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Border terrier puppy advice


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My partner and I got a Border Terrier puppy on Saturday(she's 9.5 weeks old now) after months of research and reading up on dog training and puppies.

I had read before that getting a puppy is never what you expect it will be and that's certainly true here.

I'm writing to get some advice on specific things, and opinions on whether we're doing ok and what we could improve.

I've got this week off while my girlfriend goes to work, the next week will be the other way around and then once again.

Our current day look like this:

Get up at 7, pee/poop, play time, breakfast. Then my girlfriend leaves at 9. Then it's play time, nap, lunch, play time, nap, play time nap, dinner, play time, bed.

We let her out after each meal, play time and nap. She doesn't always pee/poop. She sleeps ok. A bit of crying every time she has to get back in her crate after pee time.

Now, the things that concern me are that she doesn't eat a lot. According to the breeder she should eat 4/8 cup each meal (3 meals a day). She only eats 1/8-2/8 cups. She tries to chew on EVERYTHING. Even when we tell her off, she doesn't necessarily listen.

Getting her to pee/poop is difficult, we're outside a lot and then she just starts chewing on stones, running around and loads of other things. Everything but what we want her to do. We take away the stones so she doesn't swallow them, but she just gets another one an hour later.

Play time usually goes ok, but sometimes she just sits there and stares out the window or away from us. When we're not constantly playing with her, she'll wander off and start chewing on things she shouldn't be chewing on (crate, chairs, cable conduits).

She doesn't like her collar (always scratches it). We've tried distracting her with special toys/treats and taking it off again after 5 minutes, but so far no progress.

She doesn't like her crate during the day. I mean, she will go inside if we throw a treat or one of her toys in there, but gets out fairly soon after. I don't think she dislikes it per se, but she doesn't want to stay in there either. When she falls asleep on the lap, she's ok with us moving her to her "mattress", but not her crate. She'll get up and get out. Then she won't continue sleeping.

So, what's your opinion? Are we doing ok? What could we do better/differently?

Currently I'm just super insecure and uncertain what to do in certain situations. She really is wearing me out mentally. I'm always tired. Happy when she's asleep, anxious when she's awake.

Hope anyone can give some good advice!

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All normal stuff then :) Yes, you are doing great!

Housetraining - Puppies should be taken outside to pee/poop after eating, after sleeping, after playing and lots of other times in between! The most important thing to remember is to ignore any accidents as the puppy will not want to be anywhere near a human who does not like pees/poops and this causes all sorts of problems with house training. Just as important is to reward the pee/poop outside. As with all training- timing is of the essence. The fantastic treat must arrive, in the puppy's mouth, as they stand up from peeing/pooping. Any delay and the puppy may be confused as to why they were rewarded. Over time your puppy's brain will start to make the association with garden pees/poops and treats. You should start to see your puppy looking at you when she needs to pee/poop so that you can both go outside to get the treat that is on offer out there when pee or poops happen. Keep a brolly by the door and some fantastic treats.

Chewing - Provide plenty of chew toys of all sorts of materials. Divide them into three boxes. Put one box of toys out at a time. Rotate regularly so that there are new ones all the time.

Protect everything that should not be chewed with barriers or lift them up/cover them. Whenever you notice your puppy chewing on a chew toy go over and interact with her. Give it a little tug, tickle her, smile at her. In other words give her lots of attention for chewing her things and zero attention for chewing your things whenever you can. If it is valuable or dangerous then it should not be in reach. You can leave some dummy human toys, like old tea towels bits of recycling materials etc, around so that she gets zero attention for chewing them.

No puppy likes their collar. Some breeders will put a ribbon around their puppies necks to acclimatise them. It is just patience for a while longer.

She is probably associating her crate with being isolated. I would not worry too much that she does not want to spend more time in there than she has to. Just keep up with throwing treats and toys in there. Feed her in there.

Lots of puppies get fussy when there are no litter mates to worry about. Just pick up the food after about 5 minutes. You need to be the competition for her food. If she leaves it, it disappears! No dog ever starved itself when food was frequently available.

Do factor in some "alone time" for her. She needs to learn to be independent so that you can go out occasionally! Just leave her alone sometimes when she is fed, toileted and tired. Don't make a big deal of it - just go. When you come back, be cool with her until she is calm. Along the same theme, try not to let her fall asleep touching you all the time. She will miss you more if she is used to sleeping on you.

A book called "The Perfect Puppy" by Gwen Bailey is well worth a read.

Have you enrolled her in Puppy Socialisation Classes? They are extremely important. Look up those run the a member of the APDT in your area. They are a very modern, professional organisation.

Get her out as much as you can to see the world. She can mix with vaccinated dogs. If you think she may ever live/mix with children then she needs to see them now and the experience needs to be a good one. The critical socialisation period is up to 12/14 weeks so time is of the essence.
Thanks for your reply. She is undergoing vaccination now, so we haven't been able to take her outside much except the back garden. She'll finish vaccination with 11/12 weeks, so not quite sure how to get her socialised under these circumstances :/

What's a good strategy for making her calm down and sleep without stroking/touching her? So far she's only fallen asleep that way or in the evening in her crate.
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Oh, she also bites/licks her hind legs a lot. Is that normal? Vet didn't seem to think she had flees, but gave us a treatment anyway.
You can, and should take her out before her second vaccination. Just don't let her have contact with other dogs unless you know they are up to date with vaccinations. So carry her, or if you can get or borrow a pet carrier, take her out in that and just let her observe and experience what's out there. Regarding the feet, it could be an allergy. What are you feeding?
Hi JoanneF,

We're feeding Royal Canin Mini. She got that from her breeder as well and what we're feeding her just now is still from the breeder.

Taking her outside would require collar and lead though and she's still not used to her collar (unless I take her out in her crate which she isn't to happy with staying in during the day either).
Start getting her used to the collar as soon as possible. Once she is ok with that, let her trail a ribbon or similar around (not with a loop that could snag) to get used to that. Can you carry her out in a baby sling or big pashmina/wrap?

The Royal Canin food isn't the best; you could try something gluten free if her paws are irritated. Food intolerance often causes itching. Have a look at the independent dog food comparison website
I've read about very different approaches regarding the collar. Some say to just leave it on the dog, she'll get used to it eventually, whereas others say to put it on her for a few minutes while distracting with a toy, then take it off when she's not scratching, repeat with longer intervals.

I'm reluctant to try the first approach, because I'm worried it'll have an adverse effect and she'll hate it even more or scratch herself sore.

Does anyone have any experience which one works better?
I'd go for the second approach. Even try a cat collar, really light and soft, to start.
Ok, I'll continue doing that then.

One more thing: We're wondering if the scratching/biting is caused by her not being exercised enough. We spend a good amount of time playing with her and giving her things to play with on her own and we also go explore new things. The first two days she got very hyper when playing so we've brought that down a bit. We're just concerned that we're not giving her enough to do. She never just lay down and started sleeping from tiredness as I've seen in photos on the web (just Google "tired puppy" and look at the images to see what I mean). On the other hand we don't want to over-exercise her...

This is all very confusing and tiring for us, so please excuse my insecurity and maybe stupid/obvious questions.
There are no stupid questions, we all have been there! Googling 'Tired Puppy' is great but your puppy probably isn't tired like the ones in the pictures ... Puppies have a balance (as do adult dogs) so there is a tiredness point where they will relax, but if you overcook it, they get like toddlers and fight the sleep and become hell on legs! Training exercises their brain and tires them mentally rather than physically, that can help. Have you looked at Kikopup on YouTube for ideas?
No, I didn't know these videos before, I'll have a look when she's asleep.

Some final questions:

1. How do I know when she's learned a command? I.e. we're learning sit just now; when can I try sit without luring her with food? Also we say "get busy" when she poops/pees, but when can we use it to tell her to do it?

2. Regarding the collar. She scratches it a lot even with good distraction. How long should I keep it on her? What's a good point to take it off? She's always making a big fuss when I try to take it off, which doesn't seem to be a "good" end for the session.

3. We don't have a room where we can leave her without something that she could break/destroy. She likes to chew and tries every surface. I'm trying to teach her to be on her own, but I'm always hesitant to stay away for too long, because she might be doing something I don't want her to or pee/poop because she isn't house-trained yet.

4. She doesn't settle down on her own. She keeps wandering around aimlessly or just sits somewhere looking at us, the TV or outside. Even when we play a lot, she still seeks attention, e.g. by trying to jump on the sofa and crying. We ignore her and discourage the jumping.

5. In the back yard, she keeps chewing on stones. We started to teach her "leave" by offering a treat while taking the stone away (as we've read a couple of times now). However, she seems to think that means: I chew on a stone, then I get a treat. What else could we do here? We certainly don't want this to be what she takes away from this.

I'm thankful for all the responses so far! I hope things will get easier in the next days/weeks, because I'm really worn out already.
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You can get slings that are specially made to carry pups around in. The experience of going outside would probably help to tire her out mentally. Even carrying her to the front of the house will help when the time comes to walk her there. She will not be so worried about the environment.

Training is an on going thing. Only dedicated trainers are sure their dog has learned something. The rest of us just keep on training until we are fairly certain that the dog will respond to the command. Once she seems to have grasped the position you are teaching then make the rewards random so that she sometimes gets a treat and sometimes just a fuss or "good girl". This sharpens up the dog's response as they try harder to get the treat.

The collar scratching is all normal. Very distressing to watch her do it but perfectly normal. Try to put it on her when she is eating or really focused on a new/favourite chew or toy.

Only ever leave her after she has peed/pooped. Chewing is normal too I am afraid. It is part of owning a puppy. You just have to resign yourself to the fact that she will chew things. Just try to supply lots of things to distract her from your furniture etc.

If she is not settling down on her own then she is either over stimulated or under stimulated. Start a new day by having some structure where, after she has been fed and toileted, she does some training and some playing and then settles somewhere, like her crate, to chew a toy and relax. It may be that, in your worry about her chewing your things, you are over stimulating her. You might like to invest in a Puppy Pen. They are like children's play pens. It means you can get on with chores etc safe in the knowledge that she can do no damage.

Chewing on stones is a great game to get your owners to chase you and pay attention to you. You are doing the right things in teaching her to leave anything that is dangerous. There will be lot more things on walks for her to try to grab so a "leave" command followed by a treat is brilliant. You are not giving her the treat for chewing on the stone you are giving it to her for leaving it. The timing is everything when training.

You will benefit, greatly, from attending Puppy Socialisation Classes. Every other puppy owner in the class will be experiencing exactly the same as you. Some will be even worse! The trainer will talk you through each problem and check how you are doing the following week giving suggestions on overcoming hurdles that match your pup's temperament. Check with the trainer when your puppy can start and ask if you can go along and watch/listen in the meantime.
Thanks gypsysmum2!

I'm just too worried about so many things. You read everywhere that you should make sure to do this and that in the first weeks. It seems impossible to take care of everything.

And then there's no real way to know if you're doing it right either.

She is making progress, it's just that I'm unfortunately a person that worries a lot and thinks about the negative things a lot.

I hope everything will get better/easier soon, because we really want to give her a good home. It's all just so exhausting and I feel so burned out. Fortunately my girlfriend is a very optimistic person and seems much less flustered than me.
The reflection in our floor to ceiling windows really bothers her in the evening. She'll growl and bark at it and won't be distracted with toys. She'll just take the toy to the edge of the carpet closest to the windows, then sit down and start a staring contest with occasional growling, barking and "puffing". I tried going to the window with her to show her there's nothing going on. I tried to make her touch the window and she even licked it. I encouraged that with a treat and praise. Still no luck though.

I'm tempted to get frosted glass foil for the lower part of the windows, but that wouldn't solve the cause :/

This is a picture of her btw

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Prevent the window behaviour by blocking her view in some way. It is probably just a phase she is going through.

She is gorgeous!
Hello again,

I'm happy to say that some of the things she's been doing resolved themselves. She's better with the stones outside, she's better on the lead and collar and she even sleeps through the night (8 hours with 3 months!). She also ignores her reflections now. So thanks a lot for the help with those things.

However, recently she started biting my girlfriend a lot more and she also jumps up at her face a lot. We've both been using the ouch technique (say ouch, stand up and step away, ignore and wait for 5-10 seconds) from the start, but it just doesn't keep her from biting her. She bites me every now and then still, but not nearly as much as my gf.

This seems to be getting worse as well, which is discouraging. She also seems to be very attracted by my gf's groin area :huh: ...

Any advice, please?
Your girlfriend may not be as diligent as you with the "ouch". It is usually the partner that goes out to work that struggles with the "ouch" exercise. They feel that they do not get enough quality time and so are inclined to be a bit more forgiving of the biting than someone who suffers with it all day. Timing is critical too. It is no good allowing the biting for a few seconds and then saying "ouch" it must be immediate.

Female groins are fascinating to dogs. All normal stuff and part of growing up! Just distract him and find him something more interesting to do.
And the getting worse is actually a good sign - it's called extinction burst and it's when something the dog does no longer gets the attention or reaction that it used to. So the dog tries the behaviour even more, to get you to respond. This shows the ouch technique is working. Soon she will learn to stop, but it is very common for a behaviour to get worse before it gets better.
Thanks for the responses. My gf is actually as diligent as I am and her timing seems good to me as well. We also take turns being at home and working, so she spends whole days with our puppy as well.

It would be great if the rise in biting is just an extinction burst, because it's quite worrying. So is the jumping at our faces, but hopefully that'll pass as well.

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