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I have another question to ask. Sasha is about 9 months and I really want to start training her to be out and not tear up the house while I am gone. She has some issues with digging in the plants in the house as well as outside, I did leave her once in the bathroom but she escaped and had stuff scattered all over the house from tooth brushes, to TP, and papers as well as pee and poop. When she is in her crate she won’t potty until I take her out, but she will tear up anything I leave in there for her including her bed and the bottom of the pen. Any ideas on how I can start training her to not tear the house up where I can trust her and leave her out and know she will only play with her toys? I want to build a pen outside for her but she digs and I’m afraid she will escape and tear up my back yard plants. She is never left in her crate for more than 4 hours at a time.
 

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She's not ready. My general feeling is if you have to ask, the dog isn't ready. Some dogs mature early. Some much later. Some may need to be left in their crates when we're not home all of their lives. It just depends.

A lot of it ALSO depends upon how much freedom the dog has when we are home. Every time the dog is able to tear things up, he learns that this is fun and acceptable behavior. Habits are very hard to break.

The best way to train her not to mess with stuff when you're not home is to keep reinforcing her for playing with her own things and not messing with your stuff when you ARE home. When she plays with her toys, walk by and drop her a high value treat, telling her "good toy." Or drop what you're doing and play with her. She needs to learn that no matter what lies on shelves or counters is never as great as when she plays with her own stuff because her own stuff has ADDED bonuses of treats, your attention or both.

Often, owners pay attention to unwanted ("bad") behaviors and forget to reinforce (reward) good behaviors. How does your pup know that her toys are preferable over toothbrushes? You need to show her that, very clearly. I would start with supervising her all the time (and crating her when you can't). If she's digging and tearing stuff up, then she's not being adequately supervised.

She also sounds like she's bored. Play with her more. Dogs left to their own devices (ESPECIALLY GSDs) will create games for themselves if they're not given plenty to do. The puppy section has plenty of suggestions on things to do with pups to stimulate them mentally as well as physically. If you do that, she'll have less energy (and less desire) to tear things up.

Finally, keep in mind, please, that the MAIN reason that we crate our dogs isn't for the protection of our stuff, but for their protection. A dog that can get into toothbrushes and toilet paper is a dog that might find a bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen or a spool of dental floss. The latter are very likely to cause severe (if not fatal) medical consequences (although swallowing chunks of toothbrushes can be dangerous too).

Sasha isn't ready. It sounds like she needs a lot more training, which starts with supervision and management. And, honestly, it sounds like you need to go through your house and puppy-proof it. If she can reach it, it shouldn't' be there.
 

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You have to set her up for success and right now sounds like the crate is perfect for that. When you feel she's ready to be out of the crate and successful, try for just a short time. And if you don't achieve success outside the crate, there is nothing wrong with a crated dog (especially since you said she's not crated for long periods all the time). I did not crate my last dog & now that I know the benefits of the crate, I sure wish I would have!

I would also like my boy to be out of his crate, but I have cats, so for their safety, he's either crated or in my bedroom with the door closed when I'm unable to supervise. He's 7 months.
 

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She definitely doesn't sound ready. Some dogs mature faster, you can't go by what others do. Most people who crate train still crate 9 mo olds. If she can't even be trusted when you are there, she certainly can't be trusted when you're not.
 

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honestly is there any german shepherd that can be trusted to be left home alone? LOL.. im sure there are a few or mature dogs that might... but i wouldnt do so... my pup gets into everything, but when he is in the car he is a perfect little angel.... until that day comes that he decides my leather seats are fun to chew on!!! LOL
 

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my dog was out of the crate at 4 months.when he was 8 months
old he decided to eat the house. i had to re-crate him untill he was
1.5 yrs. old or older. since then everything has been fine.
 

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honestly is there any german shepherd that can be trusted to be left home alone?
Sure. I had a GSD that was sleeping out of his crate at 5 months old and completely trustworthy at about 6 months old. But I worked with him constantly from when he was teeny, and I started to leave him in tiny increments, starting with about 5 minutes at a time. He was a very active dog and he got over 2 hours of physical exercise a day playing games like soccer that also used his brain a lot. I was training constantly, so he was mentally tired when I left. He also was raised by a senior dog that had good leadership and teaching skills and he learned a lot from her.

He was pretty darn special. They both were.

My current GSD is 18 months old. He has full range of the house all day and night but I still crate him when I leave because I trust him 99%. And I'm not ready to risk that 1%

Why? His elder "sibling" is a young beagle that gets into EVERTHING if I turn my back for a second. He's watched her over the last year and half, and I worry that he may have picked up an idea that it's ok to get into stuff. Does he? No. But I'm not positive, so I won't risk it when I'm not home. I'll go outside and leave them in the house unattended. I peek through the windows and they're both just hanging out, but they know I'm in the yard too.

I think that I'll be comfortable trusting him home and unattended soon, once he has an adult brain and good decision making skills.

The beagle? She is one of those dogs that may likely be crated when I leave the house well into her senior years. She also sleeps in a crate. Her crates are extra large crates when she fits into a small crate, so she has a nice set-up. But she gets crated. She just CAN'T help herself. I've set up the house so that she can't get into stuff, but she climbs bookcases and she climbs on tables. When I got her, I wanted an agility dog and the breeder picked the perfect dog for me -- she was climbing out of her whelping box when she was about 4-5 weeks old. She was fast and agile. When she came home at 8 weeks old, she climbed out of her 4' high ex-pen. I got EXACTLY what I wanted. :rolleyes:

What's that they say? Be careful what you wish for? :hammer:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you all for the great advice! I had a Cocker Spaniel who I could leave alone and trusted 100% she would go in and out the doggy door with no issues, most the time she was just sleeping in my bed when I would get home. She never was crate trained. Im going to have to just build the trust and work on Sasha until its 100% :)
 
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