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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, all. I decided to start a new thread for this rather than posting again in "Finnegan's Progress", in the hopes that more people will see it. For reference, he is a 5 month old Mini Aussie.

I'm struggling to find the right balance between activity/exercise and quiet/rest time for Finnegan. He's improved in a lot of ways but as he's gotten older he seems to sleep less during the day and has more energy. About a week ago I realized I was giving him quite a bit more exercise than is recommended for a pup his age, which I thought might be why he seemed so amped up all the time. I cut way back, but it didn't really help. He's been acting incredibly restless, like he can't sit still. He's constantly getting up, digging/chewing the furniture, rubbing his teeth against the wall, scratching the wall...sometimes he just paces and whines. And lately he barks and screams when I put him to bed, which was never an issue before. I'm going to keep experimenting with the amount of exercise, but I guess I'm feeling anxious and worried because I don't know how much of this is regular "crazy puppy" behaviour (that he'll grow out of) and/or how much of it is "bored Australian Shepherd" behaviour (that he won't).

I'm especially frustrated because I feel like I'm doing everything right. I give him puzzle toys, rotate his regular toys, we work on tricks every day, and I constantly reward calm behaviour when I see it. I alternate daily activity between walks and free play in the yard, running around playing fetch, chase, etc, with total daily exercise falling anywhere between 20-30 minutes (not enough?) to an hour and a half (too much?).

Rationally I know there are some temporary issues that are making things harder on both of us. I'm currently going through an emotionally draining situation in my own life. And Finnegan's right in the middle of losing his baby teeth, so I'm sure some of his restlessness can be attributed to pain. Certain aspects of training are nearly impossible right now in the situation we're in--there's no real way to "set him up for success", but that's sort of a separate issue.

I guess I'd just like some reassurance or insight into whether this can be considered a phase, whether he'll eventually settle down and be content with our routine of play/exercise/rest, or whether there's something I'm missing that I'm not doing right, or maybe a mixture of both?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I'd like to add that I've been reading other threads on similar topics and I've seen people talking about teaching puppies/dogs to understand and accept the difference between activity time and rest time. Ideally this is what I would love to achieve--for Finnegan to know that when we are at home, and I'm on my computer or doing whatever, it's quiet time. I just have no clue how to even begin training this.
 

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I think the teething is a major factor. I don't know if he is crate trained, but my suggestion would be to go to a butcher and get some really big meaty bones. Have an exercise session and really tire him out, then put him in a crate with a big juicy bone and stay in the room, maybe on your computer.

I'm thinking he will settle down. It's worth a try, and you seem to be doing everything else right.
 

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Sounds like you guys have hit a rough patch. Jasper has begun crying at night the past week too when we put him to bed :( I am guessing it is his age (will be 6 months old on the 23rd of August) and he is testing boundaries. I responded to him the first night b/c he had never cried before and immediately took him out. He did pee, but that was after like 4 minutes. So the following night I ignored to crying and it stopped after 10 minutes.

I exercise Japsper quite a bit and it is probably way more than he "needs", but he enjoys the walks. He gets a 45 minute walk in the morning at 7:30 before I leave for work. I get home at 2 and take him for another walk, sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. At about 6PM he goes out to pee/poop before dinner, usually just around the block. Then at 8PM we go around the block again to poop. At 9:30 PM he goes into yard for a quick pee and then bed. All our walks are just walking on flat ground around the local streets, no hikes and nothing strenuous. I bought him a flirt pole which he loves to use in the yard so we sometimes do that instead of a walk if he has already peed/pooped.

I'm finding that things are sort of coming in waves, where things will settle and finally feel easier/better, then we will be thrown a curve ball. Today he figured out how to climb the side of the crate and escape the ex pen!! The trainer I am working with told me that this is exactly the age where they push limits, test boundaries and get harder to deal with. I have no words of wisdom, just empathy. You have a lot on your plate right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think the teething is a major factor. I don't know if he is crate trained, but my suggestion would be to go to a butcher and get some really big meaty bones. Have an exercise session and really tire him out, then put him in a crate with a big juicy bone and stay in the room, maybe on your computer.

I'm thinking he will settle down. It's worth a try, and you seem to be doing everything else right.
Thanks for the suggestion. How do you eventually transition away from confinement, though? I mean, once he's gotten into the habit of relaxing after coming home, how do you make him understand the same relaxed behaviour is expected outside the crate as well?

Sounds like you guys have hit a rough patch. Jasper has begun crying at night the past week too when we put him to bed :( I am guessing it is his age (will be 6 months old on the 23rd of August) and he is testing boundaries. I responded to him the first night b/c he had never cried before and immediately took him out. He did pee, but that was after like 4 minutes. So the following night I ignored to crying and it stopped after 10 minutes.

I exercise Japsper quite a bit and it is probably way more than he "needs", but he enjoys the walks. He gets a 45 minute walk in the morning at 7:30 before I leave for work. I get home at 2 and take him for another walk, sometimes 45 minutes, sometimes an hour. At about 6PM he goes out to pee/poop before dinner, usually just around the block. Then at 8PM we go around the block again to poop. At 9:30 PM he goes into yard for a quick pee and then bed. All our walks are just walking on flat ground around the local streets, no hikes and nothing strenuous. I bought him a flirt pole which he loves to use in the yard so we sometimes do that instead of a walk if he has already peed/pooped.

I'm finding that things are sort of coming in waves, where things will settle and finally feel easier/better, then we will be thrown a curve ball. Today he figured out how to climb the side of the crate and escape the ex pen!! The trainer I am working with told me that this is exactly the age where they push limits, test boundaries and get harder to deal with. I have no words of wisdom, just empathy. You have a lot on your plate right now.
Thanks for the support and sympathy. Finnegan is exactly 2 weeks younger than Jasper, and it seems we're definitely having similar experiences with them. I didn't think the "testing boundaries" phase started quite this early (I thought at 8 or 9 months?) but that could definitely be a factor too. Do you know if there's any way around it or is it just a matter of maintaining consistency and waiting it out?
 

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Thanks for the support and sympathy. Finnegan is exactly 2 weeks younger than Jasper, and it seems we're definitely having similar experiences with them. I didn't think the "testing boundaries" phase started quite this early (I thought at 8 or 9 months?) but that could definitely be a factor too. Do you know if there's any way around it or is it just a matter of maintaining consistency and waiting it out?[/QUOTE]
The trainer told me consistency is the key and eventually they "get it" and know you won't waiver and you mean business- lol. Jasper learned "sit" the day after we got him at 8 weeks and "down" a day later. Rock solid. Now, he sits 50% of the time I ask and it drives me crazy. I know he knows what I want him to do. So I wait, make eye contact and ask again and then he sits. It's hard to be patient, especially when I KNOW he knows he is supposed to sit.
 

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The total daily exercise you're mentioning does that include all play + training time?

When Tucker was that age he got way more than that all in. We'd do about 5x10 min training sessions a day, 2x 15-30 min walks a day, play fetch or tug a war in the house on and off for an hour or two. He also spent (and still does) a bunch of time playing with other dogs which I found was the best way to tire him out. Then when it was time to settle I'd either give him a chew in his x-pen or bully rubs on the couch while I watched TV.

EDIT: also he had a basket of toys that he had free access too that he could entertain himself with.
 

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Belie when I adopted my lab/pointer mix she was about halfway through teething and the bones and chews really helped. It only took about a week for her to learn to settle down, although she and the other larger dog occasionally get a bit rambunctious in the house the behavior is easy to manage.
The crate was used not only to settle but to help house train, as before I adopted her she lived in a back yard and not a house. That did not take long, actually none of it took long because she could see the other dogs being relatively quiet indoors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
When I say total daily exercise I'm only including walks and fetch/chase in the yard, not the lower-intensity playing we do indoors or any of our training sessions.

He has lots of different bones and chews, but it's hit-or-miss whether he'll actually settle down and just chew on them. I'm wary of putting him in his crate or an x-pen during the day for "settle down" time because he tends to bark when isolated. I have a parent under palliative care who can't handle the noise (this is what I mean when I say there are certain training exercises I simply cannot do--I can't let him bark it out to the point that I could start rewarding calm/quiet behaviour).
 

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I'd like to add that I've been reading other threads on similar topics and I've seen people talking about teaching puppies/dogs to understand and accept the difference between activity time and rest time. Ideally this is what I would love to achieve--for Finnegan to know that when we are at home, and I'm on my computer or doing whatever, it's quiet time. I just have no clue how to even begin training this.

One more thought pooped into my head. Have you tried leashing him in the house? When Jasper was waking up at the ungodly hour of 4:30-5:00 AM, I started leashing him to me and then I would doze on the couch. Unable to do anything, he would settle down on the floor by the couch and either doze or just veg and chew a toy. I realized that lately, if we are on the leash and I am just standing around (like if we bump into someone on a walk and I stand around chatting for a while) or if I am sitting on a bench, he almost always ends up laying down and just vegging. Maybe if Finnegan is leashed to you while you are sitting on the couch or on the computer, he will default into laying down and you can offer him a bully stick, antler, etc.

Just a thought...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
One more thought pooped into my head. Have you tried leashing him in the house? When Jasper was waking up at the ungodly hour of 4:30-5:00 AM, I started leashing him to me and then I would doze on the couch. Unable to do anything, he would settle down on the floor by the couch and either doze or just veg and chew a toy. I realized that lately, if we are on the leash and I am just standing around (like if we bump into someone on a walk and I stand around chatting for a while) or if I am sitting on a bench, he almost always ends up laying down and just vegging. Maybe if Finnegan is leashed to you while you are sitting on the couch or on the computer, he will default into laying down and you can offer him a bully stick, antler, etc.

Just a thought...
I've tried this a few times recently. It's hit-or-miss whether it works. Sometimes he just chews and pulls against the leash, sometimes frantically. Other times he will not seem to notice the leash at all. Last night I kept him on his leash and sat beside him and gave him treats every time he laid down, put his head down, etc. He did get nice and calm but I had to stay on the floor beside him. But it may be a start.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Had a bad day. Rainy and windy, we only took one walk and spent the rest of the day indoors, playing/training. He did good up until this evening, when I had him tethered on a leash while I attempted to relax. He was pacing back and forth, scratching every piece of furniture he could get at and jumping/humping/mouthing me. I gave him a chew, a puzzle toy with food inside, and a regular squeaky toy, but he wouldn't take any of it. He was just being a total nuisance and nothing I did or said made him stop. I was so frustrated I eventually just put him to bed, a little earlier than usual.

I feel like I have to constantly "manage" him. It makes it so, so hard to do...anything else. Additionally, I know he understands when I don't want him to do something, like scratch the wall, but he doesn't care. So how do I make him care?
 

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The joys of herding breed puppies! I'm going to call in @shandula who has both an aussie and a border collie to add in what she can.

Sounds like there are two things, puppy does not know how to relax and puppy needs more exercise. I do not think that 20-30 a day is enough. At that age I was playing/walking with Aayla for at least 1-3 hours every day. Doesn't mean I went outside and power walked for three hours straight. Sometimes it was three 20 minute playing/training sessions and one 30 minute walk. You can go to a park and play wander around. Let the puppy explore and run around at their own pace. Take breaks but have fun. Try to find some doggy friends for you pup to play with, its good for socializing and getting their energy out.

As for relaxing, I just would tie Aayla up. At that age (and younger) she was restless. When we would sit down she would pace back and forth in the house. So I would tie her to my ankle or our ottoman. She would still pace a bit, chew on the leash, whine but the first time took 15 minutes before she was out cold. Then after that it would only take 5 minutes of tied up restlessness before she would be asleep.

I also did A LOT of capturing calmness. I had a bowl of kibble in every room out of reach for the dogs. If she was calmly laying down and relaxing I would give her a treat. I also did this while out in public. Whenever I stopped and she settled, I would give her a treat. Now if I stop for more than a few minutes she lays down at my feet while I can talk, eat food and so on without having to tell her to.

 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The joys of herding breed puppies! I'm going to call in @shandula who has both an aussie and a border collie to add in what she can.

Sounds like there are two things, puppy does not know how to relax and puppy needs more exercise. I do not think that 20-30 a day is enough. At that age I was playing/walking with Aayla for at least 1-3 hours every day. Doesn't mean I went outside and power walked for three hours straight. Sometimes it was three 20 minute playing/training sessions and one 30 minute walk. You can go to a park and play wander around. Let the puppy explore and run around at their own pace. Take breaks but have fun. Try to find some doggy friends for you pup to play with, its good for socializing and getting their energy out.

As for relaxing, I just would tie Aayla up. At that age (and younger) she was restless. When we would sit down she would pace back and forth in the house. So I would tie her to my ankle or our ottoman. She would still pace a bit, chew on the leash, whine but the first time took 15 minutes before she was out cold. Then after that it would only take 5 minutes of tied up restlessness before she would be asleep.

I also did A LOT of capturing calmness. I had a bowl of kibble in every room out of reach for the dogs. If she was calmly laying down and relaxing I would give her a treat. I also did this while out in public. Whenever I stopped and she settled, I would give her a treat. Now if I stop for more than a few minutes she lays down at my feet while I can talk, eat food and so on without having to tell her to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wesm2OpE_2c
Thanks for your input--I hope Finnegan eventually gets to where Aayla is :eek: I would say he does get 1-3 hours daily of combined walking/playing. On average, he gets ~20-30 minutes of walking OR running around in the yard in the morning, followed immediately by ~30 minutes to an hour of indoor play with some training built in. Then he goes into his "playroom" by himself for a couple of hours while I do some work. In the afternoon he comes out and we play a bit, train a bit, sometimes run around in the yard again if it's a nice day. Sometimes he is very mellow during these times and will just lay with me or chew on a bone. Depending on his mood and what else I have to do that day I sometimes put him away again for another couple of hours, but after supper we take a ~30 minute walk, sometimes longer with breaks for him to sniff around and explore or just watch the people at the park or whatever. I also do a lot of capturing calmness.

I'm curious what you would have done in the specific situation I described in my last post? Did Aayla never start chewing on the ottoman when you tied her up, or pulling your pant leg? I don't think Finn has ever settled down enough to fall asleep while being tethered.
 

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Oh puppies. Herding puppies no less. Honestly, some of them just don't know how to settle. I honestly find Mini Aussies have some of the worst hyperactivity I've seen. They have all the go go go of the Standards, but none of the off-switch. :p There is hope though!

Levi has a great natural off-switch. Heidi...not so much. She needed some help. She was tethered quite a bit when I needed to work. If she chewed on something, she was redirected. If she nipped at me, she was redirected. I also did a lot of collar grab game (grab the collar, give a cookie). The collar grab helped settle her down significantly. If she's being naughty, or ignoring a cue, I just hold her collar and let her calm down and think for a second.

My biggest thing was if it was time to settle we did NOT play. I didn't give any attention, and I didn't cave.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh puppies. Herding puppies no less. Honestly, some of them just don't know how to settle. I honestly find Mini Aussies have some of the worst hyperactivity I've seen. They have all the go go go of the Standards, but none of the off-switch. :p There is hope though!

Levi has a great natural off-switch. Heidi...not so much. She needed some help. She was tethered quite a bit when I needed to work. If she chewed on something, she was redirected. If she nipped at me, she was redirected. I also did a lot of collar grab game (grab the collar, give a cookie). The collar grab helped settle her down significantly. If she's being naughty, or ignoring a cue, I just hold her collar and let her calm down and think for a second.

My biggest thing was if it was time to settle we did NOT play. I didn't give any attention, and I didn't cave.
I actually wouldn't use "hyperactive" to describe Finnegan at all--I would say "restless" or "antsy". Of course he has lots of puppy energy/exuberance, but he is able to settle down and rest or chew on a bone at times, if he's in the right mood (and he always settles down and waits quietly when I place him in the bathroom). Other times he won't settle, and he won't be redirected. I can wave a delicious chew in front of his face and he'll ignore it in favour of scratching/biting the wall (or the couch or whatever he can reach, if I move him). I don't want him to damage my home, so how do I withhold attention in a case like that?

In any case, this morning I enrolled him in a basic obedience class, which starts in a couple of weeks, and I'm looking at a "Foundations of Agility" class as well. I doubt either of these will address the issue directly, but I think they will be good outlets for him, tiring him out both physically and mentally. I'm just feeling pretty hopeless right now. Puppy blues went away and came back full-force--I feel so disappointed that he's not the "best friend" and "companion" I envisioned, and I hate myself for getting so frustrated with him. He's showing resource guarding tendencies, as well, which are really concerning to me. I have another thread on that. Sigh :(
 

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Aayla never really turned to the furniture to chew on. Though she did try and chew on her leash several times. I would just give her a chew for instead of her leash. She also never chewed on my clothing. I guess I was lucky with that.

Do you have a playpen? I would consider getting a metal one so if he chews it won't destroy furnature. You can have a lot of toys to destroy and add in chews. Frozen chews always helped Aayla. I had a few you could fill with water and then freeze. Then you just wait, sometimes it takes a while of pacing and crying, but if you have already exercised them then it is a waiting game.

EDIT: After seeing you post to Shandula, I;m going to add even more emphasis to getting a playpen. So that way you can ignore without having to work about everything being destroyed. If he is used to a crate and can settle there he just can't handle his freedom. A playpen is a good way to give a bit more room to learn to settle.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have a playpen, but I've been using it as a "fence" to keep him inside the kitchen with me (kitchen has a very wide entrance/doorway). I didn't have room to set it up properly at our old place, so I had kind of written it off, but now that we have more room I might have to go ahead and try that. Thanks for the suggestion.

Finnegan will be 6 months old on September the 6th.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
:yell:I am beyond frustrated.

This morning we spent 20 minutes outside playing fetch (he's still learning so this was a training session as well), followed by 20 minutes inside playing, followed by 20 minutes of me trying to reward calm/relaxation. He still kept scratching and biting the wall and occasionally nipping/tugging my clothes (I had thought we were pretty much past this).

I took him back outside, where he sniffed around a bit and then sat down to rest near me. I gave him some rewards, thought maybe he was ready to chill, we went back inside so I could do some work. He went right back to scratching the walls, pulling my pant legs, biting my sleeves, just basically being extremely stubborn and troublesome. I had to put him away.

I haven't had a chance to talk to my parents, yet, about where they'd be okay with me setting up the playpen. This isn't even my house, so it's hard.

I just don't understand what is causing him to act like this. He has shown that he is more than capable of learning and obeying, more than capable of settling down. He goes into the bathroom without a problem, he goes into his crate at night without a problem. Daytime, I feel like he's gotten worse, not better? Maybe it's a phase? But I'm not in a good head space anymore. I don't want to give up on him at all but I need something to change, I need something to "click" and for us to just get on the same darn page.

I wanted a dog who would be intelligent and loyal, who would push me to get outside more, move more, do more, but who would be just as content to lay by my feet while I'm working or watching tv. I have seen glimmers of goodness, I know he has it in him, but I just don't know how to get him there. And the more frustrated and discouraged I get, the harder it's going to be :(
 
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