Puppy life not getting better for me - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Puppy life not getting better for me

I have a beautiful 5.5 month old puppy. She is sweet and cute for sure but I am still not loving dog-life. This is my first ever dog and before her, only had cats. I live with my 13 year old and she helps but it hasn't eased the feelings that this is not ever going to get better. She is a 50/50 good walker, I have a no-pull harness. She never really pulled just wouldn't walk, and still hates it. I don't have a big yard, nor is it fenced and I work 5 days a week, so walking is necessary. I take her to dog parks and out on trails on the weekends. This is super hard for me, it is hard for me to keep her occupied at home since she is (of course) full of energy and I am exhausted from work.

Potty training? What is that? Seriously, I am consistent and have not stopped taking her out every hour. She goes on a walk and 15 minutes after we are home she pees on the carpet. So much that it is daily in the past few weeks. My house, which has I always keep clean has become a toilet.

She is VERY rough on the cat and we spend the vast amount of our weekends breaking them up.

I read so many comments about how good their puppies are. Yes, I work with her and do training. She passed her obedience class with flying colors....perfect every class. I'm not oblivious to the fact that we teach them to be good...I am not an idle dog mom.

I feel like a terrible person, a terrible dog mom and I wonder if I'll ever have this fantastic dog experience everyone on earth seems to have with their dogs.
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post #2 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 03:45 PM
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I'm sorry you're not enjoying your puppy - sorry for you, and sorry for her too.

Some suggestions:

You really have to WANT a dog. As you're discovering, they're a lot more effort-intensive than cats, and the level of effort doesn't necessarily decrease with the years. They always have to be walked and exercised and trained. They get sick and need (sometimes expensive) care. Your house will never be as clean as it was pre-dog. So the first thing to decide is whether or not this type of lifestyle is actually what you want. If it isn't, there's no shame in admitting it. Sometimes you try stuff in life and it doesn't work out.

For the walks: If your dog doesn't enjoy walks, there's something wrong. Are you sure the harness is fitted properly? Some harnesses restrict the dog's shoulder movement and can be painful. Have you tried walking her with a flat collar and leash only? Are you doing anything to make the walks interesting for her, or is it always a chore for you? Dogs are good at picking up on human emotions. If you're frustrated or exasperated at having to walk her, she may have picked up on this.

Potty training: She's just at the age where you should start to see some improvement. Most dogs, regardless of what you do or don't do, will become house-trained at around six months of age. Before that, accidents are inevitable. However, it's a bit unusual for a 5 month old dog to have daily accidents in the house. If that's what's happening, it doesn't sound like these are accidents, it sounds like she thinks this is what she should be doing. Are you sure you're cleaning the carpet properly, with a cleaning solution that removes all traces of the urine? If even the slightest odour (detectable by a dog) remains, the dog will continue to pee in the same place. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting that can't be removed temporarily, I would suggest getting it professionally cleaned. If it's a throw rug that can be removed, I'd suggest taking it away for the time being. I always remove all our rugs when we have a puppy in the house, and only put them back when I'm sure the accidents have finished. And for house-training, have you made sure she really understands that you want her to go outside? For example, have you consistently rewarded her when she pees/poops outside? Have you ever punished her for peeing indoors? If the answer to this last question is "yes", you may inadvertently have taught the dog not to pee when you are around. She may have understood that you don't like her to pee, period. So she might actually be holding it while you are with her outside, and releasing it indoors, when you're not with her.

If you're confident in the house-training that you've done, you might consider taking her to the vet and having her tested for a UTI. From your description, it doesn't sound as if this is the case, but it may be worth checking. I'd lean more towards her having learned not to pee when you're present.

For the cat: Is there a room that you can block with a baby gate, so the cat can go there but not the dog? This would give your cat a safe place to retreat to. Otherwise, have your pup wear a short leash in the house (only when you are present - never leave the leash on when you go out), and use it it break them up if you think it's getting out of hand. For information, we used to have a cat who loved to wrestle with our dogs. She would seek them out and torment them until they played with her.

For training: The fact of having passed one obedience course at 5 months of age means nothing at all. Just because she is trained to do certain things in class, or in your kitchen, doesn't mean she will do them in other contexts. Dogs don't generalize well. You have to practise often, in different places, for long periods, before you can claim that your dog is trained in a particular behaviour. And Golden retrievers are basically working dogs. They not only thrive on training, they actually need it to function well in a human household. I would say that a year of ongoing obedience classes and regular practice at home and elsewhere is a minimum to get a well-trained, pleasant companion. My suggestion would be to enroll her in another class and keep going until you're happy with what you have.

And most importantly: remember that your dog is still a puppy. Expecting her to behave like a fully trained adult is unfair to her and unrealistic on your part. A Golden will normally "settle down" into adult behaviour at two or three years of age if you're lucky. Until then, what you're going to have is a bundle of energy that needs training and attention. And even after that, she will need several daily walks, plus other activities. Owning a dog is indeed a lifestyle.

I wish you the best of luck with her, and hope things work out for both of you.


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My dog of a lifetime. I'll miss you forever.
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post #3 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 04:23 PM
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I'm also sorry you are not enjoying your puppy. They can be hard work. ceegee's advice is always great. If it is very hot where you are and your girl is like Rukie she may drink a lot of water after her walk and need to go again in 15 minutes. Is there anyway you could fence the yard? That does make lots of quick potty breaks easier and it's easier to run energy out. The other thing is, most Goldens, even puppies, know when you are not pleased with them. They often try to make up for it by being clingy or bratty. I have raised 3 Golden puppies and I am not sure I would choose to do it if I was working full-time and did not have another adult to help. It's possible but it would be difficult and take total dedication to nothing else but the puppy for a couple of years.
How does your daughter feel about the puppy? If she really loves her maybe she could take over a little more of the responsibility. If she's ambivalent, maybe finding a new home would be best for everyone.

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post #4 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 05:32 PM
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Ceegee and cwag are exactly right. As a former cat person (at least as an adult) I agree that the difference between a pet cat and a pet working breed dog is like changing your dining room tablecloth vs ripping out your entire kitchen and bathrooms and rebuilding them yourself. Cats are interesting little accent pieces in your life. Golden Retrievers are a lifestyle as ceegee said. A really active lifestyle that is great for some people but not for everyone.

The thing that got me through the difficult parts of puppyhood was Luna's sweet happy wiggle dance every morning when I got her out of her crate and all of the little moments of cuteness throughout the day. And the fact that I had another adult in the house to help me. If you're the primary caretaker and the only adult in the house that's an enormous amount of work on top of your daily life. If the puppy isn't bringing you an equal amount of joy then it may be better for you and the puppy to contact her breeder. She's still really young and the breeder wouldn't have any trouble finding a new home for her. They do become less work as they get older. But as ceegee said, it takes a lot of training and about 2-3 years to get there. And, of course, they'll always need walks and playtime. As cwag suggested, if your daughter is able to take on more responsibility that may work. Not being potty trained at 5 months must be incredibly difficult and I hope someone w/ experience with that can offer some more advice.

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post #5 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 06:10 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not opposed to walks and playtime....I am active and wanted a dog to be active with. No, I cannot fence my yard, unfortunately. I tried a flat collar and leash for the first 2+ months but the was all over the place even with consistent praise and treating. At one point, she just started to sit and completely refuse to walk, no matter how I broke up the day and tried going to new places. I moved to the gentle leader because I was worried about a neck injury. We have safe zones for the cat with gates and a new window cat bed that the dog cannot reach. Yet, the cat wants to be with his family and here we are.

Thank you for the advice, everyone. I will not return the dog or give her away, once you get a pet they are yours for life and I will always believe that. Choosing to get a dog was no easy decision, I thought about it and researched for a few years before committing and also waited until my daughter was old enough to be responsible too. I will continue training her and remain consistent with bathroom breaks, she always goes when I ask her to outside.
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post #6 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 06:53 PM
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Just about everyone who has had an adult dog and then gets a puppy states "I had forgotten how much work a puppy is". They are a HUGE amount of work (oh God and I'm getting one at the end of the month).

However, there is nothing like the love of a dog who lives for your attention and you are their world. I also have cats so I get the difference. But your puppy is still a puppy and will technically not be an adult until they are 2 years old. I have tried to explain this concept to my 7˝ yo Golden, Káva, as she refuses to calm down out of the puppy stage. You also have a working breed which means they have a lot of energy to expend and are incredibly intelligent.

Have you tried various different training classes? Start working towards basic commands, then go for your CGC. Your pup is still young so that is a long way off but if you get the basic commands down and really work on your communication, you might find your bond getting stronger and having a much better time together. Agility might be something you could do ..... I've never done it with my dog as I am disabled, but Káva really enjoyed Canine Frisbee .... she'll never be a contender but she had loads of fun. Better yet, get your daughter to start working with her towards these types of competitions .....or even as a visiting therapy dog.

These are just some thoughts. I am sure you will be seeing very similar frustrated posts from me in the near future and I have been a dog owner all my life. <G>

Battle on and good luck!


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post #7 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 08:55 PM
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It will get better! I have had two puppies in two years and I am no youngster. The 1st was a great puppy, but is now a horrible teenager. She is a 1.5 yr. old Border Collie/Choc. Lab mix. In June, I was gifted a beautiful Golden Puppy who is now 5 months old..She is a HORRIBLE puppy and hopefully will be a decent teen. Like the others, I was about to forget just how much work they are; having been thru this many times in the past. The Golden seems to be capable of creating trouble on multiple fronts and enjoying every moment. She is also the fastest of any of my pups at in getting into trouble. I believe she plans it..LOL. HOWEVER, with that said, she is soooooo much worth the effort and so very lovable, gentle (with me..not the other dogs) . She was at home in my pack within a few days. Best of luck and do a bit of research..Try Googling Zack George videos. Imo, he does a good job explaining by example, albeit the need for supporting commercials (FF works). These are not home style videos but professionally done. Beanie is now 5 months old.
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post #8 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice, jeffscott947 and she is a sweetie!
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post #9 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you....I know that things will improve and we have come a long way but I sure do get frustrated and feel helpless. She is napping on the couch next to me as I write this and you know how sweet they are, I forget all the troubles for a little while.
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post #10 of 44 (permalink) Old 09-15-2019, 10:09 PM
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Ollie had no real issues with potty training, but he came from a breeder with a farm that was using a dog door on their barn for the puppies to go in and out of so at 9 weeks when I got him he was already pretty used to going out I think he had maybe 5 accidents til he was 6 months and was free range in the tile hardwood part of my house and by 7 months was uncrated at night (never really liked it) His biggest problem was mouthing which he still does at 14 month.

Now Stan my 9 month old and his brother Bear that I fostered had a horrendous time with potty training but they came from a breeder who was the opposite of Ollies, they kept the puppies mainly inside and these 2 hadn't really been outside much and they were 15 weeks when they were adopted to a service dog program. Both would go out and 15-30 minutes later would be peeing in the house or attempting to. I Still don't completely trust Stan the way I do Ollie as he drinks like his purpose is to empty the bowl every time and he does not have the iron bladder that Ollie seems to have but I can leave for a few hour and be confident he will hold it but I wouldn't trust him for a 8-9 work day.

As for walking, my trainers and I both hate harnesses and flat collars, I use Herm sprenger pinch collars for walks and have gradually weaned Ollie to a regular Martingale I have also used dominate dog collars and slip leads. I know some don't like pinch/prong collars but it made a huge difference in control of the dog that was night and day and its self correcting so if they pull too much correction is instantaneous, also what motivated the pup, as Ollie was not all that food driven after 7-8 months but put his squishy ball in front of him and he would do near anything for it. Stan is food motivated so every walk has treats and we work on sit when we stop and more advanced things like down and sit while in motion and being calm when people and dogs approach as every walk is a training session so we use it to reinforce learning.
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