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Enforced Settle Down Time? Six Month Old Pup Willow

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Hi everyone, long time lurker here, this is my first post and I'm after some advice if possible!

As an intro: Willow is a six month old female sable merle and one feisty lady! Since we got her at 8 weeks life has been a whirlwind, and it hasn't all been plain sailing; poor thing has had a UTI, conjunctivitis in her eyes, she's been one nippy madam since about 10 weeks and we cannot for the life of us get her to keep all her paws on the floor when we're in the house (she's constantly jumping up, either on us, guests, kitchen work surface, sofa, tables etc). On the plus side, she's super easy to train, highly intelligent, has been housetrained since about 11 weeks old, loves fetch, catching her ball and doing tricks.

She's not remotely treat driven though, isn't very affectionate and although I took that quite personally to start with, from doing some reading on here I've seen that it can take a fair few months for BCs to become a bit more affectionate and that it may not even happen! She also pulls a LOT on the lead, which we're trying to correct in our obedience classes and we also have a gencon lead that we use with her intermittently to see if we can try to calm her pulling a bit that way (along with praise and pieces of chicken/sausage).

Up until about 2 weeks ago she loved her crate. Would happily get into it when asked and would settle quite well. However, we're realising now that we have a puppy who will not settle in the evenings, no matter how tired she is, she wants to be around us constantly and if we put her in her upstairs crate (so that we can eat tea for example) she's taken to barking the house down for half an hour plus.. Same routine as she's always had, she goes in with a handful of treats, a peanut butter filled kong and sometimes even a chew if she's been particularly good!

We try to keep play after 9pm to a minimum, no tuggy toys or things with squeakers, just knuckles and pigs ears for chewing, and prior to that in the evenings we usually take her out for a 20-30 min walk and chuck a ball for her in a park near our house for 10/15 mins. We're trying very very hard to keep exercise to a minimum as we don't want to wreck her joints at such a young age. We do a bit of 'brain training' when we get back, work on her tricks and whatnot but back at home she goes from lovely to BITEY in MINUTES. It's very hard to know what to do with her at that point. We tell her no, she snaps and bares her teeth at us, or she seems very happy on the sofa with a pigs ear for about 20 mins and then she's bored and goes back to coming to us and biting us again..

This is where I'm a bit lost.. If we play with her too much, she'll come to need/require the playtime, right? She should have alone time, to play by herself and keep herself entertained? :unsure: We have an open plan downstairs, with her crate in the kitchen area and a playpen around it.. But when we put her in her playpen now she just wants out. She jumps and jumps and jumps and barks and no amount of toys or treats will get her to calm down, she just wants to be with us. If we let her out (after telling her 'settle' and waiting for her to calm down) she just goes straight to biting us and wanting to play (and therefore ends up back in her pen). In the nicest possible way... when I'm eating my tea I'm not going to stop what I'm doing to play, Willow! So then she goes upstairs to her crate out of the way and goes mad barking in there..

Us being right in front of her whilst she's in her playpen is probably the issue, but we don't have a separate room to stash her in, we only have the upstairs room and to be honest with you, I don't want to have a dog that we have to shut away when we're eating, I just want her to stop jumping up and biting us whilst we're eating, I want her to be able to settle herself nicely. Am I asking too much? :P It's hard to know if my expectations are too high or if we're teaching her bad habits inadvertently.

Hopefully I have explained this properly, although I may have waffled a bit. If anyone has any suggestions or tips of how we can handle this I'd be so grateful, she's going to be a cracking dog, she's just so hyper at the minute.

Thanks in advance!

 

 

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Welcome to the boards. You have a real cutie there. :-)

Don't permit her the opportunity to jump up, especially on people. When guests come, have her shut away. I say this so that you can be in control of the entire situation; when guests are involved you have their reactions and so on, which complicates things.  I use "off", not "down" as a cue, so as not to confuse with lie down. When any dog jumps on me, I bring up my knee as they are coming up. They hit my knee with their chest and get bumped down. I say "off" at the same time, then ask for a sit, then reward the sit. Repeat 1,000 times.

If your pup is running around jumping on everything, do a time out in the crate.

If she pulls on the lead, immediately turn around and go the opposite direction. Repeat 1,000 times.  You may find your "walk" is made up entirely of taking two steps, turning around, taking two steps, turning around, and so on. Be persistent. Any time she is not pulling, praise her and walk along nicely. She will catch on. But you need to be doing this ALL the time. If you ever let her pull, you are undoing all the previous work. These dogs are smart and will figure out immediately that sometimes they are allowed to do something, and they will simply persist in trying to get to the point where they will be allowed to do it again, instead of learning that they must never do it.

When she barks in her crate, ignore her no matter how long she barks. This behavior will extinguish on its own if she never gets results.

Rather than keeping play to a minimum after 9, try no play at all after supper time. Just quiet time, petting, maybe asking for a sit and rewarding it, but nothing active at all. When she gets bitey, pop her into her crate for a time out. No exceptions. Of course she wants to get out when you put her in the pen. Unfortunately you are reinforcing her demands to get out by letting her out again, even though you are doing it after she responds to a "settle" command. She has learned this: If I jump around and whine and bark enough, they will come and tell me to settle, and when I do they will let me out.  This is not what you want. Instead, simply ignore her. Put her in the crate and cover it with cloth so she cannot see out.  Again these dogs are very smart and will learn everything you teach them and you need to be extremely diligent about seeing exactly what it is that you are teaching her, especially when it is inadvertent. 

Don't worry about having a dog you have to shut away when you are eating. This will not last forever. She is a baby. Babies have to be taught how to behave and need to be controlled. For now, shut her up while you are eating. Later, when she has settled down a bit you can try leiting her stay with you, and pop her back into the crate as soon as she behaves badly.

 

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D'Elle has great advice.

I want to add that Willow may be entering those dreaded teenage years when it seems like they have lost their brains and training and really start testing the boundaries. Just remain calm and consistent in your approach during this time.

Pretty dog.

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19 hours ago, D'Elle said:

Welcome to the boards. You have a real cutie there. :-)

Don't permit her the opportunity to jump up, especially on people. When guests come, have her shut away. I say this so that you can be in control of the entire situation; when guests are involved you have their reactions and so on, which complicates things.  I use "off", not "down" as a cue, so as not to confuse with lie down. When any dog jumps on me, I bring up my knee as they are coming up. They hit my knee with their chest and get bumped down. I say "off" at the same time, then ask for a sit, then reward the sit. Repeat 1,000 times.

If your pup is running around jumping on everything, do a time out in the crate.

If she pulls on the lead, immediately turn around and go the opposite direction. Repeat 1,000 times.  You may find your "walk" is made up entirely of taking two steps, turning around, taking two steps, turning around, and so on. Be persistent. Any time she is not pulling, praise her and walk along nicely. She will catch on. But you need to be doing this ALL the time. If you ever let her pull, you are undoing all the previous work. These dogs are smart and will figure out immediately that sometimes they are allowed to do something, and they will simply persist in trying to get to the point where they will be allowed to do it again, instead of learning that they must never do it.

When she barks in her crate, ignore her no matter how long she barks. This behavior will extinguish on its own if she never gets results.

Rather than keeping play to a minimum after 9, try no play at all after supper time. Just quiet time, petting, maybe asking for a sit and rewarding it, but nothing active at all. When she gets bitey, pop her into her crate for a time out. No exceptions. Of course she wants to get out when you put her in the pen. Unfortunately you are reinforcing her demands to get out by letting her out again, even though you are doing it after she responds to a "settle" command. She has learned this: If I jump around and whine and bark enough, they will come and tell me to settle, and when I do they will let me out.  This is not what you want. Instead, simply ignore her. Put her in the crate and cover it with cloth so she cannot see out.  Again these dogs are very smart and will learn everything you teach them and you need to be extremely diligent about seeing exactly what it is that you are teaching her, especially when it is inadvertent. 

Don't worry about having a dog you have to shut away when you are eating. This will not last forever. She is a baby. Babies have to be taught how to behave and need to be controlled. For now, shut her up while you are eating. Later, when she has settled down a bit you can try leiting her stay with you, and pop her back into the crate as soon as she behaves badly.

 

Thank you so much for the great advice D'Elle! The walking on the lead and timeout advice is going to be put into practice straight away! (In fact, all of it is to be honest) It's also nice to know that the things I want to do are ok to do and not a punishment.

I'm worried we're letting her get away with too much at the moment by being 'overly positive', if that is such a thing.. We try to re-direct, use praise where we can etc etc, but I always feel like at the end of it she's just not done and always wants MORE..

I reckon I can crack the barking and the jumping up, and I hope that she grows out of this as she gets older anyway, but do you know of any ways to calm down a puppy if you're not getting them to chill out in a crate? 

In the evenings we try pig's ears or knuckle bones or pizzle sticks and whilst they keep her occupied for a bit she's done in maybe 20 mins and then wants to play again! We absolutely want to do what's right for Willow, but we don't want to overdo it and then end up spoiling her.

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2 hours ago, gcv-border said:

D'Elle has great advice.

I want to add that Willow may be entering those dreaded teenage years when it seems like they have lost their brains and training and really start testing the boundaries. Just remain calm and consistent in your approach during this time.

Pretty dog.

Thank you!! Yeah, I was wondering when the 'teenage phase' would start! I think staying calm is the hardest thing to do to be honest, she's like a yoyo bouncing up and down all the time. I'm going to try to praise HARD when she sits down if I ignore her and I'll feedback and let you guys know if it's working! :)

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59 minutes ago, Hevrhi said:

...do you know of any ways to calm down a puppy if you're not getting them to chill out in a crate? 

Dunno if this applies to you or not, but I find that far too many people spend their time interacting with the puppy when they're doing something active, then pretty much ignore them when they're being quiet. If you think of the advice to reward when the dog is doing something you want and to ignore what you don't want, and also realize that the dog craves attention, well, do you see what's too often missing?

Whenever I get a new dog, whether it's a new rescue or a tiny puppy, sure I'll spend time actively training for behavior I want. But part of that includes rewarding quiet behavior too. Puppies especially can be whirling dervishes of activity and then suddenly collapse for a nap. If you only interact when the puppy's in play mode (even if it's not playing with the pup but trying to control the energy, it's interaction) and then breathe a sigh of relief and walk away to do something else when the pup starts to nod off, you're missing a great opportunity to reinforce the down time. I always take a moment to calmly and quietly stroke the puppy and tell her what a good dog she is in that moment. Or if the puppy or older rescue decides on his own to spend a few minutes chewing that Kong or bully stick he found on the floor (or you just gave him in his crate), again, it's an opportunity to quietly praise for a behavior you'll find desirable, if not especially at that exact moment definitely at some time in the future.

Reward the quiet time as well as the active.

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6 hours ago, Hevrhi said:

but do you know of any ways to calm down a puppy if you're not getting them to chill out in a crate? 

Yes. Ignore her.

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I asked similar questions and pretty much followed the advice that you have been given above plus from other good folk on here. It does work!

We are not 100% there but we have a routine we follow when he’s naughty and yes he gets timeouts! They have not spoilt his ability to settle in his crate happily at night. 

One of the key milestones we noticed was enforcing nap time as soon as we saw evidence of cranky behaviour. Basically, when he left his toys and headed for the bottom of the sofa or the corner of the baseboard for a dig or scratch or chew that told us that nap time was needed. At 5.5 months he now mostly naps of his own accord. 

He gets invited up for cuddles and he now rarely bites when we stroke him. Of course he’s a pup and sometimes can’t help himself. If he ignores our ‘no’ he gets unceremoniously shoved off the sofa haha!

Teaching him ‘lie down’ early on was another helpful thing. Sometimes when I see the mischievous glint in his eye I tell him to go and lie down and then start a training session with him. It’s a good divert. 

He’s by no means perfect and we haven’t cured him of trying to instigate a chase with a playful nip but we’re getting there. 

We don’t divert with treats or toys as he quickly learned to misbehave for the treat! 

He doesn’t bite the leash on walks in play anymore but he will anxiety bite the leash in certain spots on certain walks and we are curbing that with a ‘no’ and then walking him in a controlled way close to us - to let him know that we are in control and so he doesn’t need to feel anxious. After a few metres it seems to work and then we let him ‘go sniff’ the bushes again. 

Hope this helps :)

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By way of an update (and thank you very much for all of the excellent advice) we are using time-outs and they are a game changer! :) 

My parents came round on Saturday evening, and in-between being quite affectionate with them (which she never is with us :( ) she would get a little nippy, we'd put her in her crate for 5-10 minutes and after barking for the majority of the time she would usually give up after about 8 minutes and settle down. We'd just give her another minute or so after her final bark, for good measure, and then let her out and tell her she's been a good girl. She was much much calmer, although seemed a little put out with us... :lol::lol:

We've also been ignoring her around the house in the evenings when she displays behaviour we don't want her to, and then we've been trying as hard as we can to praise her when she's chilled and calm. Seems to be doing ok, my OH said after three days away that he's noticed a huge change in how much she jumps up at us around the house (although because I've been in the thick of it I probably haven't noticed the improvement so drastically) and my step-dad mentioned on Saturday night that she seems like a different dog than a week or so ago, much less frantic!

I'm so grateful for the advice, we only want to do the best for her, and it's nice to know that we have options!! Looking forward to seeing how she develops as we go on with this!

Willow also says thank you!! :D 

 

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