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Need puppy help before I lose my mind!

We have 2 dogs - YorkiePoo (almost 5 yrs) and a Teddy Bear (bichon/shih-tzu - 1.5 yrs). We crate trained the YorkiePoo with almost no problems. To this day, he will sometimes go in the crate when he is tired, but we never lock him in it. Our Teddy Bear, Elvis, is a completely different story. 

We tried everything to crate train him. We tried putting in old t-shirts, hot water bottles, clocks to keep him company. We tried putting his crate next to the bed, hitting the crate when he barked, spray bottle. We tried 2 different bark collars. Finally, he has come very close to being 100% house-trained, so we have left him out, but confined to one room with the older dog during the day when we are at work and at night when we go to sleep. 

Keeping him confined to the room with the other dog seemed to be working out okay. He slept through the night no problem, and only had occasional (maybe 1-2 times per month) accidents. Until a few days ago...

The last 3 nights, he has woken up between 2:30 and 3:30 AM, barking and scratching at the door. We live in an apartment, so I can't simply let him bark it out. Last night, we put the bark collar back on, and he still woke me up with his scratching at the door. I tried to let him work it out on his own...and this morning the door was all torn up, so that isn't a good solution either. It doesn't seem like he has to go to the bathroom when he does this - as I left him alone last night and he did not have an accident. The previous 2 nights when I woke up with him he seemed very hyper, and wanted to be active and play.

The dogs are self-feeders, but we pick the food and water up around 10 pm, an hour-hour and a half before bed time. They go out 4 times a day - twice in the morning, once in the evening, and once before bed. I've also been taking them on 1.5 mile walks daily (I thought this would tire him out!).

I can't keep being awoken in the middle of the night, and I can't keep having my house destroyed, but I feel like I'm running out of options. Help!

Re: Need puppy help before I lose my mind!

  • If your pup can't be trusted not to destroy things when left loose, I would go back to crate training. It sounds like he may have some negative associations with the crate (if you hit it while he was in there and/or used the bark collar while he was in the crate), so it may take some time and patience. The key is to make the crate a safe, happy place. Reward him for even going near it, then for going in with the door open, then for being in with the door shut for just a second, working up to longer times. I have found it very helpful to have a special treat (like a stuffed frozen Kong) that he only gets in the crate and nowhere else. The "treat fairy" is also great - hide treats in the crate when your pup is in another room so he finds them when he goes in the crate. We taught our dogs the "kennel up" command so they would get in their crates on command.

    If your pup gets up overnight but does not need to potty, he may have excess energy (the destruction may be a sign that he isn't stimulated enough and is bored). In addition to physical exercise, mental stimulation (via training, puzzle toys, tricks, games, etc.) is important to wear them out.

    I would personally get rid of the bark collar and any other aversive training method and focus on positive reinforcement instead. I'm also a fan of scheduled feeding rather than free feeding, particularly when you have more than one dog, but that's up to you. If you have any issues with picky eating, weight gain, or resource guarding, I would definitely move to scheduled meals.

    Also, unrelated to your question, but you may want to look into why using "designer" names for your dogs isn't a great idea because it can perpetuate the idea that those are actual breeds rather than mixes/mutts, thereby perpetuating the backyard breeder problem. I think the Pets Board FAQs (stickied at the top of the board) has info on crate training and the designer dog topic. GL!
  • I agree that your pups may need more mental stimulation. Puzzle toys and kongs are great! Teaching them tricks is fun (and tiring) as well!

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  • It sounds like he may need more exercise.  It can take a good 3-5 miles a day (sometimes more) for young dogs to get all that energy out. I would try a good 2 mile walk in the morning and another 2-3 mile walk at night. At a year and a half old he should be making it throught the night, and destructive behavior is definitely a sign that he has excess energy. 

    Dog puzzles and extra training time are also good ways to get them tired.

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  • Please see our FAQs for help with many of your questions (and help with questions that you may not have asked).

    If my dogs are waking up and night and barking, I'm going to let them out. They typically have reasons for it.

    More exercise and mental stimulation will help with wearing your dog out, but it sounds like you need to go back to training 101 with him.

    And yeah, please read about why designer dog names are perpetuating the problems of puppymills and BYBs.
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  • edited March 2014
    What about a Thundershirt?

    See if that works for him.

    I am wondering if he's noise sensitive or if he thinks something or somebody is out there.:( 

    Get Elvis to a vet. Maybe he's starting to develop some sort of a problem --- see if his overall health is good or if he's having urinary tract problems. Rule out a medical reason first.
  • Thanks everyone for your suggestions! 

    It is definitely seeming like a separation anxiety problem. He barked a few times last night, he finally quieted down but then I couldn't sleep! 

    When I went to lay on the couch and turn on the TV, he came and lay down next to me and slept very soundly the whole night through. Seems like it's an issue of being separated from us. 

    Will try more exercise/puzzle treats and see if I can get him tired out.

    It may be a combination of issues. I know he is also noise sensitive. He gets very barky when our neighbors dogs are outside and making noise or running around upstairs. 

    We may also try a thundershirt. Thanks again for the advice. 
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