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Suggestions please - Helping me plan for my new GSD pup

NewGSDPUPOwner
March 30th, 2009, 08:43 PM
Hello everyone!!

I am new to this forum. I know this message is long but I am trying to provide all relevant information so that I could get some quality suggestions...


Looking forward to some help....

I need advice as to creating a plan for my new German shepherd pup I will be getting home end of May. This is the first time I will have a German Shepherd as a pet and I am getting a female as it has been suggested due to me having two kids (ages 7 and 4) and I am a first time GSD owner. I have owned a cocker spaniel years ago.
My situation is mentioned below:
• We are out all day from 7am to 5:30-6pm except weekends and holidays where she will be with us.
• We live in a house with an open concept. The upper level has rooms but is carpeted and we cannot identify any of the rooms for the dog upstairs. We would prefer not to get the dog upstairs and limit her to the main level (preferably), the basement which is unfinished and the single car garage where we keep the snow blower and mower, which we can cover.
• We are coinciding my getting the new pup home when my parents will be around to help house train her every few hours.
My concerns are:
I do not want her to get used to my Mom and Dad taking her out and therefore I am thinking of asking them to stop taking her out during the day once she is house trained. I will do it before leaving to work and after getting back. This I am doing keeping in mind the long run when they will not be there during the day and wondering what should I do to minimize the separation anxiety once they have left.
As mentioned above she would eventually be alone during the day and I was wondering where to keep her. I have an open concept main floor. I have an open basement but one area which is already designed in the shape of a room (9 x 9) I would have to do some work to cover up the insulation and the garage option as mentioned above. Would that be good or can I keep her in the main level in the house as long as she is house trained? The basement has regular basement windows. I could also leave the light on.
We would prefer to keep her upstairs but would it be recommended? Would she be able to stay without destroying anything? Again she would be able to see my parents as compared to her being in the basement or garage and here some noise. I hope I am making some sense.
My concern is keeping in mind the fact that they leave after a year what is my best option.
She will be going for walks out every day once we get home and be with us till she sleeps for the night. It is only the time when we are away that I am concerned about. She won’t lack love and get her exercise everyday.
The fact that my parents are around helps with the house training but I also see it as a potential problem when they leave and are not here.
I am trying to get all the answers and have a solid plan before she gets home so that I start on the right foot. I do not want to make mistakes in training/ bringing her up. HELP and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

lUvMyLaB<3
March 30th, 2009, 09:05 PM
Personally I believe that you are getting a member of the family, and therefore the pup should be able to join you in any room of the house.. Crate train the puppy, or get an ex-pen for when you are not home, and when you are home keep her with you in any room that you may be in. It is hard and streesful for a puppy to be left locked somewhere alone when people are home. You wont want her loose for awhile for many reasons, safety accidents.. ect.. and ex pen would be ideal. When you are home keep her tethered to you, so you can avoid any accidents.

Good luck! GSD's are awesome family dogs, she will need a lot of your time but it is more than worth it!!!

NewGSDPUPOwner
March 30th, 2009, 09:29 PM
We are very excited about the addition in the family. Thanks for your feedback about the ex-pen. I will look into the option.
Would she not find it hard when my parents leave?

sugarcatmom
March 30th, 2009, 10:08 PM
Hi NewGSDPUPOwner, welcome to the board! Congrats on getting a new doggy, and good for you for thinking these things through before she arrives. You might want to give this website a thorough read: http://www.dogstardaily.com/ In particular, the "Raising a Puppy" (http://www.dogstardaily.com/training/raising-puppy) section should answer some of your questions, like how to create a puppy playroom, and things you can do to avoid the development of separation anxiety. Good luck, and be sure to post some pics when she arrives.

Bailey_
March 30th, 2009, 11:57 PM
Hi GSD PupOwner!

First congrats on your future puppy! It's a very exciting time, but a lot of hard work as well. It's great to see that you're contemplating all these things ahead of time, that's very important.

We live in a house with an open concept. The upper level has rooms but is carpeted and we cannot identify any of the rooms for the dog upstairs. We would prefer not to get the dog upstairs and limit her to the main level (preferably), the basement which is unfinished and the single car garage where we keep the snow blower and mower, which we can cover.


It's ALWAYS important for a new puppy, in a new environment, to be given boundaries. A lot of people will let their puppies wander wherever they chose and check out every room with you; but not only does this make it harder for you to keep an eye on the new puppy while housetraining - you are not giving this new puppy structure which they THRIVE on. I absolutley reccomend keeping the puppy to your main level until you are ready to introduce her to other area's of the house. (Because eventually, yes, I do think it's important for the dog to have access to most levels of the house - though not neccessarily all rooms.)

We are coinciding my getting the new pup home when my parents will be around to help house train her every few hours.

This is all well and good 'in theory'. However, how long are your parents going to be around? Puppies need to go outside more often than just every few hours - in fact, they need to go out after they eat/drink, everytime after they wake up from a nap, and shortly after playing. When we puppy -train, we put the dogs outside every half hour. It's easy to say that your parents will be around to put the dog out, but is everyone aware of how important this stage is for training? How constantly you will have to be 'on' your puppy for a successful house-train? In my personal opinion, if your parents are willing to help you out, then that's great. But don't rely on them to get it done.
Don't forget, house-training can take weeks to months for a puppy to fully be called 'house-trained'. It all depends on the individual dog and their environment.


As mentioned above she would eventually be alone during the day and I was wondering where to keep her. I have an open concept main floor. I have an open basement but one area which is already designed in the shape of a room (9 x 9) I would have to do some work to cover up the insulation and the garage option as mentioned above. Would that be good or can I keep her in the main level in the house as long as she is house trained? The basement has regular basement windows. I could also leave the light on.


I personally would not keep a puppy anywhere but her crate. They are SAFEST in their crate, not to mention they feel safe. Some have suggested putting your puppy in a pen, which is totally up to the owner, though I personally have seen a few dogs injured after attempts to escape and I would not do it with my own pups. However I think it's great that you read the information provided and make that choice with your family. If your dog is in her crate and you have to work, is it possible to look up a local reputable dog-walking service that picks up and drops off? What about doggy daycare, for a couple days a week, or just mornings?

Would she be able to stay without destroying anything?

You can basically count on your dog destroying, chewing, and getting into everything. It's what puppies do, which is why supervision is essentially during the puppy months. I wouldn't reccomend anyone leaving a puppy to their own devices unless they wanted a pair of chewed underwear or wrecked baseboards.

The fact that my parents are around helps with the house training but I also see it as a potential problem when they leave and are not here.

This shouldn't affect her house-training in any way. As long as you are all very consistant with her in the beginning, it won't matter who's letting her out by the end of things - just as long as someone is.

Good luck!

Lynne_B
March 31st, 2009, 10:04 AM
Hi GSD PupOwner!

Bailey has some great suggestions, and I just wanted to add a couple. First, do NOT take your puppy home until it is 8 weeks old, preferably 9. I have no idea what age yours will be, but be prepared for potential issues if you don't. It's very common for dogs taken away earlier than this to develop problems learning bite imhibition (not having enough time with littermates and playing, learning what hurts and what doesn't during play), problems with separation anxiety, and issues being unfriendly or fearful of men. Sometimes people don't have issues at all, just be aware of the potential though.

Housetraining....every pup is different, but be prepared to be up in the middle of the night at least once to let her out to pee. Then during the day, like Bailey said, it could be every half hour. It could be an hour, but probably no more than that. If you are trying to lengthen the time between pees, have her out and about for the length of time between pees (you get a feel for it after a few days), and then she goes into the crate for a few minutes, then gets let out. Then you can lengthen the time gradually. As for your comment on your parents not taking her out during the day, that's not very realistic. If your puppy has to go, she'll go, whether you want her to or not. Yes, even if shes in the crate, and it's sized properly. Our puppy wasn't holding it all day till he was 5-6 months old. We are gone for 10-11 hours during the day. We were lucky enough that a family member was able to take him out around lunchtime for the first 4-5 months, then we came home from work at lunchtime to let him out ourselves (it's an hour commute for us).

Puppies will chew whether you like it or not. If they get too mouthy during play, say ouch, and let them take their mouth away, then end playtime. Make sure she has lots of proper stuff to chew on. Stay away from rawhide, tennis balls, and pig ears, DO use bully sticks, bones, rope toys, kongs, squeaky plush toys (as long as she doesn't rip them apart), nylabones, and for teething, wet an old washcloth, twist it up, and freeze it.

Other puppy tips....they learn so much in the early days, so make sure you make the most of it. Bring her to a bunch of different places, lots of smells, sounds, sights. Expose her to as many different kinds of people as possible, big, small, tall, short, beards, hats, different nationalities, wheelchairs, rollerblades, bikes....you get the picture. Sit outside a coffee shop and meet all the people coming in and out, and have her interact with them as well. Go to parks, see all the kids. Go to the pet store or off leash park and meet other animals (wait till she gets her shots, and ask the vet about this first though). Take her to a groomer, even if it's just for a quick trim of the nails, and get her used to standing on a grooming table. Even if you don't have to give her a lot of baths later on, give her a bath now and use a blowdryer, just to get her used to the sensation and sounds. Walk her on different surfaces, snow, gravel, cement, pavement, ice, and yes, even mud. Have lots of fun and enjoy your new pup!!

Blackdog22
March 31st, 2009, 11:01 AM
What type of GSD are you getting?
Nobody can give sound advice without knowing the type. The variations within the breed are astounding.
First and foremost, your dog is going to need WAY more excersise then that....regardless of type. GSD are very active and must have stimulation or you will regret ever bringing one into your home. I always tell people, that is the worst thing you can do to a gsd is under (or over) excersising them.

It is also massively important for you to bond. This is a breed that needs a clear leader or they will happily take the position, once they do it can be very hard to regain your status in the pack. Without a strong conncection, you will not have the GSD you are hoping for. They will simply take you or leave you.

For any type socialization is detrimental. You must be able to dedicate yourself to this aspect of dog ownership. An undersocialized GSD is a nightmare to be had. Behaviours can range from full out aggression, to fear biting, to a straight up tuck tail and run coward. If you feel you can not offer tons of socialization, perhaps you should look into an older, trained dog that is out of its various puppy stages. If you want I can reffer you to some fabulous older, trained dogs available.

As far as your parents, or roomates. You should encourage your GSD to be friends with anyone and everything at all times. However, if you get a puppy and they are around more then you are, it is very likely the GSD will bond to them instead of you.

Puppies are alot of work, as are GSD.
Good luck on your journey.

I would love to see a pedigree of your potential pup if you have one available.

Lynne_B
March 31st, 2009, 11:48 AM
Great comments Blackdog, it's always good to know what type of breed-specific traits your dog has, and how to work with them. Exercise and proper stimulation are SO important, and creating a good bond with them. Every dog has different needs, but those are pretty important ones, along with socializing with other dogs of different sizes and ages and breeds. Puppies can be a handful, and it can be very frustrating to train them, but some things that helped me with the bonding part...after a walk, give your dog a massage. Rub down and stretch out her legs and muscles, get her used to you feeling her feet, toes, joints, and such (the added bonus to this is they get used to being handled for visits to the vet and groomers). Plus your dog won't get stiff (and they do after a long hike). When you're busy and can't spend a lot of time with her, tie the leash around your waist and do your normal day to day stuff with her with you.

Shepherds have great noses, and they protect. When you leave her alone in the house, tell her to watch the house when you leave. Teach her to play hide and seek, so she uses that nose and develops that sense of smell. Hide yourself, or toys (avoid hiding treats, you don't want her to start scavenging the floor for any dropped bits of food). Start in one room of the house, and work up to larger areas. Get her to sit/stay (until she learns this, get someone else to sit stay with her. Go hide yourself or the toy, then tell her to find it, or come find me. Give her some hints along the way if she gets sidetracked, but when she finds it, give her lots and lots of praise.

Blackdog22
March 31st, 2009, 12:24 PM
Great suggestions, especially touching the feeth, toes and joints on a regular basis.
With any pup it's important to postively imprint them to grooming. The last thing you want to have is a +60lb dog that tries to fight you every time you try to clip it's nails.
Both my GSD are wonderful at getting groomed, from brushing, ears and toes. This is because when they were young I made an effort to do exactly as you suggested as well as practicing regular grooming at an early age. Make sure your gsd puppy gets the very best reward for each toe you clip, or ear you clean. You'll want to reward every time your gsd pup allows you to do this, as it will teach her that you are a leader and it is in her vey best interest to do what is asked of her. If you make compliance(listening to commands) a fun thing for her while she is a pup, she will more likely be an attentive, obedient gsd when she gets older. Not all GSD like treats. Many are very prey driven, so quick, exciting game of fetch will often motivate them more then a tasty tidbit.

No gsd puppy of any type should have protective instincts encouraged (some have said it's like giving an 8 year old boy a gun , telling him he must protect his home, then leaving him....)
They are a naturally protective breed and usually develop this trait after they are much older (some take 2 years or more, but you should not see this trait develop until at least 1 year old, in the most high drive dogs. If a gsd pup of any type was showing protectiveness any younger I would suspect poor tempermant and/or nerves)

Treats should be used when doing tracking with GSD. It is one of the most successful ways to teach them. That being said it all depends on the type of gsd and the work it is intended for. If you are even considering doing sport you will want to start laying treat tracks. Later when the dog is older, you start transfering the treats with an article. All of that being said CKC tracking is very different and will require a completely different method of training.


I do agree on playing tracking based games (like hide and seek) this is also fantastic advice as it will increase your bond and you both will have alot of fun. It's very mentally stimulating and a gsd pup needs as much mental stimulation as they can get.

NewGSDPUPOwner
March 31st, 2009, 01:30 PM
First of all - THANKS!! to everyone for their feedback and suggestions. First time for me on any forum and I am blown off with the replies.
Just to clarify a few things from my first post.
My parents have had experience with a cocker spaniel years ago. They will be with me for 8-10 months on a visit. They will be consistent in ternms of their availability to take her out when she is being house/ carte trained. I do not intend for her to get used to going at a designated spot at home.
When she is house trained in a couple of months (hopefully) I meant that I would like to try and get her used to a routine of going in the morning and after I get back home as my parents would'nt be around for good with us.
Will she be able to stay alone for the period of 8 hours when she gets older (6-8mths old) without tearing the house down. I have got some excellent tips about getting her used to things when she is a puppy - such as grooming, socialization which I knew was very important. Thank you.
Would she have separation anxiety with my parents leaving later?
I will be getting her from the breeder at 9.5weeks old.
I intend taking her for initial training classes too wher the both of us get trained.

Lynne_B
March 31st, 2009, 01:59 PM
I think 8 hours holding it for a 6-8 month old puppy is more than acceptable. Again, every puppy is different but it should be possible. As for separation anxiety, it's hard to tell. She could be sad for a while when they're not there all the time. Will they be able to visit after?

I understand your worries, when our dog was a pup my sister in law was living with us, and she was the one taking him out at lunchtime and spending some time with him during the day. But, when she left he made the adjustment well. However, she kind of weaned him off. At the time she was getting more serious with her boyfriend, so was staying with him every once and a while, for different periods of time. Then she moved in with him. Again, he adjusted fine, but she still visits a lot too. If you are the main caregiver when you are home, then I think she'll be fine. Meaning you're doing the feeding, walking, etc in the evenings and on the weekends. Your parents can also have her in the crate for short periods while they do their own thing during the day too. I would also schedule a couple times where you want to either take a vacation, or have some time to yourself, and either bring her to a kennel for an overnight or two, or daycare during the day. This eases her into learning that it's ok for you to be away from her (and your family), and that you are coming back. Be sure to let the kennel know why you're doing it, so they can observe her and see how she reacts. We did this when we went on a cruise, and the sister in law puppy sat for a week. We learned that even though he was happy go lucky the whole week, he didn't want to eat much and had the runs. Then he was fine when we got back.

Also, take vacations with her, and she can learn about being away from home as well. Hope this helps!