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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay puppy experts, I've been doing about 2 months of pre-work, reading and talking and planning for our soon-to-be-here GSD pup. I realized today that I've been in a little denial about potty/crate training and exercise and how it will all fit in with our family's work schedule. Let me lay out the basic facts for you, and then I'd love to hear how you have worked it when raising puppies in households with working patents.

So....we're on the verge of getting our 8wk GSD pup in about 1.5 weeks.

We are a family of three. Dad is an Anesthesiologist with a variable schedule. Some very LONG days, and other very SHORT days or days off. 8-10 weeks of vacation per year. Mom is self employed (in the design industry) and works in a shared studio space that is dog friendly (two adult dogs there already), with others who will love having a puppy there. Family member number three is an 11y old boy who is very excited. House also has 3 cats (yes, I know we're crazy) who have seen and ben mostly indifferent to, and/or a little bit bummed about dogs in the past.

The basic plan for the first few weeks is this: Pup comes home Friday after thanksgiving (henceforth to be known as not-so-black-Friday :grin2:) and we will start potty training and crate training immediately that weekend as she gets used to her new digs. Crate will be in the guest room and one of us will sleep with her in there to let everyone else get sleep for the first several weeks (expecting having to wake up every two hours in the beginning, and lengthening that interval as she grows each month). The guest room provides a dog-only zone so that the cats can get used to the smells etc and we'll gradually move her to more common spaces as the cats get used to her.

During days when I am at work, and until she is fully crate and potty trained, pup will go with mom to work. Will be crated there, and out every hour for potty breaks with the same potty training regimen we will use at home. We will follow the positive dog and pup training methods most people here seem to like, reinforcing good behaviors with treats and praise and play, and trying to stick to a schedule as mch as possible.

I'll have her at home or take her home with me on any and all days I'm off or out early.

10d after she arrives I have a week off and I'm planning intensive crate and Potty training during that time.

On perfect storm days when mom won't be in the studio space (all-day client meetings etc) and dad is working all day, we will have a puppy nanny (great collective of experienced dog caretakers in our area, near San Francisco) come to the house 2-3 times per day for potty breaks and play. They are keen to follow whatever training methods we use to maintain the routine where potty and crate are concerned.

Obviously any and all free time will go towards play, bonding, and socializing her (exposure to lots of environments, NOT puppy playdates or dog parks) and meeting people and learning manners.

Generally we will not be focussing on discipline and obedience (other than potty and crate and mouthing/chewing) in the beginning, but rather (thanks to the amazing advice we've received from this forum) on bonding and engagement. Formal training will come later, but we will do 4 puppy kindergarten classes in the first 4 weeks we have her (8-12 weeks of age) to get us and our son on board with the basics of working with her on puppy manners.

So are we insane?? Is it impossible to raise a young pup like this in a household where both parents work? How have you done it? Anyone here who has run this gauntlet who has a similar lifestyle?

With D-Day (P-Day?) getting closer (8 days) I'm experiencing a lot of anxiety about this. Cold feet? Or should I really be reconsidering?

Looking forward to hearing your sage wisdom and advice.
 

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Looks like a well thought out plan to me. What is the plan when the pup is an adult? Will she have a fenced in area outside? You might rethink your comment about generally not focusing on obedience. IMO, when pups are very young, it is a great time to teach them how to learn. I would use operant learning principles and food. You can reinforce elimination outside with food and praise. You can start to shape sit, down and come by luring with food and then reinforcing. Use mostly positive reinforcement and very little punishment, if at all at first. I would start leash training early also. Simply getting the pup use to having a leash and collar on and walking, nothing formal or precise, since it doesn't sound like you are going to do any competition obedience. Never leave a collar on her when unattended to prevent hanging. If you use food, use good food like very small pieces of cooked chicken and remember to use the food when she is hungry and to not overfeed during mealtime because she is getting food via training. Try not to use the crate as a form of punishment. She should learn the crate is a good place to go. Also, everyone has to be consistent when they are teaching her new behaviors. For example, what are you going to say when you take her out to use the bathroom? Have everyone use the same phrase such as "hurry up" in a pleasant tone and using the same voice inflexion. Then praise with "good hurry up." Any phrase will do. I am just giving you an example. Do the same for sit, down, come, etc. For example, don't have one person saying "down" and another saying "lie down." It is a lot of work in the beginning and gets progressively easier if you lay the foundation correctly, which involves operant learning and consistency. Also, never punish a puppy for a behavior she doesn't know is wrong. Punishment comes later when a dog knows what you want and is being disobedient. The four pillars of operant learning are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Familiarize yourself with these terms. You will mostly be using positive reinforcement in the beginning.
 

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You will be fine. You quite honestly seem better situated to care for the puppy that the majority of new owners. Lots of single people who work 8 hours a day still get puppies, and although less than ideal, they make it work. You are already WAYY better off than many due to the fact that the puppy will be able to go to work with mom, and that you yourself work some short days and have 8-10 weeks of leave per year. Having the crate in a neutral guest room to begin with sounds fine to me as long as someone is sleeping in the room at night. Honestly i think you are overestimating the number of times you will have to get up at night with the puppy. My experience has been that one potty break per night is sufficient, and even that gets phased out fairly quickly. Be sure to make it "all business" when you take the puppy out in the middle of the night, no talking at all, complete silence, physically pick the puppy up, carry it outside, set it down in the proper area to do his business then pick him up and head back inside without a word, and back to sleep. You don't want to let your pup get the idea that night time is a fun time for going outside to play.
Potty training isn't that complicated, the key is to simply to never give the puppy an opportunity to have an accident in the house. If the pup is more than 6 feet away from you unsupervised, he has the opportunity to have an accident. Those are the situations you must avoid. Tie his leash to your belt, or have him in a crate or exercise pen.
Good luck with your puppy sounds like he/she will be in good hands. Do you have a photo?
 

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Seems you are fully prepared but don't forget to enjoy this puppy, puppy breath and all.... You are NOT insane at all.. You will do fine and I believe your crate training will surprise you. You are well prepared and I think that you think it will be worse than it will be...lol Be on the same page and never back down.. If you say it enforce it. Do not let him win or don't you ever give up.
 

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Congrats on the pup! My situation is alot like yours, I brought my guy home 2 months ago and he is now 4 months old. My wife is an attorney and works 10-12 hour days, I work for myself so my schedule is pretty open. I also take mine to the office with me, though im able to shut my office door so I dont have to crate him while there. He does get his daily energy spurts that we work through, usually through tug or basic training.

And to piggyback on Chip, I would def start obedience the day the pup gets home. Nothing demanding, but praise and treats when they do what you want, no reaction when they do something you dont, they pick it up quick. And at that age make a bigggg deal about everything, the crazier you look while praising pup for going outside the more its probably working. I leave the most high value treats (stewarts freeze dried liver treats, mine goes insane for them) only for when he poops outside. If he does he gets a few, if he goes inside he gets nothing. Took him about 2 days to figure out what was going on and hasnt had a mistake in the house since the first week.

To get mine used to the crate I would constantly throw small treats in there, even when he wasnt in. So he would walk by, smell the treats and go in on his own, sometimes he would eat and leave, sometimes hed lie down. But after a while he just got used to going in and hanging out on his own. Now no matter where he is if i say kennel he bolts to the crate and waits inside for a treat.
I also do all feeding by hand during training. It seems like a pain but it really isnt and I can see our bond forming at a young age.
 

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I think it looks like a great plan! I'm currently raising our third pup on my own since my husband is away for training. As one of the previous posters said, my situation isn't ideal, but I am making it work. I do wish I had the extra set of hands you have with your family. He's a happy, healthy 40lb landshark.


I like that the puppy is coming home the day before the weekend so she will have the weekend to be with you. I think with the amount of preparation and thought you have put into this, you will do just fine. I also think that it is normal to wonder "what am I getting into?!" :grin2:
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow, thanks guys, for the supportive responses!

With regard to training, I may have been a little incomplete in my description. What I meant is that my general philosophy is gelling into a "bonding and engagement first" philosophy. YES we will collar and leash train right away, and YES we will indeed start with treat/praise/play based operant positive reinforcement right away. My hope is that this pup will learn HOW to learn first, but we'll save the hard core obedience training for when she's a little older and has the basics down. For the first 8-12 weeks we'll be focussed on puppy manners, house rules and crate/potty and chew, but Sit/Down/Stay will certainly be in the mix. Plus, I recon we're about to learn what she loves to do and learn, and will let that guide us where the rest of the curriculum is concerned . :) .
@Malibu, of COURSE we will ALL enjoy her. I'm looking forward to using the puppy experience to teach mindfulness and patience to my son (and my self!!). And who can resist puppy breath and kisses! We met the litter a few days ago (see my post) and it was ALL puppy breath! I honestly can't wait. But I'm fighting off a lot of self-doubt and anxiety, and I know it's going to be hard on my wife during the day. I'll just have to hope she succumbs to the irresistible cuteness and forgets to complain!

Thanks again for the encouragement. I'll try to blog about the day-to-day in the hopes it will help other newbies and myself get a mental grip on these harrowing first few weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good luck with your puppy sounds like he/she will be in good hands. Do you have a photo?
These are all litter-mates. The pair pictured are in the breeder's arms. She will be sable and probably one of these, but these pics were taken at 5wks, and we're not sure which one of the 7 girls we're going to get. Should know soon! They're 7 weeks tomorrow. :)
 

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OMG A D O R A B L E !!!! I know the dual anxiety you are feeling because I also will be picking up my 8 week old new addition on Dec. 3 rd. I can't wait but then again.... Am I ready!!!
 

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I think your situation actually sounds better than most families with two working parents. Your schedule is variable so it's not like you're gone 10-12 hours a day 5 days a week. And it's fantastic that your wife is able to take her to work. She may end up with the lions share of responsibility in that case, but as long as this was a joint decision and she's totally on board, I'm sure the puppy will win her over. And it sounds like you have plenty of help to fill in when neither of you will be available, so there's a good backup plan.

It will be an adjustment at first, but usually by 6 months or so, everyone is settling into a routine, and it will seem much less overwhelming than at first. Which it probably will be! Puppies are a ton of work - lots of fun too, but definitely a lot of work. Some are destructive chewers that will require very diligent supervision, possibly for a year or two. Others will be reliable at a much younger age. It's impossible to tell what you'll end up with, but be prepared. Once the puppy is housebroken things will be much easier.

Having a place she can chill with the family (and not be chewing up the place when you're busy eating dinner and the like) is very handy. We used to put the puppy away in a crate at those times, but with Cava we set up a wire crate in the living room since I already had one for flyball. She was with us, but unable to get into trouble, vs being isolated in her sleeping crate in the bedroom pitching a shrieking puppy fit, lol. An exercise pen (aka X-pen) would accomplish the same thing. We haven't used it in months, but the crate is still actually there in the living room. My husband looked at it the other day and said "that was genius". Not sure why we never though of doing that before, except that we didn't have a collapsible wire crate until more recently.
 
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What is the breeding of the pups? That might help gauge how much of a challenge you will have to prepare for. The higher their drives are genetically, the greater the likelihood of frustration and boredom, which will lead them to get into things or become destructive when unsupervised. Even when supervised, some high drive dogs can be a handful and you have to have a combination of creative strategies and patience for some maturity. In the photos, they look to have nice bone and pigment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
What is the breeding of the pups? That might help gauge how much of a challenge you will have to prepare for. The higher their drives are genetically, the greater the likelihood of frustration and boredom, which will lead them to get into things or become destructive when unsupervised. Even when supervised, some high drive dogs can be a handful and you have to have a combination of creative strategies and patience for some maturity. In the photos, they look to have nice bone and pigment.
Great question. Here is the link to the Sire and Dam. Each has a link to detailed pedigrees on their pages. Curious to know what you think. ?

https://www.witmertyson.com/project/elroy-barnero-carmen-blendy/
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've seen the sire 2 or 3 times, but I don't know anything about the dam. What did her breeder say about the combination? I don't picture her breeding anything crazy or anything.
No. That's what I have felt too. She breeds lots of family dogs and lots of IPO/Show dogs. She also has a very extensive Law Enforcement program. She's been at this for over 40 years and I trust her. I found her after seeing someone in my community with a spectacular male GSD who was wonderfully engaged and well trained. I accosted him cold and said "where did you get that dog???" Lol. He connected me with Randy Tyson and has continued to be a great resource himself as well.

The Breeder (Randy) has told me that the Dam's line (Blendy) is quite well known. I believe her brother is maybe a recent champion? I'm new to the GSD world and have never done any showing or IPO. But when we entered into our relationship with the breeder we were very clear about our desires for a family dog, relatively low Drive, Etc. She's choosing the puppy for us based on a lot of conversations around that. ?
 

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I would take her word over anything I say, but just to give you some things to consider. Pay attention to keeping things calm. You probably won't need to do much to motivate or excite this pup. When you're training her, socializing, look for calm behavior to reward. At home, think more about letting her adapt to your schedule rather then keeping her entertained. Let her spend time alone as long as she's safe and secured.

Something you may see that can take a little getting used to, she may frustrate easily and be really vocal about it. That's the main reason I say look for calm to reward with her. They're self motivated, they learn really easy, but they're really determined little,,,,,,,, So the more you can train and shape what you want with her, and avoid having to try and stop something once its started, the better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Great Advice @Steve Strom. We will indeed be really focussed on crate training to help her be secure and calm when she's alone, which we hope won't be too much. Focussing on and rewarding calm behavior is such a great tip. Our family is NOT the kind of family though that will leave a dog alone for hours on end, or banish her to the yard. I imagine she'll be with us a LOT of the time when it's at all possible.

When she is older and potty trained sh will have access to our large deck and our front yard (Fenced) when we're gone and she's at home, but we're going to have to see how she does with the cats first! I'm hoping she learn VERY QUICKLY that they are in charge, so I can leave them all alone together unsupervised, in time.:fingerscrossed:
 

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I'd think about a secure kennel when you aren't home, rather than the whole yard. One of mine is 9 and he's not going to be jumping any fences, so he can be loose like that. I won't leave the 5 year old loose like that when we aren't home though. With the cats, I think number one is don't ever let her get started chasing them. I'd let her be aware of them, but no contact until you see a calm indifference in her to them. I wouldn't want her learning anything by getting scratched by them. I have an aversion to vet bills.
 

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Sounds like you're gonna be just fine.

One of you being able to take the puppy to work really makes almost any schedule or weird workweek manageable, IMO. My husband and I both work weird hours and have very long days/weeks at certain times of the year, it's always worked out without major issues, even with 8-10 week old little pups.

In the work environment (especially if there are other dogs or animals present), I've found it helpful to use a molded crate with a light sheet draped over it. It can be tucked under a desk or table so the puppy learns to "switch off" and settle or nap, instead of being overly stimulated and bouncing off the walls for the entire work day. With constant racket, customers and deliveries in and out, phones, etc - overly tired puppies can become little tyrants. I let them out for a little while, then back to the crate for a nap.

Once the puppy gets a little older and learns how to chill in the office, the dark crate den gets phased out. First to just the molded crate without a sheet, then to an open wire crate, and eventually free range of my (personal) office area. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The support and advice I've received from this thread has really buoyed my spirits. Can't thank this community enough. 7 days!!
 
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