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I think it's been about 2.5 weeks since my post about all the issues we were having with our new puppy Osha. She was about 9 weeks old at the time and now she's nearing her 12th week. Things have improved measurably, even though of course there are still some issues to iron out and a few questions we have.

First, the good stuff! She was biting and barking almost constantly it seemed. And not just regular puppy biting or barking in her crate either - the biting was pretty intense and the barking was demanding (as soon as I turned my back it would begin). I finally convinced my boyfriend to try out the water spritzer idea since it seemed to me like it might have a good chance of working. And it did! It really lessened the amount and intensity of the biting as well as reducing the amount, tone and volume of barking. (We called it the Bark and Spritz for a while ;) ) Now sometimes she does a 'silent bark'.

She gets 1 - 2 walks a day, playtime in the backyard, training 2-3 times per day, and puppy play group on Saturdays.

We also no longer let her on the couch, except by permission if she's been lying quietly for some time, and then it's only for a short time and she must get off again. I think that this has also had a positive effect on her trying to dominate me by humping my leg (oh so charming).

She still is quite a dominant little puppy though, as well as bossy and manipulative! We absolutely adore her but her high level of intelligence has made things more challenging at times.
For example, since lying down is the most submissive position, she often suddenly finds an itch on her back or foot, or something interesting on the ground to sniff when asked to lie down. I've begun saying "down" and then simply staring at her until she eventually grumbles and then lies down. This can take up to a minute but I felt that forcing her into the 'down' position was doing the work for her, and I know she understands the command.

Our other issue is our cats. I'm not sure if we can be doing anything differently so if anyone has some suggestions that worked for them, we are all ears. The youngest of our cats is fearful of all people (except us, of course) and when the puppy is near he runs. I keep her on a leash when the cats are around since she chased them a couple of times. It's just unfortunate that my little guy will not stand up for himself. I'm sure if he did she would then leave him alone. In the meantime, if the cats enter the room or when we pass by them she is not allowed to go towards them unless permitted and must sit or lie down in their presence. Any suggestions on this?

The final thing we are really working on is the barking associated with either leaving the room for a few minutes or when we put her in her crate for some downtime. The other evening we had some cleaning we had to do and so we put her in her crate for a couple hours. She barked and shrieked and bit at the door and tore at her crate bed for 2 hours solid. She barked so long and loudly that she almost lost her voice in the end (all we could hear were these sad little croaky barks). Ditto for when we leave a room for even one minute - even if one of us is still in the room with her! Do we just have to wait this out, ignore it and eventually she will get it? Or should we be doing something about it that we're not doing?

Just as a final, funny note, although Osha is not hugely food-driven, she still really enjoys tasting things. We have tested out a few things here and there when she has shown interest in the food. She loves all fruits and vegetables, even lettuce. She gets more excited about tuna than any other food. We gave her a tiny piece of olive with blue cheese in it and she loved it. She tried to poach a glass of scotch right out of our hands the other day! She licked a bunch of hot sauce off my fingers last week and last night she took a piece of lime and sat there sucking on it!! We keep laughing at the kinds of flavours she likes. Is this normal? I thought Vizslas were supposed to be picky eaters!??

She's definitely not the puppy we thought we were getting, but we love her and are so happy to see improvements. All we were hoping for is progress and so we're relieved. Sorry this is so long, but I wanted to say thanks for all the advice previously and update you on the improvements.
 

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So happy to hear things are moving in a positive direction! She really is beautiful, and, as I always tell people about maggie--the pretty ones are always crazy :) ha!

I'd also love to hear any suggestions for the shrieking/barking from the crate when we're in the room/in the house and she can hear us...it has gotten better for us (she's a little over 1 year), but she still does it. I think our successes have come with it being part of her routine--for example, part of our morning routine has her in the crate for 15 minutes in between my shower & my husband's--she used to do her shriek-y bark then, but doesn't anymore. But if it's outside of that she will bark her face off for hours...not so lucky on the "losing the voice"--pretty sure maggie has lungs of steel :)
 

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That's a good point about routine being a way to reduce or eliminate barking. I'm sure that's why Osha's bedroom crate time is a lot quieter.

If we figure out a way to help her relax in her crate in the room with us at some point I will let you know!
 

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Good to hear things are settling down for you! I do the ‘give a command and wait until it is executed routine’, too. It seems to work. Take the time now to store up some patience. She will be a ‘teenager’ before you know it. As a bright spot, Savannah’s desire to rule the roost and her ‘teenager-y’ behavior calmed down considerably after most of her teeth came in. She still has her moments, but it is much, much better.

I can’t speak to the shrieking in the crate. Savannah only shrieked for the first couple of car rides. Since she goes to work with me, riding in her crate was one of those routines that she just had to accept. After a few days, she got over it – as did my ears.

About the cat, I can give you a few ideas. I have a scardy-cat named Annie. She came to me from a shelter already declawed. She is afraid of other people. If the doorbell rings on a TV show, she runs under the bed. She is afraid of the car. She is afraid of outside. Despite all of that fear, we are currently on a path to success with Savannah. Annie lets Savannah approach, lets her help clean her back fur (long-haired cat), and once, even touched noses with her. It has taken us 4 months to get to this point, so if other people have ideas to accelerate the process, I am all ears.

That being said, Savannah has always been on a leash around Annie. She is never allowed to chase Annie. She has never been allowed in the laundry room (where Annie’s dry food and litter box are kept). Every morning and every evening before Savannah is fed, Annie gets a bit of wet cat food at one end of the kitchen while Savannah is at the other end. After a week or so, I started to move Annie’s dish a few inches closer to Savannah or a few inches further away depending on her willingness to eat. In the evenings, Annie sits at one end of the TV room on her favorite blanket on the arm of a chair and Savannah sits at the other on her rug on the floor. At night Annie sleeps on my bed with Savannah sleeping in a crate at the foot of my bed. In other words, lots of face time with no threat of interaction.
After about 2 months of this, I started putting bits of leftover meat in the bottom of Savannah’s Kong with an ice cube at the top to slow her down. I gave the Kong to Savannah in her crate, picked up Annie, sat on the floor in front of the crate and hand-fed her bits of the same meat, so they were eating a few inches from each other, but safely and visibly separated. The great Thanksgiving turkey-truce was great to see! They didn’t pay each other a bit of attention. And before the Forum gets up-in-arms about turkey, I distinguish between a ‘treat’ and a ‘snack.’ These sessions never last more than a minute and only happen about once a week. I found other cats and a few kittens for Savannah to meet (sounds like you may not have to search as hard on this score). After a few of the other cats hissed and swatted at her, Savannah was more cautious around Annie even though Annie doesn’t stick up for herself.
Currently, if Savannah bounces toward her, Annie will turn around and walk the other way, but if Savannah walks up to her nicely, Annie will usually stay still and say hello. After about 15 seconds, Annie has had enough and will walk away. After many, many leash-checks, Savannah has learned to let her. If Annie is in my lap on the couch, she will stay there when Savannah approaches us as long as Savannah then goes to her rug to lie down.

I don’t know if any of the above will be useful for you, but it has worked for us so far. One of the many cat books I read said to not rush things. I agree with using patience, but left to herself, I think Annie would have just avoided Savannah entirely and that was unacceptable for me. I had decided ahead of time that Annie needed to feel safe to walk through the house, so that was our training goal. I hope they become friends, but ultimately, that is up to them.

Good luck!
 

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Wow! Congrats on the improvements with Osha. Kuddos to y'all for working so hard & being patient with Osha ;) Patience can run thin with barking, and I think not giving into Osha's demands is wise. I'm not an expert or a trainer, but I think letting her know she does not run the show is smart. Osha sounds like my oldest, strong-willed (gifted) daughter, & consistency is so important! I would be very proud of your accomplishments to date. It sounds to me like you are doing the right thing with the cats. We don't have cats, but I think it's very good that y'all are letting Osha know that contact with the cats will be appropriate & on your terms. Even if the cat(s) was not afraid, having solid boundaries around everything in Osha's life will benefit all of you down the road. Trying to nip the issues now is very wise, because troublesome behavior ignored early becomes a much bigger problem down the road! We have not had any issues with barking in the crate, but we do have a mini dachshund who only gets crazy when the crate door is closed ??? She tore up so many beds, that I quit buying her any for a while. On the one hand, I get not wanting to pay Osha attention while she is barking in her crate, but on the other, it would be hard for me not to reprimand her for tearing up bedding! I would be inclined to not pay her attention other than giving a firm "no" to bed shredding, remove it, and then close her back in the crate without her bed. I don't know? I'll be checking back to see what others say about that issue. None the less, congrats & best wishes. Osha is lucky to have y'all :)
 

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Hey there :) just wanted to say thanks for the replies. I was down and out for the better part of a month with a virus and back issues and so I have barely been at my computer at all. Things with the puppy continue to improve. We have had a couple really challenging days here and there but overall it's a lot better and much more fun now!

The cat situation is a work in progress but also improving. We've taken to keeping Osha on a leash all the time at home which has helped immensely.

Thanks to all for the suggestions and support!!
 
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