Stressed new puppy owners living in an apartment

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Stressed new puppy owners living in an apartment

This is a discussion on Stressed new puppy owners living in an apartment within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; Hi there, We recently adopted a miniature dachshund who is currently about 12 weeks old. We've had him for a little over 2 weeks now...and ...

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Old 01-03-2013, 01:15 AM
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Stressed new puppy owners living in an apartment

Hi there,

We recently adopted a miniature dachshund who is currently about 12 weeks old. We've had him for a little over 2 weeks now...and we are ridiculously stressed out.

We live in an apartment with no easy access to grass (only pavement), so we've been indoor potty training him on a pee pad. He's done fairly well with that; he very rarely has an accident, and when he does it's usually because we're leash training him, and he can''t run back to his pad.. He also does great with his crate at night and will voluntarily nap in it during the day.

So, where does the stress come in? We are both away from home around 10 hours a day. We keep him in a play pen with his crate, a pee pad, food, water, and an abundance of toys. He has very intermittent success with being alone, as we have been working on desensitizing him for the past two weeks (knowing we would have to return to work soon). Sometimes he manages to keep himself occupied briefly with a toy and sleep the rest of the time, other times he whines and barks.

When we wake up in the morning:
- 6:30 - 7:30am obedience training and play time
- 7:30 return to crate and fed, and then we leave for work

When we return from work:
- 6:00 - 7:00 obedience training and play time
- 7:00 - 7:30 return to play pen (so we can eat)
- 8:00 - 10:00 attempt to spend more time with him...but he drives us crazy; He might start off fine, but as soon as he gets overly excited and misbehaves, he won't respond to any negative verbal commands (like no, ah ah, off, enough, etc) or loud sounds (like clapping, snapping, etc). He just goes ballistic. And if we return him to the crate to calm down, he starts whining and barking.

We dedicate all of our free time to him, and we are trying really hard to make sure he grows up to be a great companion, but it's really hard when all he wants to do spazz out.

Between work and our puppy, we have next to no time to ourselves, and we are really missing it. If the little guy would behave long enough that we could incorporate him into the things we want to do, things would be much better...but he just goes completely spastic at the worst times.

We've read up on tons of other situations and stories about similar issues, but they all suggest more exercise. We've given him all the time we've got and it's still not enough. The problem is, he is not fully vaccinated, and won't be able to walk outside for another month. He is also completely terrified of the outdoors, which will pose a problem in the future when he can go for walks. (We are also worried that he will have difficulties transitioning to going potty outdoors later.)

We have checked out day cares and pet sitters (to play with him a bit during the day) in our area, but they are ridiculously overpriced. We wished we had known the prices before we got him, but now it's too late.

We are feeling really down about everything right now, and hope that things will get better soon, but it's so hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
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Old 01-03-2013, 02:04 AM
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Hi, have you tried a radio when you leave him,At the moment he will be hard work,he has just left a warm secure environment and is in a alien world.When I had a pup,I made the crate a real den using blankets to cover it, an old jumper that I had worn, and a neighbour popped in at lunchtime, if thats not possible is their any way you could work your lunch break and leave a bit earlier.gemini
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:15 AM
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Hi, and welcome.

Perhaps your schedule is a bit strict and ambitious? I guess I'm confused by "obedience training." A puppy this age can concentrate for perhaps 2 minutes at a time, so playing is mostly what needs to happen when you are with him.

While playing you can slip in a little bit of "clicker training." He will love it and learning will be fun for him.

Not sure what you mean by "leash training" but again he is a very young and very small puppy, so take if extremely slowly and of course always be totally Gentle with him. Never pull him around by the leash and get him a nice comfy harness to wear if you need to have him on a leash. He has a very delicate neck!


The time you get to spend with him should be relaxed and very fun for both humans and puppy. If that time is not pleasant, you are working far too hard at it. He is the equivalent right now of a 3 year old human child. So keep your expectations appropriate. Your goals right now are love, bonding, and potty training. (check out our house breaking section for how to house train. There is a sticky thread at the top.)
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:18 AM
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Here, to get you started on the best way to train a puppy. Watch this video then you can watch others from kikopups

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Old 01-03-2013, 05:20 AM
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Puppies are HARD.

Don't worry about the stuff that comes later. Of course he is scared of outdoors--it is big and new and strange and he is a baby! I spent a *lot* of this summer accustoming my puppy to being outside (lots of treats, meeting other nice doggies along the way, etc). Now she is my jogging partner. Have you tried mental stimulation and socialization work, like inviting friends over to meet your pup (especially if they have gentle, vaccinated adult dogs)? What about talking him out to the pet store in your arms, that is, NOT setting him down on the floor or letting him sniff other dogs? Just so he can see the world and get used to people.

As far as the "misbehaving" goes--yeah, welcome to puppyhood. The world is new and exciting, sometimes way more exciting than that nasty shaking the coins in the can trick can be annoying. You're on the right track with giving him a time-out when he gets overexcited. If by "misbehaving" you mean something like nipping, what a lot of us have found works is for us to disengage--draw back physically, fold our arms, stand up and turn our backs to the dog for a few seconds. Then resume play like nothing happened. No, it won't work immediately. Training takes time, especially when you're trying to train away a natural dog behavior like play-nipping! The nice thing about something like this is that it integrates the "training" right into the playtime, which is good for puppy's lack of attention, but also useful in that you don't want a dog who listens only during specific training sessions.

Same with jumping up. If pup jumps up, IGNORE HIM. ONLY show attention when "four-on-the-floor." It is much, much easier to teach a dog what TO do than what NOT to do. IF you are clicker-training, clicking the instant you see all four of his feet on the floor and then treating that status can be really useful. I'm actually not doing that, but Calypso is getting better about not jumping up if I simply ignore her so long as she is doing that, and only put on her leash, get up for a game of fetch, etc if she is on the ground. She still jumps onto my leg a couple of times, usually, out of excitement and instinct, but eventually figures out what will actually get me to respond.

Yes, the first weeks, the first MONTHS are hard. That's having a puppy, and one of the reasons most new puppy owners spend a good while lamenting not having gotten an adult dog. Try to find one thing in your pup that delights you each day.

Do you have a retired neighbor or nonworking high school student in your building who might be able to stop by and play with your pup earlier in the afternoon?
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Last edited by Sundog; 01-03-2013 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:21 AM
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As far as going outdoors, I'd put him in a little doggy carrier of some sort or baby sling, and get him out with you, just to see the sights. He does not have to walk himself, but he will be absolutely hopeless outside if you don't get him outdoors some now to get used to things.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:23 AM
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One more thing. You mustn't punish him for "spazzing". Really you must not punish him at all. If you punish him, he will grow up to be a fearful dog.

He's just being a puppy. He will not understand why you are "attacking" him.
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Old 01-03-2013, 11:19 AM
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You're feeding him twice a day, right? Doxies are small and I only saw where you were feeding once.

Are you crating him all through work? He's just too young for that. Can't one of you come home and let him pee in the middle of the day and take a walk?

Have you tried kongs or food puzzles? These are sharp minded little dogs and they love figuring those types of things out.

When you say you attempt to play with him...what's your attempt like?
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Old 01-03-2013, 09:37 PM
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. It means a lot to us.

Sorry for the lack of clarification; when we said obedience training, it was for basic things like sit, down, leave it, crate etc. We do use the clicker and so far, he has learnt sit, leave it, crate and is working on down. We started this because we read that they need both mental and physical exercise. We hope this is okay.

As for the "leash training", it's nothing formal like heel, it was just attaching the leash to his collar so that he gets used to it (initially he bit on it a lot or scratched at his neck), but now he ignores it for the most part. We also use it when we need to keep an eye on him in the room.

When we work, he isn't crated. He is in a puppy playpen with two pee pads (we discovered he likes room for his poop and pee. With a single pee pad, he will pee on it and sometimes poop lands on floor... :/ ) toys and chews, as well as his crate with the crate door removed. He likes to sleep in his crate.

He doesn't play with his toys or chews often, only now and then and very briefly. Only object that can hold his attention would be a puppy dental edible chew (but we discovered he finishes one whole chew in a few hours and won't eat his kibble, so we have since removed those edible chews.) We have stuffed kibble and small treats in his kong but again, only brief attention. He hates peanut butter as well.

We are trying to be patient, and I guess are still adjusting to this change in our lives. Sometimes, my girlfriend cries because she worries about him as well as our personal lives, and wonders if we can still have time to ourselves again. When we got him, we took two weeks time off to dedicate to him 24/7; and admittedly got cabin fever. We are afraid that how it is now (where all free time is devoted to him), will be how it is many years down the road. Now that we can no longer take more time off, we spend our very early mornings with him, leave for work, return after long hours, and tiredly (but doing our best to be cheerful) to play with him and wear him out. Seeking an affordable, trustworthy pet sitter is a constant endeavor... just no luck yet. We have put a web camera on him so we can watch him during work, he does pretty well, whines at 3:30PM and 4:30PM in short spurts, then returns to crate.

We do bring him outside in our arms, and have introduced him to the pet shop closest to us as well as walk along the road side. He still has issues with loud noises.

When we attempt to play, we usually play fetch to make him run around in doors since his vaccinations are incomplete.

Our worries:
- Will he mellow out or calm down as he matures?
- Will we ever be able to have our own personal time to relax?
- As he is so afraid of the door and outside, we are worried of transitioning him from pee pad to going outside on pavement or grass (after vaccinations are complete.)
- We are afraid that because he is so afraid of the outside, we will have issues exercising him during walks later.
- He is relatively quiet now, some barks when left alone (never long drawn out ones), we try our best to fulfill his mental and physical exercise when we aren't at work; but as we live in an apartment, we hope he does not develop crazy barking. And then again, we are worried that we can't bring him for walks as a solution in the future (see above.)
- We are just tired, young working adults and wish we could see the light at the end of the tunnel at some point. He is a very clever little fellow. But he adds to the exhaustion, which in turn affects our emotions. But don't worry, we don't vent our frustrations on him.

I hope we managed to clarify some things and again, we appreciate the feedback and help.
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Old 01-03-2013, 10:11 PM
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Aww, he sounds like a perfectly adorable puppy--with the emphasis on puppy. Again I stress--puppyhood is HARD. That's why (evolutionarily speaking) baby animals have to be extra-cute: so that their caretakers put up with the annoying parts!

I bet one weekend afternoon or weekday evening "off" per week or so would do wonders for you and your girlfriend. The convenient thing about puppies as opposed to human babies is, even if we don't like to do it, it *is* possible to leave them in their crate and go out to do whatever, once in awhile. (Okay, sometimes you pay for the extra confinement afterwards with extra rowdiness...just plan ahead for it.) It will also do your relationship with your puppy (what's his name?) a world of good! Dogs are VASTLY more sensitive than we usually think, and Puppy will be happier if you are more relaxed around him and, well, aren't getting to the point where you resent him as an intrusion on your lives.

Seriously, though...I live alone, and I distinctly remember crying on the phone to my mother about how awful dealing with a zany puppy was well into the 5-6 month range. But I stress--this is TOTALLY not all the time, and (Calypso is 9 months now) is SO worth it. You know, in retrospect.

As far as being scared of outside and loud noises--super common. In a lot of cases, simple exposure is not enough. When you take Pupster out to see the world, are you taking along a gigantic bag of treats (even to the extent of basically taking along his dinner) and feeding them to him pretty frequently? ESPECIALLY when scary things happen, but also just things that might provoke anxiety due to newness, like meeting people of new heights, ages, energy levels, etc. If you can get Pup to make the connection that "hearing jackhammer means FOOD!", perhaps over time he can grow less sensitive to the scary or painful noise. (If loud noises like fireworks are an enduring problem, something like the Thundershirt can help. But I'd definitely try desensitizing with food. And yes, it will take time.)

I taught Calypso to enjoy going for walks basically one sidewalk square at a time, clicking and giving treats nearly *constantly*. For months. At the beginning, I'm not sure we could even make it a full block. (The first day, we didn't even make it out of the driveway. Treats are great, but she's got her limits.) In the beginning, basically any time she was exhibiting forward motion of some sort. Obviously things are a bit different now--but that took time, and patience.

You seem like devoted and perfectionist puppy parents. Just remember--there is no such thing as a Perfect Puppy, or a platonic ideal of a puppy. Raising anything from babyhood is a messy, messy endeavour. Give Pup some time to, you know, hit the point where he is no longer a baby; in the meantime, take some time for you and your girlfriend, too!

Have you tried freezing chicken broth inside the kong, maybe with some kibble frozen into it? If PB fails, what about cream cheese or (Calypso's favorite) plain Greek yogurt? There are TONS of ideas online for Kong "recipes." Also, maybe another food dispenser toy like an IQ ball could be a way to occupy him, or give a little bit more of a mental workout.

The two pee pad thing is awesome. I am in love with your puppy from a distance.
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Last edited by Sundog; 01-03-2013 at 10:13 PM.
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