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German Shepherd Pup - Our "Problem Child"

1230 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  3doglady
We are having a horrible time with our German Shepherd pup whom we have had for 6 months. He is approximately 9 months old. We obtained him from a private person who was giving the pups away.

Dixon, as we call him, is a much loved member of the family now, but he has two major behaviour problems which are working against each other:

1. He still messes in the house instead of indicating he wants to go outside. In fact, there are times he comes and in and messes in the house after being outside for awhile.

2. When he is outside in the yard, we place him on a long leash with lots of room to move around, food water and shelter. For the most part, he sits there and barks. For one, I hate to see that kind of anxiety in a dog so we don't like to leave him out there barking. Second, one of the neighbours is getting really annoyed with this.

So somehow I have to find a way to housetrain a dog who can't be left outside. I would love to eliminate both the barking problem and the house training problem. My wife is a great lover of dogs and has owned many. I haven't owned that many, so I'm very uneducated.. but obviously we both have a lot to learn to have ended up where we are with Dixon.

Can anyone offer some support and an action plan?


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How much training and games does he get daily? Physical exercise?
Do you also play with him outside, such as when he's on the long lead? It may help him to see being on the lead as not just a "I'm going to be all by myself" thing, and therefore perhaps not as barkworthy. Much like getting a dog used to a crate. If it becomes a more normal thing that also includes interaction with his family, the perception of being outside in the yard on the lead may start to change. And I second the question about how much training and exercise he gets.....such as is it just open door..walk dog to lead...put lead on?
How do you react when he does his business inside?
We housetrained our puppy who can't be left outside. He hasn't gone in the house since he was a little under 5 months old (he's 6.5 months now). Our pup does bark at the door or bang on the door or ring a bell to get our attention when he wants to go out, but I've known dogs who didn't do anything, so I would work more on getting the dog on a schedule than expecting the dog to tell you he needs to go out. He shouldn't be given the opportunity to go in the house. He needs to be taken out at regular intervals, and if he is inside he either needs to be within grabbing distance of you, or confined so that he isn't able to sneak off and go somewhere.

When he "comes in" from outside -- are you outside with him when he's out? If not you can't be sure that he's going, he could be distracted and just poking around. When we need Hamilton to go, we bring him out front, on leash, and tell him "hurry up" and then bring him back in after he goes. In between we'll take him to the backyard to run around and poke around and play, and if he goes when we're out, fine, if he doesn't, fine - but if we need to leave him for a while or we're going somewhere, then you better believe we're out front on leash!

I would be concerned about having a dog tied up in the yard alone. He could get tangled in the line and choke, or cut off circulation to a limb, or get out and run off or get hurt. It just doesn't seem safe to me. Is there a reason he needs to be out in the yard alone? My pup LOVES to be in the yard, but if you walk back up to the house, he books it over to come in with you. He doesn't like to be out alone, even if he doesn't seem to care when I'm out there with him.
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You need to have the dog on a feeding schedule. Feed him his kibble twice a day, once in the morning, and once at dinner time. Provide water all through out the day, but pick it up when it's bed time, just don't forget to put it back in the morning.

Also, you cannot put your dog out for X amount of time, and expect him to do his business, then come in and not potty. Dogs are like kids, they get distracted. They forget to do what they're supposed to.

You need to take your dog out to potty. Take him to the spot you want him to relieve himself, and while he's peeing or going poop say a command word, in a happy voice, such as "Gotty potty" and repeat it 'til they're done. You will also want to give treats for goin' potty outside.

Then, when you're inside training, train him in the spot he goes potty. This will help him to realize it's not a potty area.

Next, make sure he gets plenty of exercise. Walk him twice a day, at least for 30+ minutes each, and then still run around in the back yard and play with toys and train.

You will need to get all the areas he went potty in with an enzymatic cleaner. You can use Natures Miracle, or you can use a home made recipe. EIther way, until the potty areas are clean so your dog can't smell them (not just you) they will keep going back.

Homemade recipe:

Ingredients: water, vinegar, baking soda, peroxide, dish soap.

First, steam clean the area with a carpet cleaner, if you can, if not that's okay.

Next, mix 50-50 vinegar and water together. Soak the potty areas with this liberally. It needs to go through all areas of your carpet, and down to the padding underneath. Scrub with a scrubbing brush, then let this sit for at least an hour.

After that, blot up the vinegar with some paper towels or a regular towel, then sprinkle heavily with baking soda. Let that sit 30 minutes.

While the baking soda is sitting mix a half cup peroxide, with 1 TSP (teaspoon) vinegar and slowly pour that over the baking soda after 30 minutes.

Once all this is dry, vacuum up, you may need to use the scrubbing brush to loosen baking soda.

If you have very heavily soiled areas you may need to repeat this process. You can use a blacklight to find urine spots, or just stick your nose to the carpet and sniff.

Good luck! You've come to an excellent place.
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Take for him for long walks everyday, some dogs don't go right away because they aren't doing anything.
If you get him walking and doing something he'll either go during the walk or when he gets back home he'll be more likely to use the restroom.
And since he's tired, he'll want to rest and relax outside on the lead.
Are you free feeding, or is he on a scheduled feeding? Feeding schedules are best when house breaking, plus it's always good to know when and how much your dog is eating.

I would start from the beginning. Take him out on a leash 1st thing in the morning, and again after his morning meal and again 30 minutes later (or walk him 30 minutes later - with poop bags, of course). Assuming you work, crate train and have someone come in around noon to take him out on a potty break, and play a little, then crate him until you return from work. After work, potty on leash, meal, potty, then a walk after 30 minutes and then take him out every hour until bed time. At 9 months, he should generally need to have a potty break 4-6 times a day, with 2-3 of them for solids. For me, a normal amount of time is about 15-20 minutes in the yard with me, each time you take him out to eliminate. The more time you spend with him taking him out to potty, the better you will understand his scheduling needs, which will allow you to plan better. If someone is home with him during the day, a crate will help keep him on a schedule as well. I keep a journal when house breaking. I keep it in the kitchen and write down when they eat, drink and potty. It helps me to learn their routine, especially if you live in a multi-person household.

When you take him out to do his business, don't assume he's done until you have given him a sufficient amount of time (20-30 minutes). Some dogs will eliminate once and then need to go again 5-20 minutes later. Assign a command like 'go potty', when he does, praise him happily with "good potty, good boy! and maybe even a treat". Eventually, he will learn what the word means and should be able to go when you ask him to. Most dogs will also begin smelling the ground or floor before they eliminate. If your dog does this, it is a good cue for you to pick up and act on. They may be the only cues you ever get. My 12 yr old will simply look at me. That's all I get. My lab will come find me and whine a little (even if it's 2am). Others have had success with hanging bells by the door and training to touch the bells when they need to go.

I also second the vinegar solution for areas where he has gone indoors. I soak for 24 hours then steam clean. Vinegar has natural anti-bacterial properties, is cheap and works surprisingly well for eliminating odors. If he has no odor to come back to, it helps in breaking the habit.

Good luck.
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