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I'm really embarrassed and guilty to be posting this kind of thing, but I am majorly down right now. Majorly. I got this 7.5 week old GSD puppy a week ago (which makes her 8.5 weeks old now) and I am so stressed out by her, I have lost 5 pounds and have had my very first anxiety attacks of my life (pretty sure that's what they are; tightness in chest, having to make myself breathe...).

I'm on the verge of giving her up. It's not necessarily that she's bad or has behavioral problems, I just think I underestimated the time and energy it was going to take to raise a puppy by myself. My job is kind of chaotic (and it's 40 hours a week!) so it's hard for me to get a routine down, and while she sleeps in her crate and is a relatively good sleeper, she won't voluntarily go in it any other time and I have to lure her in with food every time I want her to go in it (which is maybe 4-5 times per day, for ~1-1.5 hours each time). She is doing fairly well with housebreaking but had a poop/pee accident last night, probably because I don't know her schedule well enough yet. And she is BITEY. She doesn't cuddle with me anymore unless she's scared; now whenever I try to cuddle her all she wants to do is bite my fingers off, and if I set her down she immediately goes after my feet/shoes/socks/pantlegs and refuses to play with all the other 10 toys I've given her.

I don't think it helps that I've read about a million things on the internet trying to figure out what's "right" only to run into contradictions everywhere I look. "Don't hold her mouth shut when she bites." "Yes, hold her mouth shut when she bites." "Don't put the crate in your bedroom at night." "Yes, let her sleep in your bedroom at night." "Don't force the puppy into the crate or she'll hate it." "But be sure to crate your puppy to speed up housebreaking." wtf.

I'm just at my wit's end. How do you make the decision between sticking it out (but losing more weight and having more panic attacks in the meantime) or giving her up to someone who can handle her? Do I throw in the towel? Is it a fool's errand for me to keep this up? Should some people in some situations just not try to raise puppies, especially high-maintenance puppies like GSDs? If I give her up, does that make me a bad person?
 

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HI @banzai555
I understand you feel very stressed just now, i think you are much to busy working 40 hours a week , & don't have enough spare time for yourself and a very high energy GSD, PUP.

Sometimes we make mistakes, it would be good for your peace of mind to contact Pups breeder , maybe return pup to them.

Look after yourself, it's not worth getting sick over, wait a few years before you get another pup, when the time is right.
 

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i have always had GSD's and always have had to work and my job has always been an hour from home. So, guess what? I managed to raise (my third puppy now) them and house break them and I have good dogs. I do a lot of work with them because they compete. Someone HAS TO PAY FOR THE dog food.. and the roof.. so we GO to work!!! It drives me crazy when people say you can't have a puppy and go to work. They all must be born with a silver spoon in their mouths!! LOL

Days, when I am at work, I set up a regular dog kennel in my basement on concrete. In there, I put an appropriate size plastic crate (so it is a den.. I hate wire crates). I put a rabbit pan in there with some shavings or shredded paper. Puppy uses that rabbit pan for pee and poop and usually sleeps in the crate. Sometimes the toys can get some poop on them etc, but that is how I have done it. the puppies have been fine.

When I got home, the first priority was the puppy. Get them out, then feed them (locked in their crate) while I clean up the kennel. Half an hour after eating, out they go again and we play (outside if possible). After about 20 minutes of play, I use treats and it is back in the pen. Now I take an hour and get my dinner. After cleaning up from my dinner, I go back and get the puppy out and play. If I am enrolled in puppy class in the evening, this gets shifted around and the puppy did not not eat because I wanted him focused for classes.

Don't over think it. This is a dog.. albeit an intelligent dog.. and you do not need to be there and control every breath the dog takes. German shepherds ARE bitey. You should know this from two things. First it is a herding breed and they use their teeth to handle livestock. Second, their genetics also allow some of them to compete in various sports and work that involve biting. You need to give the dog something to bite, play tug and so forth to satisfy that urge. Mine carry a ball on a rope around with them.. they like things in their mouths. If you don't provide something for them to put in their mouths then you are the alternative.

If this is all "too much" then you probably are not a dog person (and golly don't have kids.. they are WAY more demanding). I am not saying that to be mean to you. I am just giving you something to ponder.
 

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Okay so normal puppy stuff it sounds like. She is only 8.5 weeks old I'm mean they don't change over night. It takes time and patience. Puppies don't stay cuddly forever they do grow out of that so I wouldn't worry about that. When she is teething I would put a toy in her mouth to replace her want for your fingers lol she is teething and everything is a chew toy to a puppy.
If you don't think you can handle it and going to throw in the towel look for her a home now while she is still young. It won't make you a bad person. I wouldn't give up though if you can get through this and it works out you will feel so rewarded at the end. GSDs are usually fairly easy to train. She is just in puppy stage.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk
 

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This is normal and my best advice, if you want to keep the puppy, is to set up a routine and stick with it. That, and enroll in a positive reinforcement based puppy class.

Remember that puppies are a huge responsibility but your life does not need to revolve around the puppy. I think it's fair for your puppy to get 2-3 hours of interaction a day broken up into 10-30 minute chunks. Many might disagree and there is no one 'right' way to do it, but this kind of rigid structure helped me keep my sanity with my high drive working line puppy (Dutch shepherd). It DOES get better. Mine went from basically a mouth with four legs that would literally bite every.single.thing in sight, even just passing through a space to go potty outside... To a decent enough 'house pet' today at 10 months of age. Still mouthy, but not as compulsively needing to bite every single thing. Here's what my schedule roughly looked like the first few weeks. Again, it's not 'the one right way' or anything, but maybe it might help you form your own.

General:
Puppy housed in crate and/or pen when not interacting, on leash when interacting with me.
All good things happen in the crate.
All food used in training or food toys in crate.

-Wake up around 7-9a, depending on day. Potty break outside, 15-30 minutes of training and play time.
-Crate/pen time with food toy.
-Potty and come to work with me (I was fortunate to be able to do this). Puppy is in crate, draped, while I work.
-Lunch break, potty and play for 30 minutes.
-Crate for rest of work day. (boring 2 minute potty breaks as needed throughout day)
-Get out of work, potty break, 15-30 minutes of play and training
-At home, puppy in crate/pen for the evening
-Potty break, then one more 15-30 minute play/training session
-Puppy in crate/pen, one more potty break before bed
-(wake up as needed in middle of night for breaks)

Looking at the bolded sections, that's really just two hours altogether! Actually, my average at that age was more like 3-4 hours but I seriously think 2 can be enough if the time puppy is interacting is very enriching. As he grew older, I would do 30min-1 hr hikes in lieu of some of the broken up sessions. Today he gets 2-3 hours, split between morning and night with a quick potty break in the middle of the day. The rest of the time when my puppy was young, and forum members who know me will attest to this, my puppy was in the crate. Nonexistent to me as I went on with my life. Now, I had my own challenges like having an incredibly busy puppy who did not know how to settle. So MY reality was my puppy was crated (not in a pen, couldn't handle it), often crated and draped, for 20 hours a day. I don't regret a single second of it. It helped teach him to settle, he never destroyed a single inappropriate item. And these days, he is totally loose in the house when the family is just hanging out.

I think folks will agree that I used management tools on the extreme end of things. But I am giving you my example to really emphasize, puppies don't need to be part of your life every waking second. It is important to actually still make time for yourself. I am more surprised than anyone that I didn't get puppy blues at all, and I think this rigid structure helped me with that.

I hope this helps, even a little. Best of luck with your decision.
 

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I am going to say, as gently as possible since Canyx and I tend to respect each other even when we disagree:

Yes, it's on the extreme end things, and as such it may not be the best idea to recommend it to people raising puppies of unknown temperaments and breeding and degrees of stability.

It worked for you and I'm super glad, but Brae's a well bred dog, and extremely confident and temperamentally and physically sound. Remove either the physical or temperamental soundness and a set up where a puppy is crated for 22 hours a day (and in fact per your schedule up there crated up to 22 hours and 45 minutes!) and you're going to be running up to creating some pretty big issues.

Routine good. General idea good. Crate time excellent. Definitely find time for you and the puppy doesn't have to take over your life.

BUT:

ANY temperament issues, nerve issues, or any inclination toward physical issues and recommending 20 to 22 hours in a crate being ignored and isolated visually is starting to play with fire. Big time. Throw in an owner who may or may not be able to recognize those temperament, confidence, nerve, or physical issues and adjust accordingly and the potential for bad just compounds.
 

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Yeah for the average owner I'd recommend using an ex-pen instead. But I still stand by, it's okay to physically separate puppies for the majority of the day. Sophia Yin's recommendation in her book is actually very similar to the 'schedule' I posted.

I do see how that much crate time can lead to neglect if the out of crate time is enriching. And if it was truly like sensory deprivation, which it wasn't. I think I could have done what I did with most dogs and not have any negative results. I think it depends more on what the time spent out of the crate looks like, more so than how much time a dog is in a crate. Also, the only thing I removed was visual so Brae still heard us talking, smelled us eating, heard and felt us vacuum, etc. Most importantly, I did all of this with the goal of raising a dog that could eventually settle out of confinement, and I am well ahead of schedule (ie I am so surprised that Brae actually hangs out well in the house at this age).

I actually would love to hear anecdotes or see some data on how 'excessive' crating, for the first... let's say 2 months (I need to check to see what my progression from undraping to pen is)... has negatively affected any dog. Minus dogs who have confinement anxiety. Minus situations where people are blatantly neglecting their dog and not providing adequate physical and mental stimulation outside of crate time.

Short version: I stand by the idea that it's okay to confine (crate, pen, baby gate, different room, etc.) puppies for the majority of the day. Obviously socialization and normal household interactions are crucial to raising a puppy who is stable in household environment. And obviously, it's not for forever.
 

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With all the love in the world, 'the majority of the day' is not 22.75 hours a day, which is the high end of that schedule you posted. I am admittedly on the low end of crating, but I don't have a problem with confinement. I have a problem with nearly 23 hours a day in a box. That's so far over the line that it is, IMO, already neglect just by numbers. So I can't provide studies of harm done with excessive crating absent neglect because IMO anyone crating a dog for all but 75 minutes a day is NEGLECTING THE DOG.

On the other hand I can certainly find you stuff.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-karen-becker/kenneling-may-cause-menta_b_8806662.html - this is the article. There is a link to the study dealing with OCD like behaviors in kenneled dogs.

There are studies associated with the Handbook of Applied Learning that says 'excessive crating in the home may lead to increased reactivity in dogs who are predisposed'. And also that 'the preponderance of the evidence suggest that stressful restraint, confinement and isolation exert a problematic influence on a young animal's ability to cope with stress." https://books.google.com/books?id=P...&q=excessive crating dog harm studies&f=false This is the only online link I can find to show it- sources are cited.

Those are two.

There are also, if you look - because I am having some issues being able to paste on this phone - limited studies but a whole lot of correlation to muscle/skeletal problems, behavioral issues, reactivity, increased UTIs, and tendency to pica. It's not like the information is hard to come by. Specific numbers are, but again - I can't remove neglect since I consider nearly 23 hours a day neglect regardless of what you're doing with that other 75 minutes.

Just. Seriously. I like you but we're not going to agree and conversely I'm probably never going to stop screaming every time you advise someone it's perfectly fine to keep a puppy crated between 20 and 22.74 hours a day because you managed to do it without hurting your dog (maybe - see also UTIs brae had and his numerous near blockages). People manage to use e-collars without damaging their dogs, too, and advising people of that is irresponsible. So is this. Only possibly more so, IMO, because you're not saying 'I did this and it worked' you're advocating it as a GOOD thing.

Crating and confinement is good. 16-18 hours for a puppy? Normal and totally fine. 16 hours is even low? 20? Acceptable, but after about 12 weeks only barely. If you're regularly going to have to go beyond 20 hours a day, in a crate, I'm just flat out saying you have no business having a puppy, probably don't want one, and are neglecting it.

It's a training and management tool, not a grow out cage until the dog has matured enough for you to be able to live with it/like it.
 

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I appreciate the links!

I will say, his UTI was not linked to crating. The vet said he likely had it for a while (ie, could have started at the breeder's) but also I admittedly did not give him enough water. Almost-blockage was from accidentally leaving him with infant-puppy teething toys when he was capable of tearing them up. Almost-blockage two was from eating a stick by the river. And I will also say that through ALL of this, Brae has always loved his crate. Didn't even need to lure him in. He doesn't 'come out hot' like he's being released from solitude. He often comes out then goes back in for a treat. So yes, there are a lot of 'ifs' 'ands' 'buts' here. But by your definitions of neglect and your wordage, I take offense to the idea that I fall in a category of people who "have no business having a puppy, probably don't want one, and are neglecting it."

I see your larger point though. And as someone who has consistently said on this forum that our words can have a far reach and can easily be misconstrued by someone, I'd be a hypocrite for offering very extreme advise that could be misconstrued.

I stand by physical separation for puppies still. Basically, *for people who are losing it because their puppies are demanding constant attention or constantly going after their feet, clothes, furniture, etc.* put the puppy away. Take the puppy out 15 minutes later and try again. Put the puppy away when you are trying to do things for yourself such as cook or watch a movie. This is more in line with what I tell folks in real life. More general. Fair enough?
 

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I will also add (looking at the links now), that this study is not one I would use to compare with dogs crated in a home environment: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-karen-becker/kenneling-may-cause-menta_b_8806662.html

"The kennel these dogs were housed in had a 40-dog capacity and was equipped with a run and an enclosed rest area."

Far cry from a household, even with a draped crate. This is more like a shelter environment where kennel stress does happen more readily. The author also writes this:

"For the record, I don’t equate crate training with kenneling. Confining a puppy or dog that hasn’t been housetrained to her own cozy crate for a few hours is very different from routinely housing a dog in a boarding kennel like the one described in the U.K. study. A crate-trained dog, once housebroken, should be allowed to go in and out of her crate at will. If your dog has been properly crate-trained she’ll view the crate as her own safe and private little den."

Which, I know, does NOT mean 'crate for more than 20 hours a day'. But at face value, that article is like comparing apples to oranges.


Same for the handbook. It's moving animals into a "laboratory" setting. I'd quote more but I can't copy/paste. Still, a drastic difference than what crating is, unless the dog is in a crate in the basement or garage or something (which I never, ever, ever recommend, unless it is purely for 'owner at work' situations and the dog is WITH the family for the rest of the time).

I do AGREE, CptJack, that 'crate for more than 20 hours' is not good advice for the average owner. And you are right that just because it worked for me doesn't mean it will work for others. But I would not use those two sources to justify or refute anything about a good crate setup in a home environment.
 

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Last thing, then I need to go...
For the sake of not being taken wrong by the public, I want to emphasize again that my situation was pretty extreme for many reasons. Lack of space, older dog who did not like the puppy. But this is pretty much my house/setup:


(Brae's actually in his crate sleeping right now :)). That's pretty much ALL the space I have for my dogs. The crate is between the living room and kitchen. Even when he was crated a lot, he experienced EVERYTHING a dog in a normal household would and was no more than 15' away from me at all waking hours of the day. And you know, that even applied to work days since he was in a crate literally next to my feet in those situations.

But this thread is the last time I'll suggest long term crating. I'll word confinement and separation in a more general sense in future situations here.
 

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That setup looks good , you sound like a very experienced dog owner, that knows what their doing is best for the whole household to manage.
 

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I'd just like to emphasize for banzai555 that puppy blues are very common, even among people who are experienced dog owners. it doesn't mean you're a bad dog owner or that you have to give up the dog - very often it does get better as your routine settles and the puppy matures. You've brought a new little life into your house that completely uproots your usual routines and you're (terrifyingly!) responsible for, and that is very often overwhelming! You're definitely not alone, and while it can be a struggle balancing puppy raising and a demanding job, it's absolutely doable.

Please feel that you can take puppy breaks by crating or penning when you're feeling overwhelmed or need to do something that takes too much focus, like cooking, showering, etc. I do agree that Canyx's schedule is extreme and not necessary or ideal for most dogs in most situations, but very young puppies do need a lot of sleep. Try not to feel guilty about keeping play sessions short and having frequent breaks for chill time or napping.

If you still feel crazy overwhelmed and like your mental or physical health is suffering going forward, there's also no shame in deciding you aren't in the right place for a puppy right now. Or ever. It's better to return a dog to the breeder (or rehome it yourself if the breeder won't take it back) than to make both your lives miserable. Again, many experienced dog owners don't enjoy puppy raising at all and specifically only get adolescent or adult dogs. Wishing you best of luck, for whatever works best for you!
 

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.... all she wants to do is bite my fingers off, and if I set her down she immediately goes after my feet/shoes/socks/pantlegs and refuses to play with all the other 10 toys I've given her.
All of those things are exciting to a pup because they REACT. Toys that are simply "given" to a pup are lifeless and BORING. If I was a dog I'd much rather play with pantlegs too, instead of lifeless toys lol ! Try creating some interest by being interactive with them. Bring the toys to life through gentle teasing, tugging and resistance, movement, dragging toys across the floor etc. Actually PLAY with the toys yourself and encourage your pup to join in the FUN.

I don't think it helps that I've read about a million things on the internet trying to figure out what's "right" only to run into contradictions everywhere I look.
Well then, stop reading the internet. Aside from this forum's possible recommendations. ie: Dr. Ian Dunbar's dogstardaily site. There's a wealth of good information there that's suitable for first time owners. Honestly and bluntly speaking, I would NOT trust the vast majority of info that you might find on your own.


Canyx said "enroll in a positive reinforcement based puppy class". I agree, 1000 %. A good class will provide you with the knowledge and the tools to effectively cope with these tumultuous times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks everyone. I wrote a really long reply to this a couple of days ago but the site ate it somehow and it vanished. I couldn't go through writing it again, but I'll give it a shot now.

I ended up finding a new home for little Raven. I think the main problems were I was just way too anxious and worried that I wasn't giving her the attention she needed, and it broke my heart every time she whined. I guess I was hoping for a pup who would be OK playing with toys by itself occasionally, rather than dropping everything and whining even if I took 15 seconds to go to the bathroom. It was completely overwhelming. I felt like I was trying to rush things with her, too impatient, too worried about making housebreaking mistakes, and overall just too obsessive over doing everything RIGHT. Poor girl, I was moving her around into different crating/playing routines every day trying to find something that worked, and I'm sure it stressed her out just as much (if not more) than me.

As luck would have it, a friend of a friend has raised GSDs before, has a bigger family and an old GSD "big brother", had been looking for a new puppy for a while and upon hearing that I was not so happy with being a puppy mom, instantly asked for her. It felt like a no-brainer, almost like it was meant to be this way. It was really hard giving her up and it happened SO quickly, and I've spent the last two days being inconsolable, lonely, regretful, embarrassed, hating myself, etc., going so far as to have to drive 2 hours to a secluded mountain cabin with no TV or internet--in a snowstorm--to get out of the house the day she left. But I know now that Raven is in a better situation and will be a much happier dog than she would have been with me, cooped up in the house most days.

I miss her like crazy though. The minute I put the phone down after hearing the lady was coming to pick her up, I started bawling, and Raven knew, she KNEW, how sad I was, even at 8.5 weeks. She curled right up in my lap (without biting!) like she hadn't done since the day I got her. Which only made it worse. (But then she bit my finger really hard 5 minutes later, which made it easier...) I miss her. I miss her fur, I miss her puppy snores, I miss how she sprawled out on her belly with a big stretch when she woke up in the morning, I miss how she chased me around in the backyard. I will always regret this but I don't think I will ever try to raise a puppy again, not by myself. And maybe I'm too scared now to even try an adult dog. I can't do them justice.

Anyway, thank you all for the advice and I hope you don't judge me too harshly for giving up.
 

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It sounds like maybe things worked out the way they were meant to be. It seems like you were just completely unprepared for the reality of a puppy. Even adding an adult dog is a huge lifestyle change.

It's normal to feel all those things you feel, but you'll recover. Eventually if you decide to try again you will have a more realistic view on what it will be like, which will actually make it easier the next time. You may have to re-think the breed you get too. The one best for your lifestyle may not be the one you really "want". It's tough to make that decision. Personally I would LOVE to own a Weimeraner, but realistically I know that will probably never happen because it just wouldn't be a good fit.

Having someone to help with a puppy/new dog makes a difference too.
 

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you might want to look at some shelter dogs that are older already house broken their are a lot of dogs that need homes. and you care about the welfare of them you would make a good doggy parent
 

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Don't feel bad, puppies are a LOT of work. You pretty much have to supervise all the time, and take them out every 15 minutes and every time they eat, get out of their crate, and wake up from a nap... and you have to go out with them to be sure to praise when they pee and poop outside. Exhausting. I've never had a puppy pee in their crate during the day but again, I was never away longer than 3-4 hours. My puppy HATED kennels though and is much happier in a wire crate.

We always crated our dogs at night (in our room) until they were housebroken too (and even then, we found out that housebroken downstairs on wood and tile floors didn't necessarily translate to 'can't pee on carpet upstairs'. Or the bed). It's always a huge adjustment and it's much easier now that my puppy is 10 months, but she still has to be the priority so I can't leave for 10 hours at a time etc (I still feel bad on days when I'm gone for 8 hours though), I have to let her out before doing anything else when I get home (and walk her even when it's 30 degrees out).
 
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