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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello,

Me again...

My Belka is currently 5 weeks old. We have had him for 2 days. I am trying to potty train, however, I am not using a crate. We had intended to crate train him but... in all honesty - I was weak and wanted to cuddle the little fluffbutt the first two nights.

That being said - he hasn't had an accident. At all. When he wakes in the middle of the night, he nudges at my cheek, I get up and take him out. The first night we were up every 2 hours. Second night, he was up at 12:00 and 4:00 and slept the rest of the night (note I'm up at 6:30 am). He also has been going to work with me and we take him out every 2 hours or so. I was afraid if he is in the crate I wouldn't know when he woke and when he needed to go out and thus ruin the crate training.

We are going for our first vet appointment today. Because he is a pit-bull mix I know early training and socialization is super important. I do not know any other families with dogs, aside from our neighbors, and he is getting a tiny bit of socialization from them through the fence. And we have a handful of neighborhood cats that are very friendly with him. Play date centers say you must have vaccines (understandably), but he can't have vaccines yet. So I am trying to focus on training.

What is age appropriate to teach? Are there things I should focus on since he is a pitt and I don't want him to be victim of the stigma? I have to do at home training until all of his vaccines are filled. Is there anything breed specific I should know or do?

Right now he is ravenous for food so I think training sit would be good and possibly stay. But is this too young to teach him? I understand he has a super short attention span so teaching will likely be 5 minutes at a time, if that.

Is he too young to learn the "sit, Stay, wait" for food? Our other dog learned it within a week but he was 5 years old.

We also haven't started leash training but day 1 he had a collar. We also clipped him into the backseat with a seat belt harness to get him immediately used to that. Albeit, it is a rather large clip but he's coping well.

All the training I've seen online has been for at least 8 to 12 weeks as no one advocates 5 weeks old leaving the mother (which again I completely understand and if I had the choice I wouldn't have Belka until he was at least 8 weeks). Most sites even say "you won't find training here for a dog under 8 weeks because etc etc". So I'm coming up empty on a lot of my training.

Also: for reference because just the 2 days I've had him I've had people mention he's an "aggressive breed" and "vicious" - the mom is very sweet and loving as is the 'grandmother', the only time they have been even slightly guarded was a mother instinct with puppies. While I do not know the father, he is a full blooded lab.

EDIT:// the reason I am focusing on him being a "pitbull" is simply because over the course of having him for a week I have received many comments like "the only good pit is a dead pit" and "that's a vicious dog breed and you should put him down". I don't want to bring a bad taste to an already overwhelming bias. I want to prove to all the naysayers that breed doesn't equal bad. Granted, when I got Belka I didn't really know of the overwhelming distaste.
 

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You definitely need the advice of some people who have raised litters of puppies from birth...which I am not. ;)

I did want to say, though, that it's remarkable that Belka knows to let you know when he feels an urge to go potty! The crate training doesn't have to be so much about sleeping there overnight (I know a few people who let their puppies sleep in their bed from day one) or even a housetraining tool if you don't need it, the crate is more about being safe and feeling comfortable when he's home alone. So you could play some in-and-out games with the crate and start with brief stints in there, so if you're out on an errand or at a movie, your pup has a safe place to stay where he feels comfortable being alone. Puppies are with their littermates all of the time until they go home with their new owners, so the idea of "being alone" is one they have to learn.

P.S. I don't think anyone here would ever try to say your puppy is "aggressive" because he's a pitty mix. I'm sorry that people are giving you a hard time irl, people told me my Dal would be aggressive too (and you know what? she is dog selective as we're finding out, but she LOVES people. All of the people. So just brush those comments off)!
 

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Teach him how to learn - ie play shaping games, introduce a clicker or marker word, teach him to follow a lure or your hand - and work on relationship building and handling and general life skills for a while.

You can definitely get some commands/cues and actual obedience in there, too, but honestly? He's very, very baby and even if he were coming in a month or two months older, I'd advise much the same thing. I overtrained the heck out of my last dog. This one, I did the above and then took it on the road for socialization, exposure, and some foundations things like games with discs and confidence in water, and odd surfaces and taught a little here and there when he showed the desire - and attention span - to do it. No regrets, at all. He knows fewer COMMANDS, but he knows much more about me, about how training works, about our household routine and about how the world works and what's in it and how to have a good time and that's given me a heck of a foundation for learning.

And he's basically already caught up to dogs doing more formal command based training because when I do introduce something he's mentally and physically capable of learning it FAST. Because foundation.
 

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May I first ask why you got such a young puppy?
Next, don't focus on him being a Pit, or Pit mix. He is a dog first, the Pit is just part of him. Offer plenty of mental and (age appropriate) physical exercise and he'll do great.
There is no special training needed because he's a pit. However, since you seem to be a bit focused on that. Spend the next few weeks looking for a good, positive reward based trainer, and get him enrolled in the next session he's eligible for. I'd make a goal towards getting his CGC.
And, if you're interested, when he's older, look into a sport. I just retired my 12 year old Pit from agility. She had a great career and never had an incident with her being around a bunch of other dogs. There aren't many Pits (at least in my area) that run, but the ones that do, are very good, Labs also make great agility dogs.
Socialization can be done anywhere. It's exposing him (safely) to new sights, sounds, people, environment, etc.

At his age, start with super basic stuff, such as sit and down. Then you can move to 'stay' and recalls. Use part of his meals for training reward so he doesn't overeat.
Five weeks is VERY young, so don't expect a lot in and it could take a few months (or longer) for him to become fully potty trained.

I never crated our puppies at night. Our (now 6 year old) slept with me from day one. She was abandoned at 6 weeks old, lived with a foster mom until she came to our local shelter. We adopted her at 11 weeks. She slept thru the night and was fully potty trained by 4 1/2 months.
Like you, I took her to work (and everywhere else) with me the first 4 months we had her.
Our youngest dog (2 1/2) followed the same routine. We got her at 10 weeks, she went to work with me the first 4-5 months, was enrolled in basic obedience classes, etc. She is only about 80% reliable on her potty training.
Both dogs are super smart, both are 100% mystery mutts, had pretty much the same schedule and training. So dogs just 'get it' and others don't. That, and the people we rescued the younger one from started her on potty pads. (WORST invention ever!)
 

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Congrats. I bet he's adorable!
As said above, don't focus on his breed, but him in general. I've never met an aggressive or vicious pit bull or mix in my 12 years of training. They're actually my favorite.
It's so sad that people give / sell puppies at 5 weeks. It sets the stage for some rough going. They learn so much from mom and siblings until at Least 7 weeks. Especially bite inhibition and socializing.
Can I ask why would they give him to you so young? These backyard breeders need to be shutdown.
Anyway-- There's no reason you can't start trying a few commands with him. He is probably too young for crate training right now, but I would highly recommend it for safety, sanity and many other benefits long term.
I'm glad you're dedicated to training and socializing. He'll really need that since he came home too young. I would start around 8-10 weeks. Find a reputable puppy class that uses only positive reinforcement.
Best of luck to you
 

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Agree with all; he is learning things now; the nose at night to wake you is amazing. Like has been said the basic commands he should learn rather quickly; play, etc. I know you got him out of a bad situation and he is young but he is doing good so far !! In a couple of weeks you will see how much he changes and learns; my Molly at 10 weeks learned the dog door, the sit for food at her dish and shake for treats; time will fly by. Once all his shots are done, etc. would agree with a class for him; he will have fun and so will you. I didn't start the leash training until 12 weeks; it was a challenge. As for the aggressive blah blah people are saying to you; he is a dog, a smart dog and not aggressive just because he has pit in him, treat him right and he will be all right. I had Dobermans for years and outsiders said I should not have them they are mean, aggressive, etc; never did they show any aggression, etc were wonderful dogs; unless you illegally entered their yard !!!!!!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all for the advice!

To answer some questions:

Belka was essentially an "oops" puppy. I did not buy him - the owners had a pit bull that pulled free of her chain and/or couldn't get away from a lab. So she got pregnant and they are not in the best position financially to care for a litter of pups. I agreed to take one of the ten puppies when they were old enough. The owners had been keeping the pups outside in the mud and yuck under their porch. At five weeks, the owners no longer wanted to keep them as they were costing too much money and they were going to have to put up a fence per their landlords orders. It was either take the puppy or she said they would "get rid of him".

He went to the vet Friday and everything came back normal aside from being full of worms and a skin rash from bug bites. We go back in two weeks for our first round of shots. At the vets they gave me the name of a wonderful trainer and I have reached out to her.

We have bought Belka several toys and made some 'learning' games but he doesn't seem all that interested in playing with balls at all. And he doesn't really like to eat soft treats either. We are currently softening his puppy food with puppy milk replacement to give him an added boost. He has changed so much just this weekend!

Yesterday I was trying to get him used to following me and saying "come" - and I misinterpreted his whimpering as frustration when actually he was whimpering because he had to potty and didn't want to go in the house. I'm actually super impressed with his potty skills right now.

We also had a friend visit with her small dog. The dog was afraid of Belka and didn't play but Belka was happy to see him and not afraid of him, even after being avoided.

I have one other question: How long should a puppy hold his bladder/bowls? I was concerned last night when Belka only went out at midnight and not again until 5:30. Then this morning he didn't have a bowel movement from that 5:30am potty break until 12:00pm To clarify he DID empty his bladder during that time just as regularly as before he just didn't have a BM. Is it typical for a puppy his age to hold his bladder for 5 hours?
 

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I'm not sure on the holding it, I didn't get that lucky!! I was wondering, is Belka's mother still not spayed? If not and she is on a chain in an open yard it's going to happen again and is cruelty, the dog can not get away, might try the authorities again and tell them that, the poor dog needs a new home. Glad your little one is doing so good, be careful with other dogs until skill spots are done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
As of right now, Belkas Mom is not spayed. She is still on a chain outside and still incredibly sweet and will roll onto her back when I come up to her. Her mammary glands are very large and red looking so I may try the authorities next week as I believe she has an infection.

I'm being very selective on who I let around Belka until he gets all of his shots. Parvo frightens me and he is not allowed in our front yard at all (the backyard is fenced and locked).

We have an older dog in the house but he is very grumpy and doesn't like to be bothered (he's much like a cat in that respect). He mainly sits out of Belkas reach and just watches him. He hasn't been mean to Belka, even when he fell into his food bowl. He just won't interact - at all.
 

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For holding his bladder, it's different with all puppies, but rule of thumb is 1 hour per month of age. So 2 months = 2 hours. That said, we had one puppy that slept thru the night since we got her at 11 weeks. I'd take her to work every day, she'd potty at 5am, and not again until 2pm. SOMETIMES she'd pee, but she wouldn't poop until 2pm.
Sounds like everything else is going well.
Too bad you didn't live in the NW. I have one dog that LOVES puppies. She is the official puppy greeter for all my agility friends. A lot of people use her to let their puppies meet a big dog for the first time. One of her best buddies is a Silky Terrier, they are quite comical together, since she is 70lbs.
 

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Sometimes these situations happen and you did the right thing taking him in. Sounds like you are very lucky with potty training. There is no max/min for holding it in general (just max time in crate).
Not only is it abuse to have the mom confined on a chain to roaming dogs, but she could die if they don't get an infection taken care of. She could have all kinds of things going on inside. She is most likely Heartworm positive being an outside dog with owners who can't afford proper care. Heartworm will also kill over time.
I know it's hard to intervene & know if you're doing the right thing, but people like that just shouldn't have a dog. The sooner you get her "saved", the better!
Best of luck to you and your new baby ?
 

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I did the same when I got my 5 weeks old Pit(had her in the bed), she never had an accident or tore anything up, ect.

He's still young to worry about obedience or even socializing that this point (wait until at least 2 vaccines).

I usually spend lots of time handling and playing with my puppies. It's good to expose them to different things and let them explore their world. The first thing he will likely learn is his name. Mine probably learn No next lol. I don't start using a leash until more like 6 weeks or older. Mainly get them used to it and try to work with those who want to bite and tug on it to learn that it's not a toy.
Personally I would enjoy him being a puppy rather than focus on obedience right now. He will learn everyday by being around you.
He's a Pit mix, can't think of anything specific with Pit or Lab for that matter. Training and socialization are equally important for both breeds I would think. I mean I guess an untrained Lab might be more acceptable to some, but that doesn't make it a better situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I did the same when I got my 5 weeks old Pit(had her in the bed), she never had an accident or tore anything up, ect.

He's still young to worry about obedience or even socializing that this point (wait until at least 2 vaccines).

I usually spend lots of time handling and playing with my puppies. It's good to expose them to different things and let them explore their world. The first thing he will likely learn is his name. Mine probably learn No next lol. I don't start using a leash until more like 6 weeks or older. Mainly get them used to it and try to work with those who want to bite and tug on it to learn that it's not a toy.
Personally I would enjoy him being a puppy rather than focus on obedience right now. He will learn everyday by being around you.
He's a Pit mix, can't think of anything specific with Pit or Lab for that matter. Training and socialization are equally important for both breeds I would think. I mean I guess an untrained Lab might be more acceptable to some, but that doesn't make it a better situation.
2 weeks in and I think he's learned that his name is "belka, no"
 

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2 weeks in and I think he's learned that his name is "belka, no"
This is kinda funny, but also kinda sad because you don't want him to think his name is always going to be connected to a reprimand. ;) I say "Nah-uh!" really loud and sharp instead of just "no," or if puppy won't stop it turns into "Nah-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh!" Definitely a unique sound to get her attention off of the naughty thing she's doing, although my mom has said it sounds more like a dolphin that a reprimand to her...:laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Usually I say "No," and then deflect him, like just move him away or block his face until he won't bother it anymore. The first few days, my mom has these bright purple flowers that spill over the pot, and he tried every time he walked by them to take a bite. I would say "no" and then block his bite with my hand. Now when he walks by it I can see him look at it, think about it, and then just walk past it.

I'm actually incredibly shocked with how smart he is! He's learned things like, when my alarm goes off in the morning he practically jumps on me excited because it's time to get up and go out. We didn't know until this morning that he has come to associate my alarm with "outside" because it went off while I was in the kitchen and he immediately ran to the door. Also, I make my other dog "sit and wait" on his food until I tell him ok. I've never changed this routine despite Belka being in the house. Now, Belka imitates him and "sits" by his bowl every time he wants food or it's time to eat.

I joke that he's in his "terrible two's" because he is putting EVERYTHING in his mouth!

He goes for another vet appointment Friday just to make sure the worms are gone and I think they're going to give a few shots.
 

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At 5 weeks old just let him be a puppy. Too young for much of anything other than getting him out of the house to potty and expecting he will have lots of accidents. Every day this puppy will change and mature and you need to let that happen. At this age it is all about your relationship for training later.

I will also tender to be careful with over vaccinating. If you can get a vet to just do parvo and distemper and then at 16 weeks rabies you will be doing your dog a favor. It is thought that allergies later on in life MAY be related to too many factors in vaccines at a young age creating an over active immune system. Here is a link to where this information comes from:
https://drjeandoddspethealthresourc...s-vaccination-protocol-dogs-2016#.WZL24xXyvcs

As to the Mother dog and the other puppies.. I do not know where you live but there are so many organizations out there with low or no cost spay programs it seems she could be spayed. Her swollen Mammary glands are likely due to weaning the puppies (common) and she will eventually dry up. I do not want to know what happened to the other puppies. It is a sad situation indeed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I am hoping he and I have a good relationship. I'm afraid he may already have a smidge of separation anxiety. He tends to freak out when I leave the room, especially at work. He immediately jumps up and tries to follow me and if he can't find me he whines and whimpers and is otherwise uncontrollable by the other ladies in the office as well as my mother when he's at home. If something scares him, he immediately runs for me.
He is 6.5 weeks old at this point and I read somewhere that this is the time that you don't need to let anything scare them or put unnecessary strain as it will create problems later on.

In reference to the mom: we actually have a low cost spay shelter and it's where I took my cats as well as my other family members took their dogs. In total it ranges to around $60 to get a complete set of shots, HW test, and spay. However, if you can't afford that, they will do it for cheaper. I honestly don't know why the owners didn't do it. I was speaking to the owner the other day, showing her that Belka went to a good home... And it turns out they have an older full blooded AKC registered PitBull (Belka's grandmother) and they had planned to breed her for profit. However, they both lost their jobs and that didn't pan out and then she got pregnant by a neighbors lab and had Belka's mother. They have had two litters (one by belka's grandmother and one by his mother). My only thought is that they didn't want any "half breeds" and don't really care to take care of them?
 

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Your puppy is a baby. He would not be alone very much at all right now if he was still with his siblings. As a baby, you are who he will follow and want to be with. When he is 12 weeks old you will see a more independent animal.

At 8-9 weeks, teaching him about crates and about being alone for short periods should help him. He should learn to be alone, in the crate, for short periods of time.

You are doing fine.

As to the people who own his Mother, I will say this and leave it alone. I am not trying to "be mean" these folks allowed 10 puppies to come into this world and did not have any interest in their well being. They want to breed puppies for money. They are back yard breeders. Any responsible breeder who gets an "oops" littler still takes care of those puppies all the way through to 8 weeks and is interested in them all getting good homes. Beyond that, AKC does not recognize the Pit Bull Terrier as a breed. There are other breed organizations that do but AKC does not.
 
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