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Long-winded questions... :)

We have had our puppy Mavis for 2 months. She is now 16 weeks old. I work from home and have remote video meetings throughout the day, emails to answer, and regular work to do. I get up at 4am and sneak out of the bedroom where our puppy is crated. I start working around 4:30am. She continues to sleep until about ~7am, so I can get at least 2.5 hours of work done. My meeting schedule varies daily, which also makes it difficult to create a good routine for her. It is stressful because I tend to be "offline" the times that she is awake so that we can play, train, etc., and this can be 1 to 2 hours at a time.

 

She is house trained and crate trained. The crate training was a slow process for us, but she was eventually sleeping in her crate at night. Initially we would put her down for naps in her x-pen just after a potty break, but found that on weekends or days my husband was off work that she really didn't nap that well because too much was going on around her. Next, we were able to get her to (very happily) take naps in her crate. She would often sleep for 2+ hours or so with no barking. This was great for my work schedule too.

 

In the last week, she became more reluctant to take naps in her crate, would nap for 30 minutes to an hour and then start barking, and has been restless at night. The times she barked, we'd wait until she stopped and then let her out. We figured that now that she's a little older, she may not need/want to sleep as long. We also didn't want to sour her on the crate, so we have again started having her take naps in her x-pen, but only for ~1 hour at a time.

Her x-pen is in our den, and the den has baby gates to keep her in that area. For the most part it is puppy-proofed, but does contain rugs (to keep her from slipping, since we have hardwood floors) and a couch. She constantly wants to chew the outside of her x-pen, the rugs and the couch, even when we are playing, training, or stuffing a chew toy in her mouth. Because of this, she must be in her x-pen if not under our direct supervision.

My questions:

  • What is a suitable x-pen/play/training schedule for a dog her age, that will also allow me to maintain a reasonable work schedule?
  • She's in puppy kindergarten and we had been taking her to puppy playtime at Petco on Saturdays for additional socialization. In both cases, they were put into enclosed pens with the other puppies and she was very shy and didn't engage in play. However, once out of the pens, she would try to initiate play and has also been more outgoing with our neighbors' dogs. So this weekend we took her to a 2.5 hour puppy play date at a local doggy daycare that provides supervised play. They have indoor and outdoor areas they can run back and forth between and webcams so we could watch. We figured she might enjoy this type of environment more, and she had a great time! We're considering taking her there for doggy daycare a few times a week to help with her socialization and my work schedule, but aren't sure how many hours/days a week would be appropriate for a puppy her age?
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Gosh, in my view, they're dogs so they don't need to be raised with "schedules" like a human baby. :P

I expect my dogs and puppies to sleep all night long. Period. If they wake up at 5:30 or 6 and need to potty, that's fine, I'll let them out. But I also make sure I potty them right as I go to bed at night. We have a fenced yard so I can let them out alone for about 10 or 15 minutes before they come in for the night. Then after a certain age, they don't have a problem sleeping all night. And they don't get to fuss unless they honestly have to potty.

But keeping a growing pup in an x-pen for hours at a time isn't really going to work in the long term. What I want to know is do you have a fenced yard? Can you create a securely fenced area (maybe two x-pens put together to make an enclosure) for her to just go out and romp in? I think it's highly important for a pup to have time to themselves, without our meddling or training or asking anything of them. They need time to just play and pounce and dig holes and simply be dogs. Border collies are not meant to be apartment dogs, so as your pup grows, she's going to want to do more and yes, stay awake more.

I've never done doggy day care, but you want to be sure the dogs she is with are appropriate in type and activity for her. Often border collies are sensitive and reactive to more in-your-face, overly-"friendly" types like boxers and labs, so you don't want her to be overwhelmed by such activity and develop a habit of snapping or growling at other dogs. And you don't want her to start "herding" other dogs, either. That's an obnoxious and rude behavior.

The most important thing a border collie needs is your time. It's not their bodies that need the most exercise, it's their minds. Boredom is a sure ticket to trouble for a young border collie.

I hope you are prepared to devote more time, not less, to your dog as she matures. They are meant to be active partners in our lives, they were bred for hundreds of years to be a farmer's constant working companion and they don't always thrive as ordinary pets. You may look into activities such as trick training or nosework or the like, to build a partnership and have fun together.

Anyhow, if you have a fenced yard, do consider creating a safe area for her to go out and have an unsupervised romp now and then. And be mindful of her companions at the puppy play dates, so that she's not among dogs she may grow to find are too rambunctious for her tastes.

~ Gloria

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Thanks for your response!

 

Gosh, in my view, they're dogs so they don't need to be raised with "schedules" like a human baby. :P

 

Sorry, this is probably a mis-wording on my part; I meant a regular routine. She wakes up and has breakfast at the same time each day, but her naps and lunch/dinner times tend to vary based on her level of tiredness and my work schedule.

 

I expect my dogs and puppies to sleep all night long. Period. If they wake up at 5:30 or 6 and need to potty, that's fine, I'll let them out. But I also make sure I potty them right as I go to bed at night. We have a fenced yard so I can let them out alone for about 10 or 15 minutes before they come in for the night. Then after a certain age, they don't have a problem sleeping all night. And they don't get to fuss unless they honestly have to potty.

 

We let her out before bed at night and she sleeps through the night without any problems. She doesn't fuss at night to go potty, but has been restless in her crate at night for the last week or so. She also has not been wanting to take naps in her crate, so we have been enforcing nap time in her x-pen (usually when she has been awake for a few hours and her behavior starts going over the top).

 

But keeping a growing pup in an x-pen for hours at a time isn't really going to work in the long term. What I want to know is do you have a fenced yard? Can you create a securely fenced area (maybe two x-pens put together to make an enclosure) for her to just go out and romp in? I think it's highly important for a pup to have time to themselves, without our meddling or training or asking anything of them. They need time to just play and pounce and dig holes and simply be dogs. Border collies are not meant to be apartment dogs, so as your pup grows, she's going to want to do more and yes, stay awake more.

 

I agree; we don't expect to keep her in an x-pen long term. I assume we'd only use it during puppyhood while she needs supervision. Right now, she is only in there for naps or when we need to run errands/do chores. We do have a large fenced yard, but unfortunately, the fence (while intact) needs some repairs. She has plenty of outdoor time off leash to romp around and dig holes, but it is supervised. I usually use this time to practice recall and then send her back to playing. Coincidentally, I just purchased an outdoor x-pen earlier today for this purpose, but maybe I should order a second one so we can put them together! :)


I've never done doggy day care, but you want to be sure the dogs she is with are appropriate in type and activity for her. Often border collies are sensitive and reactive to more in-your-face, overly-"friendly" types like boxers and labs, so you don't want her to be overwhelmed by such activity and develop a habit of snapping or growling at other dogs. And you don't want her to start "herding" other dogs, either. That's an obnoxious and rude behavior.

 

We haven't either. If we do, we were thinking 2 hours a day, 2 days a week.

 

The most important thing a border collie needs is your time. It's not their bodies that need the most exercise, it's their minds. Boredom is a sure ticket to trouble for a young border collie.

I hope you are prepared to devote more time, not less, to your dog as she matures. They are meant to be active partners in our lives, they were bred for hundreds of years to be a farmer's constant working companion and they don't always thrive as ordinary pets. You may look into activities such as trick training or nosework or the like, to build a partnership and have fun together.

 

I agree. Since I work from home, I spend all of my time with her except when she's asleep. We knew going into it that we would need to devote a lot of time and energy to her, both mentally and physically. Physically, she plays in the yard, we play with toys, rolling her Frisbees, leash training, etc. We rotate her toys to try and keep them interesting. For mental exercise, we use various Kongs for meals, use "Find it!" with kibble/treats to get her using her nose, use a flirt pole (without jumping), and train her with recall, sit, shake, down, stay, roll over, etc. We keep training short and sporadic. But we are definitely open to more ideas for mental work that is appropriate for her age!

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Sounds like you're doing well, then. :)

Though I'd say putting puppies down for naps is going to become more difficult as she gets older. A crate will fast become too confining for a pup that's built to grow up and go 20 miles per day. So I'd say giving her a larger enclosure and lots of toys and chewies when you can't supervise her may be your best bet. She's growing and she wants to use her body. The nap periods will become shorter and less frequent - but at the same time, she can definitely keep doing the down-times when she turns into an over-tired, hysterical toddler! :P

I try to give pups a lot of freedom in the yard as often as I can, and either do things outside while near them or have them right outside the window. (Though I've had older dogs which helps keep them entertained.) Do think on that double-sized outdoor pen if the yard fence isn't secure, though. She's just going to keep growing, after all! ;)

~ Gloria

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I also work at home. When my dog was a pup, he stayed in a crate or x-pen during the day while I was working with plenty of toys and chews. He had to deal with my work schedule. I was able to get him outside several times a day during the work day on no particular schedule, although I made a point of taking him out before my meetings, so he would not bug me during.

 

Unless the day care is exceptionally well run and separates dogs based on size and play style, I would nix it. There is some speculation that puppy classes and dog day care can be a cause of reactivity. Also, it is important for dogs to learn that their owner is the #1 source of fun, not other dogs.

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I work from home too. When mine was a pup I'd often tether him to the chair leg and he'd sleep by my side while I worked. He still does it but no longer needs the tether, which I only used to stop him wandering off for a pee etc.

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I used day care with my dog since he was a puppy. but if I could go back in time this is something I would not do.

my dog was not engaging much in playing with other dogs, he would either circle them or fixate on one specific dog and follow the dog everywhere. or he would play with the humans. with a group of dogs he did not want to play, even at puppy class. he would sit and watch.

with one dog or two it is a different story. he loves to play.

I also suspect that at day care he became scared of some type of dogs as I started to have problems that he did not show before.

so, observe your dog if you decide for day care and make sure is comfortable in this often chaotic environment.

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I also work at home. When my dog was a pup, he stayed in a crate or x-pen during the day while I was working with plenty of toys and chews. He had to deal with my work schedule. I was able to get him outside several times a day during the work day on no particular schedule, although I made a point of taking him out before my meetings, so he would not bug me during.

 

Unless the day care is exceptionally well run and separates dogs based on size and play style, I would nix it. There is some speculation that puppy classes and dog day care can be a cause of reactivity. Also, it is important for dogs to learn that their owner is the #1 source of fun, not other dogs.

 

Thanks! This sounds similar to what I'm doing as well, but I wasn't sure if I'm possibly spending too much time playing/training with her during the work day and if she should spend more time in her x-pen, so she can learn to entertain herself with her toys and chews without requiring our constant attention when awake.

 

The doggy daycare does separate the dogs based on play style, but not size. For the puppy play dates, we've been mostly concerned with her socialization and learning to be around other puppies.

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I used day care with my dog since he was a puppy. but if I could go back in time this is something I would not do.

my dog was not engaging much in playing with other dogs, he would either circle them or fixate on one specific dog and follow the dog everywhere. or he would play with the humans. with a group of dogs he did not want to play, even at puppy class. he would sit and watch.

with one dog or two it is a different story. he loves to play.

I also suspect that at day care he became scared of some type of dogs as I started to have problems that he did not show before.

so, observe your dog if you decide for day care and make sure is comfortable in this often chaotic environment.

Thanks! This is good to know. She has behaved similarly. When at puppy classes in the pen, she ignored the other puppies and pretended they weren't there and wanted attention from the humans or stood up on the side of the pen to try and look outside of it. But she wanted to play with puppies when not in the pen. At the puppy play date, we watched on the webcams and she was playing and running around with the other dogs and seemed to have a great time.

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for the chewing on your furniture/rugs/x-pen have you considered a harmless deterrent?

 

for my puppy we used bitter apple spray anywhere we saw her chew. obviously giving her chew toys to replace that need is still a must but if it tastes bad she will be more likely to steer clear and go for a nice nearby chew toy.

if you aren't worried about her peeing in the house and the deterrent works that could open up the rest of the room for her too.

 

also I think you do need to give her some unattended time like they mentioned, not just because she needs to romp around and be a dog, but never having to go more than an hour without you, and knowing you are in the other room 24/7. might lead to separation anxiety in the future. maybe on the weekends put her in the puppy safe area and leave her there for increasing amounts of time (no longer than she can hold her bladder or should be left alone of course) when you get back reward her by taking her on a fun walk or something so she knows you may have to leave sometimes but you will always come back.

 

for socialization at doggy daycare that I don't have a good recommendation for, I know a lot of people on this forum are very adverse to places where large groups of dogs get the chance to mingle (by large I mean like at doggy daycare or at dog parks) especially since you don't know what dogs could be there. the unknown factor could lead to bad habbits forming or as mentioned above reactivity.

 

personally I take my dog to the dog park, she has a solid recall and it lets her be a dog (i don't have a yard so the only other option to walking is places like the dog park) I have seen no side effects as long as I am quick to step in if I see her miss-behaving (playing too rough, getting resource guard-y, herding other dogs...ect) but at a doggy daycare you wont be there to stop that behavior someone else may catch it but they are probably watching any where from 3-10+ dogs at a time so who knows....

 

I would suggest seeing if any of your friends have dogs/puppies she can interact with that way you know all the variables or at least have her gain that socialization wile you are there, in additions to all the reasons above she will learn to look to you in a strange situation as well.

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What do you do when she barks for attention? Border collies (maybe all dogs but I've only had experience with border collie puppies) learn in a nanosecond what works for attention, so if she got attention for barking (even exasperated attention), then she's learned the value of barking, so you may have to invest in some earplugs while she unlearns it.

 

I worked at home at least some of the time while we were raising each of our puppies--the only thing that really worked (for me and them) was to be behind a shut door when I was working with puppy in crate. 4-12 mos. was the most trying period in general and I got a lot less done at home than when there wasn't a puppy in the house. Indeed, it was often only their cuteness that kept them alive . On occasion, I'd go work at the local library for a few hours. It gets better but requires patience. All our dogs are now pretty put out when I work at home as it interrupts their napping lol.

 

I'm also not a big fan of puppy socialization classes anymore after I believe it caused trouble for every puppy we brought to it. Just my opinion, but I think the other puppies and people are too much stimulation for a baby border collie.

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My experiences with puppy socialization were very positive but that was because the classes were conducted by a very fine instructor with capable assistants. This was a class with some socialization time with other pups, socialization time with other people, and training, over about an hour.

 

The socialization part was only five or ten minutes at the beginning when the pups were fresh. Training happened in the middle and "pass the pup" (we sat in a large circle and each pup was passed around to experience pets, loving, treats, and handling by each participant) happened last along with "puppy gentling" (or teaching the pups to respond positively to handling all over, administration of fake meds, examination, foot handling, etc.).

 

During the socialization, nothing was ever allowed to get out of hand or overly stimulating. If anything got to be "too much" for a pup, it would be interrupted and playtime would be redirected. All puppies were on leash, were paired up with appropriate other pups (size-wise, temperament-wise, and play-style-wise), and closely supervised. Our instructor was a gem and so her classes were really beneficial.

 

I'll concur with Robin that at least some classes are really not going to benefit a Border Collie pup because there will be too much stimulation and not enough real knowledge in the instructor/staff to make it suitable.

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for the chewing on your furniture/rugs/x-pen have you considered a harmless deterrent?

 

for my puppy we used bitter apple spray anywhere we saw her chew. obviously giving her chew toys to replace that need is still a must but if it tastes bad she will be more likely to steer clear and go for a nice nearby chew toy.

A lot of good advice in this thread.

 

In case you try a bitter apple or bitter cherry spray, be aware that it doesn't work for all dogs. When my older dog was a pup, he started trying to chew the stair balusters. That day I bought a bitter apple spray. The next day when he tried mouthing the baluster again, I immediately sprayed 2 or 3 of the balusters. He immediately went up to them and started licking them. I then tried spraying something else. He licked that. Sprayed something else. He licked that too. $8-$9 - wasted. Sigh.

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thankfully I was lucky with pepper but I am sure you can find a home remedy too if bitter apple dose not work, I'm sure anything bitter or sour will have a similar effect... just make sure whatever it is, is safe for your pup encase she dose like it lol

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