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Canine Behavior/Puppy nightmare :(


QUESTION: Oh my goodness, it's hard to stop crying long enough to type.... I am a sleep-deprived mess. My husband and I have had our mini-dachshund puppy Mal, male, 10 weeks old, for only 11 days but I already feel like I won't be able to handle him much longer. I feel so incredibly stupid. He's a mess. I'M a mess. Crate training is not working AT ALL; he whines and shrieks all night and there is nowhere we can put him that we won't hear him. Refuses to be paper-trained, pees in his crate, bites me, my husband, the children I take care of-the nipping is just atrocious!! I have tried everything from saying no, yelping like another puppy would, shoving a chew toy in his face, shaking a can of coins, giving time-outs in his crate.....everything. He just refuses to LEARN. I thought having a puppy would be wonderful, I did everything right!!! Went to a reputable breeder, got a great vet, bought all the right equipment, toys and food, signed him up for puppy training.....and just 11 days later my home reeks of urine, my hands are covered in painful bite marks and I haven't slept, to the point where I am having auditory hallucinations and forgetting the ATM pin # I've had for ten years. I am in desperate need of HELP. The puppy seems to love me and likes sitting on my lap and cries when I leave the room and all that but I can't bond with him properly unless he starts obeying me and just being more manageable! Everyone I know with dogs say their pups were crate trained in a couple weeks, with better success every night. Mal has had ZERO success. 11 nights later he cries for just as long and has just as many accidents. I'm losing my mind. I don't want to give him back to the breeder (though she has stated that she would take him back) but I feel I may soon have no choice if I am to sleep and be able to function at work and be happy again; that's what makes all of this so hard, I thought the puppy would bring joy, not misery and stress. :( It's 3:13 a.m. and after soaking his crate pad with pee and pooping on the floor while I tried to clean it, then howling for two hours, he's all curled up asleep on my damn pillow while I huddle at the end of my bed. This is SO not fun. I have approached this with a sweet, gentle attitude and have been exercising and feeding him properly, playing, petting, everything. I'm not cruel and I don't yell. He has everything he needs and all I am getting out of this relationship is terrible stress and stomach pain. Please tell me....what can I possibly do to take back control of this???!! I WANT my dog, but I need to have him act like a normal puppy and actually LEARN!!! Please please please help me. :(
thank you,

ANSWER: I don't know what you mean by "reputable breeder" but I will define that term:

A breeder whose dogs all live in the house; a breeder who is not "line" breeding (father to daughter, grand daugher, etc.); a breeder who has a WAITING LIST for her puppies (which means: she is in the "Show" ring, her dogs have earned obedience and field trials, she has people waiting for puppies for as long as two years or even more); a breeder who has given you a CLEARLY read FIVE GENERATION PEDIGREE (remembering that an AKC Breed Title is 50% politics and 50% dog); a breeder who INSISTS UPON a spay/neuter CONTRACT before allowing a puppy to go into any home; a breeder who has carefully interviewed you and your circumstances (as a mini Doxie breeder I would NOT sell a puppy into a home with young children); a breeder whose puppies do not NEED to be crated (which works only if you use the crate for very short intervals) because the whelping area was immaculate and the dam (mother) has taught her puppies to eliminate OUTSIDE the whelping area; a breeder who will call you to see how her puppy is doing; a breeder that will not allow a puppy to leave its dam or litter mates at too early an age (your puppy's lack of bite inhibition tells me this is not the case, or s/he may have been one of two or three in the litter).

I'm sorry to say, in my opinion, you do not have a reputable breeder.

Return the puppy.

How old are your children?  If they are under the age of eight, they are too young for a dog.  Reconsider the breed you've chosen.  A miniature, "toy", or small breed dog is not a good choice in a house with children who will pick the dog up and possibly drop it (totally innocently).  Do your homework: look up the AKC web site for any breed that appeals to you and then go to AKC point shows to SEE the adult dogs in the ring and talk to the handlers.  Then, visit the breeder's home (if you have decided upon a breed) and be certain it is spotless, that all dogs are IN the house, that the breeder does not produce more than two litters a year (and never two in a row from the same bitch) and put your name on a waiting list.

It is unfortunate for this puppy, yes, and this is tragic, yes.  But you are not equipped to deal with this puppy who is showing signs of very poor neonatal management and quite possibly very poor breeding.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi again,
Thanks so much for your speedy and informative reply.
This troubles me. :( While the breeder actually had a pretty filthy house, complete with screaming and ignored toddler in a high chair, her dogs all looked beautiful and perfect. Every one was clean, well fed, friendly, gorgeously spotless ears and happy wet noses. She did let me have my puppy at 8 weeks and I'm hearing more and more that minis aren't ready to go home until 12. And I know all puppies are fresh and feisty, but Mal is REALLY fresh and feisty. And the breeder knew I took care of toddlers (I'm a nanny). This bothers me, all this stuff she shouldn't have done. So is Mal doomed to be a brat or is there *any* hope for him? I love the little guy and my husband is quite attached, too.....he's been a nightmare and a half but he is cute and kisses us and wags his tail....this is very very painful. :( Would a special trainer do any good, do you think?

From your description of breeder's home:  BAD, VERY VERY BAD.  Screaming toddler in high chair, huge clue.

Your puppy was separated from dam and litter mates WAY too soon.  He has little or no bite inhibition.  You have no real idea about pedigree: temperament/type.  This dog will be quite a handful and require exquisite evaluation and direction, at some expense might I add, for the first few months.  You will need a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), NOT a dog trainer.  This professional will be able to evaluate your puppy fully (several tests involved), interview you and husband, observe puppy with young children, and might very well end up giving you the same advice I gave you.  BUT, since you are so loving a person and you have obviously made an emotional commitment, I suggest that it might be well worth having a CAAB into your home.  Hopefully, you can find one from one of the following sites:

Do this ASAP (like, TOMORROW) because this puppy is most likely acquiring behaviors you do NOT want in an adult dog.

The Mini Doxie is not the greatest choice for a household with young children.  If your puppy is male, he must be neutered the MOMENT his testicles descend (and if only one descends, which happens in poor breeding lines, the other must be found with abdominal surgery and removed).  If it is female, allow ONE ESTRUS CYCLE (no matter WHAT your veterinarian says) because the calming influence of Progesterone is absolutely necessary in a female.  

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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