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Discussion Starter #1
Hi! I hope someone can help me because I really don't know what to do.

I adopted a 2 1/2 month old rescue dog this last Sunday. (Not sure what breeds are mixed there, though the pup's rescuer said the mother looked like she had pointer blood though her babies didn't look much like her). I am a first time owner, or rather, the dogs I had in the past were sent to live with my grandparents so I didn't care for them for long.

Initially, the rescuer agreed to care for the pup until the end of April old because I was about to start a project at work that would leave me with little time to train her properly for the next couple of weeks. However, due to extreme circumstances, he had to give her to me earlier. I am in a very tight schedule to crate-train her because I am starting this project and have very little time to teach her.

I introduced the crate to her with treats and praises, and she's ok getting inside as long as the door is open, but try as I might she doesn't like the door closed. Thing is, I'm forced to crate her so I can go downstairs and do things (I'm restricting access to the third floor, where my private study is and thus spend most of my time there, so I can keep an eye on her in case of accidents). I also need to crate her at night. I couldn't wait for her to accept the closed crate so I have to put her in (still with praises and treats, but against her will). Obviously, this results in a lot of whining and barking for a while (and I feel like the worse person in the world because she would not be distressed if I were doing this properly) until she settles. Or at least during the day she settles. I can't get her to sleep at night, She stops crying, but she's alert. Yesterday at least she dozed off a bit, but tonight she's more agitated than normal, I can hear her breathing a bit fast. I covered her crate to keep stimuli to a minimum but she's still agitated and I think my being in the room, instead of reassuring her like most videos and blogs suggested, aggravates the problem (in the day too, I have to leave the room if I want her to settle).

I fear that her changing owners might have instilled some separation anxiety in her (she follows me everywhere, won't play with her toys if I don't play too and cries if I leave her) and I'm just making things worse. My idea was to keep her in my study with me until she got used to the crate and then move the crate to the small room next to my study which would be her permanent space, but seeing how agitated the crate makes her at night is making me think twice. Also, seeing she doesn't like the closed crate, I tried leaving her out in the yard where I'm training her to go potty and she cried and barked less than when I crate her, so I was wondering if it would be better to leave her outside whenever I have to go out or do things in the house, with proper shelter of course, sort of like a playpen only bigger and outdoors.

I just don't know what to do. I'm completely aware that I'm rushing things too much, that getting her used to a crate can take days, that she's a scared baby that needs guidance and reassurance and love, but the thing is, none of the training blogs and videos say what to do with the pup while she gets used to the closed crate! I just wasn't prepared to have her so soon, I want to teach her properly but don't have the time right now, I really need her to accept the crate so I can visit my clients during the day and work during the night. Actually, I'll settle for her accepting the crate at night if she will accept staying in the yard while I'm not home.

I'm having a lot of biting issues as well. Her rescuer allowed her to chew on his hand and now she tries to do the same with me. Also, she gets very aggressive when playing tug-of-war and I don't know how to curve this, she gets carried away and bites and even scratches.

I'm so at a loss. I want this to work, but if I can't get her crate-trained soon and fix her aggressiveness I will have to return her, and I don't want to fail that way, not when she's only starting to trust me...
 

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First, relax! You've had her since Sunday. That's nothing, a drop in the bucket! Be careful that you're not expecting too much too soon. It will likely take at least a month for her to feel settled in, and that might help with lots of your issues.

And, really, lots of people need to work while raising puppies, so they need to "force" the crate issue, as well. :)

Try some crate conditioning:
- give him a frozen, stuffed kong (peanut butter is great!)
- shut him in the crate for 1-2 minutes
- let him out with no fuss and reassuring.
Do this as many times a day as you can throughout the day. And, sometimes leave the room, sometimes stay, that way she doesn't associate the crate only with times when you are gone.

You can also leave an unwashed piece of your clothing in the crate with her, the scent may comfort her.

Other than that, when you NEED to do work, and leave her crated, you have to ignore her.

As for biting, that is NOT "aggressiveness". That is the way puppies play. It is similar to how human babies put things in their mouth all the time. It's how they learn, explore, and play. At 2 and a half months she is an infant, and needs to be taught bite inhibition. In fact, it is highly recommended that pups don't leave their mothers and siblings til 8-10 weeks, which is about her age right now.

Check out the sticky "The Bite Stops Here." It outlines a method for working on puppy biting. Basically, you choose a noise to make when she bites, like a loud OUCH, or HEY, or a yelp. Once you pick a noise stick with it.
-When she bites, you make the noise. It should be loud enough to get her attention.
-She will probably bite again, almost immdediately, because it's so natural to puppies when they're playing or interacting.
-Make the noise again, and leave the room for 30 seconds. No longer.
-Come back, and go back to what you were doing.
-She'll probably bite again, make the noise and this time leave for 45 seconds.
Keep this up, increasing time you are away.
The idea is, human contact ends when she bites.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the tips! I have tried redirecting for the biting, but she kinda ignores the chew toy whenever she wants to chew something else. At first the yelping worked, but now she bites more. Also, about the "aggression", when we play tug-of-war she starts growling and tries to bite and scratch me to make me drop the toy. She sometimes growls when playing on her own. I don't want to encourage that kind of behavior, even if it's a game.

About the crate, do you think it would be better to leave her in the yard instead of the crate when I have to go out? It's a safe yard, I'm dog-proofing it, it has a thermal doghouse, water, and that's where she's learning to go potty. She doesn't fuss as much, she even goes out willingly because it's less hot, though she does drop off to sleep beside the door awaiting to be let in. Don't know if that's bad or not. And, I want to try putting the crate in her own room at night to see if she sleeps better. I know she'll cry, but she tends to settle down faster if she can't see/hear me. Would it be cruel to let her bark and whine while she gets used to the new sleeping arrangements?

Is there a way to measure her energy level? I'm afraid I can't exercise her as much as I wish, I walk her in the morning and evening (not too far for now since she's still missing some shots) and play a little with her in the afternoon, but that's as far as my work schedule allows (working mostly at home does not mean more leisure time). I'm afraid that her biting and chewing may be a consequence of boredom and pent-up energy and not only teething.

I know I sound very apprehensive when I've only had her for 2 days, but I want to be sure that I'm not hurting her more than helping her. Both her rescuer and I agreed that, if she doesn't adapt, it would be better to find her a home that can meet her needs than making her miserable and frustrated with someone who cannot meet them.

:)
 

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For biting: if the yelping doesn't work, and just excites her more, make a different noise, like OUCH in a loud voice. The noise is supposed to alert her that she's done something you don't like.

As for play/aggression: lots and lots of dogs/puppies play loudly and vocally. I have a 3 year old miniature dachshund who will growl and pull and shake while we are playing tug. It's completely natural and a good way to let out some pent up energy. Letting the energy out is so important, because if they keep that energy pent up and have no outlet, that's when puppies become bored and find things to destroy.

The thing to do, though, is to stop the play just BEFORE it gets too crazy. You could to be the judge of that. I would seriously recommend NOT limiting her play by not allowing the play growl and vocalizing, as it really is normal. But, whatever you decide is too crazy, you have to stop it BEFORE it gets to that point. The way you do this is to learn her body language, and learn the changes she exhibits right when she's about to go crazy with the playing. That way, the next time you will be able to watch her, and stop her she exhibits the same behaviors. It might be a change in how she holds her tail right before she gets too crazy, or a look in her eyes. It could be very subtle. But, it's there.

There's a difference between a warning growl and a play growl, by the way, and you will learn that as you get to know her.

As for sleeping arrangements: I'd recommend keeping her crate with you a bit longer, so that you can hear her if she starts fussing to be let out. Lots of young puppies can't hold it through the night without a middle of the night bathroom trip. She might have done ok til now, but she is still settling in, and may not be eating and drinking as normal yet. But, yes, it is ok to let her whine when she's crated at night, as if you respond to it, you are teaching her that whining gets her attention.

I wouldn't recommend leaving her in the yard at this age. Depending on where you are located, there are lots of dangers to young puppies outside with no supervision. For instance, some areas have people that steal puppies and then pass them off as "rescues" to get money. Or, there could be toxic plants/flowers in the yard. There could also be acorns (our big problem right now) as acorns aren't good for dogs.

Her biting COULD be because she has excess energy, but it's MOSTLY because she's a puppy and that's what puppies do. It's completely normal. It's how they learn and play. Teething will happen more around 4 months. So, be consistent with "The Bite Stops Here" and give it time. It took our first pup 4 weeks, our second pup about 2 weeks, and our foster pup 2-3 weeks. You aren't just trying to get them to stop a behavior, you're trying to TEACH them something and that takes time and repetition.

Short walks, twice a day is good for now. BUT, add some mental exercise: training. Mental exercise is very tiring, too. So, teach her to look at you when you say her name. Say her name, in a happy excited voice. When she does look at you, give her a tiny super yummy treat and praise. After a few days, try teaching her "sit". Hold a treat near her noise, and then raise it back over her head so that she has to sit down to keep her eyes on the treat. Then praise her and give her the treat if she does.

Mental exercise is a big help. But, don't be upset if she has little to no attention span right now, she's a baby. Start with just 3-5 minutes of training, about 3 times a day.

Two days is nothing, I think you're expecting too much of her AND of yourself. EVERY puppy takes time to settle in. AND every owner needs time to settle in to the new routine, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for your suggestions, I know I sound all paranoid, and the fact that I got her earlier than expected complicated things a lot. I'll try to follow your advice on biting. I am also teaching her less aggressive games like fetch. I know the growls are part of the game, but I'd rather she doesn't get used to anything that involves bites and growls, just in case.

About the yard, it's completely cemented and has no plants whatsoever, and it's in the upper floor, right in front of my study (I have another, also cemented, backyard where I play with her).

I think what I fear the most is that she needs more exercise and play time than I can offer, and that if I can't help her burn off that energy she'll channel it the wrong way and I'll be doing her more damage than good. I can only take her out for 15-20 minute walks in the morning and evening, and play with her for about 20 minutes in the afternoon and 10-15 minutes before her bedtime. The rest of the time I need her to entertain herself. She's mostly not alone; she plays or naps in my study beside my chair while I work or goes out to the yard and, once she's potty-trained, she will have access to the rest of the house. I pet her and change her toys constantly even if I don't play. There will be times when I do have to go out all day and leave her and she'll have to get entertained with her toys and treats, but it won't be all the time. Thing is, so many people in other blogs are telling me that even low-energy dogs need more exercise and play time than I can afford to give and that I should return my dog to the rescuer that I feel highly discouraged. I want a dog, but that is all I can honestly give. And my dad is highly allergic to cats so that's not an option either.
 

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It sounds like you feel you've made a mistake in adopting this puppy. If you really have misgivings, I'd return her before she gets too attached to you. You may need a small dog; one who has a much lower activity level than something with hound/retriever type blood in her. Keep in mind that all puppies are more active than older adults of the same breed. Have you thought about adopting an older adult who's already settled down?
 

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It does kind of sound like the time you have available to exercise and/or play with her is very limited. Dogs need exercise, and if you could up the amount to 30 minutes, morning and night, as well the time you are able to play with her, it might work.
Also, work on crate training her, so she becomes a bit more independent, and give her lots of treat dispensing toys, like a kong stuffed with peanut butter, and then frozen (it takes longer for them to get the peanut butter out).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It sounds like you feel you've made a mistake in adopting this puppy.
I think it's the other way around. When I started to seek for advice to break her from the biting habit, most of the answers I got were in the vein of "you don't really have time for a dog, you shouldn't have one, you're making it worse" and *that* caused the misgivings, making me wonder if I'm aggravating the biting situation because she needs more exercise than I can provide.

I've had dogs in the past, both since puppyhood, but they didn't come to me with bad habits already ingrained. This pup's rescuer made the mistake of letting her bite anything and everything, including his hands, for a whole month and a half before she came to me. The fact that I had to pick her up a week earlier, when I am swamped with this project, instead of next week, when I had left a lot more free time in my schedule to be able to be with the puppy, is not helping matters at all.
 

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So you are saying that the time limitations for play you have explained above are temporary for just this week? (Sorry, trying to understand the big picture here.)

If that's the case, then you aren't going to harm the dog by having this one busy week. I would not make any rash decisions this week - I would wait until the end of your "a lot more free time" week and re-evaluate how you're feeling. It sounds like you're under a lot of stress and pressure, and that might be making you a little more stressed out about the pup.
 

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If the time constraints are not temporary, then I would certainly suggest re-evaluating your breed choice.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
If the time constraints are not temporary, then I would certainly suggest re-evaluating your breed choice.
Well, she's a mixed breed, so the most I can do is look for one that doesn't look like her :p

I don't have a 9 to 5 job, so I'll NEVER have a lot of leisure time, but I certainly have lighter work periods that would let me give more attention to the pup, more playtime (at least 2 hours) , slightly longer walks, even if not to a park (no parks nearby, and we don't have doggie parks). You're right in that I am under a lot of pressure right now. Besides being behind on this project due to trying to give a little more time to the pup, plus having to deal with the biting thing that I have never dealed with before (my other 2 dogs learned not to bite in like 2 days) I had to push her into accepting the crate because this Saturday I'm bridesmaid at a wedding, I'll be out practically all day and she's staying with my parents, only because of her constant biting and scratching mum's scared of her and won't have her in the house unless it's in the crate, and dad will take her out to potty every 2 hours but that's the best I'll get, considering he's of the opinion that she should live outside (he's old school, he was taught that dogs live happier outside, and the pup's rebellious nature is not helping me show him they can live indoors, which is why I was also pressuring her into potty training and not chewing everything. Yes, a bad week alltogether).
 
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