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Two Problems: Making Me Miserable

2950 Views 36 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  mom of ty
Hi everyone! New GSD owner here! Just got my pup (she's 8wks old) last Saturday. Very sweet dog. Loving. Playful. I have two problems with her, however, that are about to send me over the edge. I sure hope someone here can offer some constructive advice that will help me get over these hurdles in dog ownership!

1.) Housetraining
I've read all the books. I've searched all the internet. I've spoken with friends. And the advice, so far, isn't helping! I started crate-training my pup the first day she came home. She seems to like it and doesn't have too much trouble going into the crate. She sleeps in it all night and spends a few hours during the day in there. I've tried to make it as pleasant an experience as possible (however, she does seem to know what it is --removal from me-- and isn't enthusiastic about being in there sometimes [see next issue below]). At any rate, the crate is in the basement of our three story home so she's FAR removed from the rest of the family. Knowing this would cause stress and knowing that she couldn't stay there all night without needing potty breaks, I set up an air mattress in the same room with her and for the last week I've been sleeping down beside her so when she wakes up, whines, and needs to go out to potty I can take her. So far, that's working great and she's not eliminated once in her crate (what that's doing for me, however, is another story! I'm getting a bit worn being down in the basement every night! But I know that will end once she's trained and can "hold it" overnight. Then she can sleep with us in our room or elsewhere in the house).

So far so good, right? Wrong. She still has MULTIPLE "accidents" in the house! I don't force her in the crate all day. I work from home so I let her out to hang out with me or with the kids when they come home from school. 7 times out of 10 I can spot when she's acting like she needs to potty so I pick her up, take her outside to the spot of the yard I want her to use, and say "Go Potty!" and then give her praise when she does her duties. However, she still squats to potty in the house when sometimes I miss the queues or --like this morning-- doesn't give clues at all. Let me use this latest "accident" as an example. We wake up this morning around 6:30. I immediately take her outside and she squats and pees. Then she runs around a bit, finds a good spot, and poops. Good job! I bring her in. We play on the floor for about 15 minutes and then I want to go up and have my breakfast and get hers ready as well. I stand up and then she heads toward the patio door to go outside again. I figure she wants a drink so I let her out. Reluctantly, she steps outside but doesn't want to leave me behind (again, see below!). I step out with her and just chat with her. She stays right next to me and even flops down at my feet. I take her back in because I'm hungry and she doesn't seem to want anything outside and put her down on the carpet. I then walk away, whistle for her to follow, she does...until we get to the stairs. Then, she suddenly turns around and runs back into the basement. I follow her quickly and find her squatting to pee.

I've HAD it! I can't STAND it anymore! It seems she believes that anything outside her crate is "outside" and fair game for potty. It's been nearly a week and this happens every day! I was told, and read, that GSDs are smart and pick up on housetraining very fast. What's the deal? I'm cleaning these messes up two, three times a day. I've been told NOT to scold her for the mistakes but to just keep taking her outside and praising her there. But it seems to me she's figured if she goes inside, there are no negative consequences. Just a guy who picks her up and takes her out.

Please HELP!!!

2.) Whining
The second problem I have with her is whining whenever she's not with me. I can't even put her outside to play so I can have a few minutes to myself without her standing at the door whining. Running around the backside of the house trying to find out where I went and crying the whole time. Seems she has separation anxiety. How can I control this? How can I assure she grows into a confident, self-assured pup? I'd like to take my mother out for Mother's Day dinner on Sunday and be gone for a couple hours. I don't want my dog to be screaming the entire time I'm gone!
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Hi discodog

not much assurances from me as I am in the same boat. My first dog was so easy to housetrain, I did not realise how difficult it can actually be. My pup will eliminate outside and within 45 minutes go pee again... and most of the time it is in the house. I am lucky in that I have wood floors, but it is driving me up the wall especially as we are having a number of storms come though so it is raining hard all the time. Also, unlike my other dog, she will go and explore on her own and not stick by me... so I have to constantly go and look for her to make sure she is not up to mischief. She peed in front of Q's crate yesterday in the 2 minutes I left the kitchen and then pooped in the dining room rug when I left my husband to keep an eye on her.

I am saying this to myself so I shall say it to you... it takes time and patience and I think we should give them at least a couple of weeks. Also, both our dogs are really small - yours @ 8 weeks and mine at 9.

As for the separation anxiety... I have no answers... Em cries when I put her in the crate whether I am in the room or not. I only let her out when she stops whining and is sitting in her crate, not pawing at the door. However I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination... so I am looking forward to other answers here.

Sorry I am not more help... best of luck with your little one! Post some pictures.
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As far as the housebreaking goes I'm useless to you. I just did exactly what you're doing and Nevada figured it out in about 3 days. With the whining, I say ignore her. It'll make you crazy but tought it out. Ignore her when she whines at the door and only let her in when she gets quiet. Even if she doesn't want to eventually she'll tire out and stop whining. If you always ignore whining (of course I don't mean whining because she's in pain or needs to potty, but whining just because you're not around) eventually she'll learn that to get the attention she wants from you she has to behave the way you want her to. It takes a lot of patience, but it has worked for me. I'm sure others will have suggestions that might work better for you.
Oh, I do have a housebreaking idea after all. When you are home, put her on a leash and tie it to your belt or pants. That way she can't sneak off to eliminate and you can always catch her.
The leash is a great idea... I do it even though Em hates it!!!!
When you think of the complexity of potty training-be it human or animal, I am amazed it ever happens at all.

A young puppy is like a toddler in many ways neurologically and physically.

The brain has to get a message from the kidneys or bowels and has to realize that it IS a message. Then the puppy has to find a way to tell you about that message, often with only seconds to spare because it was wondering what on earth that feeling was. Some take a lot longer to pick up on that feeling (think of little boys vs. little girls in potty training) some are more distractable, some have trouble communicating it, but they are trying so hard to do something that is pretty difficult.

So I am just going to speak to the "Audacity of Housetraining" and let others cue in on the specifics, such as bells etc.

I also am not sure where this dog is living in relation to you and the others, and where she is being left or why she is being left outside by herself.

If I leave my dogs outside while I run in to grab a book or whatever they are all on the deck waiting for me to return.
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Welcome to puppy parenthood! Your dog sounds like a typical german shepherd! One of the wonderful traits of this breed is their utter devotion to their chosen human(s). This devotion means that they never want to be separated from you. It actually has nothing to do with separation anxiety usually but just means you will have a shadow for the rest of your dog's life so best to learn to enjoy it!
Gone are the days when you could go to the bathroom alone, avoid standing outside in the rain, etc.
I've got a 1.5 yo here and he follows me everywhere and must know what I'm doing at all times. If I don't go outside with him in the morning he will sit at the door waiting for me to come out until he pees!

As for the housebreaking, it sounds like your pup is doing really well. She let you know this morning that she had to go again but you didn't take her to her potty area so she figured she shouldn't go out there. One good mental strategy to take is that all accidents are your fault. In fact, when they're that little, if they don't get something it's always your fault. They're just babies and this whole world is new to them! To avoid accidents keep her tethered to you (or someone else) in the house or gated into the area where you are. Take her out often and praise and treat like crazy when she goes. Most pups need to go after they eat and after they play and often need to go twice to get everything out so keep that in mind.

Try to be patient and enjoy her! And please post pictures!
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itsajdamnit is right. Keep her on a leash at all times in the house when she is not in her crate. Having her tethered to you will enable you to catch her as soon as she is about to potty in the house.

It is important that when she does go in the house you don't make a big deal out of it, just calmly clean it up.

I found the easiest way to potty train was to catch them in the act, If one where to start in the house, it was an immediate pick up with uh uh potty outside, and I take them out. I praise huge and treat. Piece of cheese or hotdogs were a favorite.

She is 8 weeks old, you are her world right now. She is not ready to be left outside by herself.

I would suggest as well, moving her crate up into the living area of the house.

Please keep in mind that the pup is just a baby and if your main goal is to have a happy confidante puppy it is essential that you assume the role of a calm and confidante owner.
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Having recently been through this....

Everything I've read says don't expect a pup (even a GSD) to be housebroken until 5-7 months and only then if you've been consistent and done a good job with positive reinforcement.

Our puppy is just now reliable at 6 months. You could have quite a few weeks left before your pup will be both physically and mentally able to get it. Or maybe you'll luck out and she'll get it sooner but I'm afraid that's the exception and not the rule.

Good Luck! Enjoy her cute fuzzyness while it lasts!
Why is her crate in the basement? Why not put her crate in your bedroom at night?
we got beamer at 12 weeks & did crate training from day one. we would leave her in the crate overnight & whenever we were gone. we took her outside like 5 minutes after drinking water, eating anything, & then regularly like once an hour. we gave LOTS of treats when she went pee outside, & have had one pee accident (the first week we had her) & 2 poop accidents. she is now 11 months old & completely housetrained. about the crate, why not put it in your bedroom? or upstairs somewhere near you?

& the whining, i think it's just because she is so young. beamer used to cry & whine when we left, but they get used to it. give her a toy & leave, she should be fine.
Thanks everyone. Yes, I may be giving her a bit too much free run of the house. But everywhere she is, there is someone (usually me!) with her. She hasn't had a single "accident" that I haven't caught her in the middle of yet! And that's one of the frustrating things. It would be far easier for me to blame myself if I was just being neglectful, but I'm not. I'm with that dog nearly all the time. She sometimes goes out in the backyard with me and then I must come back in the house and she doesn't follow. She wants to be outside. So that's a good thing. It's just frustrating that I take her to the yard to potty on a very consistent basis and yet she still will squat and use the bathroom inside. Often right in front me.

I understand this will take time and I'm willing to commit. I just want to know if there's anything else I can do!

And please don't think the poor thing is being neglected. Ha! Far from it!! My basement is a walkout and fully finished. Wall-to-wall Burber carpeting. It's where my office is (she stays with me in my office while I work in a "play pen" when she's not in her crate). It's where the kids' playroom is. It's where the bigscreen TV is. It's where I spend the vast majority of my day. Also, when it's dinner time, I bring her upstairs to the kitchen/dining area (wood flooring) and let her stay with us (no food from the table!). She usually lays down at my feet while I eat and then the kids play with her (baby gates to keep her out of the rest of the house). Then, when it's bed time for the kids, we tried to bring the pup up with us for storytime, kisses, etc. but she potty with no warning up there. I think that was just TOO much freedom in the house. So now, at bed time, she has to go to her crate and then when I'm finished with the kids, I go down, let her out and we play with the chew toys. So, I can't believe that I'm doing something horrible here. I think I'm doing more than most people who get a dog.

What's also ironic is the notion that GSDs are like "velcro" and want to be with you all the time. If that's true, why won't she come to me when I call her? As long as we're in the same room or in the yard together, she's fine. She'll come to me when she feels like it (often) but when we try to take a walk, or I want her to come for a bit, she either ignores me (just like my 4-year old son!) or just looks at me. What's up with that??
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she probably doesn't know the "come" command yet, they don't understand that come means come.
Your puppy is just a baby! The way we looked at house training was that accidents were our fault. I think someone above suggested that mentality as well.

I read your post and knew that your dog would have to go back out. We would take our puppy out every hour PLUS 15-20 minutes after each meal PLUS after any play time PLUS any time the puppy gives off signals they have to go out (sniffing, starting to squat, etc.). They get so excited so they have to go back out again. You have to stay out there until they go. Then, you have the biggest party of their little lives when they go potty. It will drive you nuts to take the dog out so many times. But, once they figure out they are supposed to do their business outside, you can breathe a sign of relief!

We got lucky with Elmo. He figured it out in a few weeks. But, let me tell you, we were going nuts for two weeks. We thought he would never figure it out. Then, a light bulb went off for him and he put it all together. So, be patient. It'll be worth it.

For number two, look at it from your pups point of view. She was just separated from her litter mates. I'd cry and whine too.
She's just a baby so she needs to know that you are not going away. I think it's too early for her to really have separation anxiety. Is there someone that could watch her for a few hours while you go out to dinner with your mom? Or you could really wear her out before you go. Have a huge play session so she'll need a nap right as you are leaving.

Enjoy the little munchkin right now. They grow up so quickly!
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Marley is 10 weeks and still has accidents in the house if we are not careful. I do believe that ALL of her accidents are my fault. I do have to go outside with her when she goes potty and walk around with her. If I try to stand by the door or under the porch roof (when it's raining) she will sit right beside me and not go to the bathroom. I just figure she is a baby and I wouldn't leave my 1 year old kid outside by herself so I don't leave Marley out either.

I have her crate in my bedroom and it is working perfectly. She is right by our bed and she loves it. She also will go in there by herself if she is tired too. Maybe you could move the crate to your bedroom or put another crate in your room so she can be with you at night and you don't have to sleep on the floor? The first couple of times she was in the crate she cried but after a couple of days she LOVES it. It might help your pup to sleep by you.

I didn't do the tether to me thing but I do gate her in whatever room I am in at the time. We have baby gates everywhere and use them all the time. She can't be in another room if I am not with her. I don't trust my kids either to keep an eye on her. They are too involved in their own stuff to keep an eye on a puppy.

Please give the pup time and enjoy this time while it lasts. They are grown too quickly. She will get the potty training eventually and will stop whining too. It sounds like you are committed to her and are trying to be the best owner you can be. Good Job.
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Originally Posted By: discodog It's just frustrating that I take her to the yard to potty on a very consistent basis and yet she still will squat and use the bathroom inside. Often right in front me.

If that's true, why won't she come to me when I call her? As long as we're in the same room or in the yard together, she's fine. She'll come to me when she feels like it (often) but when we try to take a walk, or I want her to come for a bit, she either ignores me (just like my 4-year old son!) or just looks at me. What's up with that??
8 weeks is still an infant and you need to look at her like that. She is not going to be housetrained for a while, but will continue to get better and better at it as she ages. You are doing the right things with her and need to just give it time.

The leash is a good idea. I also suggest that you get a baby gate, and gate her in a room (the kitchen maybe?) that has easy to clean floors until she's more reliable. Because puppies pee and poop and have accidents and take time to learn. Buy some Nature's Miracle, which is an enzyme cleaner to get the smell out of rugs, etc. It works very well. I have had many puppies in my house and buy it by the gallon :eek:P

As for knowing "come" that won't happen for a long time either. Young puppies tend to want to be with their packs/owners and will follow you all over the place and run to you when you happily call them and clap your hands. But...that will go away as they get older, and then you'll need to work on teaching your dog a "come" command.

Don't worry about the puppy whining. Someone once said to crate train a puppy, do it when you can leave the house! My first puppy fussed and whined something awful in the crate. I thought we'd go mad, especially since you should not let the puppy out of the crate when it is whining or it will pair whining with getting out. You should wait until she is quiet even for a few seconds, mark that quiet with a "good" or "good quiet" command, then let her out. You might need to do something to make her be quiet for a few seconds. It might be a quick "uh!" or some other sound, or you might need to resort to tapping the crate or even bribing them quiet with a tiny treat held near them so they quiet down.

But never open the crate when the puppy is whining.

Puppies are adorable, but they are a LOT of work to raise them right and take a lot of patience. But if you put the work in for the first year of the dogs life, you'll have a nice dog for the next 12 years.
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When mine were that little just having them with me wasn't enough - I had to be actually watching them, which means eyes on, all the time, just like with a toddler. Tethering her to you with a leash is a great idea - that way you'll be more likely to see any subtle signals that she needs to go and can get her out right away. I was taking mine out as much as every hour at times because I couldn't always tell if they needed to go, and better safe than sorry. Jean is right, not only does she have almost no bladder and bowel control yet (which will come with age and maturity), she's still learning the feeling of needing to eliminate and that she needs to communicate that to you. Right now she still doesn't get that the only place she's supposed to do it is outside.

Are you using any key words to signal pottying outside? When I'd take mine to the door I'd say "let's go outside" to associate the door being opened and us going out, and then "go potty" when we got out there. I used lots of happy praise when they did their business outside, but I also always gave a yummy treat. Now I can ask "do you need to go outside?" and they'll run to the door to be let out. I like to have two different sets of words because I didn't want to ask them if they had to go potty and have them think they were being commanded to go right there and then, lol!

A week may feel like a long time, but believe me, it's not long at all. Dena took 5 weeks to housebreak, and Keefer was about a month longer than that. The more repetitions that you can reinforce in the right place, and the fewer accidents in the wrong place, the faster she'll learn. I also found that they seemed to get the "where TO go" part faster than the "where NOT to go" part. They'd go on cue outside, but if I wasn't watching them diligently enough they'd still sometimes have an accident in the house. And that was totally my fault. Even after she seems to have the idea, I wouldn't consider her reliable until she hasn't had an accident in the house for at least a few weeks or a month, and is consistent about giving you a signal that she needs to go out. Dena fooled us a couple of times. She hadn't had an accident for a week or 10 days a couple of times, and we relaxed and gave her a bit more freedom thinking she had the concept, but she wasn't quite there yet.

The other posters are right, GSDs are known for the strong emotional bonds they form with their people, but that's not necessarily an indication of separation anxiety. Keefer is my little shadow, he'll get up and follow me whenever I leave a room, and he likes to be where he can keep an eye on me all the time. But when we leave for work he'll go right to his garage pen and never cries when I leave. He understands and accepts the routine. SA is where the dog shows extreme anxiety, and often very frenzied destructive behavior in your absence. They may not eat, will try to break out of their crate or chew at the doors or windows to alleviate their stress. Practice now leaving her alone for short periods without making a big fuss out of it. When I take mine out to the garage I make them sit, give them a small dog biscuit and calmly tell them "I'll be back", and then I leave. I've been doing that every time we leave the house from the time they were young puppies. Returning home should be with a minimum of fuss too.

I'd suggest that for the first few months you wear a treat bag around the house all the time. You'll always be ready to reward good behavior, like pottying outside, and can start working on a good recall. Call her name, and when she turns her head say "Yes!" and toss her a treat. Once she's immediately whipping her head around to look at you every time you say her name, start doing it from a few feet away. Clap your hands and run backwards a few feet. When she gets to you, happy praise and a treat. Make a game out of her chasing you in the yard, and always praise and reward her when she comes to you. You can also do a technique called "capturing" behaviors, where you don't give a command, you just wait for her do something on her own, and then mark it, either verbally (yes!), or with a clicker, and then reward her. She looks at you - click/treat. She comes to you - click/treat. The more she's rewarded for these things, the more she'll offer them up. You can name the behaviors later - "watch" or "watch me", "come" or "here", whatever commands you want to use. I did this with "down" too. Every time they laid down I'd mark and toss a treat. Keefer was so food motivated that he'd lay on the floor in the evening and stare at me for hours if I'd throw a treat at him occasionally.

Good luck, have fun (and PATIENCE!), and post pictures! What people don't tell you, or what you forget if you haven't had a puppy in a long time, is that they are 50% fun, and 50% a PITA. They are a lot of work, and very time consuming. But the more time and effort you're willing to put in now, the better the dog you'll be living with for the next 10 or 12 years or more will be.
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I just went through this with Radar. As far as the whining he is now 3 1/4 months old and suddenly he is not stuck to me like glue (as much) and does not cry for me as soon as I am out of his sight (as much)- he's getting more into exploring his environment and our other dog. Now I kind of miss his "constant need for me"!! His puppy days will go by quicker than you will expect! Radar is also good about not going in his crate. I still get up during the night to take him out. I have 2 kids and I had to learn that as far as house breaking an 8 week puppy, good supervision was more than him walking with me as I get the girls up and moving in the morning. Good supervision was me only paying 100% attention to him or putting him in his crate. He was just too fast to have an accident if he was with me during chores or working at home. I learned to keep him in his crate even if I was working at home- but I would take frequent breaks and take him out to go and then play with him for 10 minutes or so before putting him back in his crate. I felt really bad about crating him when I was home (like when I was preparing a meal or somthing) until I realized that keeping him crated more would only make him more reliable faster and lead to more freedom sooner...make sense? After he started to be able to hold it longer (or maybe we just had our schedule down for food, water and potty times) I started keeping him teethered to me as I was working. I complained on here how occasionaly he would still have an accident while teethered to me and someone (thanks whoever it was!) pointed out that he would not be totally potty trained until he understood not just that outside was good but also that inside was bad--not from being punished but by being caught in action (I probably unconsciously scream "NO" too) and being rushed outside. You will probably hear lots of people on here say that there pup was housebroken in a few days with hardly any accidents but I suspect with a very young pup that it has more to do with being on a consistant food, water and outside schedule then it does the pups ability to hold it long periods or intelligence.... but I'm just guessing. I say that because I have had dogs in the past that were housebroken for me but not for other family members if I was gone a whole day- because I knew their schedule and their warning signs... so was the dog truely housebroken or was I just trained well to take it out at the right times?! lol Of course, even if it is just us trained well to take them out at the right times that is what will lead them to eventually being house broken!
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Thanks for all the positive reinforcement! It works for me, too!

I guess I believed she'd pick up on this a lot faster than she has. The "mistake" this morning really set me off, though. I had awoken with her around 6:30 and opened the crate. She walked right over to the patio door. I opened the patio door and she took off right for the yard. She piddled where I didn't want her too (I hadn't yet put my shoes on!) but at least she did it in the grass! Then, she took off for the rocks where she likes to deficate. Good dog! All this without me! So that's why I didn't see the "accident" coming a bit later. She went to the patio door, just like earlier. I let her out and she just stood there. So I went out with her and asked her "Go Potty?" and moved toward that part of the yard but she didn't follow. She just stayed on the stoop. So, I figured she was hungry, as was I, so I went back in. That's why I stunned me that we got as far as the stairs to go up when she turned right around, got halfway to the patio door, and squatted to pee. We had just been outside less than a minute previous!
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Originally Posted By: TNGSDYou will probably hear lots of people on here say that there pup was housebroken in a few days with hardly any accidents but I suspect with a very young pup that it has more to do with being on a consistant food, water and outside schedule then it does the pups ability to hold it long periods or intelligence.... but I'm just guessing. I say that because I have had dogs in the past that were housebroken for me but not for other family members if I was gone a whole day- because I knew their schedule and their warning signs... so was the dog truely housebroken or was I just trained well to take it out at the right times?! lol Of course, even if it is just us trained well to take them out at the right times that is what will lead them to eventually being house broken!
Good point! Our previous GSD really WAS housebroken in 3 days - she was using the dog door to let herself outside, but she was 20 weeks old when we got her, and the difference in bladder and bowel control from an 8 week old puppy to an almost 5 month old puppy is HUGE.
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