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Thread: Puppy advice needed...

  1. #1
    Member Spitball's Avatar
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    Puppy advice needed...

    Our daughter has a beautiful and loving seven month-old German Shepherd. Her name is Abby, and she is truly wonderful in almost every way.

    Abby destroys things when my daughter goes to work. When our daughter is home, Abby is very compliant and eager to please. When she is gone, Abby chews what she can get off the counter, computer wires, her ipad, the carpet, and just about anything that my daughter can't hide.

    My daughter keeps some valuables in Abby's old dog crate. That protects some items, but what else can she do? She loves this wonderful dog but is desperate to stop the destruction.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?
    "I am your child from the future. I'm sorry I didn't tell you this earlier." - Dylan Easton

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  3. #2
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    Our daughter has a beautiful and loving seven month-old German Shepherd. Her name is Abby, and she is truly wonderful in almost every way.

    Abby destroys things when my daughter goes to work. When our daughter is home, Abby is very compliant and eager to please. When she is gone, Abby chews what she can get off the counter, computer wires, her ipad, the carpet, and just about anything that my daughter can't hide.

    My daughter keeps some valuables in Abby's old dog crate. That protects some items, but what else can she do? She loves this wonderful dog but is desperate to stop the destruction.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?
    Sounds like separation issues. Has your daughter spoken to anyone about obedience training? When I moved to Chicago, I had a problem with my dog barking and peeing in my apartment even though she was housebroken. First think I did was get her set up with training because, as much as the barking was an issue, the thought of her getting loose in the city and running into traffic was even worse. I took her to a place (actually called K9 University) where they taught me how to train my dog. Using the techniques I learned there, I was able to train my dog not to bark or mess on the floor while I was gone. It takes patience though. I spent a fair amount of time pretending to leave, waiting outside, then surprising the dog when I could hear her up to no good and putting her into a "down stay," and of course praising her when she went successively longer periods of time without causing trouble. The important thing is that your daughter has to be the one in control of the training (the old "establish yourself as the alpha dog" rule).

    In the meantime, if she doesn't want her stuff trashed, my question is, why isn't Abby in the crate instead of the valuables? Not being critical, because my dog was not a crate dog and the stuff she did while in the crate was far worse than anything she could do outside it. Each dog is different. If the dog doesn't do well in the crate, I would put her in a room where your daughter can limit what she has access to. Only put items in that room that are okay for the dog to chew on and deal with it that way until she's able to work on training the dog not to cause problems.
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    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    I suggest using the crate as well. From the dog's perspective there really isn't a difference between a big crate (one's home) and a small one. Put a few towels over the crate so that it becomes a safe place to the dog, their own place, and they will be more content. Secondly, dogs bred for work need a lot of activity. Shepherds in particular need a lot of stimulation, so the idea of obedience training is a good one because it will give your daughter and the dog a lot of stuff to work on together.

    Make going in the crate a morning routine, reward the dog for going in, give it a chew toy. Never use the crate as punishment. In fact, skip punishment altogether; it only makes a dog fearful.
    Last edited by SunDeck; 12-02-2014 at 07:55 AM.
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  5. #4
    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    More exercise. Make the dog exhausted every day.

    This may not end up being the solution, but I think it's the solution to an enormous number of puppy behavior issues.
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    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Crating was my first thought too. You mention her "old crate", but she's only seven months old -- did she not do well in it or was she just phased out already? My dog was crated when home alone until she was about 18 months old. She then transitioned with no problems, but up until then she was a chewing machine, which is natural for puppies until 18 months or so.

    There are lots of tips on crate training online if needed. It's not for every dog, but if training is done right, a lot of dogs respond very well to it. They like having their own space.

    There are also chew sprays available -- they taste bad and if an item is sprayed frequently enough, eventually a dog learns to avoid it even when it's not sprayed. It's one product for which I found the generics did not work; she should spring for the brand name Bitter Apple or whatever it's called. It's safe for furniture, fabrics, etc., but I don't know that I would use it on computer wires. It also is just for chewing, I don't know that it would survive large-scale Shepherd destruction.

    Lastly: is doggy day care an option? If this happens while your daughter is at work, presumably this is a long (at least eight-hour) period. Doggy day care is a great way to socialize young dogs and (maybe more importantly) wear them the hell out. Even going a couple of times a week might be enough to calm her down for the rest of the time. Your daughter should do her research on this, some places are more reputable than others, but there are good ones out there.
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  7. #6
    Member mdccclxix's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    We thought crates were cruel and we thought dogs outside in the winter was cruel, but now we do both and the dogs thrive just the same or better. Crate = cave. Outside = hunting and stimulation. Maybe it will work for your Shepard. Those are smart and tough and durable dogs.
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  8. #7
    Member Spitball's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Thank you for the responses. Abby is a very loving and extremely beautiful German Shepherd. She is barely seven months old but incredibly smart, very large, and unbelievably powerful. The crate does not work because she responds like a claustrophobic maniac. Outside of the cage, she is very loving and obedient. She is the perfect dog. However, when our daughter goes to work, Abby chews something up.

    Our daughter lives in a city with more than a few crime issues. Abby's face in her window is an very impressive and intimidating image. I would hate to lock her up in a crate.
    "I am your child from the future. I'm sorry I didn't tell you this earlier." - Dylan Easton

  9. #8
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Redsfaithful View Post
    More exercise. Make the dog exhausted every day.

    This may not end up being the solution, but I think it's the solution to an enormous number of puppy behavior issues.
    Working dogs need a lot of exercise. I used to run my old lab until he could barely walk; it was the only way to keep him calm in the house while he was young. A seven month old German Shepherd (or any shepherd) is wired to play and run and investigate constantly while awake.

    My kids and I had a learning moment last night. Our Kelpie (also a type of shepherd) lays at the top of the steps and everyone lets her do that, without making her move when they get to the second floor. Except me. My kids thought I was being mean until I pointed them to a dog training website that explained out how allowing a dog to do that makes them think they are dominant (nothing I say is true until they see it on a website, apparently). Everything in a dog's world is related to their place in the pack. If the dog won't go into the crate, it's because she believes she doesn't have to. More training activities are probably necessary for the dog to understand better who is in charge. It's hugely important, especially for a dog as large and possibly dangerous to others, that obedience and place within the pack are clear to the dog. This is difficult for many people to accept because their instincts are to treat dogs like people, when what they need is to understand their place, or their "rank", in order to be productive and well behaved. Most dogs problems are related to this confusion.

    There are lots of websites that explain the alpha concept. On the one hand, your daughter is lucky; females are easier to train than males. On the other hand, it's a German Shepherd, which really does need a lot of work. However, the more work you put in, the better the results. They are phenomenal dogs.

    Steps to becoming a pack leader
    Last edited by SunDeck; 12-03-2014 at 07:58 AM.
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  11. #9
    Pimpin...literally!!! dubc47834's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Definately use a crate as others have said. We had the same issue with our boxer. At first it will be an adjustment, but onceshe gets used to it she will be fine.

  12. #10
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spitball View Post
    Thank you for the responses. Abby is a very loving and extremely beautiful German Shepherd. She is barely seven months old but incredibly smart, very large, and unbelievably powerful. The crate does not work because she responds like a claustrophobic maniac. Outside of the cage, she is very loving and obedient. She is the perfect dog. However, when our daughter goes to work, Abby chews something up.

    Our daughter lives in a city with more than a few crime issues. Abby's face in her window is an very impressive and intimidating image. I would hate to lock her up in a crate.
    Obviously, if you (or your daughter) views it as "locking her up" to keep her in a crate, then it's not going to work. Even your referring to it as a cage betrays your definition of what it is and that absolutely gets passed onto a dog. As someone mentioned previously, when properly crate-trained, there is not a big difference to a dog between a home that is a house and a home that is a crate. Quite the contrary, a crate that is the home of the dog and the dog only can be a really wonderful training tool since it is her own space and she will take pride in it and be very comfortable there. Do not forget that dogs are descended largely from wolves; they have an instinct to build and nest in their own dens which tend to be not much bigger than they are. It absolutely takes the proper training -- keeping it as a happy haven; using it first while you're there and she can see you so she feels safe; giving her treats or even meals in it so she associates it with rewards, etc. And of course, as someone mentioned, never using it as punishment. A dog doesn't *inherently* view a crate as her own -- she needs to be trained. It's usually pretty easy to do this, but the onus is on the owner, obviously.

    I'm not saying a crate is definitively the answer, because it really is not for every dog. But it sounds like she is destructive enough when your daughter is not home that it's causing a real problem, and training her to have her own happy space where she would be calm when she is home alone seems like at least something that's worth exploring. It would keep her from destroying things, but more importantly it would give her a sense of ownership and calm. She is acting out because she does not have that when your daughter is not home -- it sounds like her sense of calm right now is tied entirely to your daughter and not to a space she can claim as her own. If your daughter is her only sense of calm and security, that may only cause more issues as she gets older (destruction, jealousy, possessiveness, even aggression, no matter how sweet she is right now.)

    There is no such thing as a perfect dog. Dogs are dogs, and they have instincts to do things that are dog things and do not necessarily line up with our human understanding of things. There is, however, a big difference between a well-trained dog and a poorly trained or untrained dog. Abby is seven months old and a German Shepherd, which is a very smart and eager-to-please breed. She is still trainable, but it does need to happen now. I look back on my dog's puppy days and remember how incredibly frustrating it was; there were definitely times when I believed that I had gotten a "bad dog" or that certain behaviors were just part of her nature. Now I look back at how relatively easy it was with patient and consistent training. You can look back and say, wow, we really taught her to do that, she's a good dog because we followed the rules and the wisdom and training. For example, as far as the crate goes, she doesn't need it anymore, but we keep it out because she goes in there on her own. Every night she runs in and sleeps there all night with the door open. It's her space and she loves it. Dogs just want to feel secure with their place in their homes and families and then they are pretty much set for anything. Don't give up!
    Last edited by vaticanplum; 12-03-2014 at 07:02 PM.
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  14. #11
    Yay! dabvu2498's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    I was once one who thought crates were for "locking dogs up." Now, I can't imagine not having a dog that isn't crate trained. I currently have one that doesn't much care for the crate, but he's getting better.

    There are a myriad of techniques for getting a dog to appreciate its' crate, which I'm sure you can find. Use them. See which ones work for her particular case. I have one dog that now virtually refuses to eat anywhere but her crate. I may have gone a little far with that one.
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

  15. #12
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    Shepherds are incredibly smart and energetic. Leave them home alone and they go stir crazy. I second the "tire her out" suggestions, as well as anything that can be done to get her some healthier stimulation during the day. Many people will have a dog walker come over. Crating is an option, and crate training in general is a good idea, but keeping a GSD in a crate 8+ hours during the day shouldn't be viewed as a permanent solution, IMO. It won't address her boredom/anxiety, just manage the symptoms you don't like. I'd be worried it would affect her general temperament.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  16. #13
    Member kpresidente's Avatar
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    Re: Puppy advice needed...

    In addition to what others have said, learn to "claim" your stuff (google it) and then give the dog plenty of chew toys. Worked with my boxer eating my shoes!


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