**Reader beware! This is an extremely long post... I've separated it by topic**

Kuma has been with us for only four days now and he is doing WONDERFUL! Well, as wonderful as we can expect a 9.5 week old puppy to be. He's unbelievably affectionate and loving and enjoys hanging out with his humans... but I think this will also lead to some separation anxiety issues. I wasn't able to take off from work this week, but do go home for 1.5 hours each day during lunch to feed him and play with him a bit. Fortunately, I've made arrangements to work from home for one day a week for the next 5-7 weeks. Bobby is off for four days; two at the end of this week and two at the beginning of next. Anyhow, I've got sevaral dillemmas and Bobby and I aren't quite sure how to go about handling it as neither of us have trained a puppy/dog and only have books & articles to teach us.

Separation anxiety or are we overly concerned?
Kuma is doing exceptionally well with his crate training. He sleeps through most of the night (we get about 5-6 hours straight) before we hear him moving around to go potty. When we put him in his crate while we eat and get things done around the house, he's fine for about five minutes, whines for another five minutes, then settles down and puts himself to sleep. Should we just let him whine or is there some correction that needs to be done so that he just sits tight? We "hush" him, and sometimes it works... but usually just for 30 seconds.

During the day when we leave for work, it's a different story. I'm normally the one who has to put him in the laundry room (with his crate, water bowl, pee pads and a couple select toys). He cries when he realizes I'm leaving... today I stood outside our front door listening to him cry for about ten minutes, then I couldn't take it and just went to work. I had to go back home about 45 minutes later because I forgot something and he was fast asleep. As someone else has suggested in the forums, I've tried to say "I'll be back"... I've also tried to leave him for just a little bit at a time (and increasing the amount of time) so he gets used to it. I never let him out of his area if he's still whining. He seems to be getting better with each day... It's definitely hard, but good to know that he does eventually pacify himself. Is it still too soon to try to help him with his separation issues - if not, what seems to be effective? I know, I know, that's a pretty broad question as each dog is different...

Potty Training
Here's our situation: we have an unfenced front yard (very beautiful grass, however) and a fenced backyard, but it's not finished. There are concrete sidewalks, a bit of foliage along the property line & fencing, and a large patch of solid dirt as the "backyard". Our landlord is going to be doing some renovating (who knows when) of the deck above the garage so there is a ladder and some lumber in the backyard off to the side. I've also seen a cat that likes to hang around in our backyard (don't know if it's belongs to someone or not). My concern with the front yard is that it's unfenced and parvo or other awful things could be lurking about. My concern with the back yard is that there's really no grass for Kuma to potty on (the idea of pottying on dirt kinda puts me off), the cat (can cats carry diseases that can be given to dogs?), and the building materials (while off to the side, can pose a problem).

We've been using potty pads, with some degree of success... Kuma just can't quite poop on his pads when we're home. He poops and pees on it 100 % when we're at work. He pees on it 90% of the time when we're home. Though, on the other hand, he poops on his pads only about 25% of the time when we're at home. Eventually I hope he can potty outside... but by using potty pads, are we teaching him bad habits to use the bathroom in the house? I mean, obviously we are... but with our situation, and Kuma not being fully vaccinated for another 3-4 weeks, does anyone have any suggestions (ie: are we being crazy by not taking him out to the backyard to begin with)?

Selecting a Trainer
We've been doing a lot of looking around Sacramento for training for Kuma. I've seen a few that have "private, in-home lessons" and offer 1-3 sessions for a set price, but of course there's a premium compared to group classes. That is very enticing because I'd like to get started with very basic things and doing them right the first time around. Obviously at his age group classes are not an option. Of course, group classes are more affordable... cost isn't so much a concern... but to consider nearly $400 for three private, in home lessons plus "unlimited" group classes... eh, I don't know. Also, to wait another 3-4 weeks for group classes would make me nutso. The private lessons, however, along with basic training, claim to assist with Kuma's issues (separation anxiety, house breaking, play biting, etc), which might be a little harder to get help with in a group setting. By the way, Kuma seems to understand sit just after three days! Yay for him!

Another thing besides wanting to get Kuma started early is the TYPE of training that we want to use. I've been doing reading on treat-based training versus non-treat based training. The latter claims to use "love, praise and technique" to train your dog such that treats are not used to lure the dog into listening. Treats are used, but seldomly and as a surprise. No violence, no yelling and no clickers or other training devices. The claim is that using treats to train tends to make your dog obey only when there's a treat at the end of listening. What if there is no treat to give? Also, it supposedly doesn't teach your dog to respect you as much. While I think that's a bit extreme - I think that dogs will listen even without treats... but it sounds like there's some validity to that type of training. Is this something that is common out there and if so, why aren't more people using it? I've seen one website that claims to do this type of training... but it looked shady to me which is why I'm questioning this method. I've found another trainer in Sacramento who appears to be quite popular, though I'm not too sure and would need a few references & more research. Any thoughts?

For those who made it through the whole thing - you're brave and not to mention, pretty darned awesome! Thanks in advance for any thoughts, comments, constructive criticisms and advice!

P.S. For those who can't tell, I'm a major worry-wart...

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Comment by Cindi on June 20, 2008 at 8:56am
You're welcome! Please consider a positive method training class for Kuma, as well. The discipline of training, the use of positive reinforcement, do wonders for the confidence of both owner and dog. You'll be pleasantly surprised!
Comment by Lexi on June 19, 2008 at 11:22am
Thank you, thank you all! I think I just feel like I'm not doing enough - or the right things... it's making me feel a lot more confident and comfortable to hear everyone's thoughts and advice on my typical-and-as-can-be-expected puppy's behavior.
Comment by Cindi on June 19, 2008 at 9:40am
Excellent comments from all above! Addressing the separation anxiety (I call it being a "velcro dog"); you must remember that your dog is a dog. Having rules about being on furniture, jumping, and being satisfied to sleep and play on the floor will help. Kuma will be much more well-adjusted for it. There's a video on here with Cesar Millan. Check out the video page and watch it. It's long, but there's lots of great info on there that will help you set up your relationship with Kuma so he doesn't become a "velcro dog."

Kudos to all for great advice. That's what this site is all about....great owners giving great advice!
Comment by Sam on June 18, 2008 at 11:20pm
Sounds like you are a concerned mom. Good for you. Some of the crying is normal. He has had major changes in his life and being alone is a big one. I am a big believer in crate training but I do have to say that when I am home the pup is out. All day and all night is just too much. Supervision is a must so put his collar and lead on and tie him to you. This way you can watch him and he can be out. He needs to spend as much time with you as he can to begin the bond.
Potty training is a long road, especially for people that work. I am not a fan of potty pads. At his tender age he has no control. The best you can hope for is some consistency when you take him out. Make it as routine as possible. I would have little concern for diseases in your front yard unless it is frequented by many dogs. Most diseases spread to pups will be found in areas of high dog concentrations. As for the sand in the backyard it is unlikely to be a problem for him. He needs time to explore and become comfortable in different environments, surfaces. This will help his growing brain become more comfortable.
I would not elect a private trainer. They are quite pricey and one lacks the socialization provided by group classes. I am not a fan of Petsmart for several reasons. I have no doubt there are some good instructors there but I do not like the unusually small training area and the frequency of dogs from all walks of life that visit. I have enjoyed our local dog training club. Much more space, dogs must be vaccinated, and everyone there is concentrating on training. I always suggest one go visit classes in session before making a commitment to any training class.
I am a big fan of treat training and positive reinforcement. This also is a form of operant conditioning where a dog learns to experience pleasure (food) when working with you. In time the constant flow of treats ebbs.
All of what you are experiencing with him are typical expressions of pups. All are to be expected and worked with as he grows. Offer lots of interaction, play and exercise. Pups this young sleep lots! A tired pup is a good pup. Relax and enjoy this time.
Comment by Karen & Bailey on June 18, 2008 at 6:46pm
sacramento.. california?? were in SF! =)

to start off - most corgis are food driven - and the whole idea of training him to sit/come/down, etc is to eventually have him have that muscle memory so that when they hear the word sit, they just automatically plop their butts down - no needfor eye contact! . In the beginning though, i think its way more effective (and efficient) to use a treat as a lure. Otherwise, they'd lost interest fast. Once he masters (ex. sit) then just give him a treat every other "sit" then every 3rd sit, etc.. itll take awhile. Bailey does it all on command without a treat - but he kinda expects some kind of reward at the end... heh heh . alsoa good thing to keep in mind is just to not give him treats to give him treats. make him work for every treat!

on the whining - my advice it to not console or reprimand it. Bailey does the same when I leave for work, but they're so young right now and you're routine (going to work every morning) isn't going to change. Kuma will eventually learn the routine, and know you're going to come back in a couple of hours. This is when you leave for work.. if they are whining in the crate at night, it was suggested to me that you take the puppy out of the crate, no play no talk, take him to the potty spot, say go potty, if he doesnt go, bring him back in.

I potty trained Bailey on potty pads. I know everyone on here doesn't agree on this method, but it has worked for us. Sure, if i could spend 1-2 hours a day at home with him during lunch, then that would be a different story - but i don't have that luxury. Bailey is fenced off in the kitchen with the potty pad, toys, and water bowl. He does his business on that while I'm not home, and yes, he misses too (its the poop), but when i am home, hes PERFECT. No accidents whatsoever. He knows to go outside, but when theres no one there to take him (when im at work), he has to go inside. in your sitatuion (he can hold it 5-6 hours, plus you can come home at lunchtime) it looks like you might be able to keep him in the crate for the time you leave for work till the time you come home for lunch, and after, instead of leaving him in hte laundry room. Toss in a couple of toys in the crate too.

also, on the potty training, when you are home - try to eliminate the use of potty pads. I'm not a vet so im not sure about the parvo risk to a 9.5 week old pup on shared-grass.... buttttt... Bailey is used to doing his business on concrete cause we're in the city and we've never run into him catching anything - rumor has it the puppy is ok for small adventures after the 2nd shot. Thats what our petsmart trainer told us (emmm not sure if id take that but he said hes been showing dogs for 19 years - ?!?!?). Anyways, back to the potty pad thing, for the long run, its best to get rid of hte potty pad AT LEAST when you are home and have him go outside - otherwise it might take twice as long to teach him to go outside. So when you see him looking for hte pad (sniffing, etc), take him outside immediately and tell him to "go potty" or "get busy", etc. Praise him like you've seen the best thing in the world when he does go, give him a treat, etc, and bring him back inside. Tehn he'll associate going outside = going potty. I know it can seem frustrating, but you watch... he'll catch on quickly if you stick to it and not give in (no laying any potty pads down when you're home!!!).

ooo and bailey graduated from petsmart's puppy education class and he LOVED it. The social aspect at least, and we did learn new things. I'd recommend that class. =) We paid about $120 bucks for a 8 week once a week class. =)

i feel like im blabbering, hopefully you found some of this information useful! congrats on hte new pup. good luck and have lots of funnnn funnn funnn!
Comment by NoClaws4Alarm on June 18, 2008 at 3:52pm
Well, treats aren't really meant to be a bribe...but an attention getter. Puppies have REALLY short attention spans so a little "nose help" in the right direction really does help keep their attention; because face it... everything ELSE in the room is more interesting than you when there's work to do! :)

What I do with Rolo is the treat/love method. At first it's more treats than love... and then it's about even... and soon they are doing it just for the pats and croons, with a treat for a surprise occasionally so they never really know if it's coming. They don't have to get a treat every single time... but it really helps them focus if they think they might!

The line they are tossing you about treating doesn't teach them to respect you? I think that's hogwash. I think it's important for them to know that every bite they take comes from YOU... that without you... there would be no treats... or food... or water... or lovin'... so if anything, they should respect you more for reinforcing this.

Like any good thing though, you can overdo it if you aren't careful. A treat is only special when it's an extra. If it becomes something they start to expect all the time, then the significance is lost.

As for training... I really like the trainers at PetSmart. In home training doesn't do much for puppy socialization. They are also (in comparison) very inexpensive. Just because cash isn't an issue...there is no sense in throwing the money away if you don't have to... and you really don't. A lot of people don't like the store atmosphere but I think it helps. If he can learn with that much distraction, you know when it's time for him really to mind you... he will not have a problem, no matter how distracting the area around you is. So many times I've heard people say, "Oh he's just nervous... there are too many people around..." PetSmart puppies say, "So what? That's no excuse for bad behavior...look at us!"

As for the home alone thing... I was lucky in that I don't have to leave Rolo for more than 4 hours without some sort of supervision... so he's not in his crate all day. Puppies WILL miss their furless Momma... but they generally will sleep when left alone in their crate... eventually. The longest Rolo has ever whined is about 10-15 minutes. I never go to him when he is whining. I wait for a breather and then praise him for being QUIET :) That way he knows that the whining isn't winning him any kudos from me. The best thing is to keep to a strict schedule so Kuma knows about when to expect to be let out...fed...played with... etc. For example... If he knows momma comes home when it's really bright in the room... he'll get used to the alone time in between.

I know he's young... and they are easy... but get rid of the pee pads as soon as you can. All they do is slow down the process of house-training. As soon as he's had his parvo... I'd start walking him. Walk his little tail-less BUTT off ! A tired puppy is a GOOD puppy.

A good walk in the morning and one after you get home from work will do a few really nice things: First... it's something for him to look forward to! Also, walks are a nice change of scenery... they give him different smells and views so he is stimulated... puppies need that.

The best thing... is it will also get him used to doing his business outside, rather than in your house on a pad. He learns where is appropriate... because he likes all the praise you'll give him when he does his duty outside!

As long as you are considerate and keep him "curbed" and cleaned up after with little doggie baggies (they have cool containers that attach right to the leash!) your neighbors won't mind much, and you won't have to worry about him eliminating in a backyard full of dirt :)

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