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Discussion Starter #1
I have been a dog fanatic all my life, and I was over the moon to finally be getting my own puppy--only to find myself completely overwhelmed, frustrated, and ashamed of my own inability to enjoy him as much as I'd expected. It was a huge relief to learn that "Puppy Depression" is a real, normal--and temporary--thing that many people experience.

As of tomorrow, I'll have had Finnegan for three weeks. I've decided to reflect on how things are going in the hopes of improving our lives as we continue forward. It seems to me that in a lot of areas we are doing "good, but..."

For example:

1) Finnegan learned "sit" really fast, and he's super obedient--but only when there's a treat in my hand.

2) Finnegan understands "leave it" when in reference to a treat, but not when it's in reference to a chair he wants to chew or a pant leg he wants to play tug-o-war with.

3) In general, Finnegan behaves very well when he knows I have a treat, but without a treat it's almost impossible to get him to focus. I am worried about over-feeding him in an effort to make him behave!

4) Finnegan is very quiet the majority of the time, which is wonderful. He's happy to nap in his crate and fine with being confined in it at bedtime. But in the morning (5 or 6 AM), he barks and screams incessantly to get out--as well as any time I attempt to confine or isolate him during the day. (This is by far the most anxiety-inducing issue for me, and I made a thread about it in the training section yesterday).

Let's see. Good things: Finnegan house-trained really fast. Within two days he knew exactly where to go and now consistently wanders over to the door when he needs out. He's much gentler with his play biting/nipping than he was when I first brought him home. Yesterday while playing he even stopped himself from making contact with my skin a couple of times. He absolutely loves meeting new people, and he's very affectionate and snuggly with me. He's also the most beautiful puppy to have ever set paw on this earth.

Bad things: training and behaviour-wise, I don't feel we've made as much progress as I would have hoped. I know I haven't been as good or consistent a trainer as I should have been, and I've made some mistakes that reinforced unwanted behaviours. I don't think I spend enough time on dedicated training sessions each day. "Sit" is basically the only command he knows. I've also somewhat avoided training him to be alone, because I find the whining and barking frustrating, and the same goes for getting him used to the bath or his leash (he insists on biting it or simply rolling around on the floor). And when he gets riled up or rambunctious, I often find myself saying "leave it...leave it...LEAVE IT" over and over, or "No," "Stop," or "Ah-ah!", all of which I know is problematic. (Puppy training sort of feels like a paradox. How do you get them to behave before they've learned how to behave?)

So, the first three weeks are over. Finnegan deserves better guidance and I want to strengthen our bond, so I've decided it's time to get serious. I plan to implement a schedule of different types of training sessions throughout the day to make sure he's learning everything he needs to learn. I hope to find ways to get some "me time" back into my routine so I can more easily remain calm and patient with him. I still feel pretty overwhelmed, because it just seems there's so much to teach him, but I think my "Puppy Depression" is at least beginning to lift.

Any tips, feedback, or commiseration on any part of this would be great. Its surprisingly easy to feel "alone" with a puppy, though I have seen glimmers of the awesome companionship that is to come. I'm really glad I found this place. Even just getting my thoughts out has made my head feel less crowded and overwhelmed.

Proof of most beautiful puppy status:
 

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Just wanted to say good luck and thanks for posting this. It's reassuring to read about other folks going through some of the same stuff I am.

Again, good luck! <3 Sounds like Finnegan is awesome, and you'll get there eventually!
 
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MELT!!!!!! He is gorgeous! I feel like I could have written your post. Seriously. My puppy is 12 weeks old and is doing a LOT of the behaviors you described. I agree it's time to get serious. I need to do the same and make sure I am dedicating time each day to training. Really hard with two kids to take care of, activities to drive them to, errands to run...but you are right- if you don't do it now, you pay later. You are definitely not alone where the anxiety/depression is concerned.
 

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Look at that face! He's such a cutie.

I can commiserate. I've had Ringo for almost 5 weeks now and there are finally more good days than bad. Sometimes I still feel like a huge failure, but I'm finding it easier now to just relax and get to know my new puppy. He still wakes up at 5am, though. :rolleyes:

To take some of the pressure off (of both of us!), our training "sessions" are super short now - like, 2-3 minutes of training and then a few minutes of something fun like fetch/tug/find it, then another 2-3 minutes of training and then we're done for a while. The rest of the time, I just try to reinforce the things I like (eye contact, sitting, etc).

It sounds like you and Finnegan are doing great. Sometimes it's hard to see the progress you are making, but it's there!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Today, Finnegan sat when I asked him to, no treat visible! He also, after only two very brief sessions, understands how to "shake a paw" (it's adorable).

We worked on isolation today, and it went extremely well. I made sure to put him in his playroom when he was in a very tired, lazy mood, treated him a bunch for being quiet, and then he fell asleep.

Rather than continuing to allow/ignore the morning freak-outs, I've decided to take a different approach. This morning I set an alarm to wake up at 4:00 and laid down next to his crate. I dozed until I heard him rustling around shortly after 5:00, at which point I let him out to pee, but rather than trying to put him back in I let him roam around a bit. I left all the lights off, sat on the couch, and didn't speak to him. Within 15 minutes he was asking politely to get up on the couch with me, and a few minutes after that he was curled up asleep--and stayed like that until 7:00. I think I'll continue with this method, as it was so much less stressful for everyone, and I'll work very slowly on "quiet isolation" during the day. I've accepted the fact that we won't achieve perfection overnight, but with time he'll get used to being alone in his crate, and I hope he'll start sleeping later as he gets older.

He did get into a pretty bizarre mood this afternoon. He would ask me to play, but then after a few minutes he'd decide he was too tired and go lay down with his bone. But after a few minutes of that, he'd suddenly be up zooming around the house and engaging in very odd, semi-destructive behaviours--like frantically clawing at and attempting to eat the window! Any time I attempted to engage him in proper play, then, he would insist on biting and pulling my clothes and/or hair. (This is something he likes to do anyway, and I'm really as a loss as to how to stop it. I always try to redirect him to a toy, but he often ignores it or goes right back for the clothes/hair. I've tried "being a tree", but he just keeps pulling my pant legs, joyous and excited as can be. I've tried bitter spray on other items, but it had no effect, so I doubt it would work for this.) Anyway, he was particularly crazy about it today, so I ended up putting him in a 5 minute "time out" (we both needed to cool down), and he was quite a bit calmer after that.

Otherwise, I'm realizing just how quickly Finnegan learns. It's crazy and amazing. I just have to find the right way to get the message across, and he's nearly perfect right away. So, how do I get the message across that biting clothes, hair, and other unwanted items is not okay?

Some more pics, more recent. He's so gorgeous and ridiculous. :dog-love:
 

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He did get into a pretty bizarre mood this afternoon. He would ask me to play, but then after a few minutes he'd decide he was too tired and go lay down with his bone. But after a few minutes of that, he'd suddenly be up zooming around the house and engaging in very odd, semi-destructive behaviours--like frantically clawing at and attempting to eat the window! Any time I attempted to engage him in proper play, then, he would insist on biting and pulling my clothes and/or hair. (This is something he likes to do anyway, and I'm really as a loss as to how to stop it. I always try to redirect him to a toy, but he often ignores it or goes right back for the clothes/hair. I've tried "being a tree", but he just keeps pulling my pant legs, joyous and excited as can be. I've tried bitter spray on other items, but it had no effect, so I doubt it would work for this.) Anyway, he was particularly crazy about it today, so I ended up putting him in a 5 minute "time out" (we both needed to cool down), and he was quite a bit calmer after that.
Yep, it sounds like he was crazy overstimulated. Ginny gets like this, and when that happens, it means she needs a timeout (or a nap).

Also, the only thing that really works for me when Ginny starts biting is to literally just leave. I can't just get up or take away my hand, I have to physically leave the room that she's in. So now if she even so much as barely puts her teeth on me, I get up and leave. She still nips at my pants as I leave, so I don't know how good of progress I'm making, but it's working somewhat.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I feel like I'm finally starting to understand Finnegan's moods. I don't always understand his behaviours, but understanding the difference between "tired/cranky" energy and "playful/happy" energy has really helped me be more patient and know how to respond.

We're making progress with training--slow progress, but progress. With lots of treat lures I finally got him walking beside me on his leash, and today he went and took an afternoon nap in his crate by himself. I've started working on "stay", which goes really well up until the point that I turn my back or leave the room. As long as we have eye contact, though, he'll stay put, which seems like a good start. I'm also trying to teach him not to stand up at the coffee table, especially as we have food/snacks up there quite often. I've been teaching him "down", which he understands and obeys, but I'm not sure how to teach him not to get up there in the first place.

I also really, really need to get this puppy to stay in his crate or his playpen contentedly by himself. I haven't had "me time" in the three and a half weeks that I've had him, nor have I left the house, minus a few short trips when someone else was home to watch him. I'm really starting to feel like I need a break. I wanted to get him something super awesome and yummy to chew on that he'd only have access to while confined, but the girl at PetSmart told me antlers and bully sticks aren't appropriate for puppies, so I'm not sure what to use. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Also, I know Finnegan's still very young (11 weeks as of yesterday!) but I'm wondering how and when I can start shifting him toward living on my schedule, rather than me living on his. Currently he naps 4 times a day, and each nap averages 2 hours. I work or do research while he sleeps, and while he's awake we play and train. Currently, if he's awake, he demands my attention. Eventually, as he matures, I'd like to have scheduled play/walk/run/general exercise hours in the morning and evening and for him to understand that outside of those hours, it's time for him to be calm and to entertain himself. I've heard of people training their dogs that when people are reading, on the computer, or watching TV it means quiet time, and I'd love to achieve that. For now I'm just giving Finnegan lots of praise and treats for calm behaviour and whenever I catch him quietly sitting or laying down, which I'm sure is enough for the age/stage he's at. But I have no plan for progressing this as the weeks/months go on, so any thoughts would be appreciated :)
 

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Just liking to let you know I sooo get you.

I've actually gotten Ginny a BIT interested in kongs now. She goes bonkers for this one kind of chew that I picked up, and I didn't even save the wrapper, just put it right in a ziplock type bag, but I found that if I put that in a kong and kind of used it to hold her food, she got excited about getting the chew, and then just rolled around the kongs to get the kibble out after she finished off the chew. She still doesn't chew on the kong, but this at least kept her entertained for a while.

Otherwise, her other preference is actually a Nylabone. It's what I put in her crate at night when we're sleeping, and while she's not crazy about it, she will chew on it in the morning after her morning potty break but before I'm ready to get up.

Ginny is also getting a bit more comfortable being alone in her pen, though it's a long process. One of the suggestions that I read might be worth it for you -- you put pup in the expen, then sit right nearby, reading a book or playing on your phone, etc. As soon as they quiet, then you can look at them, give them attention, etc.

Also, if you're not using it already, a clicker might be a bit more helpful in letting Finnegan know exactly what behavior he's getting treated for.

I wish I had actually helpful advice. You and I sound so similar (though you've accomplished a lot more with training than I have!) in our struggles. I hope someone else can give you some advice. <3
 

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On the me time thing, my advice is just leave the house for an hour. It's so worth having to clean up an accident.

I totally get the how do you get a pup to behave if they don't know how thing. Take it easy, it's a long road to a trained dog. Relax on the mat trading sounds like it would be great for you (I harp on and on about this but it is seriously the best thing for my hyper pup). I'd also recommend puppy classes, if you haven't already organized them, super helpful to learn techniques but also I found it super helpful to see that others were in the same boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
@Sha, yes, it seems like we're having a pretty similar new-puppy experience! Finnegan does not care for his Nylabone at all, though. His Kong will keep him occupied for a little while, but I've been using it daily, sometimes with treats and sometimes just with kibble to try to get him to eat more (he's a little underweight), so that's not exciting enough for special confinement times. He seems to go for natural chewy things more than artificial ones, which is why I was hoping to find something puppy-safe along those lines.
@Chas, thank you for the encouragement! I'm not really worried about having to clean up a mess when I come back, I'm worried about him barking and screaming while we're gone and pissing off the neighbours :(

I'm feeling pretty blue and hopeless tonight. Finnegan's in a cranky, needs-a-nap mood, and because I had very little sleep last night I'm feeling more easily frustrated. We both need a break but he refuses to calm down. I put him in his crate, he barked and barked. I tried taking him up to snuggle on the couch, he dug and dug and cried at the couch. I have him in confinement in the bathroom now with some toys and a blanket, but he's whining and scratching at the door. I feel like I just can't ever really have a break from him no matter how much we both need it, because he makes such a racket when we're separated. (I must say I do feel lucky, though, that this is basically the only time he barks).

Ah, dare I say he may have just settled down? Don't want to jinx it but I'm hearing quiet...
 

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@Bexille Sorry if this is asking you to repeat yourself, do you know he screams and barks if you leave? If not ask the neighbors if you can test it, leave for 15 minutes and ask them if they hear anything. We found going for a walk for 1/2 an hour helped echo settle at night and let us calm down.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
@Bexille Sorry if this is asking you to repeat yourself, do you know he screams and barks if you leave? If not ask the neighbors if you can test it, leave for 15 minutes and ask them if they hear anything. We found going for a walk for 1/2 an hour helped echo settle at night and let us calm down.
Hmm, I guess I don't know for sure, as I haven't left him alone at home yet. I just know that he barks basically every time I go upstairs or he's confined and doesn't want to be (so anytime he's isolated/alone). Although the fact that he's being quiet in the bathroom right now has put a faint glimmer of hope into me, though I'm fairly certain it's because he needed to pass out.

I have no relationship at all with my neighbours, and I'm not particularly keen to start one, especially not with a request like that. I've often heard them screaming at each other through the wall and they don't seem super stable to be honest. We share a wall because it's a townhouse, but we're on the end so they're the only ones to really worry about.
 

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@Bexille echo makes a racket if I'm home and not in sight but not if I leave the house, I don't know if Finnegan is the same but is could be worth leaving and only going a short distance but out of sight so you could hear him.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
@Bexille echo makes a racket if I'm home and not in sight but not if I leave the house, I don't know if Finnegan is the same but is could be worth leaving and only going a short distance but out of sight so you could hear him.
That's really interesting. I'll have to try it and see what happens. Thanks :)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Finnegan loves to chew. Specifically, he loves to chew my couch, my coffee table, and the corners of the cabinets. Luckily he hasn't destroyed anything yet, but his jaws are getting stronger every day and I just cannot get him to stop. He refuses to be redirected. He will ignore me, push away the toys and chews I offer, bite me if I try to stop him. Why is the couch so much more delicious and enticing than the nylabone or the plushie or even the rawhide? I don't get it.
 

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I forget, have you tried bitter apple spray? Or did you say it did nothing? If you tried specifically bitter apple, some find that while it doesn't work, some of the other "yuck" sprays work. Each dog has different tastes.

Other than that, I think the best way is for him to not have access to those things. If he's in an expen (with you inside with him if you need to), he can't bite those things, and since chewing is self-reinforcing, every time he chews the couch, it makes it seem awesome. If he's in a pen, he can only chew his toys (or the pen, if he's like Ginny), and then he gets the reinforcement for chewing the toys instead of the couch.
 
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Discussion Starter #18
@Sha: You know, I was going to say I don't have space for an exercise pen, but maybe I could swing it if I moved our kitchen table into a corner or something. I do have a pen, though I originally bought it to put on the balcony so that Finn could go out there without any risk of slipping through the rails and falling. But the more I think about it, the more I think it would be worth moving the pen inside, at least for part of the day. It'll be a pain to move it back and forth, but... it sure would be nice to be able to cook supper or get some work done while he's awake without having to check on him every 5 minutes.
 

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Hm, well, no go. Our kitchen is not that big and awkwardly laid out, and the ex-pen takes up too much of our needed space. It's also way too cumbersome to move regularly. Boo :(
 

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Dang. :( Can you set it up in the living room and just push the coffee table out of the way for a while?
 
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