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Dog Training/Puppy is a 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: Laura, I sympathize.  Having a new puppy is like having a new baby, but with razor sharp teeth.  I have some suggestions for you:

(1) At night, put his crate in your bedroom on a nightstand on your side of the bed so that he's eye level to you and can see you.

(2) Get a baby heartbeat machine and put it next to the crate.

(3) Find a way to exercise the puppy enough during the day so that he's tired at night.  If your breeder is local, find his littermates and set up a play date.  Chances are, they are going through the same thing.  If you can't locate littermates, find someone else with a pup or older dog his size who enjoys play.  Use contacts in your puppy class to find a playmate.

(4) Check out this website for an excellent online training textbook for puppy raising:  You will have to create a login, but the information is worth the effort.

(5) All the dog's meals should come from a Kong filled with his kibble - wet it, top with a small dab of peanut butter to close the big hole and freeze it.  Have at least 3 of these Kongs in your freezer at all times.  

(6) Try using an exercise pen for confinement instead of the crate all the time. Give him his frozen Kong to work on while you go about your business in the house.  Don't allow him to follow you around all day.  

(7) Keep a variety of textures of toys available for him in the pen - hard bully sticks, rubbery Nylabones, rope-type toys, etc.

(8) Remember that his bladder is very tiny. If you are planning on having him toilet on papers his whole life, then be sure he always has access to them.  If you want him to eventually go outside, then you'll have to start right now - and stop using the papers.

(9) Make sure the dog is getting out every day and experiencing new sights, sounds and smells.  Just doing this for 20-30 minutes each day will tire him out.

(10) Find a reputable trainer in your area to help in your home.  Classes are great, but don't usually address your specific concerns.

Here's where to find a reputable dog trainer in your area:

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions or comments. Good luck!

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

QUESTION: Barb, thank you so much for your timely and kind response. I can't tell you how mean some other people have been to person I was telling of my plight said that I was "clearly an idiot who doesn't deserve a dog" and that I myself should be "put in a crate". Yeah. THAT felt fantastic. :( So I need to reiterate how wonderful and sympathetic your response was, THANK YOU.
Yeah....this has been hard. I am seriously considering just admitting defeat and returning the puppy. He is just so different than I expected. This breeder specializes solely in mini-doxies, that's all she's done for 16 years. She has a very strong following and great community of owners of her pups and dogs and I spoke to ALL of the ones I could find (roughly 10 people) before making my decision. They all said the same thing in a nutshell: dachshunds are a bit stubborn but highly intelligent and learn quickly, crate training sucks the first few nights but they get it, the nipping is natural for puppies but nothing that breaks the skin (sure, tell that to my raw and painful stinging teeth marks!), and that they grow into loyal, loving "good dogs". That last part I believe but it just seems like the path leading up to that will be too hard to handle.
Let me explain my situation a little better. I am married, childless, own a house, working as a nanny 60+ hours a week for a family in a wealthy town about an hour from me. They have two great little girls and a funny little bichon frisse and are very easy-going people, so they told me I could absolutely bring Mal to work with me. I was honored and humbled by this gesture of kindness- I would NEVER have gotten a pup otherwise because I just couldn't leave him alone all day. So my puppy gets to come to work with me, yay! Okay....well I have a pen for him at work but he cries in it. I can't take him outside regularly because the two girls' needs MUST come first and if the baby needs a bottle, that trumps a puppy outing. Their dog is 8 and can be trusted to relieve himself in their fenced-in yard, but Mal is just a baby, and a slippery little one at that- he'd scoot through a hole in the fence in a second! So I rely on him using his pee pads in the play pen. He only uses them half the time and I swear to God its by complete accident when he does! And he also has an EXTREMELY unpredictable digestive system- he can poop five minutes after eating or TWO HOURS LATER. This combined with his erratic peeing makes it impossible to form a schedule. I once stood outside with him for an hour and a half while he sniffed around, rolled in the grass, played, and when I finally decided he wasn't going to poop, I brought him in....only to have him poop on the floor the INSTANT I put him down!! >_< And when I let him out of the pen to play with the kids its just....ugh. The two-and-a-half year old girl is very gentle and intelligent for her age- she tests at a gifted level, and fully understands how to play with a dog; she has one after all. But they are NEVER unsupervised together!! And he nips her little fingers. HARD. Just for petting abuse whatsoever. And a few days ago I almost had a heart attack when he bit the 3-month-old baby's little foot and left a hole in her sock!!!! That really did it for me. I had NO idea puppies could be so dangerous. It really shook me. I had a dog as a small child and according to my parents I rolled around on her, took naps while laying on her, she ate from my hand....she was just so gentle, as I thought all dogs were with children. I realize Mal is a baby and likely just playing and not being vicious at all, but still- a bite is a bite and the parents will soon be telling me to leave his little butt at home, at which point I will be forced to return him to the breeder. I will NOT abandon him in an empty house all day in a crate to lie in his own pee and poop and cry and feel lonely. So, its just horribly ironic to me that in a situation where he gets to be with me all day is actually turning out to be a situation in which he gets very little attention beyond quick pets and VERY short play-romps (they always turn bitey). I'm in a lot of emotional pain over this. I want him so much to be happy and well and GOOD so people will want him around and that he can have fun...I looked up one of his littermates, but she can't do a playdate for two weeks, which is also the soonest a trainer can see him; I must have spent an entire day on the phone and that's the best they could do. I'll be DEAD in two weeks. :( *sigh*
Thanks for all your advice and sympathy, I really really appreciate it.

Laura, my only other bit of advice at this point is to not allow the puppy to interact with the kids unless you are holding the pup and he's sleepy/tired/calm.  Puppies and toddlers just aren't the best playmates.

If you'd like to follow up via email, please go to my website and feel free to email me from there.


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Barb Gadola, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP


I can answer questions related to problem dog behaviors, teaching polite manners, puppy raising, and any type of training-related issues. My website page, offers a wealth of information on training and behavior issues as well.


I've been training dogs since 1989 and own and operate Distinctive Dog Training LLC in Keller TX. I specialize in providing practical and positive solutions for families through personalized training in their home.

Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner
Victoria Stilwell Positively! Licensed Trainer
Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Association of Animal Behavior Professionals
Truly Dog Friendly Coalition

BS in Education
Graduate work in Behavioral Psychology
Karen Pryor Academy Dog Training Program
Certified Professional Dog Trainer

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