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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
Have a friend coming over to watch a movie tonight so this might be short (which for me is probably a good thing)...

Willow is doing really well, overall. We have had a couple of training sessions, pretty basic stuff but stuff I definitely needed to know. I still worry from time to time that I'm not giving Willow enough stimulation; I try to do puzzle toys and plenty of exercise but I still feel guilty whenever I feel like I'm making her just lie around most of the day.

Had a setback Tuesday; left for 3 hours, with her loose in the house (which I'd done before with no problems), and came home to find the trash can tipped over and its contents strewn about the house. So, back in the crate she goes, and the trash bin goes into the pantry. But now I"m worried if I leave her loose in the house, she'll find other ways to curb her boredom: like chewing furniture. So....crate.

The trainer has mentioned to me on several occasions that Willow acts younger than she is (she's 3). She certainly can be a brat, air-snapping and barking when I make her do something she clearly doesn't want to do. But I wonder if her immaturity is...I dunno, a result of being neglected for much of her young life (which I'm not sure was the case, though the previous owner thought so). She has a looooot of energy, and one of these days I'll have to post a video of what she does when she has a stick or a ball. She jumps around like a kangaroo and tosses her head around like it's the most fun thing ever (much more fun than me throwing the stick or ball, apparently).

Leash reactivity is definitely better but we still have setbacks. I don't use the prong much but I am leash correcting on the advice of the trainer.

Check station is still mostly going well!

Well....friend is coming soon, so we'll see how Willow does!
 

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Good update!

For perspective, my previous dog, a rescue @ 1 1/2 yrs old, lived to be just over 12. She went with me everywhere. But on those rare occasions when I couldn't bring her, she stayed at home, loose in the house. 100% of the times I left her at home she would dump a trash can, spread the contents, and act totally unapologetic when I got home. As if to say HA this is what you get for being so insensitive!

My current dog will air snap and bark at me when I tell her to back up, if I'm asking her to back up farther than she thinks is warranted. Sass! I love it! And I can tell you with certainty that she was not neglected a day in her life LOL!

Unfortunately dogs are short lived, and with age they lose some of these endearing behaviors. So my advice would be to enjoy the spunk while it lasts! You'll miss it when it's gone...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Unfortunately dogs are short lived, and with age they lose some of these endearing behaviors. So my advice would be to enjoy the spunk while it lasts! You'll miss it when it's gone...
Yeah part of me is wishing she was 5 years older so she'd be less annoying, but then the other part of me thinks her behavior is frickin hilarious. I do wish she had the focus that I see in so many other GSDs; she's not very "keyed in" to me during walks, is easily distracted, etc. Hopefully something the trainer and I can work on.

She did pretty well with my friend over last night. She growled and barked at him at first, but I told him to just ignore her. She crept around uncertainly for the first 5-10 minutes but then she seemed to get comfortable enough, sat down right next to him and let him pet her, but then she started kinda pacing around like she didn't know what to do with herself so I put her in her crate. She settled down after that and I was able to open it back up and let her come and go.

She did kinda huff at him again when he was leaving so...she wasn't totally OK with it. But hopefully she'll get better and better with visitors each time. My dad keeps threatening to come stay with me for Thanksgiving...he's a big, tall, obese old man who doesn't really like animals so...we'll see how that goes!
 

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Good on you for watching Willows body language closely. Crating her when she was showing signs of being beyond her threshold/ uncomfortable was wise. Keep up the good work.
 

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Dogs live very much in the present, and making allowances for a dog's past life or early life is not a good road to go down. I don't think it goes anywhere.

If your dog is bored and finding ways to amuse itself now, then now she is not getting enough exercise and stimulation. Or maybe the garbage had something her schnaz was attracted to.

Different dogs need different levels of exercise dependent on their energy. Any time you spend with the dog, all of which is training, will help alleviate this. Some dogs need a good long walk or run every day. Others, not so much. A session with sheep or nose work or agility can satisfy needs quicker, because it uses body and brain or instinct. You can also train tricks or play games with the dog, like hide and seek, find it, etc. All of this stuff improves the bond between you and the dog, and that will improve everything.

When you think about a dog's mentality being similar to a child's between the ages of 3 and 6, you can see that too much freedom can be unsettling. Some have to get used to having the run of the house. And some need to be given the run of a room or the run of a section of the house for a while before they are given more freedom.
 

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Our shepherds we left loose in the house probably from about 2 years on, but we did have them since they were puppies! One thing I still do as habit is while cooking I keep a plastic bag I put all food scrapes in and take out to the trash, they would only be interested in trash if there was food stuff in it, but most of the time I just put it up anyway. Also had trash cans that have the lids that fit down in the top. I didn't have any problem with furniture chewing, they had chewed a cord or two when puppies! We'd shut off rooms so basically in our house they only had the kitchen, living room and bathroom open. We just kinda went for it when we started leaving them out! Sounds like Willow is settling in well!
 

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Our shepherd that we got Shelby came from a poor home situation. Knew how to play with dogs but not with people. Sweet dog. Once she settled in she got very puppy like. Think she's 5-6 now we got her when she was 3 and she acts younger now than she did when we first got her. So maybe something to do with being able to relax and let loose once they're in a better home situation. Glad to hear you guys are doing good!

A good run before you leave and putting up trash and she may do alright. Some dogs especially ones left outside find all the smells irresistible. But keeping her in the kennel when you have doubts isn't a bad idea. That's how we did it, whenever the dog backslid they were back into the kennel when unsupervised and then we just worked our way up to longer free time. Backed it back down if they couldn't be trusted when out alone.
 

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The crate is a good thing. Why are you compelled to keep trying to leave her loose? You kind of got your answer with the trash. IMO, the only reason not to crate every time you leave is to protect your house. If she is crated sometimes and sometimes not, she will not have a routine and she most likely will resist the crate.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The crate is a good thing. Why are you compelled to keep trying to leave her loose? You kind of got your answer with the trash. IMO, the only reason not to crate every time you leave is to protect your house. If she is crated sometimes and sometimes not, she will not have a routine and she most likely will resist the crate.
The main reason might be a bit silly, really...when she had such horrible diarrhea she did have one accident in her crate (I'd only been gone 3 hours but it was too long). Luckily she didn't get it all over herself. I guess I just figure if she gets sick, I'd rather she not have to then lie in it for hours. Maybe a silly reason because hopefully she won't get sick like that again...at least not for a while.

But I guess I just feel bad for crating her for long periods. When my work schedule goes back to normal I'll be gone for 8 hours a day, and I just feel like that's....I dunno. Not good for her. But if you think it's fine, please educate me! My guilt is my worst enemy in this, haha.
 

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The main reason might be a bit silly, really...when she had such horrible diarrhea she did have one accident in her crate (I'd only been gone 3 hours but it was too long). Luckily she didn't get it all over herself. I guess I just figure if she gets sick, I'd rather she not have to then lie in it for hours. Maybe a silly reason because hopefully she won't get sick like that again...at least not for a while.

But I guess I just feel bad for crating her for long periods. When my work schedule goes back to normal I'll be gone for 8 hours a day, and I just feel like that's....I dunno. Not good for her. But if you think it's fine, please educate me! My guilt is my worst enemy in this, haha.
Eight hours usually becomes 8.5 hours because of a mandatory lunch break, and then the commute, for me it would be 10.5 hours minimum the dog would be crated, and in my opinion that is too much life spent in a crate. Yes they will get used to it and sleep much of that time.

I think most people would prefer their dog to have the run of the house. And by three years, one should be able to expect that to be ok. The dog is out of the teething stage, and unless you have allowed bad habits to set in, like rooting through the garbage, or counter surfing, it shouldn't be an issue.

Because I have multiple bitches, my indoor dogs do not get the run of the house, but they get a section of house, a doggy door to their outside kennels. If you have a few days and can get an extra-tall baby gate, maybe there is a room or section of your house where you can give the dog some area, and you can ensure that that area has nothing dangerous in it.
 

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The main reason might be a bit silly, really...when she had such horrible diarrhea she did have one accident in her crate (I'd only been gone 3 hours but it was too long). Luckily she didn't get it all over herself. I guess I just figure if she gets sick, I'd rather she not have to then lie in it for hours. Maybe a silly reason because hopefully she won't get sick like that again...at least not for a while.



But I guess I just feel bad for crating her for long periods. When my work schedule goes back to normal I'll be gone for 8 hours a day, and I just feel like that's....I dunno. Not good for her. But if you think it's fine, please educate me! My guilt is my worst enemy in this, haha.


You sound like my ex wife! She felt bad leaving my last GSD in the crate and the crate was gone before 4 months old. So basically every time we went out, we came home to trash on the floor or the bread box emptied. Until the day he died at 10.

If you use the crate correctly it will be her home and safe place. She won’t complain and she will go in without you even telling her. If she is currently complaint about being crated that’s because she’s feeding off you. If she complains and you take her out, then you are teaching her that if she complains you will take her out. That’s what my ex wife did every time he cried as a puppy. He ended up with severe separation anxiety. If she isn’t complaining to get out, she will.

Three hours is nothing. Five hours is fine. Eight hours is what they do overnight and they can do it, but that’s a little too long for day time. You also can’t worry about “if” she gets sick unless she is sicks. That’s insane!

I’m telling you, you will regret not using that crate correctly. The dog will own you and your schedule.

Listen to me my friend!! They sleep all day whether in a crate or not. Find a doggy daycare for a few days a week if you need to.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I live in a small town and don't have much of a commute (like 5-10 minutes) and I sort of set my own schedule; there's no mandatory lunch break and I usually work through lunch, or come home at lunch to let Willow out for a bit. If I know I'm going to be gone for more than 8 hours at a meeting or in the field or something, I can take her with me and leave her in her crate in the truck. That's what I did today--had to drive across the state (3 hours each way) so I just brought her along. Had a nice break at the midpoint where we got to do a short hike and she played around with my coworker's two dogs.

She is crate trained. She goes in there willingly all the time, never complains about it at night, only when I leave for work (and lately that's been better---I leave her with a Kong with some snacks in it). I do not let her out when she complains because...she never complains while I'm home. Of course, I rarely crate her when I'm home, though sometimes I will if she's being super annoying and whiny/following me around. She does whine LIKE CRAZY in her crate in the truck, but she whines in moving vehicles anyway, all the time, without ceasing; it's more about being in the vehicle than being in the crate. But I don't let her out when she whines then because, well, I can't. Ask me how fun it was to drive in a truck with a whining dog for 6 hours today. GO AHEAD, ASK ME! :)

So far since I've had her I've only left her in her crate for 8 hours once. She seemed totally fine, like she was just sleeping all day. But then she was pretty energetic and annoying for much of the evening, unsurprisingly. Every day she gets two walks of at least 30 minutes each, and I try to make sure on at least one of those walks she gets off-leash time to run around and sniff to her heart's content. Then we're working with the trainer for about an hour a week, and I'll take her jogging with me now and then, or hiking when the weather permits (though after her diarrhea I'm really paranoid about letting her drink from streams...). Check station days I don't walk her as much (just in the morning), but then she spends a lot of time just being there, stimulated by all the people/game animals coming in, that after we get home she just passes right out.

She's really...uh...not the brightest bulb in the box, it seems. It's been really hard for me to find the motivation to try to train her with things because she doesn't seem to "get it". I don't know if it's just energy, or stubbornness, or true stupidity...like, she'll watch me leave the room to hide a treat, and then I come back and tell her "find it" which she knows, but the she searches THE ROOM SHE IS IN which obviously I didn't hide the treat there, she would have seen me! So it takes her forever or she gives up after a minute or two. Maybe the trainer can recommend activities I can do with her. So far I'm kinda relying on just doing stuff outside, exercising her physically.
 

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Also yeah my house is pretty small so there's not a ton of options for gating off a section of the house for her to be OK in. The only option is the sun room, which might work, honestly, except that it doesn't have its own heat register so it gets pretty chilly in there (like 55 F during the day in winter). I would want to put her crate in there and it feels awkward to have that be the place her crate is, for when I'm home, and I don't want to be shuffling her crate around all the time or buying more crates (tiny house = CLUTTER). I do have a smaller crate I can put in there during the day, if I gate off that room; the door will be open and she can get out and stretch if she needs to. Yeah, maybe i"ll start getting into the habit of doing that. There's not a TON of trouble she could do in that room; except chew water lines for the sink/washer/dryer....that would be bad....

Really she's only gotten into trouble the one time with the garbage. I have since put the garbage in the pantry, but there's still plenty around she could chew on if she felt so inclined. Yeah, she's 3 so isn't teething or anything, but I do worry about what else she might do out of boredom. It sucks...I feel like plenty of people leave their dogs home alone all day and they never cause problems! People who also don't ever exercise or train their dogs, they just lie around all day. Maybe will just be something that comes with age. And again...she might be fine. Might have just been the one time. Who knows.
 

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early on in the thread you said you had moved the trash. That's likely problem solved. If you're worried about that, yes, crate - train "crate games" --- Of course do not leave food on the counter --- that's a mistake a lot of people make. Cookies cooling? Cookies gone!



Sounds like you've got a great set up for dogs with the ability to take them to work or come home for lunch.
 

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55 degrees for a GSD is not chilly. It is comfortable. They got hair all over their bodies, and can handle temperatures down to 0 with a dog house and no straw. And below that with straw. 68-70 is sweltering for a GSD. A nice doggy bed in there, or even a rug that she can lie on might make the crate not necessary.
 

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Sounds like you have a great situation. Good job with everything. I was just reminding you that the crate is your friend. It’s not the penalty box. Seems like you are doing fine to me.
 

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We have a trashcan with a lid..it has this handle you push in, and it locks. I used to always lock it before going out, but then I forgot a few times and it was untouched when we came home. I think he never got the "habit" and the "reward" of finding what was in the trash. So that's a thought.

I actually would hate to crate my dog for that long too (on a regular basis). I'd think about the sunroom and with an open crate in there...if cold, she could always go in crate and warm it up with her body heat? In my experience though, the thick double coat makes them pretty comfortable as long as temps are above freezing!

My rescue was much worse with strangers and visitors in the beginning, and has mellowed out a lot. Hmm I am trying to remember what happened...I think part of it was telling people not to pet him on the head. And the second part of it was letting him drag a leash so that I could pull him back if he was "oversniffing" and making people uncomfortable. So, working on manners on both dog and human sides...
 

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My dad keeps threatening to come stay with me for Thanksgiving...he's a big, tall, obese old man who doesn't really like animals so...we'll see how that goes!
My cousin's parents hate animals and growing up, she only had hamsters. Anyway when she graduated and began work in NYC she got a Cat, and she brought him home for the holidays. At first her parents made him stay in the basement. By the end of the holidays, he was lolling around in the kitchen being fed rotisserie chicken tidbits!

Now her parents Catsit when she goes on vacation! They buy a huge rotisserie chicken and he eats like a king all week, and refuses to eat his catfood when he goes home...:grin2:
 
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