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I don't know what to do at this point.

1460 Views 17 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Marsh Muppet
Hello, so some of you might remember my post last month. I received a puppy as a suprise pet,and have never owned a puppy before. I got some advice, decided to keep her, and now, a month later I'm kind of freaking out about it.

1) She screams and cries when left in her crate at night. I know you're supposed to ignore it but it goes on for hours sometimes. I need to sleep at some point. She has currently been screaming off and on for like an hour and a half. She only stopped because I came into the living room and turned on the tv and laptop and stay here. But I can't do this every night. I am dealing with some serious sleep deprivation. I haven't slept normally since I got her. Does anyone have any ideas about how I can restrain her at night so she doesn't harm herself or other things, but isn't so distressed that she screams incessantly? I can't handle it anymore. I'm done.

2) I feel extremely guilty about leaving her home alone all day while I'm at work. I have a long commute so she's out there in the yard alone for a really long time. I leave toys, water, and bought her a dog house (which she won't use) to make her as comfortable as possible, but realistically, I don't know how much time a puppy should be spending alone, period. I don't do long drawn out goodbyes, nor do I greet her with excitement - I know that's bad - but she doesn't seem happy about being alone. Ever. And by the time I'm home I'm so tired, it's all I can do to just feed her, walk her, and work on commands for a bit.

3) She is crazy hyper. I don't have any idea what to do about this. Whenever we go places I always feel like the worst dog owner in the world. All the other dogs are so well behaved, but Molly just jumps around and runs and freaks out because she wants to meet everyone she sees, at the expense of my arm health and her dignity. I keep doing the "off" thing when she jumps on things, but it doesn't work. She jumps and jumps. Which is apparantly bad for her because she's long and skinny, but I can't seem to make her stop.

4) Walks are less than fun with her at this point. She either wants to race ahead at lightning speed or stop and smell everything. EVERYTHING. And she weaves all about like she's a drunk driver. I can sometimes make her walk in a straight line, but only if I dangle treats above her head. And that doesn't work all the time.

I'm just crazy super frustrated. Any advice/solutions would be most helpful. I'm considering giving her to a stay-at-home-mom-type family so she'll have the attention she deserves, even though it would break my heart. She really is an adorable, friendly, awesome little puppy, and I feel like a total failure as a puppy owner. My biggest concern is that she's not getting enough attention, but I can't quit my job, you know?
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For the crate... here are some suggestions (I do think that putting the crate by your bed is a great suggestion, BTW):

1. Get the DVD "Crate Games" by Susan Garrett. I swear, this is the best dog purchase I ever made. I have 3 rescues, one of which was terrified of crates when she first arrived. The techniques in that DVD made a WORLD of difference in their attitudes towards their crates!

2. To help in the "here and now" - one word - EARPLUGS! It sounds ridiculous, but with crate training 3 adult rescues, earplugs were my savior. It allowed me to get some real sleep and ignore their howling and carrying-on, allowing the behavior to be extinquished more quickly. This is not a suggestion for EVERY situation, though. If the dog urgently does need to get out of the crate, you won't know - so this suggestion is at your discretion.

3. One technique I've heard works well, is that if the dog barks, you cover the crate completely with a blanket. After a period of quiet, you uncover the crate. Quiet = allowed to see out of the crate, loud = isolated. I heard that they learn very fast that being quiet is the best way to go.

I hope these tips help. I know how frustrating crate training can be.

Oh, and for loose-leash walking... my favorite technique is taught in Sue Ailsby's Training Levels (http://www.dragonflyllama.com). Here is the excerpt on leash walks, since it's hard to find on her website if you don't know where to look.


DISCUSSION: Ah, the elusive loose leash! This is probably the most difficult behaviour you will ever teach your dog – for both of you! Loose Leash is the definitive Zen-as-a-way-of-life behaviour. Put extra time and energy into teaching it to a puppy, and you may never have to think of it again. Imagine yourself walking into an agility venue loaded down with your chair, cooler, umbrella, dog dish, folding crate. And while everyone else is either making two trips or getting dragged in, YOUR dog is walking perfectly on a loose leash.
I have to think that people who attend seminars are pretty much the cream of the crop of dog people – people who want to learn more and go out of their way to do so. Yet the one behaviour that these people want most to learn about is Loose Leash.

What's the difference between Loose Leash and Heeling? Plenty. Heeling is a competition behaviour involving the dog remaining perfectly in position, spine aligned with your own, watching you or watching straight ahead (depending on your criteria), sitting promptly and straight when you stop, not thinking about anything but Heeling. A thing of beauty, indeed, but NOT a behaviour to use casually like getting from the car to the house with an armload of groceries. NOT a behaviour to use on an evening two-mile stroll. Heeling is very hard work for the dog. Think of it as marching in a drill team, constantly thinking about your position in the team. Loose Leash Walking, on the other hand, is like going for a walk lightly holding hands with your favourite person. You stay together, you know he's there, but you don't have to be thinking about him every second. You can look at the sky, notice other people, wave to someone, look in store windows as you pass. Loose Leash Walking is a lifestyle behaviour. It's a behaviour the dog automatically gives you because that's the way life works. Once she understands it, it's easy for her, and a pleasant way to live, because dogs who go for walks get to go LOTS more places than dogs who take their owners for drags!

EASY BEGINNINGS: The good news is, Loose Leash is incredibly easy to teach. The bad news is, it's incredibly difficult to teach because you have to pay attention to the leash ALL THE TIME THE LEASH IS ON. Argh.

If you have a puppy who doesn't understand about leashes yet, go slowly. Put the collar on, click for not fussing with it. Play a game with the puppy to take her mind off the collar. When she's comfortable, add a short leash and let her drag it around. Again, click for not fussing and do something to help her forget she's dragging a snake around from her neck (oh, let me think… how about FEEDING her?). When she's used to it, sit down and put a TINY bit of pressure on the leash. Not enough to scare her or kick in her freedom reflex, just enough so she knows it's there. Then call her, make interesting noises, show her a toy, whatever you have to do to show her that she can release the pressure by moving WITH it (towards you). While you're working on this, remember that this is a counterintuitive response for any mammal – her body KNOWS the way to get away from pressure is to push INTO the pressure, so when the leash tightens, her instinctive reaction is to tighten it more. You have to show her that her body isn't telling her the truth about leashes.
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Once the dog is comfortable with the leash, she'll start pulling on it to get where she wants to go. Now we run smack up against a point of view problem. YOU see "She's not going to make ME go faster than I want to go! We'll go at MY speed" and SHE sees "Man, this human is so slow, I have to pull really hard to get him to go anywhere!" And there's the key right there. Are you going to tell her that she HAS to pull to get anywhere? Or are you going to tell her that pulling NEVER gets her anywhere, that the ONLY way to get where she wants to go is by giving you a loose leash?

Look on today as the first day of the rest of the dog's life. From now on, a tight leash will never, NEVER, NEVER go where the dog wants it to go. That single sentence is truly the key to teaching this behaviour. Go early to class. Go home from the dog park if you can't get to it on a loose leash. Be ready to take your time. If you HAVE to go somewhere and you DON'T have time to get a loose leash, then think of something else: a) give up the idea of getting a loose leash, or b) put the dog on a halter or non-pull harness for times when you can't wait, or c) put the dog on a harness and let her pull that, or d) carry her, or e) stick hot dogs in her face and let her nibble them all the way or, g) play tug all the way or h) – c'mon, your turn. Set yourself up right NOW for when time is tight. I will drag or be dragged out to the car if my kid has a broken leg, if the dog just swallowed a knife, or if my house is burning down. Otherwise, I'm not going anywhere with the leash tight.

Yes, your attitude is the most important factor in teaching Loose Leash. Now that we've got that settled, let's get started.

No distractions, of course. Empty living room, basement, or back yard. SIX FOOT leash at least half an inch wide for a 40 pound dog, 3⁄4 of an inch for a 70 pound dog, and an inch for anything over that. Put your thumb through the loop, wrap the leash once around your hand (the same one) from thumb to palm to back to thumb to palm, and put both hands together and grab your belt buckle. Except for dropping treats, your hands will stay there all the time you're talking about loose leashes.

Define a loose leash as a leash with the snap hanging straight down from the collar. If the leash supports the snap in any way, the leash is no longer loose.
Click X 50 for the dog being near you (if these stages take several days, that's fine). If the dog is near you, the leash is 6' long, and you're only holding one hand-wrap of it, the leash is loose. Right? Right.

Then start walking slowly around the room. Click A LOT for the dog being near you. Not for looking at you, not for sitting when you stop, not for being on your left side, just for being near you. And if he's near you, the leash is loose. Right? Right. Click X 50 for walking near you with a loose leash.

Now it gets tougher. Give the dog a focal point – something she really wants to get to: a door, a large treat, a toy, another person, whatever. Put the focal point at one end of the longest area you have. Start at the other end of your long area, leash properly wrapped. Start walking slowly toward the focal point, clicking rapidly for a loose leash.

If the dog gets all the way to the focal point with the leash loose, she can have it/eat it/go through it/play with it/whatever. Then start again.

If she doesn't get all the way to it without tightening the leash, you back up. No, don't turn around, back up. Back up. Back up more. Back up until you're completely out of the focal point's "attraction zone", until the dog is barely remembering it's there. Click X10 for a loose leash, and start walking forward again.

As long as the leash is loose (remember, that means the snap is hanging straight down), you walk forward toward the focal point. As soon as the leash gets tight (that is, as soon as the snap moves, or as soon as you see the dog ABOUT to make it tight), back up as far as you need to so she loosens the leash and stops trying to get where she wanted to go. Click X5 for a loose leash and start walking forward again.

Whether you click for a loose leash as you're walking forward or not is up to you. Some people think the explanation is clearer with clicking for a loose leash as they walk, others think the focal point getting closer and further away is best by itself. Your choice.


I BACK UP AND SHE COMES WITH ME, BUT THEN JAMS RIGHT BACK TO THE END OF THE LEASH AS SOON AS I STOP! You're not going back far enough. She has to be totally convinced that the focal point is unobtainable from where she is. Anytime you start getting into a yoyo action, back up further next time. Read the first couple of Levels of Zen again.

SHE WANTS THE SQUIRREL SO BAD SHE CAN'T REMEMBER! Wanting the squirrel is super, you've got a good focal point. If she can't give you a loose leash, you're still too close to it. You want to work at the dog's threshold of behaviour, not where she can't think for excitement. A block away (582 steps) from the squirrel, can she give you a loose leash? How about 581 steps from the squirrel? 580? 575? 570? 565… oops, that was too close. Back up again!

My llama studs walk on loose leashes to the breeding pens, because they know in their souls that no amount of pulling is going to get them where they want to go. The GOOD news is that once they figure that out, they put all their enthusiasm into keeping the leash LOOSE instead of into tightening it!

SHE'S RIGHT BESIDE ME BUT THE LEASH IS TIGHT! I hate to point this out, but she can't make it tight all by herself. If you're working with a 6' leash, you have it wrapped once around your hand, the dog is right beside you, and the leash is tight, YOU must be holding it tight with your other hand!

SHE CAN PULL ME, SO I CAN'T BACK UP! Remember I told you to put both hands together, grab your belt buckle, and keep them there? Now put your dominant foot forward a bit, toes turned out about 45 degrees. Put your other foot back a bit, toes also turned out. Put most of your weight on your back foot, use your front foot for balance. Sink your body down a little to lower your centre of gravity. If you know someone who does any martial art, ask him to show you how. From this position, a 300-pound llama can't pull a 90-pound kid.If your dog can still pull you from this position, you're going to have to put a halter on her, or a no-pull harness because you need a little mechanical help.

SHE ISN'T GOING IN ONE DIRECTION – SHE JUST PULLS ME HERE AND THEN THERE AND ALL OVER THE PLACE! Ah, too many focal points! You need ONE thing the dog will really want to get to, and NOTHING else of interest in the vicinity. You can't teach this without a SINGLE focal point. Set yourself up to succeed.

I CAN'T REMEMBER TO KEEP IT LOOSE! Somewhere I saw a device that clips on between the dog's collar and the leash that beeps when it gets tight. Or hire a kid to walk around with you and remind you. Or give yourself a talking-to so it truly becomes a priority. Or give it up and let the dog pull you for the rest of her life. Being inconsistent about a loose leash will only teach her to pull harder.

ADDING A CUE: The cue I use for Loose Leash is just the leash. I want this to be a default behaviour – one that occurs just because that's the way life works. You roll out of bed, you fall on the floor. Gravity. That's the way life works. You're wearing a leash, the leash is loose. That's the way life works. On the very odd occasion when the dog forgets, I just use a little voice correction – Hey! Or Uh!

CONTINUING EDUCATION: Testing this Level involves standing still in one place while the dog keeps the leash loose for one minute with one distraction, but don't try to teach standing still. Backing up is MUCH easier. Once she's good at walking with a loose leash, standing still should be easy. A word of warning, though – don't put yourself in a standing-still position where you CAN'T back up if you need to!

Remember the beginning of this behaviour was the beginning of the dog's new Loose Leash life? Practise it everywhere. And don't EVER let the dog pull you from now on. Loose leashes go in the direction the dog wants them to. Tight leashes go AWAY from wherever the dog wants them to go. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the park, to get into class, to get where you need to go with the dog so you don't get yourself into a situation where you tell her that pulling still works to get what she wants.
OK, and it says I need 10 characters in my message, so here they are. ;)
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