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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I have a 7 week old Golden Retriever x German shepherd.



I dont have much experience with raising a dog, but I have had one as a child. Barbas was given to me as a surprise birthday present. He is such a sweet heart and I love him to bits. His inner German Shepherd is dominant and I understand it looks bad for me as a new dog owner to be raising a dog of that sort of caliber. I certainly understand the quote "Dogs are for life, not just for Christmas" - In this case, my 17th birthday. He is part of the family now and I most certainly don't plan on becoming those owners who throw their dogs in the shelter over coming to the realisation that they can't look after them.

I currently have him on a 3 meal feeding schedule a day. One in the morning, afternoon, and before bed. I provide him 150g of Select Gold Junior puppy kibble for each meal, adding up to a 450g total daily food consumption. The problem, though, is that he likes to choose when he wants to eat. When I leave out the bowl for him he picks out a few then proceeds to walk away and do his own thing. How can I get Barbas to eat his food?

I'm still in the process of teaching him to do his business outside. I take him out to potty every 30 minutes to an hour and so far hes only done it inside the house, sometimes even after I just took him out, he decides to do it once we're inside. A bag of treats is ready for him as a reward if he does do it outside, but so far I haven't had much luck with catching the time he chooses to do it.

Any tips are appreciated. Thank you for reading :)
 

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I would let him eat when he decides to. If you try to force him to eat or coerce him, it's simply going to make it harder. I would put the food down for 20 minutes or so and then put it up if he doesn't eat it. He won't starve himself so don't worry if he doesn't eat sometimes. Often dogs get better about eating as they get older.

For going potty, you really have to have him with you all the time, and if he starts to potty inside, interrupt him and IMMEDIATELY take him outside, and wait until he finishes pottying and then reward him. I find that they key to house training is catching every accident. Every time they do it and you don't see it right away, it creating a bad habit. Crating can be a huge help too, because the majority of dogs won't potty where they sleep, and after they've been in there a little while, you know that they have to go so they're more likely to go when you take them outside.

He is super cute!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hello, ChessaQ. Thank you. I followed what you said and I placed his bowl down and let him choose when to eat it. I came back 20 minutes later and he's eaten it all.

I heard crate training is very effective. Unfortunately, its not an available option for me. For now, I suppose it's just a matter of keeping my attention locked on him at all times.

Thanks very much for the help! :)
 

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I highly suggest reading these two free books: Free downloads | Dog Star Daily Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, both by Dr. Ian Dunbar. They're very helpful!

Also, if you can find it or have the money to get it, the Puppy Primer by Dr. Patricia McConnell is also excellent!
 

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Hi there, and congrats on your adorable puppy. If you can't crate him, perhaps you can tether him to your belt hoop? That way he will never be out of sight and you'll know when he starts sniffing around that it's time to rush him outside. Potty training takes a lot of diligence and patience and at his young age, he probably doesn't even know far in advance when he has to go. It gets better as they get older but it sounds like you're doing a great job. Keep it up!
Sue
 

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First, I'd just like to remark on the "inner German Shepherd is dominant comment"- "dominance" has become a very misunderstood concept in dogs. I just made a fairly long, in depth post in another thread explaining the origins and problems with "dominance theory", which is the assumption that social rank and wanting to control/"dominate" others is the driving force behind dog behavior, and the reason they misbehave. I figured I'd link it here so as not to clog up this thread too much; it's the 4th post on the third page of this thread:http://www.dogforum.com/dog-training-behavior/dogs-cant-go-outside-no-excercise-293401/page3/ (ignore the bottom part about reactivity, that was in response to the original poster's problems/questions).

A note about "dominant breeds"- there are many breeds that certain circles of trainers/training and dog hobbyists/people in general will tend to refer to as "dominant". A great deal of them that were originally developed to guard or protect people, property, or livestock. Other examples might include breeds like Rottweilers, Dobermans, Cane Corsos, Dogo Argentinos, or a lot of the other Mastiffs. German Shepherds are very often one of these breeds. As my post explains, the idea that a dog is trying to be the "alpha" or "pack leader" in the family is a misconception based on what we now know was heavily flawed research done in the 1940's. There are some breeds that tend to like to control things- herding breeds like to control movement, and a lot of protection or guard breeds will like to control the environment- both groups will make it clear when they feel something is happening that should not be. German Shepherds are historically a multi-purpose dog that did herding, flock tending, and guarding of the property and people. These kinds of dogs aren't "dominant" in the scientific sense of the term, nor do they really fit into the more colloquial sense of the term as it is used to apply to dogs, but they do often do very poorly in houses that do not provide them with structure, rules, and see to it that they receive the mental and physical stimulation they need to be mentally and physically healthy. The reason that new dog owners often fare poorly with these kinds of breeds isn't that they don't know how to be "alpha"/"pack leader"/"in charge" of a dog, but simply that they often underestimate what these dogs really need to thrive and not develop behavioral problems, because that kind of understanding is grown through experience with dogs. Being a first time owner with a GSD mix can be totally do-able, as long as you arm yourself with the proper knowledge of dog behavior, learning, and actually take the time to train the dog (properly and well).

On your questions about feeding him- I would suggest doing as you are doing, put the food down and give him a bit of a longer period to eat it, but then pick it up even if he isn't done. He will learn how long he has to eat and will eventually eat everything he wants during that period. I would suggest 20-20min, and feeding three times a day at this age is a very good idea.

For house training- why is a crate not an option at this time? Is any kind of containment, like an exercise pen, an option? If you choose not to use a crate or utilize any kind of containment system, that's OK, but realize that it is going to make it harder on you and require you to be a lot more vigilant. I did not use a crate to housebreak my current dog, a Boston Terrier who just hit a year, because she will go to the bathroom even in an appropriately sized crate due to being kept in too large a crate when she was very young. I would watch her carefully for signs she had to go and take her if she seemed like she did, took her out every half hour for the first eleven months of her life, and had to be careful not to let her leave my sight. She is just now starting to be reliable about not going in the house. Are you spending every second with this puppy? Where does he go when you are not home? How do you plan to keep him, and your house, safe when he has to be unattended for longer periods? You said you just turned 17- are you living with family still? Are they participating in his training?

A good intro to house training: https://positively.com/dog-behavior/puppy-knowledge/puppy-housetraining/

Also, just a note about his age and socialization. 7 weeks is really on the young side to be away from his litter mates and mother. 8 weeks is the recommended minimum because from 6-8 weeks puppies are learning a lot of appropriate play behavior and how hard they are able to bite without hurting from their littermates and mother. Puppies separated from their litter and mother before 8 weeks often are mouthier than average and need more help learning when it is and is not OK to use their mouth, and especially need some extra effort in socializing them with other dogs to play appropriately. Even for puppies that leave at 8 weeks, socialization is a very, very important thing. From around 6-12 or 16 weeks is what is called the "critical period of socialization" in dog development. All species have a critical period for socialization at different ages and for different amounts of times; in layman's terms, simply put, it is a time when they are wired to be especially adept at learning in social situations. It is very, very important that dogs this age have new experiences, meet people, and meet other dogs, as this is when they learn their most critical skills and get used to being in different environments the most easily. If you have any friends or family members with trustworthy adult dogs, set up play dates. The very best thing you can do is to enroll him in a puppy kindergarten/beginner's obedience group class with other dogs, as well. It will start you off on the right foot with training basic obedience and give him a good chance for some safe socialization experiences. A big part of socialization is always making sure it is a positive experience and going at the dog's pace, as well. This is a great page on what I mean by that, and also a great website with a lot of great information if you feel like exploring it: Don’t Socialize the Dog! | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Good places for information about dogs, dog behavior, and training are the above websites (clickersolutions.com and positively.com), as well as anything written by Patricia Mcconnell, Ian Dunbar, Sophia Yin, Jean Donaldson, or Jane Killion- all have books that are great, Sophia Yin has a wonderful website, and all also have many articles they write for magazines or other dog websites.

BAD sources of information are anything written by Casar Milan or with his branding and dogbreedinfo.com, though they are often some of the first things that pop up on google, unfortunately. Both subscribe to "dominance theory" and often recommend harsh corrections and uses of force to deal with common behavioral problems, which are at best not the most effective things to use and at worse can lead to unindended consequences, or fallout, such as increased aggression, causing aggression, redirected aggression (from the upsetting stimulus to a handler or another dog) or shut down, which is when an animal can see no reprieve from the aversive (thing it doesn't like) that it ceases pretty much all behavior because it is so over stimulated, though it may look "better".

Good luck, he is very cute! What's his name?
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Hi Moonstream.

I do remember reading an article on the subject of the "alpha" and "pack" family structure being false. If I recall correctly, it stated the people to study this sort of behaviour performed incorrect methods on theorising wolf behaviour. It's an interesting topic. Yes, I do believe that canine families are not the stereotypical alpha and pack structure people claim it to be.

For house training, our neighbour is kind enough to provide us his old doggy pen, this should ease most of the worry off me, knowing he won't get up to no good if I take my eye off him for even a second. The puppy is usually in the same room as me. I've done my best to keep the house puppy proof, yet he still manages to find some sort of wire or item he shouldn't be chewing on. It should no longer be a problem, however, as we have just recently set up his doggy pen. I do live with my family and have contributed to pretty much all his training. My parents tend to be more lenient with the puppy and they don't really give out to him for his wrong doings. A problem that has been occurring with him though, is that he has tendencies to bark at my 9 year old brother or nip at him. My method for correcting him is shouting "No!". If he stops doing what he was previously doing he is rewarded with a treat.

He's updated with all his vaccines, wormed and microchipped. He is advised not to interact with any dogs for 2 weeks. I plan to socialise him with some of my friends dogs once that time period has past.

I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. His name is Barbas, after the dog companion of a mythological God.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hi there, and congrats on your adorable puppy. If you can't crate him, perhaps you can tether him to your belt hoop? That way he will never be out of sight and you'll know when he starts sniffing around that it's time to rush him outside. Potty training takes a lot of diligence and patience and at his young age, he probably doesn't even know far in advance when he has to go. It gets better as they get older but it sounds like you're doing a great job. Keep it up!
Sue
We recently got him a doggy pen which should ease up the training process significantly. I've had my eyes locked on him for days on end since we got him, only being able to get around 5 hours of sleep a day. Thanks for the support! :thumbsup:
 

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I know the feeling.... we picked up our new little guy a week ago and I've been exhausted ever since. It gets better, but right now it's like having a newborn.... all worth it!
Sue
 

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Yeah, I always feel like I have a new baby when I bring home a puppy- or at least what I assume it would feel like to have a new baby, LOL.

In terms of the vet's suggestion for isolation and not interacting with any other dogs for 2 weeks- did they give a specific reason why? Is he sick, or contagious in some way? Is it because he is only 7 weeks and not 8 weeks? I ask because, as I said, this is an age where it is important he have new, positive experiences with other dogs, strangers, and in new places. Some vets will take a very "don't let him interact with anyone until all his shots" kind of stance- this is one I vehemently disagree with. Sometimes it is because you are in an area with a high risk of Parvo or other diseases, in which case I do understand it, but sometimes it is just their knee jerk reaction without considering the potential behavioral consequences of isolation from other dogs during these weeks of development. Early socialization is always a balance between the immunity the puppy has left over from mom, the amount of immunity built up through their shots, the risk of disease in your area, and the risk of disease generally vs the benefit of socialization. I will never tell someone that they are 100% wrong in not socializing a puppy against a veterinarian's advice- when I was a teen my family got a puppy who died of parvo, so having lived through that I totally understanding being weary of bringing an unvaccinated pup out in the world, and I get that there is a real risk to it. I do love vaccines- I think most are good, some are unnecessary for normal pets but may be needed if your dog does daycare or boarding, and some are over marketed and may not be as effective as vets would have you believe. At the end of the day, it is totally up to you how much early socialization this dog gets and whether the benefits of it outweight the risk. Two weeks more isolation until he is 9 weeks old isn't the end of the world- you miss out on a little bit of potential socialization time, but if there is a good reason the vet suggested that (for example, they want him to have had his 2nd shots as well and not just the first ones), I totally get it and could be worth it. That said, be sure he IS getting socialized with other dogs after that.

If you look up "socializing an unvaccinated puppy" online, you'll get tons of information about it and lots of ideas. Poor early socialization is often setting the puppy up for behavioral problems later. Excited reactivity, if not fear or anxiety, can be results of poor early socialization (or they can be the results of bad experiences or genetic hardwiring), and mouthiness is often a big consequence of not properly socializing and training when very young.

It's really great to hear you are using a puppy pen and do not subscribe to the "alpha"/"pack leader" ideas of dominance trainers! Yes, dominance theory is rooted in some iffy studies done in the 1940's on captive wolf packs. The play pen is GREAT- retrievers and GSDs both are breeds that be very destructive adolescents, and I would consider it necessary to have a plan to contain them when you are not able to watch them. In addition, with house training, it is often not apparent how untenable "just keep a close eye on the puppy" is until you're trying to do it and have no way of containing him when you want a break. That, I say from experience, LOL.

With the family having different expectations of behavior- yeah, that is frustrating. Since I was a pre-teen I was the family member that demanded the best behavior of our dogs (manners and obedience wise) and was the one who did most/all of their training. I raised my current dog in my parent's home for a year while I was transferring colleges, and she has a handful of behaviors that they caused that I hate, namely begging and extreme clinginess when she's bored. I find making reasonable rules and rewarding the family members with intense praise is the most effective way to get them to treat the dog how you want them to. Since it's your dog and was a present for you, hopefully they listen, LOL. Mine did with varying amounts of success.

For biting and nipping and barking, especially at the little brother... this is an age where puppies are very often, very aptly called "land sharks". Both Goldens and GSDs do tend to be very mouthy, excitable puppies and stay that way for longer than most other dogs (at least a year and a half, usually two years, sometimes as long as three years). Puppies explore the world with their mouths- they test to see if things are edible by putting them in their mouth, they play with their mouths and their paws, and they are just realizing they have a voice and can use it, so barking is not uncommon. Young children tend to interact with them in exactly the way guarenteed to make them more excited.

Remember that a dog does not understand a word until it is taught to them- there are no words that have inherent meaning to them, though some sounds may be more likely to be a good verbal interrupter and stop undesired behavior. "No" doesn't mean anything different than "food" or "bagel" or "clown". Honestly, I rarely see novice owners and trainers using the word "no" in a way that I would consider conducive to training and learning. Now is a good time to decide exactly what you want "no" to mean to this dog- is it a quitting signal/non reward marker meant to tell the dog to stop doing the behavior because they will not be rewarded for it? Is it an interrupter that is meant to redirect attention from the thing they are focusing the behavior on back to you? Is it a verbal correction meant to make the behavior that they are doing occur less or a warning that if they continue to do the behavior they will be physically corrected?

Personally, I use "no" mostly as a verbal interrupter. The dog stops the behavior, looks at me, I then ask for a different behavior, and they get heavily rewarded. Just having them stop and look at me before the reward, IMO, runs the risk that they associate the reward with the behavior they were doing and not looking at me, or else with more intelligent dogs they may link the two in their mind and think they should be doing that behavior so that I will interrupt them and then give them a reward- it becomes a learned "behavior chain".

With biting, barking, and lunging in puppies, the first thing to be sure is that the pup isn't over stimulated and acting up out of over excitement. Just like little kids, puppies get over excited. If they are, some time in their puppy pen or crate to calm down and take a nap is a good idea. If they are just playing rough because that's how they play, then you have to teach them how rough is OK to play with people- what amount of jumping and biting, what amount of mouthing and barking, etc. Some people like to wrestle with their dogs- this is not something I generally recommend if you have young children in the house or are often around them, or unless the dog is very stable temperamentally and can be trusted to understand that mouthing is ONLY allowed when you invite it. Very, very few dogs are capable of this and will just think "mouth on people = OK", which is no good.

I would suggest
1) when the puppy starts getting over stimulated, remove him and put him in his play pen
2) talk to your brother and figure out what he is doing that makes the puppy start to do this; if it's something he can stop doing, have him stop it. If he's just walking or running and either he can't stop or won't stop, then I would spend some time with the puppy leashed when he is likely to start doing these things. When the pup starts getting interested, re direct his attention, move away from your brother, and engage him with treats. Make the thing your brother is doing less interesting, and create an association that when the boy does that, you will have treats for him. Eventually, you can practice simple behaviors that he knows during this time (when he eventually learns some).
3) Instead of shouting at him, come up with a noise that you use to distract him from what he's interested in. I use "eh eh eh"- it's only a noise that my dogs hears when she's doing something she shouldn't, and it is almost always followed by reward for her disengaging with whatever she is interested in and engaging instead with me, broken up by doing some simple behaviors so she isn't chaining it together into a game.
4) at this age, always carry around a small toy. With little puppies, when they bite, I stick a toy in their mouth and play instead. When they are very young, I find there is little risk of them chaining the biting me to getting the toy, and usually they're just being mouthy puppies that want to put something in their mouth. It becomes "hey, how about this instead of me". If they take the toy, I'll play with them with it. If they continue to try to bite me, I remove myself from the situation for 30 seconds to a minute, come back, and then stay if they don't bite or leave again if they do. When you remove yourself, go somewhere that they can't follow. I usually keep a cheap puppy or baby gate on hand when I have a puppy in the house so I can gate off the room I'm in, and when I remove myself I just step to the other side of the gate and go a little bit away so I'm out of sight.
 

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Lastly- something I wish I had spent more time on with my pup is making sure she knew how to be alone. I got her when I wasn't working and wasn't going to school, and I didn't have very many friends that lived in the area because they were all away at college, and so I spent almost all day every day with her. She would have been a velcro dog anyways, but this made her into a dog whose world was only complete if I was there, and has lead her down a path where she now has a touch of separation anxiety. It's touching she loves me so much, but also upsetting and not a way I want any dog I have to be. Even if she's with other people, she looks for me in the house and is a little more anxious without me there.

Make sure the pup is spending time without you, either in his pen or with your family watching him instead. I would shot for 2 hours without you every day, at least an hour of which he is truly alone and the other hour of which he may be with other people. This is the best way to nip possible issues with separation anxiety in the bud.
 
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