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I'm looking for insight as a first time dog owner.

We adopted Griffin, a 9 month old Wheaten terrier, around 6 weeks ago. I'm wondering if some of his behavior is a sign of anxiety, and if so, how to help him.

Griffin often yawns when my husband and I pet him. I've read this can be a sign of stress. We are careful to rub his chest and behind the ears, as opposed to right on his head. He also usually moves away within 1-2 minutes of being stroked and plops down around 3-4 feet away from us.

Though he is very consistent with pottying outside (and we were told is potty-trained) he poops in the house, always choosing a room no one is in. I have read this is also indicative of anxiety.

In general, Griffin has been very slow to warm up to us, though we keep him on a good schedule with 2 a day walks and twice a day feeding. We also completed obedience class and train for about 15 minutes a day.

Is this dog explaining to us that he hasn't warmed up to us yet and would rather we leave him alone by yawning and pooping in the house? Or is he trying to express he enjoys the touching? I don't want to stress him out....
 

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Seems like you're going in the right direction. I'm not well-versed in dog body-
language, so I won't comment on that. Keep in mind that you have to look at situation overall-sometimes a yawn is just an indicator you're tired. Also, some dogs aren't big cuddlers.

As for the pooping indoors here are some things to consider:

Did you use an enzyme cleaner? If he had just one accident, the smell could still be there and encouraging him to go indoors again.

Have you taken your dog to the vet? Maybe he's ill and just can't phsyically hold it, but knows it's undesirable behavior, so that's why he's doing it in rooms away from you.

I'm sure someone with more experience with separation anxiety will step in soon. :) Best of luck!
 

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Dogs will usually poop a certain number of hrs after eating. Try to figure out what time he is wanting to poop and take him out then. Or figure out how long ago he ate before pooping, and you can adjust his feeding time to mesh with your walking schedule. Close doors to other rooms until you get him on a schedule and he is reliable.
 

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A book I found fascinating is, What Is My Dog Thinking?, by Gwen Bailey. It has LOTS of photos, showing dogs' expressions, body language, and explanations as to what they mean. Yes, yawning can be a sign of anxiety. Here's a quote from the book:

Yawning is often one of the first signs that your dog is uneasy about a situation. He may be in conflict within himself, trying to decide whether or not to move away, or he could be signaling to you that he is not happy. dogs will often yawn when people stare at them and call their name. Humans frequently mistakenly think they are tired and take no notice of this important signal.

Griffin may still be unsure about his situation, and will hopefully warm up in time. You may want to do breed research and see if it's part of the breed's personality - I'm not familiar with the personality traits of this breed. Some breeds are just more naturally aloof than others.

I would definitely close the doors of the other rooms of your house to keep your dog from sneaking off and pooping. We've done that any time we've gotten a new dog - puppy or adult. Think about how long it usually takes your pup until this happens and take him outside - usually around 20-30 minutes for a puppy - sometimes less. As mentioned, make sure to use an enzyme cleaner (and plenty of it) to clean up messes, even if the poo is firm and doesn't appear to leave a trace after being picked up.
 

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I wouldn't consider the pooping issue to be emotion related, yet... I'd consider it incomplete house training, or poor methods used for house training (don't know if you can ask the previous owner for details?) You might consider a house training tune-up to help him relax and understand the rules.

For yawning - that is a "Calming Signal" (Google that phrase!) that can indicate a mild unease with the current situation, as Geogiapeach wrote. This is in contrast to licking his lips or tongue, which is anxiety or uncertainty about what is going to happen.
Since I'm not there to observe, I'll have to guess, but I believe that Griffin likes what you are trying to do, just not the specific way that you're doing it.

1. You don't want to "pat" him, but rubbing/stroking his head is fine ... if he likes it.
2. Rather than rubbing, try scratching. You can also massage his ear flaps, inside. He'll let you know if he doesn't like it.
3. If he shakes or scratches his ears, he may have an ear infection (Yeast, bacteria, Mites) ... and he wants you to scratch his ears... b/c they are itchy or hurt. Another symptom is that inside his ears will smell - yeasty or pungent.
4. If he is standing, you can lightly stroke, rub from his head down to his tail.
5. You can also scratch the base of his tail... you start and he'll move around to tell you where.
6. Laying on his side, he may like it when you rub/scratch the outside of the knee on his back leg, and the shoulder on his front.
7. The more that you cuddle with him, rub him, massage him, etc. the more he'll like it...
 
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