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We got our dog, a German Shepherd mix, when he was 12 weeks old from a rescue group. Out of the litter it was him and a female sibling left. We specifically chose him because he was the more laid back of the two. Both were described by the foster family as "couch potatoes" but the female was a little more high strung. We chose our boy because even though he was laid back, he still wanted to play.
We have had him for about 2 months now and I am pretty much at the end of my rope so to speak. He was pulling on leash, actually causing injury to us both so we started using a Halti after the vet recommended it. The dog obedience trainer does not allow the Halti and in a previous forum I did mention how rough she is with my dog. However, we cannot use a new trainer due to distance.
We have watched videos and read books and feel like we are doing everything right, but that it is not working. We have wanted a dog for a long while but waited until recently simply because we were living in an apartment without a yard, and are now in a house with a decent sized yard. We also both have jobs that allow us to financially afford to care for a dog.
He is crate trained as well as house trained, and is really loving and affectionate. But here is the problem...
HE HAS SO MUCH ENERGY!!!!!
When we were looking for a dog, I wanted an adult (1-2 years) medium sized dog not of the herding or terrier group. I know how much energy they have and did not think that was suitable to us. My boyfriend, who has never had a dog before, wanted a shepherd type puppy. I agreed when I met our pup because of his laid back nature. I take him for 2-45minute walks a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. My boyfriend, although originally promising to walk the dog daily, does not. I am lucky if he takes the dog for an hour walk or run twice a week. Says he does not have the energy after working all day, and while I do understand where he is coming from I still think that he should be walking the dog.
We want the dog to be out with us in the house, and have tried having him attached to us by leash and it simply does not work. He jumps and climbs and pulls and chases the cats so it is almost impossible to have him out of his crate with us. Actually, when my boyfriend is home he will sit at his feet happily playing with a toy or chewing his teething bone. When it is just me home, because I am the one who does all the housecleaning, I dont have the option to have him sit at my feet. I try to bring him with me by leash for my chores, but like I said he jumps and climbs and pulls.
My boyfriend does not believe in doggy daycare or having a dog walker come over.
I have talked to my boyfriend about the problems, because I feel as though he is not doing his share. I also feel like we got duped or something by the rescue agency and foster family. He was so laid back and calm when we were there, yet had a small playful side.
So, when do you say as a person "Enough is Enough". When do you admit defeat, admit the dog is not suitable and try to find it a new home? Obedience training isnt working, and seems to be making things worse. The vet won't neuter him for another 3 weeks because of his age. I dont want to just tie him up outside in the back yard, that seems cruel. But so does leaving him in his crate all day so I can get the housework done.
I just, don't really know what to do anymore.
 

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It isn't a lost cause. I would first be telling the boyfriend that either he walks him or the both of you will be shelling out for a dog walker and/or doggy daycare. The dogs needs arent being met and I bet he isn't any happier than you are. Obedience training can be difficult with a hyper dog and it's easier when they're tired. Stick with it though and he will learn. Some dogs seem like they're never gonna get it and then wake up one day and act like they've always known it. I know it seems like a never ending battle but keep telling him off and insisting he not jump or climb where you don't want him. If he's in the crate all day then he's been resting the entire time you've been at work and is likely wound up like a spring. Walk him right after you get home if you can.

Use the head halter if that is what works for you. They can cause problems but so can a flat buckle collar if the dog is pulling against. If the halter gets him out more and he isn't racing to the end of his leash and getting jerked back then use it. Obedience training works best in small spurts. I go for 5 to 10 minutes and try to end on a positive note so the dog is more inclined to want to do it next time. Do it several times a day but keep it short and sweet. He will get it eventually.

His foster family was most likely a more active family with other dogs he could play with and get his energy out. Different people also have different opinions on what a laid back dog is too. I would describe my own GSD mix pup as mellow and laid back but my mother thinks he's a crazy little demon in a fur suit.

A final note, neutering will not curb his energy in the slightest. It won't make his attention span any longer either. Neutered or not, a pup is still a pup with all the energy in the world and the attention span of a gnat.
 

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Puppies are draining, for sure. I have a puppy around the same age as your little guy, and she's a ton of work, and often a huge source of regret/anxiety. I don't know that I have an answer to the "when do you say enough is enough" question, as that is between you and your boyfriend (and depends on questions like whether there really is a better fit for your puppy available). But here are a few thoughts for you, in case they help.

First a growing puppy needs at least 17 hours of undisturbed sleep every day. Really, it's essential that they get rest, and I know so many people who make the mistake of thinking that a young, active puppy needs to be out all day long. Or we think that they need to wear themselves out, but really, they're just getting progressively more frazzled. Remember: many of those hours in the crate are important for rest, recovery, and for your puppy (and you!) to thrive!

My puppy turns into a gremlin if she doesn't get enough rest. I mean, she gets hyper, she starts giving me evil little looks, she acts frantic and jumps from couch to couch without touching the floor, she'll wrap herself up in her leash and try to chew it up, she'll wait until I'm sitting on the couch and then pounce on the back of my head, she fusses, and so on. Pop her in her crate with something to lick (a stuffed Kong, or a little peanut butter frozen onto the sides of a bowl) and she's asleep in about twenty minutes. And when she wakes up a few hours later, she's back to being the sweet version of her silly self! Still naughty and annoying, mind you, since she's still a puppy, but at least we've both benefited from the break.

It helps me to write out a schedule, and keep track in a notebook, so I know that my puppy is getting the rest she needs, but also that I'm not over-crating her. It takes a few weeks to establish any new routine, so if you start a new schedule for your puppy, don't be surprised if there are a few weeks of fussing and stress. High-value lickable treats make a huge difference for us in terms of quiet crate/pen time.

At five months, I don't try to physically exhaust my puppy. I do try to make sure her brain gets a lot of exercise, and that she learns some valuable life skills. Sometimes this means formal-ish training, sometimes it means play, sometimes it means taking her out into our yard and sunning myself while she chews up sticks. Basically, anything I want her to keep doing as a grown-up dog is something I'll set her up to do now (and reinforce once she's doing it). I cannot possibly solve every single one of her "issues" all at once -- we're still working on crate training, potty training, and all the other basics, and all these things take time! But I can work on what I can, focus on building the beginnings of a relationship with my puppy, and keep notes so I know we're making progress.

One of my favorite easy things to do is to take a portion of a meal and scatter it on the floor (or in the grass), so my dogs have to scavenge for their food -- it is relaxing-but-focused, it uses their brains, it means I get twenty minutes of time when I don't have to be "on," and it fulfills a natural urge. Sniffing is super calming and fulfilling for dogs! Exploiting opportunities for enrichment like that takes some of the burden off me to be constantly training/entertaining my dogs, while still leaving me with plenty of time to work on other specific things at other times.

As for asking your boyfriend to do more, I have a few thoughts. I'm in a similar situation, in that my partner works much longer hours than I do, so the burden of puppy/dog care falls much more heavily on me than on him. It does sometimes make me resentful, especially when everything feels totally out of control. Oh, and yes, my partner desperately wanted a high-energy puppy too, while I was more ambivalent and could have gone for an older dog...so yeah, it's easy to feel like our puppy is all his fault!

I know from experience that adding a pet always causes stress between us. We both suffer from "new pet regret," and the disruption to our peaceful routines can feel really awful. So we've developed a few coping mechanisms. Like, if we need to talk about dog stuff, we do so away from the dogs. I mean, we go out for dinner, or for a long walk, and leave the dogs at home. It makes me less emotionally volatile, and puts us both in a better frame of mind. Actually, we do this regularly even if we're not planning to "have a talk," because it's nice to do stuff that's just the two of us. Helps us feel like friends, instead of prisoners-of-the-puppy's-schedule!

I've also learned to ask for specific, quantifiable commitments. I need you to walk the big dog each morning. I need you to make coffee while I stuff Kongs. That way, he knows when he's done "enough," and I can recognize the times when he's helping out (so I can thank him, but also so I can feel less alone in this thing). We can keep track of those commitments too, along with our training and other things, in a notebook, so we can track our progress over time. It helps with those days when it feels like nothing will ever get better -- because I can look and see how we're actually making real progress on a lot of things.

We're in agreement: our dogs are a part of our family. They aren't just "my" dogs, they're something that we both chose. Maybe not as sensibly as we could have, and maybe neither of us is a perfect dog owner, but we're in this together! So my partner needs to do his part, even on those days when he's the one who is desperately wishing we'd never gotten a puppy, and he doesn't get to create ridiculous obstacles. It wouldn't be okay with me to have a partner say that they won't walk the dog, won't agree to hire someone else to walk the dog, and won't agree to alternatives like daycare...that's just insisting that the entire burden is yours, without taking responsibility for finding solutions. So yeah, it's worth communicating a lot more about this. But I do think new pets are a source for arguments for a lot of us, if that helps to hear.

Finally, I'll say this. Puppies are puppies for a very long time. They are not easy, and it can feel really isolating -- especially when everyone you know just says, "oh, you must be having so much fun because puppies are so cute!" It's important to build in time for yourself, making sure you can do the things that keep you healthy, happy, and sane. The fact it, raising a dog is a marathon endeavor, not something where we put in a few good weekends and magically have the perfect dog...even if that's something other people sometimes seem to think is possible! Some days, I get a glimpse of the really nice dog my puppy will be in the future, and I think how nice it will be when I've put in the work to raise that dog well. Other days, I just have to remind myself to breathe.

Good luck to you and to your puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you. It is hard. I do regret bringing him into the house just because I feel like we are not fulfilling his needs. The foster family was actually a very lazy family. They opened the back door, let the dogs out and that was it. I think they classified him as a couch potato because he was always the first one wanting back in.
He is very smart. He knows, sit, down, wait, is house trained and crate trained. We are currently working on leave it. So I know he can do it. But yeah, definitely frustrating.
Its good to know that much crate time is ok. I never though of it, but yeah very much like a small child or baby, needing a lot of sleep.
 

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Could you let the housework slide a bit and focus on the puppy? The puppy will grow up and you can return to your cleanliness standards then.
 

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Could you let the housework slide a bit and focus on the puppy? The puppy will grow up and you can return to your cleanliness standards then.
I could, yes. But I prefer that the dishes are done daily. When he comes in from outside he tracks sand and dirt with him, even though there are 2 mats inside the door. So the floor needs to be swept after every walk or trip outside, and mopped every night. So somethings I can let slide, some I cannot.
 

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If your puppy takes after the shepherd side alot.....you're going to need to know a few things that haven't been discussed so far as his behaviors sound alot like a typical shepherd.
First off- walks probably arent going to be enough on their own. Work his brain as much or more than his body. Lots of brain power in these dogs coupled with high desire to use those brains. Mentally tire out the dog- challenge his brain. This is huge with these type dogs. Probably the biggest thing as far as tiring him out. The shepherd we have now is 15 months old- you couldn't physically tire him still. 5 minute rest and he's fully charged again. HAS to have mental stimulation in and challenges. A walk is more of a warm up for these dogs. Instead of walking him every time, devote some of that walking time to a training session- working the brain. Follow it up with a game he likes as reward. Fetch, tug o war, whatever he really likes. Then leash him to you and the two of you just sit and chill.
Other times play games first and have a short training session after, then leashed and sit and chill- this will also give him calm time to think on the training session.
The biting/retaliating against the earlier training ( he stands up for himself ) the energy level.....this may be the type of dog who has the potential to be a really good dog. Easier to work with than a dog who would just crumble and shut down from that rough training. Figure out how to channel his strengths into productive training. Teach him to carry things for you. Give him little " jobs " to do here and there.
Shepherd puppies tend to exceptionally " bad " as compared to other breeds. Biting, mouthing, attacking your pants leg etc. Try to remember that all that " badness " is potential waiting to be channeled. With pure bred shepherds, a puppy being full of the devil, full of himself, bitey, outgoing, confident, pushy.....are generally considered good things. Signs of a puppy that can be molded into a really good dog with training and effort.
Use the crate. Nothing wrong with that at all.
The boyfriend needs to step it up. My dog is too much for my wife to handle as far as training and activity goes. I work full time, physical work. Not office job. I get dirty. First thing I do after work is work my dog. This gets him into more of a focused, calm mindset after being left alone at home all day, and the excitement of me getting home from work. Then he hangs out with me for the rest of the evening until bed time. Tags along while I do chores, work around the yard etc.
The genetics of these dogs are telling the dog to be doing something all the time. It doesnt need to be full on exercise, its more about the brain being occupied.
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Similar to @Sthelena, I've had a few GSDs and they can be a handful for some if they are not familiar with the maturation process and phases they go through. I'd say they are an 18 month to 2 year project. If your dog has the typical task driven tendencies most GSDs have, you need to indulge this characteristic to keep the dog balanced and ever so easy to live with as you'll get the best out of the breed.

Walks and pulling: 2 out of 3 of the GSDs I've had required that the "walk" was an exercise in obedience which started before we ever left the front door. The reward for exhibiting the proper obedience ( loose leash, heel position, default sits when I stop, wait in a stand upon command, come abouts etc.) was allowing the dog to track and follow its nose when released from command. In the beginning, our structured "walks" rarely went very far and I'm sure looked very strange to most people as it was ALL training even when we were actually headed in the same direction for a short period of time. I was constantly changing directions, stopping/starting, training waits/stays/downs/sits/leash length recalls/left and right turns etc. It was all an exercise to maintain the dog's focus on me rather than me following the dog and being a step behind. The more focus I would get the more the dog was rewarded and usually I'd bring the tug with as a reward.

I also used the practice of tethering the dog to me when I would be at home just going about my normal business and this helps out significantly granted it can be a test of one's patience in the beginning.

I also agree your boyfriend needs to meet the responsibility, not just because it is required but because of what it will yield down the road as in a dog that will blow your mind with how capable, intelligent and loyal they will become.

It sounds like you have thrown in the towel mostly and should you decide to rehome him, please do your best to find him a home with humans who are up to the task.

Best of luck in your pursuits.
 

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My dog is a quarter gsd and was a very high energy lunatic when I adopted him from the shelter at sixteen months old. My last dog was an extremely high energy dog also from a shelter who I took in at ten months old. Both dogs NEEDED at least two HOURS of running and playing exercise EACH DAY. You've been given some amazing advice above, and I did tons of obedience and mental work too. But expecting them to be well behaved on two forty five minutes walks a day was completely ridiculous and would have sent me to the hospital. Large young dogs need to run, chase, play with other dogs, fetch, tug, wrestle. There's at least ten to twelve absolutely adorable puppies of all breed mixes between the ages of four months and a year that go to my local dog park. My current dog loves puppies and gently plays with all of them. Every single one of these puppies goes there for at least ONE FULL HOUR at a time three or more times daily!!!
Your bf needs to either step it up about five hundred percent since he insisted on a high energy breed gsd puppy or rapidly change his "beliefs" against dogwalkers and doggy daycare. My dog will happily play for ten hours straight in doggy daycare,bhave a nap and meal in the kennel at the end of the day, then be raring to go and need another two hours at the dog park when I get him at the end of the day!
Boo hoo your bfs tired, I've worked twelve hours days or more and driven 200 miles or more round trip daily. The dog comes first, he's like a child. He didn't choose me, I chose to adopt him. I had surgery on my wrist a few days ago and my surgeon keeps yelling at me not to walk the large dog or use the arm at all. I try but I've taken him to the park EVERY DAY plus worked from home daily except for the actual day I had the surgery. Guess what I'm tired and in tons of pain. But that's not the dog's fault and he doesn't understand that. They come first or don't have them.
 

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Something I forgot earlier- you may literally have to teach him how to relax.....genetics screaming at him to Go Go Go. Leashing him to you and the two of you just sitting and chilling out- no talking- quiet time. Teach him its ok to relax. Some dogs get themselves worked up and it turns into a cycle where they just get more worked up.
Often after our evening training session I'll sit in a chair outside, put my boy in a down/stay next to my chair, crack a beer and just chill. I dont speak to him during this time. Its our wind down time. For a dog that wants to be a busybody, just learning to relax is an exercise of the mind of sorts- building self control in the dog. We both enjoy that wind down time and its good for the dog.
.....maybe...your boyfriend might be willing to help out with this part of it lol.
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Thank you everyone for your responses. I would love to take him to a dog park, but there is not one near me. In actuality the closest fenced in dog park is a 2 hour drive away. There is a large field that is considered the only off leash park in my area. Since my boy isn't good with recall yet we have not been there more than a few times. When we were there, there was no other dogs so a bit of a bummer that way. I do try and do training with him everyday, even if it is just after our walks. He knows sit (both at home and in public), lay, and wait. If you ask him to wait he will wiggle his bum and take 2-3 steps back, kinda proud of that one!! He knows he has to sit before getting his food and can't start eating until I say ok. And he knows to not enter or exit the house before I do. So he is very much trainable.
You guys are hitting the nail on the head though...my boyfriend really needs to step up the plate on exercising the dog. When I talked to him about it last night he said "I exercise him...I took him for a 2 hour run on Monday". He promised to take him on another run today but that didn't happen. I think part of it is that he is soooo well behaved when my boyfriend is home. He will be out hanging with us, calm, respectful, etc. Its easy to play tug or fetch (haven't quite mastered fetch yet) in those states. When the boyfriend is not home and I have him out of his crate (attached to me by leash), that is when he is jumping and climbing and pulling.
I haven't thrown in the towel, but I would be lying if I said I haven't thought about it...
Maybe I will set up a video tape so that my boyfriend can see exactly how the dog behaves when he is not home.
 

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Something I forgot earlier- you may literally have to teach him how to relax.....genetics screaming at him to Go Go Go. Leashing him to you and the two of you just sitting and chilling out- no talking- quiet time. Teach him its ok to relax. Some dogs get themselves worked up and it turns into a cycle where they just get more worked up.
Often after our evening training session I'll sit in a chair outside, put my boy in a down/stay next to my chair, crack a beer and just chill. I dont speak to him during this time. Its our wind down time. For a dog that wants to be a busybody, just learning to relax is an exercise of the mind of sorts- building self control in the dog. We both enjoy that wind down time and its good for the dog.
.....maybe...your boyfriend might be willing to help out with this part of it lol.
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It never occurred to me that he would need to be taught to relax!!! Even when he is out chilling with us he is rolling around on the floor with a chew toy or wanting to play tug!! This is something to look into for sure!!
 

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Lol thoughts of throwing in the towel happen to most of us I think with these puppies. No shame in that, they're not easy. My wife never lived with a german shepherd before we met. I've owned a few prior to meeting her. So I got the shepherd we have now at 8 weeks old.....for the first year she called him satan dog. She swore there would never be another german shepherd puppy in our home. Now that he's started to mature she's liking him more and more. If you can survive through the puppy stages and get him trained up its totally worth it for what he'll be once matured.
So you're not alone!
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for the first year she called him satan dog. She swore there would never be another german shepherd puppy in our home.
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LOL! Same here. My wife was "terrorized" by the first 2 GSDs we had as they matured through adolescence. I still can vividly remember a couple of her sweatshirts which had the arms stretched an extra foot complete with shredded cuffs. I suggested that my wife take a positive role in obedience training but she thought it better that I take that responsibility, which I certainly did and truly enjoyed.
@fluffy1893

With our current ( 3rd ) GSD, my wife decided to involve herself in the pup's training and obedience and what a difference it made ! Absolutely no " Tasmanian Devil dog" and my wife has the most wonderful relationship with Bob. I had her employ NILIF training on this pup from a very early age and the practice of controlling Bob's resources ( no matter how small or insignificant ). My wife thought I was being a bit too severe regarding the application of certain NILIF practices ( especially duration pending a release ) but she hung in there and it created a bond of which I am almost jealous of at times.

Every dog I have ever had seems to thrive on wise, fair/ evenhanded, consistent and confident leadership exhibited by the human. Dogs make much better "followers" than "leaders" to the greater degree. Dogs that learn to push their humans around are just taking opportunity of a void which needs to be filled, it's almost instinctual, whether they are fit for that position or not.

Oh, it was so nice to read your "I haven't thrown in the towel,". I was hopeful you might say that in response to my earlier comment. So many times during the tests of my patience when my pups were maturing, I always reminded myself of what the end result would be and it helped me continue forward without losing it. Train today for what you want tomorrow and don't let their undesirable behavior get the better of you.

I think a common problem for so many people and their dogs is the human is always quick to tell a learning younger dog what they don't want them to do but fail to instruct the dog what they would rather have them do. So, when your little tyrant does it right, make it a monumental party of happiness and reward that your dog will never ever forget the benefit of doing it proper.
 

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Like others have said, your dog needs to be exercised both mentally and physically.
Kongs are a miracle, in my opinion. I typically will put peanut butter in my dogs Kong and he’s completely focused on that for quite a while.
We just got a 9 week old puppy last week and we make sure she always has a toy nearby. Toys that make a lot of noise might be beneficial for your dog. We found a stuffed bunny that has a different noise in every part of it and she is transfixed with that for a long time. Also, if you can get a bone from your local butcher or meat department that still has the bone marrow in it, you can give that to your dog and he’ll be good to go. Those things take forever to clear out and he’ll have a bone to chew on when the marrow is all gone!
Another thing to try might be hide and seek. I do this with Kopi and it’s awesome. I use one of the emptied out bones (but you can use whatever) and hide it anywhere I can: book shelves, under pillows, between couch cushions, under the couch, etc. I’ll make him sit and stay out of the room so he can’t see where I put it and when it’s hidden, I call him in and tell him to ‘find it’. Might be worth a try.
 

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We don't keep peanut butter in the house because of allergies. But I can definitely get a kong and fill it with other items. I am anxiously awaiting the middle of May, as he will be old enough to neuter. I am hoping the neuter will get rid of some of the behaviours. As an example of how a typical day goes...

I wake up at 4am and take Bradley on a 30-40 minute walk, come home and feed him, shower get dressed, make my lunch and head to work. So I leave the house around 530. My boyfriend gets up at 730, has a coffee, take the dog into the back yard for a pee (and we always hope a poop), showers and leaves for work at 830. I get home around 215 and Bradley is bouncing in his crate desperate to go out and I am more than happy too. So I take him for another 30-40 minute walk. Then we come home we work on training exercises for another 15-20 minutes. Now, in the past week I have noticed that Bradley has started pooping in his crate during the day and he has never done this before. So now I have to clean the crate before we do our training exercises, which is difficult since I cant let him loose in the house. After training exercises are done (I'm talking things like SIT, LAY, WAIT, etc) I put him in his crate and feed him while I check emails and phone messages. Then I have been having him attached to me by his leash while I do some household cleaning (dishes, laundry, etc) but I get fed up after an half hour or so because he is constantly jumping onto things, grabbing things from me, or, and this is new, trying to mount and hump me. So back into the crate he goes, where he barks non stop until my boyfriend gets home. Then he is a sweet loving dog who is happy to lay by your feet, play tug, etc. And in all honestly I cry a little because he is so well behaved and I feel like a monster for having to keep putting him in his crate, even though it is plenty big enough and has a few toys and a water dish. Around 8 or 830 I take him on his final 30-40 minute walk of the day, he comes home and we do some more training exercises, play with toys a bit and off to bed.

Other days my boyfriend and I both wake up at 730, I take him out for a quick pee and poop, feed him and make my boyfriend lunch before he goes to work, then I eat breakfast. After that and checking emails we go for an hour to hour and a half walk, trying to take a new route and I let him explore and sniff, he gets to interact with others and is generally pooped out when we get home, so he chooses to go into his crate and sleep. As soon as he realizes I'm not sitting there watching him sleep he freaks out. Eve though he has peed and pooped on our walk, I take him out into the yard, let him do his thing and try to have him attached to me during housework but again it doesn't work because he jumps and grabs everything. So again I listen to non stop barking while he is in his crate. And as soon as I open the crate door to bring him out he starts biting and scratching me. Today, for example, I took him outside to pee and poop and put him in the crate while I did some laundry. I went to take him out of the crate to play tug (he loves tug) and as soon as I opened the crate door he jumped at me and started biting my arms and hands. So I get him back in the crate and shut the door, firmly telling him NO and I wait for him to calm down before trying to take him out again. As I am waiting, sitting maybe 5 feet away, he stands on top of his blanket and pisses. I have no idea why. So again I open the crate door, he starts biting me, I get him secured with the leash and start cleaning up the crate mess. He calms, I take him out back and decide we should do our training exercise out there. We come back in and I put him into the crate so I can shower and start getting ready for work. And, even though he has just peed outside, he stands on the fresh blanket and pees again. And I know once I leave for work, my boyfriend will be home in 2 hours and will have him out of the crate all evening and he will be a wonderfully behaved dog.
Now, my boyfriend does understand what I go through when he is at work and I am home, because I videotaped the day once and sent it to him to watch the worse parts. I felt bad after the fact because my boyfriend was absolutely sick to his stomach to see the dog biting me and being so bad. We just don't know what to do so that the dog understands I am dominant and he is not...
 
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