Teaching Puppy To Settle

Discussion in 'General Dog Training' started by loupoppins, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. loupoppins Member

    Hi all
    we have recently added a wonderful little border collie to our family. He is now 13 weeks old.
    I am hoping to get some tips to help him learn to settle. He is a very smart dog and full of collie puppy energy! He is now able to go out for walks and I make sure he is getting off lead running during his walks and we also work on training on walks such as sit and heel and walking nicely on his lead etc...
    At home he has several (4 or so) short training sessions a day. I am clicker training with him and so far he has learned sit, down, watch, drop, leave it,touch, paw, spin, twist and roll over. Obviously some of these aren't fully learned and we continue to work on the basics such as sit, down, watch etc at many opportunities throughout the day.
    We have also been socialising him in many different situations and at home he has our 3 yr old dog Bella to play with.
    He has lots of toys (although in fairness may need some new ones which he is getting for Christmas!) including chews and Nina Otterson toys.
    However, despite all of that this week he has seemed ALWAYS on the go, constantly looking for stuff to do and getting into mischief if I can not give him attention for 1/2 hour.
    I think that instead of adding more and more stuff in to tire him out I really need to try to teach him how to settle on his own for a while, but not sure how.
    He has a crate that he sleeps in at night. He sleeps great, from 10/11 to 6.30. We tend not to use his crate in the day, but he has another bed next to Bella's in the kitchen that he uses. We are starting to teach him "bed" to send him to his bed which he is getting slowly. Wondering though how we could teach him to just settle when he is in the lounge with us and either play with a toy calmly or settle and nap.
    Any help would be much appreciated as I am running out of ideas to keep him occupied!!
    Mutt and MaryK like this.

  2. CrisM Well-Known Member

    I had this problem with Valentine. She is an Australian Shepherd who is just over a year old now. She was a very high energy puppy.

    She wanted me to play with her all day long. Even after I took her hiking for more than an hour, played fetch with her for 30 minutes, let her play with our neighbor dog, and did some trick training, etc. She would sit down in front of me and just stare at me or paw at me and whine. I would pull out a bone, tell her to lay on her bed, and she would ignore it in favor of staring at me.

    The good news is that she eventually learned to chew on her bone and content herself.

    The bad news is that it took some time. I had to ignore her staring and whining. I had to show her that it got her nowhere. If she got up from her bed, I put her right back. When she did finally settle down and chew on her bone for a little while, I would praise her and give her a treat or bring out her ball for fetch or wubba for tug so that she got rewarded for contenting herself.

    The staring still shows up every once in awhile (but she no longer whines or paws at me), and I have to do my best to ignore it and reward her with activities when she is contenting herself.

    That's what worked for us.
    Dogster and MaryK like this.
  3. loupoppins Member

    thanks Cris. I will persist in trying to get him to spend time on his bed with a toy! He is only little, so I know it is only natural that he is always curious/full of energy etc... but I do need to be able to do something other than play/walk/train with him occasionally!! I have just given him a cardboard box stuffed with paper with treats and toys hidden in...he loved it and it did keep him occupied and happy....for about 5 minutes!!:rolleyes:
    MaryK likes this.
  4. MaryK Honored Member

    I had the same problem with my youngster Ra Kismet. You could try the toy/food puzzles, that takes a little while for them to figure out. Also keep ignoring when he whines/paws, though if he's a heavy pawed pawer this can be hard, as it scratches, I would show Ra Kismet his bed and ask for 'bed' giving him a toy to play with on his bed.

    It takes time though and a lot of patience. That's the 'bad' news, the good is they DO grow out of it and learn to amuse themselves - at least some of the time anyway:rolleyes::)
  5. Amateur Experienced Member

    rushed for time - so I will reply more later but
    see that little black dot in my pic to the left - I had one just like yours.
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  6. Amateur Experienced Member

    Ok - my little devil NEVER settled - was pushy and bitey and " dominated" my every moment.
    Luckily a lot of that changed when at 4 month we got her off lead at the dog park.
    So called aggression and dominance was really just a lot frustration and energy.

    First off - There is nothing wrong with crating during the day even when you was there. It gave me peace of mind to do stuff without worry what the pup is doing. It also prepares the dog for later should you need to crate them for health, travel etc. ANd oh what reward it is to get out and play for a bit if we were good.

    Second, -- my favourite - was forced " Puppy Hugs" If Zoe was getting rangy and out of control and too excited, I would sit on the floor say Puppy hugs and pull her into my arms where she HAD TO settle in my lap. She had to visibly and physically relax and settle befor she was released again. No struggling, mouthing etc. I would pet her as I quietly grabbed a moment to drink my coffee or something. I always wondered if this forced restraint was leaning towards negative training - but later when she was over one year and I hadn't done it for a really long time - I was curious and yelled puppy hug and Zoe came running and snuggled into my arms and layed down -- so I guess she didnt mind after all.
    This allowed her to get herself to relax .

    Also when we were on the computer - we had right beside us on a bed with a toy - this was training to just occupy yourself where we can see you.

    Get yourself appropriate toys - some are better than others - love deer antlers !! - those rasor sharp teeth cut through those things like butter !! Also frozen kong treats last waaaaay longer than just a stuffed kong. THey will know they dont get their treat if they are not in the appropriate spot like a bed or corener of the room .

    Also time will help too
    Dogster and MaryK like this.
  7. MaryK Honored Member

    They puppy hugs sound great. I am thinking they work in a similar way to the Thundershirt, but much more loving, by giving the puppy that 'restraint' would have a calming effect. Must remember for when, hopefully a long time away yet, I get another puppy. That will not happen while I have these two though.
  8. Amateur Experienced Member

    After Zoe I totally swore off puppies - but I am beginning to forget the horror now that she is 2 and became a sweet, obedient little weenie that attacks my lovable Hank with such ferocity - but he loves her.
    MaryK likes this.
  9. loupoppins Member

    thanks all for the tips.:)
    Some really great ideas in there. Over the past couple of days I have tried a few things.
    Firstly we have used the crate a little bit during the day. If he seemed not to be settling and I knew he had been walked, played with and had some training then I tried putting him in his crate. He wined for a couple of minutes but then he just lay down and went to sleep and slept for ages!! He also seemed calmer when he woke up - This has worked a few times now, so I wonder if in fact he was getting over tired before and the more I tried to occupy/stimulate him the worse it got!
    I had noticed that when I held him to brush him after a little bit of resistance/mouthing etc he did seem to settle and relax so I have tried the puppy hugs which works well too in helping him settle - and he loves being stroked!
    We are continuing teaching him to go on his bed with a toy in the kitchen...slow work but he is getting the idea! And in the evening when he is in the lounge I am working on teaching him to lie down with a toy...it is taking patience as every time he gets up and starts barking/chewing the table/jumping at me etc...I have to get him back into down and give him a toy - I am then treating him every now and then whilst he is nicely settled...I'm hoping I can teach him the word "settle" to mean lying down with a toy being calm....
    He's such hard work - but so worth it!! We start puppy classes at the agility club at the beging of January so hopefully that will help!:LOL:
    MaryK, southerngirl and dogcrazy like this.
  10. Amateur Experienced Member

    yes yes tired puppies look like they want to play but they actually need sleep

    we scheduled our pup like clockwork 1 hour walk, 1 hour out of crate -- on bed/toys/around the house/play
    then back in the crate for nap 2-3 hours --- lather rinse repeat
    MaryK likes this.

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