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Discussion Starter #1
So my dog has been having a lot of behavioral issues since I got her, the most recent being tearing at the carpet. (At this point my poet deposit wont even cover it she's cost me a fortune already)/ Despite getting plenty of exercise, having dozens of fun toys, she still digs at and tears up the carpet. Other issues like digging at my bed sheets, or barking have been a problem as well. And I always put her on timeout when I catch her doing anything wrong. It's an empty room for her to be alone for a minute or two before coming back. At first, timeouts were becoming very effective at stopping behaviors such as unwanted barking late at night, or chewing up things she wasnt supposed to. And now all of a sudden they have completely stopped working. Is there any other training strategy that i can use to show her what works and what doesnt? After 2 months of having her it has proven rather difficult to find out the best training tactics for her. Despite all the methods I have tried and all the work I've put into correcting her previous owners shortcomings. She's a smart dog, she's just obnoxiously defiant and it's almost like she gets a kick out of intentionally ignoring redirection and correction of her behaviors. I have switched training treats several times to get her motivation for training up, and to give her a better reason to do what I want but it still doesnt work. I have tried getting anti chew sprays for my carpet, they dont work. I have tried getting her more toys, I have tried wearing her out more. And I just resorted to blocking off the spots she chews and digs at, but that is a temporary solution. What are some other effective ways to show my dog what works and what doesnt, since timeouts are proving so ineffective. I should add that she is about 7 months old give or take a few weeks, could all this defiance be just a thing relative to her age and her "teenage phase" and is it something that will go away, or is it something about her individually?
 

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Yes, 7 months old can be a difficult age. They're like teenagers. You're not as interesting anymore, and they're wanting to explore the world and push limits. She will likely grow out of some of it, but you will have to be consistent with enforcing boundaries.

The easiest way to stop bad behaviors is prevent them entirely. First, she should be supervised at all times since she clearly can't be trusted yet. If you see her doing something naughty, redirect to an appropriate toy. Praise her for using that toy. When you can't supervise, she should be crated or locked in a dog proof room.

For especially stubborn dogs that really enjoy chewing on everything, this may take a long time, but it's important to be consistent and stick with one method.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The problem with the supervision bit is I just can’t watch her very second of every day. I live alone, am a full time college student, part time worker. Fortunately with Covid I’m at home for school, but even so I need time to focus on my zoom meetings and time to focus on homework. A little over a week ago we were finally getting into a routine of, wakeup, walk, eat, go outside for a bit. And then when I sit at my desk for class, she would either lay in her bed or at my feet until I got up and was done. Which was exactly the routine I wanted, but now she’s pushing boundaries. And then for work I’m gone 5-8 hours a day 4 times a week (Though she’s very good when I’m gone, she hasn’t torn up anything or gone potty in the house and etc while I’m at work). I don’t want to crate her for that long because then she’ll associate crating with me leaving, or with being bored for way too long and it’ll turn the crate into a negative experience for her. And since the problems mainly arise when I’m in the house, I think it would just be a negative experience for nothing. She’s already stubborn enough, and if the crate is anything she doesn’t like it’s over she’ll never go in it again. I alreafd think I will have trouble getting her in a crate, because she was confiscated form a hoarding situation where she most likely was crated for days on end without attention. I basically inherited a 5 m/o pup with the people manners and training of an unweaned pup. So having to start from scratch like that has been hard. I’m also positive they abused her which is why she is so defiant and stubborn to do anything she doesn’t want. And since she is so stubborn and it’s often hard to get her attention back on me when she’s riled up and overstimulated (be it excitement or frustration). I’ve contemplated an e-collar as a means to get her attention, focus on the command Im giving her and then reward her for listening. Though ecollars are a slippery slope of used incorrectly. And since I’m no trainer I don’t know if I wanna risk it. I’ve been looking at all sorts of avenues to upkeep the training we’ve done for 2 months that has seemingly been undone by her teenage stage (getting new toys for motivation, getting a higher caliber treat for situations where I’m struggling to get her attention, getting a crate). But I’m obviously in the market for any advice that could help keep her on course to being a well trained dog.
 

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Unfortunately, in order to prevent unwanted behaviors in a puppy who hasn't fully learned behaviors that are more desirable to the human in her life, supervision and management is an absolute must. If you don't want to utilize a crate with her, how about an x-pen? or tether her to your desk when you're on the computer? Of course, before you can reasonably expect her to settle quietly at your feet, you will need to make sure her needs are met. A walk, bit of play/training session, then perhaps save half (or more?) of her morning meal to eat via a puzzle toy or frozen into a Kong while you're working & she needs to be confined or tethered.

What really strikes me when I read your post is how many times you refer to your puppy as 'stubborn' or 'defiant'. She is neither - she is a puppy who has her own creative ways of inventing puppy fun. She's smart. She's enthusiastic. You NEED to start looking at her in a positive light & become creative in how you find to channel her energy & enthusiasm. Thinking of her as 'stubborn' does nothing but set the two of you up to have an adversarial relationship. Just the fact that you're considering putting a shock collar on her is very disturbing! I strongly urge you to enlist the assistance of a really good, positive reinforcement based trainer to help get you on the right track before you head off in a direction that will just totally degrade your relationship with your pup.

There is a wonderful book called 'When Pigs Fly' which deals with training "impossible" dogs. You might want to pick up a copy & read it while you're waiting to get signed up with an in-person trainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Firstly, e-collars and shock collars are two vastly different things. E-collars don’t hurt them at all if used right and are very helpful tools. E-collar technology has evolved drastically making it so there are hundreds of settings, so you can find the right setting that will just get your dogs attention without hurting them, it's basically just pressure or a muscle contraction that gets your dogs attention. That's the right way of using them. And e-collars have many features not just sending a stimulus to their neck. That includes beeps, whistles, and other noises to get the dogs attention. So no, it’s not disturbing to want to use a proven highly effective tool that can be used to reorient overly eager dogs to pay attention. It’s literally just a stimulus that gets their attention or a noise that gets their attention when used correctly. Secondly, stubborn and defiant is the right word. Especially in her recent teenage phase. Because any effort to correct behavior, reorient her, even when I am fully calm and collected and trying not to agitate her, is met with heavy resistance, barking, not letting me approach her at all, nipping at my shoes, etc. no matter how I present myself to her, be it friendly, calm, quiet, or even on the opposite spectrum of trying to be more assertive, it is always met with resistance from her. It is intentional defiance most likely because of her previous home and however they treated her (which I expect was probably abusive). As for a trainer, I am not willing to pay $50+ for one session a week. Because that’s not consistent training or worth my money. None of the local trainers here are even doing at home training. And training her in some random dog park once a week isn’t helpful either. On your note, the main reason I don’t save her diet yet, is because she’s not house trained either (and it has been a struggle and half to house train her). So with her food only being given in the morning and mid afternoon, it gives me a good potty schedule of taking her out first thing in the morning to poop, and then after breakfast, once in the middle of the day, and then once after her dinner. I worry scattering her meal throughout the day will just make her poop more and I don’t want to have to relearn a whole new routine with her when there’s already so many challenges we’re already facing. I do have puzzle feeders with her train me treats on occasion since she loves them and they’re low calorie treats with no bad additives. As for a crate Im most likely going to try and crate train her for down time, but there is always a chance she responds negatively to a crate due to her unknown past. In which case I’d have to try something different. I’ve also purchased some new toys for her, because maybe she’s just getting bored of her current ones and taking it out on the carpet.
 

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The teenage months/years of a dog's development are some of the most demanding and challenging you'll have, especially if you have an intelligent, high-energy dog who needs to have something to do, as it sounds like your girl is. I have one too (15 months now), and what I've found is that his 'obnoxious' behavior is generally one of three things:

  • His physical needs haven't been met
  • His mental needs haven't been met
  • He's overtired and needs some enforced calm time until he cools down enough to take a nap
Sometimes you can make up for a day of less physical exercise with more mental stimulation or vice versa, but over time you really need to fulfill both. In our case, an hour+ on trails in the local woods or field, preferably off-leash or at least on a long line, does a really good job of meeting both. Working with nosework, scent games, or tracking is also extremely effective, even though it's more mental than physical. Wading or swimming is one that's mostly physically demanding, but still goes a long way towards calming him down. If we have a day where we can't do any of those three due to weather, work, illness, etc. we have to make a conscious effort to sprinkle in a lot of short training and play sessions, and get him a good, satisfying chew.

Otherwise, he's stealing pens and napkins off tables, barking at anything and everything outside, ripping up his bed, harassing his 'older brother' to play, or finding other ways to satisfy his need for engagement with us and mental stimulation. When he's really bored or overtired, add digging in the couch cushions and chewing wooden furniture to the list.

Punishing him for having physical and mental needs isn't really effective. At best he'll just ignore it and keep doing what he's doing, or even do it more, because at least the punishment is attention and interaction from us, and he really wants attention. A more emotionally sensitive dog may shut down and stop displaying the 'problematic' behaviors - which are all very natural dog behaviors - but a shut down dog is fearful and miserable, and still hasn't had their needs met or been taught what's appropriate to do instead of the behavior we humans have decided is inappropriate.

Take a serious look at the kind of exercise and mental stimulation she's getting on a daily basis. Mental stimulation doesn't have to be training - take a look at canine enrichment ideas, as there are many cheap or free DIY options out there - but I do suggest working on teaching your girl how to earn reinforcement. Once her needs are met, you're going to have much more success teaching her the one or two behaviors you DO want in any given situation instead of punishing the several hundred you don't want. Treat her like a puppy that has no idea what training is - you can use her meals for this, too, and use a simple marker like 'yes' or 'good' followed quickly by a treat or kibble every time she does something 'appropriate', like look at you, sit, lie down on her bed, etc. Start with very simple, natural behaviors. One popular game to teach dogs that their behavior can earn them reinforcement is 101 Things to Do With a Box. The link is talking specifically about clicker training, but you can replace a 'click' with any kind of marker word. The idea is that you can tell the dog with that marker when they're doing a GOOD thing and you're about to reward them, instead of focusing on only the bad things you don't want them doing.

I know you're not interested in going to a trainer, but do consider it. Look around for someone who uses proven, science-based methods and learning theory. Many dog trainers are offering remote classes or consults right now due to the current situation. And even if you're not training in the house, a good trainer will help because they'll be teaching you how to communicate better with your dog, so everyone can be really clear on what the household rules for behavior are.

And yes, when a dog is overtired or you need quiet time to do work or relax, putting them in a secure pen, crate, or room where they can't practice destructive behaviors is your best option. You can pair it with a safe, edible chew or a stuffed food toy to encourage calm, self-soothing habits, but settling in is a skill many dogs need to learn and practice to be good at - a few dogs do know how to settle naturally, but definitely not all.
 

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The problem with the supervision bit is I just can’t watch her very second of every day.
Nobody expects you to watch her every minute of every day. That's impossible! But, when she is allowed to free roam, you need to keep an eye on her and actively be making sure she is exhibiting correct behaviors. This isn't forever, just until she can be trusted to make the right decisions by herself. You'd do need to find some way to manage her, though, whether that's using a crate, a tether, an ex-pen, or baby gates to keep her from destroying your apartment even more thoroughly.

I suggest looking up "Crate Games", which is a positive way to teach dogs about the crate. And yes, the crate can mean that you're leaving, but so does picking up your keys, putting on your coat, and, you know...walking out the door. Unless your dog is struggling with separation anxiety, leaving in itself should not be an issue. Millions of dogs all over the world have learned to accept that their owners do have to leave sometimes, but their crate is a positive place, so they don't mind going in! It doesn't hurt to at least try and see what happens, and if you don't like it then you can choose something else. It's really saves one's sanity when you're dealing with a pup!

I’ve contemplated an e-collar as a means to get her attention, focus on the command Im giving her and then reward her for listening.
Oh, I absolutely would not recommend that. Not with a puppy. Not with a puppy you suspected has been abused. In order for an e-collar to be effective, they first have to know exactly what is expected of them. A puppy that you have been training for two months DOES NOT fit that bill. And yes, some collars can emit a beep or a vibration, but please remember this: You do not decide what the dog considers aversive....the dog does. A beep or a vibration, although harmless from our perspective, can be absolutely terrifying to a dog.

If you do decide you want to move forward with an e-collar against our advice, please at least make sure to consult with a professional. And not a "zap the dog for everything" professional, but someone who can objectively evaluate your dog and teach you how to and how not to use the tool.

Please note, what you're experiencing is pretty normal for a 7 month old dog. It may seem that the dog is being purposefully spiteful and wants to make your life hell, but that's not true. It has a lot to do with their mental capacity for not being crazy. Impulse control is poor, their brains appear to fall out, and they can't seem to pay attention for more than 2 seconds, nor remember anything for 2 seconds. They really are like teenagers. It's not called the teenage phase for nothing!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Knowing my dog, I think if she learns that crate means I’m leaving she’ll most likely make a game out of not getting into the crate as I’m about to leave, so I’ll most likely only use the crate for down time, and let her get familiar with sleeping in it with the door open and stuff. She doesn’t have separation anxiety, but I know if I add another cursor to me leaving the house she might get a little feisty. I normally out on shoes and pickup keys anyway when we go on walks, so there hasn’t been any key indicators for her to know when I’m leaving and when I’m not. I’d hate to add one and then cause a slew of problems. And yeah I know she’s in a teenager phase, which is why I’m in the market for some training advice to better handle this crazy stage of hers. My last dog was a small dog so I don’t think I noticed the teenager stage at all since small dogs are so easy to handle. I know it’ll pass, and some days she’s not even that bad, but boy oh boy are the bad days bad.
 

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I know this can all be very frustrating, but one thing I am not hearing is what are you doing when she chooses to do the right thing? Successful training comes from rewarding calm, positive behaviors. Reward her when she’s not chewing on the carpet.
Please, please do not resort to an e-collar or shock collar. These just suppress behaviors and do not actually show dogs what is right. They work more on fear of doing the wrong thing.
Does she get enough physical and mental exercise? Long walks daily, fetch, Chewing on safe bones, working on cues like sit, down, stay, leave it, come and giving her food puzzles (frozen Kong’s, treat ball, etc...).
Have you considered taking a class with her? Professionals can help point out things you may not realize or think of.
Dogs inherently want to please us and do the right thing. It’s up to us to properly communicate the rules and manage our environment to set them up for success.
What do you give her to do when you’re on a zoom call or busy at home? That would be a good time to give her a frozen Kong or some other interactive toy or long lasting bone. Since she only gets into things when you’re home, I’m guessing she’s doing it for the attention. Any attention is attention - bad or good. Set her up so she doesn’t have a chance to chew on the rug. Put up a baby gate so she’s in the same room with you or tether her to yourself with her leash and give her something calm to keep her busy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I reward her A LOT whenever she does what I wants (like bringing me a toy quietly instead of attention barking or getting rowdy) with both special treats that are separate form her daily training treats. That way it’s like an extra special reward. If I am on a zoom call and she’s not taking a nap, I have 2 toys that are exclusively for when I have zoom calls so they are also considered special. Or sometimes I’ll dip some cow hooves in chicken broth and she’ll gnaw on them for hours. I am planning on buying some new toys for her (including kong toys) specifically for my zoom calls as well. In terms of exercise she gets about 3-4 hours a day in walks, fetch, tug of war, etc. as for mental stimulation we do at least 2 training sessions a day, and she does have some puzzle feeders.as for classes, my local trainers are all crazy expensive and way out of budget for me (I’m talking like one class a week for like $50 per session). And it seems ineffective to only have one training session a week and it wouldn’t even be in my home. And the carpet is all over my bedroom, it’s not a rug , so tethering her wouldn’t stop her from getting access to it. I’ve resorted to just blocking off the area she takes particular interest in with something heavy until I can get someone to fix the carpet.
 

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What breed is she?
You said ", wakeup, walk, eat, go outside for a bit." A walk is not nearly enough exercise for most dogs.
She needs some real exercise along with mental exercise.
What has her training entailed so far?
I have a 14 week old puppy. He goes on 4 walks a day, plus play time and training. I've been pretty lax, so, he only has a sit, down and wait....so far. Working a recalls, fetch, stay, and some basic agility foundation.

To keep her occupied while you're doing your school work, I'd get some Kongs, stuff them with kibble/wet food, and/or veggies, if she likes them. You can get a few of them, fill then all at the same time and freeze them. Give them to her frozen.
Bully sticks are good distractions as well.
 
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