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Discussion Starter #1
I recently adopted a 21 mth old German Shepherd from a friend of a friend of my fiancée
She's a great dog, very friendly but sometimes overly hyper and plays a little rough with other dogs
I've only had her about a month now but already love her
I've owned a boston terrier, a black lab, and also an akita before so dogs are nothing new to me
Bella however is starting to become a real problem when I'm not home.
As soon as I go to leave I can hear her start to go nuts and I can't figure out how to stop it.
When I first got her I gave her a chance to be left downstairs in our spare bedroom as I have never crated
a dog while I'm at work before and would have preferred not too. (even though she's been crated her whole life)
When I came home from lunch she had torn the carpet to shreds
I blamed myself the first time and went straight out and got her a very nice large crate and put her in and went back to work
She has been fine for a few weeks but today I came home for lunch and she had broken out of her cage
and yet again tore up more of the carpet and also ripped the trim off of the door frame and also did a little more damage
to various things.
I've reinforced the cage and hope she doesn't break out again by the time I get home
Does anyone know of a way to prevent her from going crazy when I leave?
I think the problem is her getting mad/sad when I leave and takes it out on the house if she can
I'm pretty sure she may eventually end up hurting herself in the cage even
Ultimately I'd like to be able to leave her out of her crate when I'm gone but with the way things are going
I don't see that happening
We are her 5th owners
I originally thought the previous owners got rid of her because of her back leg issue which we are
treating her for at the moment but the more I get to know her I'm starting to think that maybe it was because
she has extreme abandonment issues as soon as she's left alone and then destroys whatever she's able too
Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can make her not throw a fit when I leave her alone?
I'm vibrating right now I'm so mad and upset and feel like I'm going to be sick
Any tips would be much appreciated
Thank you
 

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First, give up the notion that a dog will act out of revenge or even anger, they just don't have the capacity for that. You're dealing with boredom and/or anxiety. Your anger is understandable, but try to remember it's not her fault, so do your best to direct it toward her previous owners, who probably didn't know any better anyway.

Here's a good write-up on separation anxiety with links to more resources:
http://www.dogforums.com/dog-training-forum/60390-separation-anxiety-whats-whys.html

Soon as you can, try to upgrade your expectation from "I don't see that happening" to "it won't be long now."
 

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Discussion Starter #3
First, give up the notion that a dog will act out of revenge or even anger, they just don't have the capacity for that. You're dealing with boredom and/or anxiety. Your anger is understandable, but try to remember it's not her fault, so do your best to direct it toward her previous owners, who probably didn't know any better anyway.

Here's a good write-up on separation anxiety with links to more resources:
http://www.dogforums.com/dog-training-forum/60390-separation-anxiety-whats-whys.html

Soon as you can, try to upgrade your expectation from "I don't see that happening" to "it won't be long now."
Trust me I'm really trying to think that way but it's very hard with how she behaves sometimes :(
I will read the link provided carefully and hopefully it will help, thank you.
It's killing me to leave her in her cage, she has a bad back leg already and I'm sure it would be much more comfortable for her up on the spare bed then it is in a cage on a thin little doggy bed.
We also have 2 cats, so I'm also concerned that if she got out of the actual bedroom itself she may end up destroying the entire house by chasing them around etc
Id' like to eventually let her stay out of her cage in the bedroom downstairs, and then let her have the free roam of the house if she can ever calm down enough.
I'm sitting here sick to my stomach thinking of what she's doing right now and feel terrible for screaming at her when I came home and saw what she had done. :(
I wish we could speak the same language so she would understand
Thanks again for the link, I'll check it out now.
 

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If you are this dog's 5th owners and she is only 21 months old, then this dog does, indeed, have some issues. Some of those issues maybe part of the dog's personality and the way she was treated or trained (or NOT trained) by previous owners. BUT, part of the problem is that FOUR owners before you have given up on this dog, and have carted her off to another home. Losing her home(s) is traumatic for a dog, it really is. She is afraid she is going to lose you, too!

When you leave her alone in the crate/room, do you give her anything to do? Do you leave safe toys or a frozen, stuffed kong?

It really does sound like she has some separation anxiety. I don't have much experience with this, as my dogs don't have this issue. BUT, if you do a bit of "leave training" it might help. Basically, this is just leaving her for very, very short periods of time, as many times throughout the day as you can. Start with 30 seconds. Step out the door, then come back in. Don't say anything to her, no fussing. Do this as often as you can throughout the day so it becomes normal to her.

Then, after a few days, increase the time to 1 minute, as often as you can. After a few days of this, try 2-3 minutes. You get the point.

Of course, when you need to leave for work or errands, you still need to leave her for longer periods of time, that is understood. But, doing these shorter, conditioning bursts will help her see that no matter how long she is in the crate, you WILL come back.
 

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If you are this dog's 5th owners and she is only 21 months old, then this dog does, indeed, have some issues. Some of those issues maybe part of the dog's personality and the way she was treated or trained (or NOT trained) by previous owners. BUT, part of the problem is that FOUR owners before you have given up on this dog, and have carted her off to another home. Losing her home(s) is traumatic for a dog, it really is. She is afraid she is going to lose you, too!

When you leave her alone in the crate/room, do you give her anything to do? Do you leave safe toys or a frozen, stuffed kong?

It really does sound like she has some separation anxiety. I don't have much experience with this, as my dogs don't have this issue. BUT, if you do a bit of "leave training" it might help. Basically, this is just leaving her for very, very short periods of time, as many times throughout the day as you can. Start with 30 seconds. Step out the door, then come back in. Don't say anything to her, no fussing. Do this as often as you can throughout the day so it becomes normal to her.

Then, after a few days, increase the time to 1 minute, as often as you can. After a few days of this, try 2-3 minutes. You get the point.

Of course, when you need to leave for work or errands, you still need to leave her for longer periods of time, that is understood. But, doing these shorter, conditioning bursts will help her see that no matter how long she is in the crate, you WILL come back.
She's a pure bred German Shepherd and very big for a female.
I'm guessing the original owners spent a lot of money on her initially when purchasing her.
She has some early stages of hip displacia already and some other issues as well which
we are paying for right now (not cheap at all)
I think this was discovered early on and she's just been going home to home since then
and when the new owners realise how expensive she's going to be they find her a new home.
It's like the orphan that just keeps getting moved from home to home.
I do think she has SA after reading more about it
We have a fenced in yard and she never wants to go out by herself unless she has to use the washroom.
She follows me everywhere, she doesn't even eat usually unless I'm in the same room as her
She goes into her crate without being told and is happy to do so... I leave her a treat and 2 of her favourite toys and
a bowl of water and also leave a small tv on for her on a quite volume
As soon as I get up stairs and am arming the alarm to leave though I can hear her start to freak out and go nuts :(
She gets a walk in the morning before I get ready for work, she also gets an off leash run after work every day
When we're at home all she wants to do is follow me around though and seems to be lost without me
We have a sunroom that joins to the house and backyard so I leave her out there as much as I can so she can enjoy the backyard
and also have shelter if she wants to come into the sunroom and lay down for a while.
I noticed that she just lays at the door mostly though waiting to be let back into the house... she's the only dog I've ever met that didn't like being outside 90% of the time so I usually just end up letting her in
As far as mental exercise.... I'm not really sure how to measure that.
I usually make her do something before she gets anything
I make her sit before she gets a treat and sometimes shake a paw
I make her sit before I put her leash on and also make her stay before and after she gets in and out of the car
I think I'm doing almost everything right but obviously there's something I'm missing.
I refuse to give up on her as I couldn't bring myself to send her off to yet another home
Hopefully there's something I can do to make both of our lives a little less stressful
I'm a salesman so I travel frequently as well (not since I've gotten her though)
So I'm also affraid of what will happen when I have to do an over-nighter somewhere and she's left with the fiancee alone
 

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Try the leave conditioning like I recommended. It should help her learn to be by herself a bit.
Also, when you are home with her, and she follows you around, you can try this: make lots and lots of boring trips all around the house. Go get a book, then come back, go get a drink, then come back, go get a sweater, then come back. Put your drink glass away, come back, go get a different book, go put the sweater back, come back. Go get a blanket, come back. Basically, think of a bunch of silly, busy work errands to keep going on, from one room to the next, every few minutes. The goal is for the dog to realize "hey, this is boring. I'll just wait here til my human comes back." Keep it up. Do this when you can.

Try looking up the sticky "Doggy Zen". It us basically a short training activity to teach your dog impulse control. Now, this might help a bit with your dog's issues, but, the main reason I'm suggesting it is that it will give you something to work towards, and will build a bond with your dog. Training like this is mental exercise, and will build your dog's confidence.

"I think I'm doing almost everything right but obviously there's something I'm missing." It's not that you're missing something. This is a dog that has a health/medical issue, as well as separation issues, and has been passed around from home to home, so she has some abandonment issues, too. This is a lot for an owner to deal with. You ARE doing things right! But, with this kind of situation, it takes a lot of trial and error to find what works to make a difference for THIS particular dog with issues!

Good for you for sticking with it! Do all the research you can on SA, and don't give up, keep looking for ideas. I'm a teacher, and sometimes, you just have to use your imagination to find something that reaches a child that seems unreachable. It's the same with some dogs. Use your imagination, keep asking for help. Maybe, just the fact that you aren't giving up will help this dog. She will sense that you are in it forever.
 

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Even dogs without special needs are better off when all the humans in the household participate in training and walking. If the fiancee will work with her even a little bit, they'll both be more comfortable together when you're gone.

You're doing fine. Unlike humans, dogs live "in the moment" -- their emotional baggage is dropped so much more easily, and completely, than ours. You'll be surprised at how quickly her problems resolve given a stable environment.
 

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Even dogs without special needs are better off when all the humans in the household participate in training and walking. If the fiancee will work with her even a little bit, they'll both be more comfortable together when you're gone.

You're doing fine. Unlike humans, dogs live "in the moment" -- their emotional baggage is dropped so much more easily, and completely, than ours. You'll be surprised at how quickly her problems resolve given a stable environment.

My fiancee loves animals as much as I do, she has a horse as well as we have
2 cats, and now our Bella as well.
She doesn't have time in the mornings to come for a walk with us and often after
work she comes home and has to work from home so her time is limited with what
she can spend with her and I usually.
I've reinforced the crate with zip ties, left her a knotted up sock of mine so she has
my scent with her while I'm at work, and also left her a bone and one of her favourite
toys and also left the tv on a low volume for her.
I'm really hoping that when I go home at lunch she hasn't managed to break out again
or that she hasn't been sitting there panicking the whole time I've been gone this morning.
When I get home at lunch she usually goes nuts and wont' calm down until we get outside.
Then all she wants to do is play :(
I only have an hour lunch and takes me just over 10 mins each way to get home and back
to work and I need time to eat so I really only have time to let her outside and use the washroom
and sit with her for about 5 minutes, then it's back into the crate, and back to work I go :(
I would like to start leaving her out of the crate.... but the first time I did she tore up the carpet
and this last time when she broke out she tore it up even more.
I'm starting to wonder if it's because she's downstairs away from everything that maybe is also
causing some of the stress?
Would it be better to leave her upstairs in the crate maybe in a sunny room?
I'm just affraid that our cats might torment her... I've been keeping her in the basement bedroom
with the door closed so the cats can't get at her.
I wonder if leaving her in the living room with the big window in her crate may be less stressful on her
as long as the cats don't start teasing her?
I'd like to leave her out of the crate asap and let her have free roam of the house
I'm just worried about what she will destroy.
This weekend I left her in the sunroom with the back door open so she could play out back while I
raked the front lawn.
I also did a few other chores around the house this weekend and kept her away from me while I did
them to show her that even when I'm not around I'm still going to come back for her when I'm done.
She's getting better at going out in the backyard by herself finally and I had a breakthrough this
weekend at the dog park.
Normally when we go to the dog park before I can even park the car she starts going absolutely crazy.
As soon as I open the hatch and get her leash on it's all I can do to hold her back as she tries her best to
pull me over to the fence where all the dogs are (barking etc the whole time and in a mean way)
Up until Saturday I had been saying "no, behave" and she never does so in fear of her doing something
to someone or another dog in the fenced leash free park I have been taking her over to the soccer fields
instead and throwing the ball around for her until she gets tired.
On Saturday on the way back an older man came out of the woods with his pure black german shepherd,
same size as Bella height wise but much more filled in.
I thought this might be a fight waiting to happen so kept pulling her along and saying no
She was going nuts and the other shepherd was getting a little wound up too
The man asked if she was a female and told him yes.
He then let his dog off the leash and said "ok that's fine then they will be ok"
His dog came bolting over to us so I let her off the leash just as he reached us.
To my surprise they were absolutely great together.
Both just sniffed each other and played a little bit , following both myself and this man back up towards the dog park.
He then asked if she had ever been inside to play with the dogs.
I told him no because I was affraid of what she might do with the way she carries on when we get there etc.
He said ok follow me, let them in together and she will be fine.
He was right, they both went in and had a blast !
I've never seen her so happy before
I let her run around and play with 30+ other dogs for almost 2 hours and she had the best time of her life I think.
I brought her back again later in the day and she went nuts again
This time I we were alone so I was thinking she might not behave this time.
I decided to give her a shot though
As soon as we got into the first gate and I let her leash off she was ready to play
We went back again yesterday twice again and I'm going to take her after work every day now
The morning I only have time for a 30 min walk up the trail by our house so she doesn't get off her leash
but after work she's going to be leash free with the other dogs from now on
I"m hoping this will boost her self confidence and will help her get on better at home when we're not there.
How long should I keep her crated before I give her a chance to have free run of the house?
And how long should I trust her for the first time?
This website is great, there's a lot of helpful caring people on here that love dogs as much as I do I think.
Thanks again for the tips and suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well she almost got out of her cage again
She had broken half of the zip ties and bent the corner of the cage
Another hour or two and she would have gotten out again
I bent the cage back and used twice as many zip ties this time and put twice as many of them.
I hope she relaxes this afternoon and doesn't try to get out yet again.
She hurt her nose trying to get out , it's bleeding on the top a little bit
I put some polysporin on it before I left , hopefully that helps
Before I can even open the door to the house I can hear her going crazy all the way downstairs
When I let her out she goes nuts and runs around throwing her bone around and jumping up and down
I got her as calm as possible before leaving to come back to work and I didn't hear her going crazy when I left at least
 

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Maybe you should try crated her upstairs, instead of in thes basement. Some dogs get very anxious and upset when they are really isolated and can't see out to the main areas of the house.

As for how long it will take for her to be able to have free roam of the whole house, there's really no set timeline. You could transition to that little by little. Maybe start with leaving her crated for the morning, and then in the afternoon leave her in a room like the kitchen, laundryroom, or bathroom, with the door open, but blocked with a baby gate. If that goes well, after awhile you could try leaving her confined for the morning and free in the afternoon.
But, it sound like you are a long way off from this.
 

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Maybe you should try crated her upstairs, instead of in thes basement. Some dogs get very anxious and upset when they are really isolated and can't see out to the main areas of the house.

As for how long it will take for her to be able to have free roam of the whole house, there's really no set timeline. You could transition to that little by little. Maybe start with leaving her crated for the morning, and then in the afternoon leave her in a room like the kitchen, laundryroom, or bathroom, with the door open, but blocked with a baby gate. If that goes well, after awhile you could try leaving her confined for the morning and free in the afternoon.
But, it sound like you are a long way off from this.
Yeah I'm not sure what she would do if I let her have entire free roam just yet
I think I may try moving the crate upstairs into the living room or something where she can see out the big front window
That's where I was going to put her originally but when we first got her the cats didn't like her at all and I was affraid they would just torment her all day
They are warming up to her now though so I might give it a shot
Another reason I was keeping her downstairs was due to the fact there is a double door to the bedroom down there
If / when she breaks out of her crate she's still at least confined to the bedroom and if she manages to make it through the first door theres another one
right behind it she'd have to tackle as well
Either way she's pretty much destroyed the first door now anyway and the carpet is a disaster
I feel so bad putting her into a steel cage twice a day when I have to go to work
Instead of just taking her for a leashed walk this morning I drove her down to the dog park and let her have a really good run
I tried taking her last night but as soon as she jumped up into the hatch she started screaming in pain and immediately jumped back out
and ran to the screen door
I think she hurt her leg trying to get out of the crate yesterday, her leg is already in pain she has panostitis (probably not how it's spelt)
It's basically a bone disease from what I've been told that can travel throughout the body... apparently its in her back left leg at the moment
We've got her on Tramadol and also Metacam to help with the pain

Jessica
I spend as much time with her as I possibly can other than when I have to go to work
It's definitely safe to say she does not like being left alone but I also need to go to work to earn the money to keep the house / backyard / car / food that we've all grown so accustomed too
I let her sleep in our bedroom on her doggy bed beside our bed, she has free run of the house whenever I'm home, and I get her out twice a day once in the morning and once at night
I also have a lot of friends with dogs and I often invite my parents over with their 2 large breed dogs and she's at the dog park everyday now so she gets lots of socializing both from me as well as other animals
I've been making her sit for everything the last few days, to come in, to go out, to get food, to go for a walk, etc and she seems to be slowing catching on to the routine
It's like when I leave she becomes a totally different dog
 

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take a step back.

start familiarizing yourself with how one deals with a brand new puppy. try using a reinforcement based approach and walk her through the things a puppy should learn. . even if she already knows them. taking on the "teacher" role and going back through the puppy stuff . . . how one would teach a pup to handle a crate (crate games, special feedings, etc) . . . how pup must learn to sit nicely and wait for ANYTHING pup wants. . doing this helps some anxious dogs because it helps establish a routine. and teaching her to "hold" for what she wants can be a starting point for learning to deal with being alone. another thing is have other people interact with her positively. then have one occassionally pop by. . . at random. . . while youre gone to take her out some. ive seen that work well because it breaks up their day, gives them the possibility that theyll get to get out while youre gone. .

just some stuff that ive seen be helpful to other dogs in the past.
 

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take a step back.

start familiarizing yourself with how one deals with a brand new puppy. try using a reinforcement based approach and walk her through the things a puppy should learn. . even if she already knows them. taking on the "teacher" role and going back through the puppy stuff . . . how one would teach a pup to handle a crate (crate games, special feedings, etc) . . . how pup must learn to sit nicely and wait for ANYTHING pup wants. . doing this helps some anxious dogs because it helps establish a routine. and teaching her to "hold" for what she wants can be a starting point for learning to deal with being alone. another thing is have other people interact with her positively. then have one occassionally pop by. . . at random. . . while youre gone to take her out some. ive seen that work well because it breaks up their day, gives them the possibility that theyll get to get out while youre gone. .

just some stuff that ive seen be helpful to other dogs in the past.
Thanks for the tips, I'll give them a shot
She does get out during the day as I go home for lunch everyday and whenever I can't I make sure the wifey gets home to let her out for a bit.
She's a very smart dog when I'm around but when I'm gone she looses her mind.
I put her in her crate today and spent about 5 minutes with her before I left her there and got her calmed down
I'm hoping she just goes to sleep since she had a good run this morning.
If she's behaved when I go home for lunch I think that might be the new morning routine.
The leashed walk in the morning she usually gets isn't quite enough for her as she doesn't really get to run
I leave her outside with the sunroom door open when we get home from our morning walk while I get ready for work but she just sits there by the door waiting for me to finish and bring her in and doesn't take advantage of the backyard when she can.
I've thought about tying her up to one of the trees in the backyard instead of putting her in the crate when I'm not home
She could reach inside the sunroom and could go in and out all day but the cold weather is fast approaching so I'm not sure that's such a good idea
Also if she starts barking while I"m gone I'm sure the neighbors wouldn't appreciate it either
Does anyone know what temperatures German Shepherds start to get uncomfortable in?
I know that extreme heat wouldn't be good for them but what about extreme cold?
What's the coldest they can handle before they start to get too cold?
We have a fenced in yard and I never chain her up outside but if I was going to leave her out there while I was gone I think chaining her to the tree might be a good idea since she could easily dig her way out of the yard or possibly even jump the fence if she set her mind to it.
 

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... I think chaining her to the tree might be a good idea since she could easily dig her way out of the yard or possibly even jump the fence if she set her mind to it.
I think that is a really bad idea, first and foremost because she could seriously hurt, even kill herself, with the chain.
 

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I think that is a really bad idea, first and foremost because she could seriously hurt, even kill herself, with the chain.
I never really thought of that but I guess you're right
Where the tree is I was thinking of using is directly in the middle of our yard
There's nothing she could hang herself on but I guess anything is possible
 

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I never really thought of that but I guess you're right
Where the tree is I was thinking of using is directly in the middle of our yard
There's nothing she could hang herself on but I guess anything is possible
What about running around the tree until the chain is very short, then panicking and hurting herself? If you absolutely need to do this, you need one stationary rope that is fixed very high up (higher than any dog can jump!) between two fixed points and a second chain / rope that glides on the first one (the second rope is connected with a ring to the first one) and this second rope, which is just long enough to allow the dog to lay down, but not so long that he can get trapped in it, is connected to the collar / harness. Sorry, don't have a photo of this set-up. Not my preferred solution, but when done right it can work well. Obviously only for a few hours, this is not a longterm / how to keep your dog always solution.
 

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What about running around the tree until the chain is very short, then panicking and hurting herself? If you absolutely need to do this, you need one stationary rope that is fixed very high up (higher than any dog can jump!) between two fixed points and a second chain / rope that glides on the first one (the second rope is connected with a ring to the first one) and this second rope, which is just long enough to allow the dog to lay down, but not so long that he can get trapped in it, is connected to the collar / harness. Sorry, don't have a photo of this set-up. Not my preferred solution, but when done right it can work well. Obviously only for a few hours, this is not a longterm / how to keep your dog always solution.

Thanks for the tip
Unfortunately she's hurt herself yesterday in her cage, cut herself open pretty good on her right side, it's a V shaped cut that's pretty deep
Took her to the vet last night just before they closed
They recommended stitches :(
I knew as soon as I saw it that stitches would be needed :(
So.... I just dropped her off at the vet this morning, she's getting her stitches done
and then picking her up after work
She got to walk around with the cone on her head all night last night too and probably for the next few days I would imagine
Wasn't fun getting it on and she absolutely hated it
I eventually took it off before bed time because she was very uncomfortable.
She hadn't eaten or drank anything and I needed to take her food away by 10PM due to her getting stitches today
As soon as I took it off she ran over and finished her meal and water bowl
She wasn't licking her wound either so maybe she will be ok without the cone after her stitches but who knows :(
We're starting her on some meds to help calm her down during the day while we're gone at work and she's in her crate :(
We will ween her off them slowly as she learns to relax
This is really causing us all a lot of heartache .... and of course it's killing our bank accounts too and right before xmas :(
Oh well, hopefully she's going to be all worth it in the end
Thanks everyone for your tips and advice, it's very much appreciated.
 

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Well she did it again
Today when I went home for lunch she had yet again broke out of her crate, this time by forcing her way through one of the doors
Chewed up more of the carpet and did some other small damage
Now I need to replace the entire carpet in the downstair bedroom
I'm at my breaking point both emotionally and financially
I can't keep on living like this
Trying to make a living while worrying the whole time what she's doing while I'm at work, then coming home to have my fears verified
Never have I had so many problems with a dog.
She's so great when I'm with her but as soon as I have to leave her alone she costs money, time and aggrevation.
I'm pretty much at the point now where I just want to cut my loses and give up on her.
She's ruining my life now and it's not gonna be long before I stop that from happening anymore.
 
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