The short version
: We have a stubborn 8-week-old lab puppy that was naturally weened and then separated from its mother/litter at 6-weeks. It seems comfortable in our home and gets along well with us, but we're having big issues with figuring out how to raise/train/socialize the puppy. Can anyone recommend a specific training plan or point us in the direction of a source you trust? I've found so much well-intended but conflicting information online that it's getting overwhelming.
The long version, all situation-specific details included:
I live with a roommate and her two kids -- 14-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy. I have a friendly, entirely platonic relationship with my roommate and a pseudo-authority, avuncular role in the children's lives.
The kids have long wanted a puppy, and I let it be known quite a while ago that I was willing to take financial responsibility for a dog if the kids were willing to take a significant amount of the responsibility for its care. Mom was never psyched about the idea of a dog (they had had one many years ago and had to get rid of it because of aggression issues) but now that she's agreed to a puppy, she thinks the one we brought home is quite cute.
We adopted a six-week-old lab puppy (mother an American Lab, father an English lab) from an amateur breeder (obligatory picture
, apologies for quality). At the time, we didn't realize how young six weeks was... but at least the mother had already weened her pups -- all 11! of them.
Beyond the young age, here are the puppy problems:
1) Living/play space: Sadie spends the majority of her time in the kitchen. It's decent sized with plenty of room for her to play, but she does get bored of it. Unfortunately, it's the only non-carpeted space in the house and she seems to poop and pee constantly.
She cannot run free in the backyard because it is not puppy safe. Also, we have two cats that often go outside and my roommate says that it's bad for the dog to dig up cat poo, which makes a long tether a problem as well. (I'm assuming she's right with the cat poo issue, but the thought hadn't struck me before she said anything.) Also, we live in Austin, TX, so the summer heat is an issue.
2) Potty training: She seems to have no problem peeing without warning wherever she is. She will usually whine when she needs to poo but only if there is a person right by her. I've read lots of conflicting advice about crate training, tether training, paper training, etc.
3) Obedience training: Sadie sits well. Crazy well, actually. So well that whenever you try to get her to do anything, she ends up sitting. She also accepts her leash but is horribly stubborn about pulling. She will pull and pull and whine and pull and yank and thrash as hard as she can, sometimes fighting for several minutes before finally submitting to walking in the direction I want. Also, when it comes to learning any command beyond sit, she's pretty dense (regardless of how yummy the treat).
4) Health concerns: We would like to take her to the park, to play with the older retriever at grandparents' house, etc. but our understanding is that we can't do any of these things until she has her parvo vaccination. Is this accurate?
5) Cat concerns: Sadie and our older male cat seem to have a healthy enough relationship. Our younger female cat (7-8 months) and Sadie love to play (especially tag), but their fighting goes way beyond what we think is healthy if left to their own devices.
Here are the people problems:
1) What level of responsibility is reasonable to expect from the kids? Mom and I don't have a problem doing general supervision duty and taking some of the responsibility, but we made it clear to the kids that primary care (with us consulting) should be their responsibility since they specifically wanted a puppy. Is that too much to ask?
2) We're not sure how much attention to give her. We don't want her to be starved for attention/interaction, but we also want her to eventually learn how to amuse herself/be comfortable just hanging around during the day.