Feel like I am doing everything wrong

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Feel like I am doing everything wrong

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Old 05-11-2011, 09:19 AM
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Feel like I am doing everything wrong

Hi everyone, sorry in advance for the long post.

We (husband and I) are expats living in Qatar and I have always adored dogs, although never owned one. I have read lots of books such as Jan Fennell, due to my interest, and we also used to look after trainee Hearing Dogs at weekends back in the UK, which was a dream as they were very well trained!

Just over 48 hours ago, our friend found a pup wandering the streets and the local dog shelter couldn't have her, so we agreed to foster her with a view to possibly keeping her.

I'm finding it so hard though, and sometimes hubby and I both lose our temper and I feel like I am the worst pup mum ever.

I have been on this forum non-stop since Monday and found it really helpful, and have studied all of "kikopup's" YouTube vids as a result. We have bought a clicker and lots of bagged up tasty treats such as chicken pieces, cheese and mincemeat.

Sometimes, I think I am doing OK but then I have a setback and it gets me down. I am scared to leave her alone in case I create a whiner/barker, and that means I am stuck in the house (in a new country where I should really be going out and meeting people) which is making me depressed and I need help to snap out of it.

1. Housetraining

She seems to be quite OK with this. We think, as is often the case here, that a local family had her and kicked her out once she became a handful. However, yesterday I didn't take her out enough and we had 4 accidents. It was 47 degrees C and she was reluctant to go outside in the searing heat.

Today we were doing better, but I did catch her mid pee on the stairs at one point and without thinking I was a bit shrieky as I grabbed her and took her outside - I am worried I scared her. She has since peed outside on the lead again for me though, so hoping I didn't do too much damage.

She also peed in her crate when I was training her to stay in it (the door was open but I am trying to get her to stop following me around the house). My fault - I should have toiletted her before starting this training session.

2. Over exuberant biting.

This is the bit we're really struggling with and hubby and I had an almighty row last night. With me, during the day, she is very calm. I just potter around the house and although she follows me, she spends a lot of the time sleeping. The energy level in the house is low and she responds accordingly.

When husband gets home, she goes nuts - even though he completely ignores her and does all the right things. Last night, she was high as a kite all evening and kept 'attacking' us as a game. We ignored her but she carried on doing it. Nothing worked at all. I ended up storming out of the house after hubbby got slightly too rough with her in my eyes (although we are both fully signed up to positive reinforcement, we were at the end of our tethers and he was trying to prevent her from biting him by pushing her, which I didn't like).

So, this afternoon, I decided to follow Kikopup's training video for biting (having already done the more basic click-association, and 'default leave' training yesterday and this morning). It's quite hard to get her to bite unless the energy levels are quite high, so in the end I was running around quite a lot, and although she got the message not to bite as the clicks and treats came, she then didn't come down from this high all afternoon. It was a nightmare as she kept trying to re-engage me with the game by pestering me and nipping me.

I am admittedly scared to shut her off in one part of the house and leave her to it, as I don't want to create a whining/barking monster. I know I need to work on this.

Since I have been writing this, my husband unexpectedly came home from work early, and I gave him a clicker and some treats and she is now sleeping peacefully at his feet! She was quite bitey at first, but he got up and walked into the kitchen - this happened twice before we did some clicker training and she lay down. She has been lying at his feet ever since.

This is very different to last night!

My specific questions are:

1. When husband is home in the evening, is it OK to keep the energy levels still really low? I worry she will get bored, but if she gets high I can never get her back down again. She hasn't had all her jabs yet, so no walks for a couple more weeks at least.

2. Have I destroyed any hope of crate training her when I let her pee in her crate?

3. If she is clever at engaging with you for a clicker game, how do you end it? If we say enough and then, say, throw her a chew to finish things off, she starts playing up again (obviously wanting to re-engage us). How do you draw a line under it so you can get her resting again?

4. Will I ever be able to leave her alone? I feel under pressure to achieve this, as my Dad arrives in 10 days for a visit, and we HAVE to be able to go out without her. I have tried doing short periods of 1 or 2 minutes with her alone in the kitchen, but I am scared to actually leave the house in case she starts barking (the compound we live on forbids barking dogs - only well behaved ones are tolerated). I am also scared to shut her in the crate - she will go in there voluntarily, but chooses to sleep on the cool tiled floor instead - I don't blame her given the weather, even though our house is air conditioned. I once put her in there while she was asleep, and let her out 30 minutes later. But the second time I did it, she woke up straight away and went nuts - I had to let her out as I recognised she needed to pee and I was right. I feel like I did some damage there.

Sorry for the long post, I guess I just need a bit of hand holding through her puppyhood as it is all new to me and I am worried we won't get through it.
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:05 AM
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First things first - BREATHE! it's going to be OK.

Second - it's only been two days - IT WILL get better and easier as you go along.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
Hi everyone, sorry in advance for the long post.

We (husband and I) are expats living in Qatar and I have always adored dogs, although never owned one. I have read lots of books such as Jan Fennell, due to my interest, and we also used to look after trainee Hearing Dogs at weekends back in the UK, which was a dream as they were very well trained!

Just over 48 hours ago, our friend found a pup wandering the streets and the local dog shelter couldn't have her, so we agreed to foster her with a view to possibly keeping her.

I'm finding it so hard though, and sometimes hubby and I both lose our temper and I feel like I am the worst pup mum ever.
Yes, it's not easy but you are definitely not the worst pup mum ever - you took her in and are giving her a loving home and a chance to live. Where would she have ended up without you?? Nothing you've done "wrong" so far can compare with what would have happened to her without you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
I have been on this forum non-stop since Monday and found it really helpful, and have studied all of "kikopup's" YouTube vids as a result. We have bought a clicker and lots of bagged up tasty treats such as chicken pieces, cheese and mincemeat.

Sometimes, I think I am doing OK but then I have a setback and it gets me down. I am scared to leave her alone in case I create a whiner/barker, and that means I am stuck in the house (in a new country where I should really be going out and meeting people) which is making me depressed and I need help to snap out of it.
Setbacks are normal; pups and people don't behave perfectly; they have good and bad days. All you can do is regroup and keep at it - it will get better!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
1. Housetraining

She seems to be quite OK with this. We think, as is often the case here, that a local family had her and kicked her out once she became a handful. However, yesterday I didn't take her out enough and we had 4 accidents. It was 47 degrees C and she was reluctant to go outside in the searing heat.

Today we were doing better, but I did catch her mid pee on the stairs at one point and without thinking I was a bit shrieky as I grabbed her and took her outside - I am worried I scared her. She has since peed outside on the lead again for me though, so hoping I didn't do too much damage.
It's understandable that she did not want to spend a lot of time outside in the heat. Do you have, or could you set up a shaded/cooler area where she can "go"? What size dog is she? Could you set up a "litterbox" or sandbox somewhere a bit more comfortable for both of you? because it does help if you are out with her to treat and praise after she goes in the proper place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
She also peed in her crate when I was training her to stay in it (the door was open but I am trying to get her to stop following me around the house). My fault - I should have toiletted her before starting this training session.
Yeah, that would have been better but accidents happen and now you know what to do. Definitely 1-2 or even a few more accidents in the crate won't ruin her crate training..but yes, if you could avoid them - even better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
2. Over exuberant biting.

This is the bit we're really struggling with and hubby and I had an almighty row last night. With me, during the day, she is very calm. I just potter around the house and although she follows me, she spends a lot of the time sleeping. The energy level in the house is low and she responds accordingly.

When husband gets home, she goes nuts - even though he completely ignores her and does all the right things. Last night, she was high as a kite all evening and kept 'attacking' us as a game. We ignored her but she carried on doing it. Nothing worked at all. I ended up storming out of the house after hubbby got slightly too rough with her in my eyes (although we are both fully signed up to positive reinforcement, we were at the end of our tethers and he was trying to prevent her from biting him by pushing her, which I didn't like).

So, this afternoon, I decided to follow Kikopup's training video for biting (having already done the more basic click-association, and 'default leave' training yesterday and this morning). It's quite hard to get her to bite unless the energy levels are quite high, so in the end I was running around quite a lot, and although she got the message not to bite as the clicks and treats came, she then didn't come down from this high all afternoon. It was a nightmare as she kept trying to re-engage me with the game by pestering me and nipping me.

I am admittedly scared to shut her off in one part of the house and leave her to it, as I don't want to create a whining/barking monster. I know I need to work on this.

Since I have been writing this, my husband unexpectedly came home from work early, and I gave him a clicker and some treats and she is now sleeping peacefully at his feet! She was quite bitey at first, but he got up and walked into the kitchen - this happened twice before we did some clicker training and she lay down. She has been lying at his feet ever since.

This is very different to last night!
See - it does get better. Keep doing what you're doing - it works - it just takes time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
My specific questions are:

1. When husband is home in the evening, is it OK to keep the energy levels still really low? I worry she will get bored, but if she gets high I can never get her back down again. She hasn't had all her jabs yet, so no walks for a couple more weeks at least.
Yes, but for that you need to give her something to do. Try short training sessions - teach her "stay", "down" etc - the basics, and then work with her on some simple but fun tricks - roll over; touch here, etc... this will tire her mentally and help to settle her down. Keep the sessions short and fun - a few minutes only and mix with quiet busy-time - give her something to chew on - a kong filled with her dinner; a puzzle toy with treats...


Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
2. Have I destroyed any hope of crate training her when I let her pee in her crate?
ABSOLUTELY NOT. Just make sure to clean her crate really well with something like "Nature's miracle" if you can find it. If not a mix of water and vinegar should help. Also, remove the bedding from her crate - this has dual purpose - keeps her cooler and; if she does have an accident, it's easier to spot and clean right away. And make sure that the crate is not too big for her. there shouldn't be room for her to "go " on one end and lay down on another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
3. If she is clever at engaging with you for a clicker game, how do you end it? If we say enough and then, say, throw her a chew to finish things off, she starts playing up again (obviously wanting to re-engage us). How do you draw a line under it so you can get her resting again?
Try to alternate her toys; if she gets bored with one, give her something else to do or do a quick training session.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
4. Will I ever be able to leave her alone? I feel under pressure to achieve this, as my Dad arrives in 10 days for a visit, and we HAVE to be able to go out without her. I have tried doing short periods of 1 or 2 minutes with her alone in the kitchen, but I am scared to actually leave the house in case she starts barking (the compound we live on forbids barking dogs - only well behaved ones are tolerated). I am also scared to shut her in the crate - she will go in there voluntarily, but chooses to sleep on the cool tiled floor instead - I don't blame her given the weather, even though our house is air conditioned. I once put her in there while she was asleep, and let her out 30 minutes later. But the second time I did it, she woke up straight away and went nuts - I had to let her out as I recognised she needed to pee and I was right. I feel like I did some damage there.
Yes, but. It might not be achievable in 10 days. However, putting pressure on yourself does NOT help though - if you're stressed, she will stress as well ...and bark.

Follow the training steps that you probably have read on already and increase her "alone" time bit by bit. Could you arrange for a pet sitter if you are to leave for longer periods?
I don't know how old she is but as a rule of thumb, a puppy will be able to "hold it" about one hour for each month of age...and about barking...try leaving the TV on, on low volume, to give her the semblance of someone in the house.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amy77 View Post
Sorry for the long post, I guess I just need a bit of hand holding through her puppyhood as it is all new to me and I am worried we won't get through it.
Hey, no one was born with all the knowledge - we all learn from each other.

Last edited by mirela; 05-11-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirela View Post

Yes, but for that you need to give her something to do. Try short training sessions - teach her "stay", "down" etc - the basics, and then work with her on some simple but fun tricks - roll over; touch here, etc... this will tire her mentally and help to settle her down. Keep the sessions short and fun - a few minutes only and mix with quiet busy-time - give her something to chew on - a kong filled with her dinner; a puzzle toy with treats...
THANK YOU Mirela, that is really helpful. I think I just needed to hear that I wasn't going nuts and it really is this hard.

As for your suggestion above, I'm struggling with this as if either of us engage with her at all in the evenings, she just goes off the scale on energy levels and that's when all the problem behaviours come out.

Do you think she will calm down once she picks up on the rhythm of our daily life? If so, is it OK for her to have really quiet (boring) evenings until then?

I am hoping that this weekend when both of us are around all the time, the novelty will wear off of us both being with her and next week might be better.

This evening she seems to be progressing slightly with my husband. However I went out to the gym, and when I came back she went nuts (as she does when he comes home). I managed to get her to calm down by completely ignoring her, and locking myself in the bathroom every time she nipped at me.

But any kind of activity (e.g raised voices, fast movements from my husband or I) and she goes off like a rocket again, so we feel like we are walking on eggshells.

The only way I can get her to stay calm is to be on the computer - then she comes and lays next to me and sleeps.

I will try and start some specific threads on the individual issues we have to avoid writing paragraphs of waffle again!
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:02 PM
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Raising a puppy IS a lot of work.

That being said, not all breeds react the same - some have way more energy and exercise needs than others. I understand that your puppy was found on the street but do you have any idea of what breed she might be? This might play an important role in her behaviour.

That being said, its' absolutely OK not to engage the pup all the time while she's awake. She needs to learn how to settle with a toy or just nap as you're on the computer, or reading/ watching a movie or going about your day in the house. Don't feel obligated to interact with her all the time - otherwise you might end up with a clingy dog that might develop separation anxiety.

Ignoring her when she "goes nuts" is the right thing to do. Locking yourself in the bathroom should not be necessary - that's letting her get to you and it will become stressful really fast - not good.
When she nips - yelp a bit if she touches skin, then stand up, turn your back to her and totally ignore her for a minute or so then go do something else. Resume play/ give attention only on your terms.

The problem here is that you don't know anything about her previous life and you might have to work harder and be more patient than with a small puppy that has not had any previous good or bad experiences.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:13 PM
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Thanks Mirela. She's a Saluki mix (they all are over here!) but she's kind of chunky like a little lab though.

Ignoring her in the conventional sense doesn't work - she literally attacks us and obviously gets a reaction at some point (e.g. she drew blood last night) and calmly walking off to the other room which we've started tonight is a step forward after last night! By the 2nd/3rd time in a row she goes for my ankles, a simple ignore does work though.

Also, the yelping thing doesn't work for Poppy - I realised today that this excites her and I think it's the kind of reaction she's looking for.

I would expect (and this is a sweeping generalisation) that she was probably with some locals in a big house with lots of people inside, probably lots of kids fussing her a lot and doing everything wrong, and then when the biting started they threw her out.

I volunteer for a dog shelter here and this story is repeated time and time again unfortunately.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:35 PM
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Sounds like she doesn't have good bite inhibition. When yelping excites the puppy, I know it's recommended you not yelp, but simply leave the room in a huff quickly. From
The Puppy Primer The Puppy Primer
:

Quote:
Another method to try, especially if your pup is being very persistent or if children are involved, is to dramatically jump up and leave the room in a big huff when he bites too hard. Don't talk, don't explain, just march out quickly, without looking back, and shut the door behind you. If your timing is good, your pup will associate his behavior with losing his playmate. Pups do the equivalent of this with on another, and in some cases it can be very effective. If your pup goes after your ankles as you leave the room, then simply stop moving and stand still. If he is still biting when you ignore him, try spraying your pant legs and shoestrings with something like Bitter Apple to make the nipping taste bad. After giving him a 'cold shoulder' for several seconds, try reengaging, but lead in with a toy so you can direct his biting to an appropriate object. If you need to do this more than 4-5 times within a few minutes of play, then it might not be a good time to be interacting with your pup. Perhaps he needs to burn off a little energy first by doing a few laps around the living room or yard before you try to interact closely with him. Or, perhaps he is hungry, thirst, needs to potty, or is overly tired and needs a nap.
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Old 05-11-2011, 06:21 PM
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You might want to start teaching her "settle".

Let her play for a bit. Then either pick her up (depending on size!) or sit on the floor, holding her steady. With nice, long, calm strokes help her to calm down.

As soon as she stops struggling to get away and relaxes a little say "good settle" give her a treat then say "go play". You let her play for a bit, have fun with her then grab her again for another "settle".

If she's the type to act as if you're chasing her when you go to get her then you may need to do some "gotcha" - you walk up to her, grab her collar and say "gotcha!", give her a treat then say "go play". She then learns it's a GOOD thing to be caught by you.

The other thing that can be a quick reprieve for you is to freeze some treats in a kong. She'll sit down to lick all the goodies out. It's great in the cooler weather and hopefully it will give you a break
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:33 AM
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Thanks seebrown - that's exactly what we've been doing and it seems to be working. I can see her about to bite my ankles and then thinking better of it.

Plingie - that's a good idea, I will try that. I am worried she no longer trusts me though, particularly as I shut her in her crate this morning and she went absolutely insane. I have frozen some Kongs but tried one for the first time this morning and she wasn't interested (peanut butter).
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