I have heard some dogs have issues with those.
Do you have a Lowes, or a Cabellas near by? I know those are dog friendly places. I have a facebook friend who lives in lower WI and she takes her dogs to Cabellas when the weather is really bad.
 

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As a veteran of Wyoming, Colorado and Montana winters (WY & MT get the prize, CO is a distant 3rd) I can recommend how to dress a human for walking a dog at 20 -30 below. It isn't pretty. 1) silk long johns 2) fleece long johns on top of 1; 3)large jeans over 2; 4) wind pants on top of that. TOP: silk long johns, fleece long johns or cotton t neck; wool sweater; down vest; down parka FACE: hunter's knit or neopreme face mask - ski goggles if it is daylight Head - fleece head band, fleece neck gaiter, hat. Feet - wool socks inside sheepskin fleece lined boots - don't bother with synthetic fleece lined boots - use the real thing.



Then you can put a winter coat on the dog(s), too.



You will win no fashion prize for this fine outfit. You may frighten the neighbors. but you can be close to comfortable and, yes, you can still move in all of that.


Have fun. Oh, and for puppies in snow country in winter - the only really good use for sweats.


Maybe for the crate a piddle pad in a corner?
 

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The weather really is obscene right now. We’re looking at -27F by Wednesday.... But hopefully by the end of the week it’ll break. I’ve been eyeing the disaster outside since 4:30 and haven’t mustered up the willpower to go deal with my car yet. I feel your pain.

1. Are the puppy’s vaccinations complete? That’s gonna be a prerequisite.

2. Pick up a tub of Musher’s Secret, it’s easier to spread a thin layer of that than teach a willful puppy to accept boots. It helps protect paws from extreme ice and the salt crust everywhere. One thin tub will last you a long time.

3. Tractor Supply, Farm and Fleet and Bass Pro allow dogs. You can kill a half hour in the auto section of F&F alone. Just make sure the puppy is “empty” before going in, and my personal opinion is that you should always buy something and be extra nice to the staff, just to show appreciation for places that have a sensible dog policy. :)

4. Depending on where you are in the state, your mall may have a ton more options. Even though the interior mall itself doesn’t always allow dogs, many individual stores allow them - check your Barnes and Noble, LUSH cosmetics, Abercrombie, Gap, Anthropologie, Sierra Trading Post - if these or others have exterior doors, a number of them allow pet dogs now. I probably wouldn’t take a 6 month old on a walking tour of the whole place just because of the risk of accident or damaged merchandise, but I’d find a quieter corner, bring a LOT of little tiny treats, and work on focus games. Being asked to think in a novel environment will help drain down the puppy’s energy battery. Use a really high rate of reward, for even a second or two of attention, so your puppy isn’t just barking or being a fool. If that proves too stimulating for him, you can always try again in a few weeks after class is underway.

5. Look up Crate Games or see if you can borrow the full DVD from someone. Even though you’ve successfully trained other dogs before, the full program actually has a good handful of exercises that work tiny puppy brains and they are GREAT for developing impulse control.

6. Buy a slow feeder bowl, cover the food with water, and then freeze it completely solid before you offer it. Make every meal time a physical and mental challenge.

7. Taprooms and bars *that don’t serve food* are often dog friendly even when it isn’t posted. Call ahead. If you happen to be in or near the Milwaukee suburbs, hit up Bosco’s in Waukesha. The whole place was built around dogs and they will welcome you.
 

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I love the snow - keeping them busy I taught some sledding just to break up the monotony of the winter and is fun. Playing hide me seek games using their nose to find kids. Im not big on taking the dogs out in it but freezing temperature and I do go through a hibernating phase in the winter. I will be sure to take the dogs out randomly on errands stroll through busy town and in some store that allow dogs so they are out in some ways during really bad weather.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The weather really is obscene right now. We’re looking at -27F by Wednesday.... But hopefully by the end of the week it’ll break. I’ve been eyeing the disaster outside since 4:30 and haven’t mustered up the willpower to go deal with my car yet. I feel your pain.

1. Are the puppy’s vaccinations complete? That’s gonna be a prerequisite.

2. Pick up a tub of Musher’s Secret, it’s easier to spread a thin layer of that than teach a willful puppy to accept boots. It helps protect paws from extreme ice and the salt crust everywhere. One thin tub will last you a long time.

3. Tractor Supply, Farm and Fleet and Bass Pro allow dogs. You can kill a half hour in the auto section of F&F alone. Just make sure the puppy is “empty” before going in, and my personal opinion is that you should always buy something and be extra nice to the staff, just to show appreciation for places that have a sensible dog policy. :)

4. Depending on where you are in the state, your mall may have a ton more options. Even though the interior mall itself doesn’t always allow dogs, many individual stores allow them - check your Barnes and Noble, LUSH cosmetics, Abercrombie, Gap, Anthropologie, Sierra Trading Post - if these or others have exterior doors, a number of them allow pet dogs now. I probably wouldn’t take a 6 month old on a walking tour of the whole place just because of the risk of accident or damaged merchandise, but I’d find a quieter corner, bring a LOT of little tiny treats, and work on focus games. Being asked to think in a novel environment will help drain down the puppy’s energy battery. Use a really high rate of reward, for even a second or two of attention, so your puppy isn’t just barking or being a fool. If that proves too stimulating for him, you can always try again in a few weeks after class is underway.

5. Look up Crate Games or see if you can borrow the full DVD from someone. Even though you’ve successfully trained other dogs before, the full program actually has a good handful of exercises that work tiny puppy brains and they are GREAT for developing impulse control.

6. Buy a slow feeder bowl, cover the food with water, and then freeze it completely solid before you offer it. Make every meal time a physical and mental challenge.

7. Taprooms and bars *that don’t serve food* are often dog friendly even when it isn’t posted. Call ahead. If you happen to be in or near the Milwaukee suburbs, hit up Bosco’s in Waukesha. The whole place was built around dogs and they will welcome you.
Howdy, neighbor. I lived in Oconomowoc for 13 years and now live west of Madison. The Musher wax, frozen meal, and Crate Games are all new ideas for me and I will definitely try them! I have access to a lot of the stores you mention, so once the pup is less reactive, I will have to start trying them out.

Class is supposed to start Thursday night and I'm thinking it won't--although temps should be less severe so maybe it will. Fingers crossed!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I love the snow - keeping them busy I taught some sledding just to break up the monotony of the winter and is fun. Playing hide me seek games using their nose to find kids. Im not big on taking the dogs out in it but freezing temperature and I do go through a hibernating phase in the winter. I will be sure to take the dogs out randomly on errands stroll through busy town and in some store that allow dogs so they are out in some ways during really bad weather.

Thanks for the suggestions. My dogs like the snow but not the frozen foot pads, so I will be trying the Musher Wax mentioned too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
As a veteran of Wyoming, Colorado and Montana winters (WY & MT get the prize, CO is a distant 3rd) I can recommend how to dress a human for walking a dog at 20 -30 below. It isn't pretty. 1) silk long johns 2) fleece long johns on top of 1; 3)large jeans over 2; 4) wind pants on top of that. TOP: silk long johns, fleece long johns or cotton t neck; wool sweater; down vest; down parka FACE: hunter's knit or neopreme face mask - ski goggles if it is daylight Head - fleece head band, fleece neck gaiter, hat. Feet - wool socks inside sheepskin fleece lined boots - don't bother with synthetic fleece lined boots - use the real thing.



Then you can put a winter coat on the dog(s), too.



You will win no fashion prize for this fine outfit. You may frighten the neighbors. but you can be close to comfortable and, yes, you can still move in all of that.


Have fun. Oh, and for puppies in snow country in winter - the only really good use for sweats.


Maybe for the crate a piddle pad in a corner?
Thanks for your reply and the fun image of your winter wardrobe!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I live in the U.P of MI, so I feel your pain with the cold weather.
I got my gsd in June, but even then a lot of the socialization we did was from the car. Especially before he got all his shots. We would ride with my mom down town, and just sit in the car and he would watch people, dogs, and what not go by. Especially shopping carts, since I have heard some dogs have issues with those.
Do you have a Lowes, or a Cabellas near by? I know those are dog friendly places. I have a facebook friend who lives in lower WI and she takes her dogs to Cabellas when the weather is really bad.
I just revisited the UP this past June. Funny, I have been doing the car thing, too! Just in the past week, but I will do it more now, too. Thanks for your reply and mentioning stores I didn't know about!
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Take him out to play in the snow, what fun for a pup! Mine loved it a 4 months.
The paw pads are freezing after a minute or two right now with our extreme weather. But, he loves the snow and I look forward to getting back out. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I’m glad you have this dog. Smart move to enroll in classes. Get out as much as you can for exercise. Worth the effort. You’re doing great!
Thanks; I appreciate the support!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Welcome to the forum! Really, you sound like you're doing a great job so far, considering the circumstances.

Sounds like you're figuring out a lot as you go along. Yes, socialize the pup as much as possible at this stage.

With strange people and with other dogs, if possible. Make all the dog get togethers as calm and relaxed as possible.

Just like a human baby, puppies will have accidents when potty training and then suddenly they don't. It must be

difficult with your weather. Here in Central Fl. it's cold and rainy today and not good for much outdoor activity.

My dog wore a slicker raincoat or she would have been soaked to the skin, it was pouring so hard.

I'll let the experts give you more advice, but just keep up the good work you're doing.
Thank you! Central Florida is often gorgeous. I spend a lot of time in the summer in St. Pete with my elderly parents. Might not make it for long this year b/c of the new family member, but we will see. At least one sister has a fenced yard and no reason to argue if I want to bring my dogs with me this year :)

I needed the reminder that housebreaking isn't necessarily linear, especially in the relatively early stages. Thanks again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I hope you get to keep him, you sound like a good home for him.

BC's and GSD's share some really great qualities but keep in mind that there are vast differences as well. Try to avoid comparing, it could lead you into trouble. While BC's and Aussies are generally pretty social, GSD's are most often not. They seem to largely prefer their own people and dogs, sometimes even that's a stretch.

As to your issues, I have taken pups out of bad spots who were conditioned to go in their crates due to a lack of options. I do something I call potty training in reverse where I put them in the crate keeping a close eye on them and when I take them out and the crate is clean we celebrate and reward. Timed intervals same as potty training. Extend the time as you move forward.
And I know it sucks in the cold but he needs exercise. So bundle up and get him out. Deep snow is great for wearing them out if you have it. Leash reactivity is a pain, I think most of us walk in isolated areas at odd hours. Forcing any interaction may make it worse, just let him work through things from a distance, if he is freaking out you are to close.
Hopefully your class will help you sort it out.
Thanks for the reply! He has had 2 days of accidents in his crate this week, after about 3 weeks of none. I chalk it up to my mistakes. I like the idea of reverse training. The cold isn't a problem for me, but paw pads freeze in a minute or two with this rare and extreme weather and he's never been in booties before. I have learned about Musher Wax from someone else here and hope we can get back out b/c as you said, that snow is a lot of fun and very tiring for him, which gives me a bit of a break! Thank you again for taking the time to reply.
 

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Feel your pain....

Thank you! Central Florida is often gorgeous. I spend a lot of time in the summer in St. Pete with my elderly parents. Might not make it for long this year b/c of the new family member, but we will see. At least one sister has a fenced yard and no reason to argue if I want to bring my dogs with me this year :)

I needed the reminder that housebreaking isn't necessarily linear, especially in the relatively early stages. Thanks again.
I'm in Eastern Ohio and we are under a wind chill warning -8 now. Saturday I adopted an 11 month old female GSD that has no idea what potty means and doesn't understand any commands. No one has put time into her. :crying: She has a crate and loves it but we have accidents. I walk her out side so many times my legs are sore from slipping on my high snowboots! I think when she goes outside she just walks around with really no understanding of what she is expected to do. The weather is making it very hard to spend hours outside like she needs to get it right. OH well...progress is progress... Thursday it's supposed to break.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Got mine at 5 months and he didn't have any idea either. One thing I'd recommend is NOT walking. I use a retractable leash for potty time--and stand still while the dog circles around me. It is too cold to be out for this right now unless you have something for the dog's feet, because when I first got Jett, it could take 20-30 minutes of standing still before he went and I could reward him. Anyway, by consistently taking him out to the same spot (my tiny backyard) and waiting for him to go, rewarding him, etc., he got the idea that going outside is GOOD.

He does not yet quite have down the idea that going inside is not good, haha. But, that will come! He has had long periods-2-3 weeks--without indoor accidents broken by the occasional "oops" streak--which I started b/c I changed the pattern when the weather started getting so bad (meaning, paws freeze in 1-2 minutes), now more than a week ago here.

So, when we get above zero again and paws aren't freezing anymore, maybe give this a try. Walking is too distracting, IMO. My older dog thinks he gets to walk before he goes and Jett does not have that miscomprehension! So my older dog goes out in this awful weather and stands there and might just run back in. I'll be retraining him when the weather is nicer. It would be so nice to have dogs that understand that potty comes first.
 
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