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New 10 week old Chocolate Lab help.

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Eldimoni, Dec 10, 2018.


  1. Eldimoni

    Eldimoni PetForums Newbie

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    Hi Guys,


    I’ve been looking around this forum and there is some wonderful advice available, but I want to be sure I’m doing things the right way. I’ve read the sticky but couldn’t find the link to Hutch6s' line of sight post...


    History


    I live with my wife and son who are at work and school during the day, and also with my sister and mother who don’t work and are at home most of the time. I’m out at work from early morning until 3pm.

    We used to always have a dog; firstly two consecutive golden labs and then a black lab. We got them when they were slightly older (not puppies) and never really had any issues. After our last one died around 10 years ago we were heartbroken and didn’t get another dog.


    Current Situation


    After a few years of consideration we decided to add another family member in a Chocolate Lab (super adorable). After looking around for puppies with KC registered parents, we decided on this 10 week old and named him Oreo.

    I’ve been doing some research and trying to prepare myself for how to reinforce positive behaviour (with attention and treats) and discourage negative behaviour like biting things by distracting him onto something else.

    I’ve only had him for 3 days now and I think I’m getting the hang of it, although there is one thing which has been getting me stressed and anxious and I would like to know if anyone with experience could advise if I’m going about it the right way.....


    Nighttime barking


    I have a playpen setup in the hallway with a covered crate inside. So far he is comfortable entering and exiting the playpen as I have his food bowl/water inside with toys (trying to make it fun for him inside). I’ve been trying to encourage him to go into the crate and he has a few times but never for more than a few minutes (he did once go in and sleep for around 15 mins then came out again). I was using treats to reward him for going in although he didn’t stay long at all.

    The issue seems to be when he is left in his playpen alone (and no one is visible to him) he will quickly start whining and barking. If I come and sit nearby (without engaging him in any way) he calms down after 5-10 mins and usually falls asleep. I then can leave him alone until he wakes up and he will start barking again. Now i understand that the barking behaviour common with new puppies, but is there any issue with me coming and waiting in his line of sight until he calms? I’m hesitant to let him out of the playpen until he is calm, so is it ok to sit with him until he’s calm then let him out? Should there be any timing issues like letting him bark for longer periods before sitting nearby? Also is it important to crate train him if he is mainly using the playpen for sleeping?

    Also he doesn’t really play with his toys for very long when in the playpen. Is there anything I can do to get him to enjoy being in there more? I sometimes sit in there with him and encourage him to play with his toys but is it just a case of consistently doing this for longer periods for improvement? and how long should I be doing this (assuming I should)?

    I’ve got loads more questions, but I guess this is already far too long for my first post.

    Advice from experienced dog owners is highly appreciated!
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Try to see it from his standpoint - remember he has just been taken away from his mum and littermates. Don't rush the pen/crate, make it a fun place. If he cries or barks, he is anxious and you are going too fast and the crate isn't the happy place you need it to be. Please don't ignore him until he stops, you wouldn't ignore a crying child and leave him in an empty room. Comforting him when he is distressed is fine and will strengthen your bond. Unfortunately many people make the mistake of allowing a puppy to cry in the hope that they grow out of it, when actually all they have done is cement in the puppies mind that being left in the crate (or alone, or whatever is causing the crying) is indeed a terrible thing, and for many dogs this fear becomes a learned habit. Dogs that are left until they stop barking may stop because they realise their barking gets no result; not because they start feeling ok. And that anxiety can come out in other ways so it's not ideal.

    At night, it's also a good idea to have his crate in your room to start with so he knows you are close by. You can put a hand down to stroke and comfort him if he gets distressed. Once he is settled at night time, gradually you can start moving the crate away to outside the bedroom door, near the room you want him to sleep in, and eventually into that room. With puppies learning, everything is done in little steps, and if anything starts to fail, you go back a step and stay there longer.

    Also in your room you are more likely to hear him if he moves and needs out to toilet. With young puppies it's too long to expect them to hold on all night (their little bladder and bowels aren't big enough or strong enough) so set your alarm for a couple of times in the night.

    During the day though you should start to get him used to being alone for short periods so when he isn't interacting with you (to make your leaving less of a contrast) just walk out the room then back in - build up the time gradually. If he barks or cries you have caused him to be distressed - your aim is to be back in sight before that happens so he doesn't see your absence as anything to worry about.
     
    #2 JoanneF, Dec 10, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2018
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  3. Eldimoni

    Eldimoni PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks JoanneF for your advice. At the moment he isnt very comfortable with the Crate but seems to be better with the Playpen which is where he sleeps. Its good to know that its ok to comfort him in his Pen and not just be visible. I was led to believe that any kind of interaction when he is barking (from seperation anxiety) would only encourage the barking behaviour. Possible that Ive mis-interpreted it. The last thing i want is for him to be anxious. What would you recommend if hes not yet comfortable with being in the crate for any length of time? Id like to keep him in the bedroom so hes closer but at this stage i dont want to rush him into the crate when hes not ok with it yet. Do you think its ok to swap the crate in the idea you mentioned for the pen? i.e. have the pen in the bedroom (although theres limited space).
     
  4. Siskin

    Siskin Look into my eyes....

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    You could try him in a high sided cardboard box by your bed so that you could reach down and stroke him to comfort him should he cry. He may we'll settle in that, worth a try anyway.

    I used a crate for the first time when I got my current dog at 8 weeks. She wasn't keen at first and it took a little while before she went and slept in it. I used a few old towels as bedding as it was a very warm summer when I brought her home and she got too hot otherwise. I would rumple up the towels and scatter some of her kibble in there and she had a lovely time rooting it out. I also fed her in the crate so that everything was positive about her crate experience. She didn't use it much during the day,but was happy to sleep in it at night.
     
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  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    As above, have a box or even the pen in your room. If you want to avoid separation anxiety, build up his time alone very slowly so he doesn't find out that being alone is a bad thing. As you are stepping away, try to make no fuss, you don't want to prepare him into thinking "oh no this means they are going out" - the aim is for him to barely register you coming and going - ideally for him to have a "oh, you're back, I didn't notice you leave" reaction. Very gradually build up time. This can be hard work at the start but put the work in now and it will pay off later. If he gets distressed though you have gone too fast, and created anxiety over him finding himself alone, and that is not what you want. Stair gates are useful to allow him to see you pottering about in another room, but without being glued to your feet.

    You can also reward independent behaviour - praise when your dog is not actively engaged with you, which is actually quite hard to remember to do because we sort of don't notice when it happens!
     
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  6. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

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    Crate training is a personal preference. I've never used a crate for any of my puppies but I do use a gated area and/or play pen set up with all my young (or new) dogs so that they are in a safe space when left. If you are keen on using the crate then persevere, however for me a 'play-pen' creates the same set up but with more space. With my Labs a play pen is only for the first couple of months if that - then I use a baby gate to ensure they are in a puppy safe room when left and they sleep on their bed/sofa.

    Getting our dogs used to be left is a gradual process. Whilst getting him used to feeling comfortable 'on his own' I would indeed go and sit (or sleep) 'in sight' when he is settling in his pen, especially as you have already had success as he settles to sleep after a short while. Personally I would not engage with him when asking him to settle - apart from the occasional calming word. I would also start maybe close to his pen and then over the next week or so move yourself further away and then out of sight. You can still calm him verbally. Once he is asleep however, you can release the catch on the play pen (so it's open) and then leave him. In this way he learns that it is ok to fall also in the pen and but you pre empt the barking (to let him out) when he wakes. Whichever way you deal with the barking it risks becoming a habit so pre-empting it is the best way to ensure the habit never starts.

    Non of my dogs or pups have ever slept in our bedroom - if a dog is unsettled I tend to sleep downstairs for a while until they are. Generally that only takes a couple of weeks.

    I actually wouldn't try to encourage him to play with his toys by sitting in the pen. That isn't teaching him to play - that's teaching him his toys are boring unless a human is there to play with them with him. Find some interactive toys (crinkly/squeaky) or foody based toys (chews/kong) that he can't resist and he will learn. And trust me, Labs learn to play without our help! :D Playing with our dogs is a very important part of their growing up but you can do this outside the pen.

    You haven't had him very long so I am sure things will settle soon ...... and we'd love to see a photo :)

    J
     
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  7. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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    I am a big fan of the crate but for the situation you describe a cardboard box for sleeping or playpen as suggested are fine.

    The main advantage of the crate in the early weeks isn't so much for sleeping - it's for house/toilet training. The idea being that the crate is sectioned off so that the pup just has sufficient room to stand and turn around and then he won't/is much less likely to soil the crate.

    Ian Dunbar describes use of the crate for house training very comprehensively in his book before and after getting your new puppy. Available as free download.

    He also has very good descriptions of the benefits of the kong chew toy.

    You've had great advice here - am sure your pup will soon settle!
     
  8. tabelmabel

    tabelmabel PetForums VIP

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