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Where do I start with all the questions?


I'm going to apologize in advance for being all over the place with some questions and the long post. I just introduced myself and Cassie over in the intro section.

Cassie's 7 months old and been with us just about a week. We know she is still settling in and we're still in the honeymoon period (though she is beginning to show her stubborn side, lol). She has had a lot of homes in her short life, wherever she was born, a stray, the pound, adopted out, brought back to the pound, the foster mom and now us.

I'm amazed at how mellow she is for a pup. She's still a pup, still has a lot to learn, but she walks very well on the leash, not much pulling, knows how to sit, has already just this week learned to wait before she gets to eat and to wait at the end of the rug in the entry hall whenever anyone comes to the door. When she sees the leash, she sits right away. Meal times we just have to tell her no begging a couple of times and she lays down and doesn't ask again.

She holds her pee for a long time! Which makes it nice for sleeping but the housebreaking is hard. :) It's been 14 years since I did any housebreaking and back then I was able to crate my Border Collie mix easily. When we are home she is free to roam with us but I can't figure out when she wants/needs to go out. With a younger pup they go more often but with her, well, she holds it 8-9 hours at night and sometimes all day. She won't pee or poop when we walk (3 walks a day) During the day she sometimes goes to the door and we go out and walk with her to where she wants to pee and praise and treat and all that. But half the time she just wants to go out and lay down outside. I don't want to stress her but it feels too unsettled. Maybe I am expecting too much too soon?

I'd appreciate any tips.

The other big thing that we need to work on is some separation anxiety. Obviously she can't have free run of the house yet. We have a crate but I wonder if it is big enough. It's the Vari-Kennel extra large (42" long). Maybe I should get a 48"?

Anyway, my husband works from home a lot of the time and my schedule has me go in early and come home early so we're hoping she won't have many times to go in the crate and not for long, maybe 3-4 hours. She gets a walk before going in the crate. We leave the TV on for her, she has a stuffed Kong, and a shirt that smells like us. She barks and whines and cries for a long time. I've never had this before....do I just let it go?

I'm thinking about getting a pair of gates so I could block her in the bathroom (one gate on top of the other because of course she could jump the small one) I wonder if having a bit more room would help her?

whew...sorry for so much at once. thanks!
 

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Re: Older rescue pup - housebreaking/crates/separa

Hi Susan,

Kai was 7 months when I adopted him and he wasn't housebroken. He never gave me much notice and would just run over and pee on the dog bed and even sometimes in his crate or in the back of my truck!
What I did (after I wrote to this board, if I recall correctly) was to pretend he was a little puppy. I kept him on a leash when he was in the house or gated into the area with me. Then I took him out regularly. When he went pee or poop I congratulated him, gave treats and pretty quickly put a command onto it. Because he was in the habit of going in the house it took a little longer to housebreak him but eventually he got it...only after I became hyper vigilant though!

As for the crate training...same thing with Kai and same thing with many of my fosters. It's very common when they come into a new home that they feel insecure about you leaving. I don't think space is the issue as much as being alone. I would feed her in her crate and give her treats in her crate too. Don't make it somewhere she only goes when you leave. Put a command on it and make it really positive. And don't make a big deal about leaving or coming home. You should pretty much ignore her when you let her out of the crate until you've been home for a little while. Don't be mean but don't be affectionate or anything either. Once she realizes you're coming back and this is part of her routine she will settle down. And again, this could take a few days or a few weeks but it will resolve eventually.
 

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Re: Older rescue pup - housebreaking/crates/separa

I can relate to your comment about the "honeymoon phase." When we first got Heidi, she was a little angel for the first week we had her. Then, little by little, her issues started cropping up: separation anxiety, reactivity to other dogs, very high prey drive (toward squirrels mainly, but also birds, bugs, etc.), fear of men, etc. Heidi's come a long way since we first got her with a lot of training, classes, NILF, exercise, and love and affection. She didn't even know how to play with a toy when we first got her, and she was afraid that we were going to hit her when we went to pet her, the poor thing. Now, she loves her toys and likes being petted.

It sounds like Cassie is really well behaved already. As far as whining while in the crate: Heidi did that too, but we ignored it and eventually she stopped. For bedtime, first we had her in a crate in the other room with the crate door closed, then we moved the crate to the bedroom (with the door closed). Now she sleeps in the crate but with the door open. I put her in the crate when I go away. I usually don't leave her for more than 5-6 hours though (luckily, I work at home). I used to come home and she'd have the crate pad all rumpled up, but now she settles down just fine. When I leave, I just shut the door to the crate, give her two treats, and leave. I try to make my comings and goings as calm as possible. I do need to work on the separation anxiety more though because when I go somewhere and my husband is home with her, she'll lay by the front window and wait for me (and "pines," my husband tells me...)

I think your crate is big enough. That's the size we use. I think I'd prefer the crate over the bathroom, because she could claw and chew at the door frame (which our other dog used to do on occasion!)

And about her letting you know if she has to go potty, well, we have the same problem with Heidi. If we take her outside, point to the lawn, and say "go potty," she will. But she just doesn't let us know when she has to go out. We just make it a point to let her out a lot. She wants to be outside a lot, so we never know if she has to go potty or if she just wants to go out and go on squirrel patrol. I'd like to teach her how to use a bell to let us know when she wants to go out.

Well, best of luck! It sounds like you're off to a really good start--especially since she's only been with you for a week.
 

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Don't worry about getting a larger crate as long as the current one allows your dog to stand, turn around, and lay down in. Not meant for 'exercise' (I know you know that
) , just for a safe place. Getting one larger really can take up alot more of the housespace, and I know MY GSD's generally tend to curl in a ball in the back of their crates.

I think that just time and patience will help you figure out the housebreaking routine. And you sound like you are doing the right thing. I know I would almost think of this dog as a puppy for awhile and take him out into the yard alot during the day. Not necessarily for walks but to give him the opportunity to poop/pee and for you to praise. So he can really start having those 'lightbulb moments' that make it progress well.

DOG CLASSES! So many issues will be solved and never even come up if you can start a good set of obedience classes ASAP. BEFORE he is out of his honeymoon phase is best! It really helps put dog/handler on the right path, together. And a qualified person (the trainer) is right there to see both and give instant suggestions and feedback.

I know some people wait to go to classes until they feel their dog is better trained/behaved at the house...... but the entire point of classes for the young dog is NOT to wait, have the socialization with dogs/people/car trip, and make the training go so much faster because it's being done properly from the start.

I've raised 3 pups to adulthood. Took all 3 to obedience classes for as long as I needed to (never just one session). And with all those practically perfect adult dogs, that I've raised and trained, guess what I will do with my next puppy?

Back to class again!!

Course you'll need some obedience for when you start agility (right?)

 

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Re: Older rescue pup - housebreaking/crates/separa

Rose - Thank you. I'm glad to know I am not alone in the housebreaking. I thought we were at least on the right track but this morning I feel back at square one. When we first brought her home the foster mom had her on Pedigree dog food. We wanted to get her off of that right so we've been transitioning her with a mix of that and Premium Edge (Skin and Coat Salmon, Potatoes & Vegetables Formula) plus a spoonful of yogurt. First few days she pooped as soon as she ate. Then it seemed to settle down, stools got more solid and we started to time things so we could make a schedule.

We had fed her at 8:30 Friday morning and when she pooped at 4:30 we marked 8 hours so we could really be on top of it. My husband took her out at 2:30 and she pooped fine. I got up with her at 8 this morning and she peed right away out back then all she wanted to do was eat grass. (a first). Then she ate at 8:30 and pooped again. I don't know how to mark a schedule! And now I'm worrying about why she is eating grass. My last dog would do that and then throw up but right now Cassie is parked outside the bedroom door waiting for my husband to get up.

As for the crate - you mentioned feeding her in the crate, do you mean like her main meal? Put it in there and close her in with it or just put the bowl in and let her walk in and eat? I don't know that I could fit her and the bowl in the crate.

The last time she was in the crate was Thursday. She was making a lot of racket when I came in. I let her see me but I didn't let her out until she was quiet. Last night my husband went out for about an hour and she was loose in the house with me and she whined for about half an hour but then settled down so maybe there is hope there.
 

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Re: Older rescue pup - housebreaking/crates/separa

Karin, Wow! I can relate to Heidi since my last dog was like that. I never did teach her how to play with a toy.

Cassie is doing okay, so far, on the NILF and exercise. She played with a tennis ball one day and now I can't get her interested in it at all. She loves being petted and brushed. My last dog would growl at any of that. And we've had a couple of playdates with my brother-in-laws 3 year old female GSD and they seem to be doing fine. She isn't reacting to any other dogs on the leash or the little yappy dog on the other side of the fence. Yesterday she was sitting in the backyard and a couple of firecracker pops, loud, went off and she didn't even stand up. Gosh I hope that doesn't change. :)

Yes, the wanting to be outside a lot but not always for potty. Argh! Cassie likes to watch the birds fly overhead. There may be some prey drive coming on that, I don't know. I don't want to leave her outside by herself either, one, I can't reward the potty and two, my 6 foot fence doesn't look so tall anymore with this big girl in the yard.

Sigh. I am even struggling on a command for potty. The foster mom used peepee which is never anything I used. We tried potty, but it doesn't feel right. My last dog I used "find a spot" but we realized that wouldn't bebe good use "find" with something

Good to know on the crate size. When I see her standing outside of it I worry since there are only a few inches to spare.

I had wondered about a bell to go out too! If you manage that training, please let us all know.
 

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MaggieRoseLee - thank you. I had been thinking of waiting a few weeks for classes, at least until she had bonded well with us. I'll see if I can find something sooner. I want to find a trainer who is used to GSD but local.

And believe or not, I HAD been thinking of agility down the road, if only to challenge her brain a bit.
 

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Re: Older rescue pup - housebreaking/crates/separa

Yes, Heidi just loves to be outside. Unfortunately, we have a pool, so I can never let her outside by herself. A lot of people on the list recommend that you don't ever leave them outside alone. We used to leave our last dog outside all day when we went to work, but I wouldn't do that now. Heidi is definitely an escape artist--I'm sure that's how she ended up becoming a stray. In fact, at the doggie daycare she goes to, they have to put something on the latch because one time she opened the gate and let all the dogs out to roam the halls!

I've seen some threads on training with the bell. Here's one:

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/ubb...true#Post750452

Haven't tried it with Heidi because we want to create a designated area close to the house with gravel for her potty area first. Our last dog used a gravel area exclusively. Heidi goes in one corner of the yard, but lately when we let her out at night to go, she takes off running towards the back fence, barking ferociously (and she hardly ever barks!). So, now we have to take her out on leash to go when she goes out for the last time for the night.
 

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Re: Older rescue pup - housebreaking/crates/separa

It's actually really easy to teach a dog to ring a bell to go outside, especially an older dog. Took awhile with my puppies, but Cassidy was about two years old, and she picked it up in two days. We got frustrated because when she needed to go out she'd just sit in the hall by the back door and wait to be noticed. If we were in the living room we couldn't see her. Sometimes we'd realize she wasn't with us and go looking for her and there she was, poor patient girl, lol! Other times she'd get tired of waiting and she'd come and sit right in front of the TV and stare at us to let us know she had to go out. So the bells are great, we can hear them from anywhere in the house.

We use "go potty" for our cue, ("find a spot" in our house means go lay down somewhere
), but some people use "hurry up".
 

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is this the right crate size? Pic included

Cassidys Mom - thanks for the info on the bell! I love that idea and will add that to my list to teach Cassie. First I guess we need to learn "go potty" and we need to learn to do it on the leash as well. I've never had a dog that we would walk to the park where lots of other dogs have all peed and she never pees at all.

Crate size. I am still on the fence about the next size. She's about 7 months old so she might get a bit taller. Here's a pic of her in the crate. Her rump is touching the back.

 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Hi Susan,

That crate is definitely too small. It won't make a difference with her feelings about being in there but she's still growing so I would go up to the next size now. You want to feed her in the crate by putting her bowl in there at the back first and then having her go in there and eat with the door open. Gradually, once you've got the command down for her to go in you'll tell her to go and she'll sit in there and wait for her food. I would do that with special treats too and put her in there when you're home and not just when you leave. And I would be sure she gets crate time every day so that she's used to it and is comfortable in there.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Thanks, BowWowMeow. I thought so. We'll pick up a new one today.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Aw.... How cute she is!
Heidi's Furrarri crate is 40 x 30 x 30 . She's very comfortable in it, and she is a very long dog. Here she is in her crate:



However, Cassie does look a little bigger than Heidi and like Ruth says, she is still a puppy.... So, your instinct is probably right.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

I don't think it's necessarily too small. Both my dogs will rest their heads on the end of their crate if it's open. Kenya is in a 36". Coke is bigger (not a GSD) and has a 42", but usually I catch him napping in Kenya's 36". Going up a size won't hurt, but like MRL said, the crate is not meant for activity so if the dog can turn around/change position it's fine.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Taught our pup to ring the bell and it works like a charm...it was pretty easy...started when he was 8 weeks old...took him to the bells, took his little paw and made "him" hit the bells and said "ring the bell to go potty"..probably took a couple of weeks, maybe more..but the first time he rang it and sat down was really great...he's five months old now and still does it.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

We have the XL Vari Kennel too, (#500) and it's fine for both Dena & Keefer. She's about 75 pounds, and he's about 82 pounds.



It looks like a tight fit, but sometimes they lay sideways, so they're only taking up the back half of the crate. Usually they lay on their sides sort of curled up in the fetal position to sleep.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Cassidys Mom, your pups are so cute in their crates! My Border Collie mix used to use her crate with the door open all the time. I put Cassie in it today for about an hour while I took a shower and put laundry away. She seems to cycle - bark/whine/silence/whine repeat. I didn't come downstair until I had heard 10 minutes of silence. Then I let her see me but I didn't let her out for another few minutes.

This crate size thing is so hard. Thank you everyone for sharing.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Their crates don't look that big, but it always amazes me how tight a little ball they can curl themselves into, lol! Dena doesn't usually hang out in her crate unless it's bedtime, but I have a Lifecycle Recumbent bike in the bedroom, and Keefer likes to lay in his while I'm in there on my bike after work. He can be all comfy and snug, and still watch me - he likes to keep an eye on mom!


Cassidy used to nap in her crate all the time. In fact, long after she didn't need a crate anymore because she was housebroken and completely trustworthy about not chewing stuff, she was still sleeping in it at night, but we took the door off. I would have just gotten rid of the darned thing, but she liked her crate so much I hated to take it away from her.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things to get her used to the crate, but it can take time, so be patient. It's good to have a command for going in the crate, and at first I always tossed a treat in there too. I'd keep a bag of Liver Biscotti on top of the crate so it was handy. We say "go to bed", but you could tell her to go to her crate or to kennel up, or whatever else feels natural to you. Dena & Keefer will happily go into their crates on cue, but often we don't even have to tell them to anymore 'cause they know the drill and go in on their own. We just have to close the door.

I got my bells years ago, but the company's website is no longer active so you can't get that kind anymore. It's three sleigh bells on a piece of sturdy leather on a ring that fits over the doorknob. I taught them to bump it with their noses to make it ring. I'd ring it every time I opened the door to let them out, and also paired the key word "outside" with the opening of the door, so I can ask them "do you want to go outside?" and they'll bump the bells. Here are some bells a lot of people use: http://www.poochie-pets.net/ The nice thing about the poochie bells is they're long enough for puppies and smaller dogs. Mine are not long enough for them to nose bump when they were young, so initially I taught Dena to put her paws up on the bells to make them ring. But then as she got bigger I had to retrain her that it was the sound of the bells that made the door open, not jumping on the door, LOL! Oops!!!
Keefer picked it up from watching Dena, so I never had to train him at all.
 

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Re: is this the right crate size? Pic included

Okay-I am still figuring this boards out. Since Cassie is still a pup I might have goofed by posting my questions here. Sorry about that. I put my housebreaking question over on the puppy forum.

Re the crate. I crated her twice yesterday for about an hour and fifteen minutes each time. She's pretty predictible. Quiet until the treats are done, bark, whine, silence. Then bark, whine, silence. I think she'll get the hang of it fairly quickly. The crate is in the library where we spend most of our time so we toss toys in for her to get and a treat now and then and she goes in and out on her own. Still working on learning the word crate, but I think that will come.

She's a smart pup about everything but housebreaking.
 

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house breaking: act like she's a new born. take her out often. every hour or so even through the night. seperation anxiety: create her and leave the house for 15 minutes or so. come in and let her out and give her a treat. when you come in he house don't let her out of the crate immediately. when i come i wait 3 or 4 minutes before letting my dog out of the create. i don't want him to think because i'm home it means he's free to roam. i also make him walk slowly out of his crate. i would leave the house several times a day to get her use to you not being there. as times oes on i would increase the time i'm out of the house.
 
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