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First time dog owner having a lot of trouble with rescue puppy

1211 Views 7 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  abenardini
Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum.
I am having a lot of trouble with my puppy and would appreciate your help!
As I live in a region where there is no proper dog trainer I will need all the help i can get!

I live in southeastern europe, where stray dogs are normal, and me and my husband found a tiny puppy two months ago. We couldn't leave it all alone on the streets to freeze to death (we looked out to find the mom or other pups-siblings, but it was just a lonely puppy). We took it straight to the vet., who told us that she's probably less than 5 weeks old and she's been with us ever since.

She looks like a shepherd mix (if that helps in any way) and weighs healthy 13kg (less than 1kg when we found her), and should be around 14 weeks old now.
As parvo virus is very common around here lately, we were told to keep her away from other dogs and the streets (where a lot of dogs roam), until she is safe from parvo- so two vaccines 3 weeks apart plus 10 days after the 2nd vaccine. Right after that, we tried to socialize her, and until now she was doing great.
From the beginning she was veeeeery scared of other dogs (no matter how gentle and lovely they were) and she still is (hair up, tucking her tail, squealing), but very nice to people. Now she started to bark at people (especially if they are walking in front of our house), then approaching them happy/playful and suddenly gets scared, starts squealing and tries to run off (ofc she is on a leash).

She has become very protective of her toys (especially bones and her KONG), if I just get near her she will show all of her teeth and snap (and even bite)- but not her food bowl. After her walks she will bite my jacket and not let go of it and if i try to grab it she will bite me.

Snapping/ Biting-another problem. She snaps at us a lot when we are petting her, don't respond to her barking, or when we are not giving her attention because we are doing something else... unless we have treats handy- then she is very nice and doesn't open her mouth ever.
Everybody tells me that this is normal for puppies... but we've been trying to teach her bite inhibition for over two months... and it is not happening during play that much (in the beginning it was only during play... or grabbing our pants while walking)
She never snaps/bites outside the house.

Chewing- she tries to chew on ANYTHING. We got her plenty of toys, but after a couple of minutes she will go for the books or anything else, BUT the toys. It's gotten so far that I am scared to leave her alone in the room - she has a bit of a separation anxiety problem as well.

Walking- it is very hard to take her out for walks. Suddenly she will sit, put on the breaks and wont move - no matter how tasty the treat. She does not pee anywhere but the frontyard (we were told, that this is a sign of fear). We still try to do 2 proper walks a day (patiently waiting for her to walk a bit) and then let her run in the yard if the walk fails. And she spends a few minutes (around 10) 3-4 times a day in the yard.

So there are a lot of problems... And any help is very much appreciated.

On another note: we've been starting to crate train her, and she's been progressing very well (not yet ready to stay for longer periods alone).
And she's been great with learning commands- picks up things veeery quickly. She knows how to SIT, lay DOWN, LEAVE IT (doesn't work with toys-food only), SHAKE, come, and a short stay (currently working on that).

Please help us with our little fearful pup :)
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She sounds like a normal, but slightly timid, puppy.

With timid pups, it is very important to never force them to do anything they don't want to do, meet people or dogs they don't want to meet, etc. Also be aware that puppies go through fear periods where they may be afraid of things they had no problem with before (you can google it to read a bit about them). If she wants to retreat, let her. It's important that she knows she can get away if something is scary instead of her resorting to looking scary to make the scary thing go away. If she approaches something that is scary, praise her for he courage, but don't force her!

Puppies are mouthy until they are around 6 months old. Shepherds are land sharks. Puppies who are separated from their litters too early, like your pup, are also notorious for having bite inhibition issues because they never learned to control their bite with their litter. You are probably looking at 5+ more months of dealing with her mouthiness before she stops, to be quite honest, but patience and consistency will get you there. If she bites you, redirect to a toy. If she continues chomping on you, get up and walk away. Step over a gate, close a door, whatever, but she will learn that when her teeth touch your flesh all fun stops and you leave.

Puppies simply can't be trusted to make the right choices when it comes to chewing on the right things. Puppy proof your house as much as possible, so pick up anything she isn't supposed to have. Redirect when you see her try to chew something she shouldn't. If you can't supervise, put her in a pen, a complete puppy proofed room, or a crate so she cannot chew on anything she is not supposed to.
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Bite Inhibition: http://www.dogforums.com/first-time-dog-owner/361553-puppy-bites-hard.html#post3960129

If it is safe to walk her around, start taking her on little trips to the hardware store, petstore, Vet, and anywhere that you can expose her to new things. Petstore people and Vet techs tend to be gentle with puppies ... and that may help socialization. Continue to expose her to safe, gentle dogs without forcing her. However, if there are different dogs to see, she might find some that she likes.
Hmmm aggressive puppy eh... As a first time dog owner, you have to make it clear that you are the boss. Whatever they do has to be fine by you. Socialising is a key part into the development stages of a puppy, if you have friends that have dogs that are vaccinated, ask them to meet you. Try your best to find "neutral ground" (a place where your dog cannot call home; backyard, front yard etc... I did most of my socialising in my backyard because no other dogs ventured onto it (Parvo prevention) ). Like a previous poster said, if it does not feel comfortable, do not force it. However, the puppy HAS to be exposed to new people and other vaccinated dogs. The most important part in training a dog is consistency, therefore I suggest gradually introducing your pup. First encounter could be 5 minutes, 2nd 10.... Etc. As the master, you also have to make sure that your puppy follows your leadership.

When I had a timid puppy, I asked my buddy to bring her dog. My puppy showed no interest and simply wanted to go back inside and kept whining . So I went ahead and started playing with my friend's dog instead of focusing my attention on my own. Eventually I felt a wet nose on my leg and hello! It was my own puppy! Of course she did not play with the other dog, it took maybe 4 encounters for her to be okay with the other dog. These days, they are best friends. If your puppy understands that you are fine with other dogs, it will also start opening up. That is building trust into your relationship with your puppy.

Biting and nipping is natural behavior. Growling and showing teeth while you are trying to grab its toy is something that has to be corrected ASAP. You have to make it understand that it is not okay. You as its master have to set rules. I cannot seem to remember having dealt with this issue with any of my dogs to be honest... so I cannot really help you with that sorry... Can someone give pointers? Nipping and biting however is something I have experienced all too well. You need to learn how to be a movie star though... It is somewhat silly but it worked all the time for me. So let's say I was playing with my puppy and she suddenly bites too hard. What I would do is make a high pitch "ouch" noise which startles the puppy and makes her look at me. When her eyes meet my eyes I simply repeat it and look sad (lol)... The no command would then be used. Again, this is all about consistency and how you act in the situation.

Walking puppies have always been funny. Tugging on the leash, suddenly seeing a rabbit, rolling on the grass and simply being distracted by noise. It is all normal. I trained my dogs in the backyard. Walking in circles and having treats handy. Whenever the leash would be loose, I would praise her, whenever she would pull I would use the No command. Gradually we went from backyard to my driveway and to the corner store. If you would like, you could try getting a head harness called "gentle leader". I have heard nothing but good things about it. Did not work on my dogs though... I used another type of harness that has a clip on the chest instead. Everytime my dog would pull, I would give it a light tug which would divert the dog's direction towards me. From there I could tell them to slow down or simply say no to tugging.

To summarize, all your dog needs is consistency and gradual socializing. I'm sure your dog loves you but it does need to know that you're the master. Set rules for it, train the no command. As a first time dog owner, I understand that it might be a lot of work, but I've done it for the past 15 years and I am sure you will be able to as well. Consistency is key.

In the end, nothing beats coming home from a hard day and seeing your dog run up to you with its favorite toy. Best feeling in the world. Good luck!
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Thank You so much for your reply!

I'm sorry to reply so late... but I've been having some vet issues with my puppy and didn't have the time to get back to the forum.

Thank You for your tips... we made a puppy safe room (no books, cds, cables, or anything destructible). So that is getting better.

The problem with the biting is that it really doesn't seem do get any better, and at times it's frustrating (and painful). Redirection does not work with this dog... it's weird, you can get her favorite toy and she won't let go (especially if she's clinging on your clothes). We are trying our best to be consistent (with trying to redirect and walking out) and patient... and hope that she'll "grow out of it"
Thank You so much :)

We found a neighbour with a super gentle dog... and I think they are getting along well. That tip to play with the other dog sounds great. And I am going to try that when we encounter a new dog.

My issue with the biting is that it doesn't happen that much when we are playing. It's more of "Hey, I'm here. Give me some attention" thing. When I sit somewhere and read something... she just runs up to me and bites. And at times I'm scared that I'm doing something wrong and she'll be a mouthy big dog. We tried the yelping thing... she would just look straight into my eyes and be very unimpressed, redirecting had about the same effect. It never happened with strangers who petted her, but I am kind of scared that she might bite someone someday.

I have the feeling that she knows who the boss is, because when i open the door she will lookup to me, sit and wait until i go out, for example...
I'm not sure, how to interpret the biting thing though, since sometimes her face looks scary (it's probably not), her lip will wrinkle and theeeen she goes for the socks.

Thanks again for your time and your tips :)
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@hanksimon thank you for the link i will look at the post right now.

The problem is, where I live pets aren't welcome anywhere except at the vets... :(

But i think she just had a few fearful days... she's being great around people. Dogs are still an issue, but she is OK with one dog right now (they play together, run around together, happy tail), so i'm very optimistic about that :)

Will look up other threats about biting aswell.

Thank you for your response
Hey Nuno - thanks for saving the pup! Sounds like you did a wonderful thing for this little gal. As most senior members on the forum will convey, if a puppy is not able to socialize with its littermates until it learns bite inhibition, it can be trickier to help them learn it (but not impossible). Have you tried using any of the bitter products? It sounds like the pup has gotten into a habit of getting your attention with its mouth. Sometimes the bitter apple products can deter biting effectively.
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