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Hello Everyone,

I recently adopted a dog from the adoption agency from a Petco store. Me and my wife have wanted a dog for a few years and just moved into a home so this was the perfect time.


Know to put blame on myself, I only ever owned a dog one time and it was when I was younger and it was a Germen Shepard, so I was definitely naïve and uneducated when I was picking out a new dog to adopt.

So when we when to Petco we met with about 6 dogs, we checked out their temperament, their energy level, and ask the Humane dog volunteers a lot of different questions to make sure that we were getting the right dog for us.

One of the biggest requirements for us was getting a "lazy" dog. We don't go out very much and we are a family that likes to stay home most of the time. We told this to the helpers their and they picked a dog for us they assured us would be a match. I asked them what kind of dog it was and they said something like a "mixed breed" or something general.

Well, its been a month now and our dog (Pongo) feels like he isn't a good match for us and I don't know if its a matter of us having more patience until Pongo gets better, trained more, or if we simply didn't get a good match.

Now for some details I later found out about the dog after doing my own research:

- Pongo is a one year old rat terrier
- About a year old
- He has a VERY high energy level at times
- He gets bored very easily
- Pongo can be incredibly stubborn
- He bothers my cats from time to time (not often though)
- He barks excessively when people aren't around or he wants someone's attention.

Let me say some good things as well about Pongo:

- Everyone gives me compliments that he is cute
- He is trainable, I just taught him how to sit



Our biggest issue with Pongo is that, I can deal with most of these issues. My main concern honestly is that Pongo looks bored most of the time. I am not sure if its just his natural facial expression, or if he really is.

Sometimes I feel bad for Pongo when he wants to play but me and my wife are at work, so when he is bored he ends up being destructive or making "bored" noises. I know part of this is being a 1 year old puppy, but I feel that other things come from him being a rat terrier and they definitely need to be more active.

The only solution I have come up with are the following:

- Maybe invest in some dog day care once every two weeks
- Build a fence around our yard so we can let him play around there (building a fence is really expensive option though)
- Wait it out until he gets to be older, which in turn will make him more lazy... but that can take a few years...

So I wanted to reach out to everyone here to see what everyone opinions were. Is our lifestyle not a good match for Pongo, or will we get better with time? I imagine that since we only had him for a month if we did have to give him back it would be better sooner, rather than later.
 

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Rat terriers are a relatively active breed (mediumish energy pending the individual dog). It sounds like he could use a bit more exercise and mental stimulation. What does his daily exercise look like? Try investing in things like kongs, other puzzle toy, or long lasting chews to keep him and his mind busy.
He may benefit from the occasional doggy daycare stay if its something your interested in. Is he good with other dogs?
Even if you build a fence outside and leave him outside while your gone he is most likely just going to sleep and not play.
There's no gaurentee that a dog will decrease in energy as they age. Some dogs stay pretty energetic even into their older years. Some dogs mellow out a bit as the get past the young adult doggy phase, others don't really. It just depends on the dog.
I don't think he's incompadible. Just remember he's a new dog so he could also still be adjusting to the new house and people. Try upping his exercise and adding in some mental stimulation and see if that helps.
 

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To me, he sounds like a young dog of an average energy level who hasn't been trained and likely isn't getting the stimulation he needs. Will he definitely become less active as he ages? Who knows. Rat Terriers are a breed I would consider to have a wide range of energy, though the "typical" energy level tends to be medium/high. They do tend to be a "thinking" breed, and tend to thrive off of mental stimulation as well as (even more than) physical stimulation. Let him sit around all day and do nothing to channel that energy into, and he's going to find something else to do and may develop more problems as he ages.

With a dog that small, though, there are easy ways to get him a little more worn out without ever having to go outside. IMO, giving him back to a shelter for these reasons is a little extreme. ALL dogs are going to need you to go out of your way for some part of the day to give them a little bit of mental and physical exercise. It sounds like he's a very small dog. It isn't hard to exercise a small dog inside.

I'd also be curious to know what kind of mental and physical stimulation he gets, currently. Does he get walked? Do you play with him? Does he have toys to occupy his mind when you're not engaging him? Is he the kind of dog that wants to play with you or just likes to play in general and doesn't care if you're doing it or he's doing it alone? True Terriers (dogs that have been bred mostly or all from terrier-type dogs and don't just have it in their name) tend to be less people oriented than a lot of other breeds, and Rat Terriers are more of a "real" terrier, versus something like a Boston Terrier, which is a terrier in name and not function or personality. So, even though I'd consider a Rat Terrier a "thinking" breed, I wouldn't consider them a breed that needs you to be a focal point of their daily exercise the way you'd need to be with something like a Lab or a Boston.

Have you done any training with him, at all? With a small dog, it is often tempting to say "oh well, he doesn't really need to be trained because I can carry him if I need to/he can't really hurt anybody". This is the biggest mistake you can make. If you do not train him now, it will come back to haunt you. No dog is born from the womb completely well behaved and easy to live with. They're taught how to behave and what the rules of the house are, and unless you're being pointed in your efforts of training its likely you're teaching him the wrong lessons. You are training him how to act now, even if you aren't setting aside time and working with him on specific things. Every time he does anything, you are reacting in some way, either by "reinforcing" it (adding something he likes in response to the behavior) or "punishing" it (removing or adding something he doesn't like in response to the behavior). I use those terms in the scientific sense of them and not the colloquial sense- reinforcement means anything that causes a behavior to occur more frequently, and punishment means anything that causes a behavior to occur less frequently. More likely than not, you're unintentionally reinforcing bad behavior and making it more likely to occur in the future. The way most people relate to dogs sets this up to happen, in my experience. Giving him any kind of attention when he barks is likely reinforcing barking, even if its scolding him- in a situation where he's barking out of boredom and/or for attention, ignoring it is more punishing to him than scolding, because you're still giving him attention, even if its not praising him. Allowing him to bother the cats is setting up a reinforcing situation and teaching him that that kind of behavior is totally fine and leads to fun things, because very likely he thinks it is a game they're playing, even if the cats are not having fun. In that situation, you really want to interrupt him before he has the chance to bother them. Figure out what is the precursor to him bothering them (might be them running, might be that he is bored) and either teach him an alternative behavior that you can reward in that situation (like coming to you when the cats run, or bringing a toy when he's bored).
 

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Terriers are usually medium to high energy dogs, and a one year old, almost any breed is going to be energetic. Most any dog is going to need attention, daily walks, and some play time. You can't just throw food at them twice a day, let them out occasionally and call it done. The doggy day care suggestion is a good one, and if you could do that even once or twice a week, you may find that is a great outlet for him. My guess is things will settle down into a routine that you, your wife and Pongo can live with, in time. Rome wasn't built in a day, and dogs all adapt to new surroundings at their own pace.
 
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