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Your best strategies for keeping a BC puppy busy while you're working?

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Hi everyone!  Our puppy, Monte, is 6 months old now.  He is our third BC and he is the smartest, and most challenging, yet!  

He has developed into a routine where he often naps in the afternoons, but in the mornings he is awake and wants attention while we need to work.  As is typical, if we don't keep him busy, he finds his own trouble.  We often tug and throw toys for him, and take brief breaks for either a quick training session or a quick play session in the yard, but sometimes we need him to occupy himself.  

Some strategies we have used:

* Feed him his breakfast in a Kong, to slow him down eating and keep him busy for a little while

* Tuck kibble into a snuffle ball.  This works especially well if I'm in a Zoom meeting, because the snuffle ball is silent.

* Other treat-dispensing balls/toys and puzzle toys, although if you have a favorite type I'd love to hear about it!

Any other suggestions?  Thank you!

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Yes, I forgot to add antlers to the list (our nylabone alternative)!  Those have been incredibly helpful with teething, too, over the last 2 months!

Also, I remembered this morning - vacuuming!  He loves to play with the vacuum and after a short vacuuming session, I get at least a semi-vacuumed floor, at least a semi-tired puppy, and a workout for me (thanks to Monte) all in one!  :D  (Just adding that here in case it's helpful for anyone else.)

Also, I am curious for those of you who have more than one dog - do they keep each other occupied?  Or do they get into double the trouble?  (Or both? :D)  

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Just as important as keeping a puppy busy is helping him learn to settle and not need constant attention. If you're working from home and able to take a few breaks during the day, there's no reason he shouldn't spend some time in a crate or ex-pen for a few hours. If you establish a routine where he can be out as long as he's not pestering you for attention but when he starts bugging you, you simply give him a cheery "oops, crate time" (or whatever you choose, the point being that your tone of voice isn't scolding but upbeat) and pop him into his crate or pen w/ a chew toy.

If you eventually give in to the pestering, he's learning that persistence pays off and he'll keep it up till he gets what he wants. Better you establish that interactive play is something you initiate and and call an end to, not him. And if he's penned with a chewy and another safe toy to occupy him then he can't get into trouble.

He'll probably put up some resistance at first, crying or barking. Just ignore him. Be sure to offer some quiet praise in the intervals when he stops for a breath, even if at first they're very short. Or toss a yummy morsel to him. People too often forget that it's just as important to reward quiet the behavior you want as it is to reward in more active situations. It's part of the reason so many people create dogs who are constantly begging for attention or are exercise junkies. Every new dog that comes into my house, whether puppy or adult, gets praised from the get go when they just get tired and lie down on their own.

Some dogs in multi-dog homes entertain each other; others don't. Some will definitely be double trouble; others not so much. The latter depends a lot on your expectations and what you teach them about how to interact, when it's appropriate to play (e.g. zoomies outdoors only) and when more quiet interactions are preferable. If you've got 2 dogs then you've got 2 to train and pay attention to (including paying attention to their interactions), but most of the time there's a benefit to them having the company of their own kind, especially if you work out of the house and they spend some time alone each day. There are a lot of great things about having more than one dog, but it rarely works as a fix when the reason for getting one is the hope that the 2nd dog will solve the problems you have with the 1st. It's just as likely that the new one will be influenced by the resident dog and pick up his inappropriate behaviors.

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^^ What she said.

And when it comes to 2 dogs, I would not want to have 2 puppies at once!  Never! One problem with that is they can bond so well to one another that neither one bonds as well with you. Another is that yes there is twice the trouble and training one dog takes enough time, let alone two at once. I would not get a new puppy, or an adult dog for that matter, until the one I had was at least a year old or more and had full manners and other important basics of training very well established. If the first pup was still learning or had any problems I was working on, I'd wait until that was resolved.

 I did get two adult dogs only a couple months apart, (didn't plan on it, but things happen), but in that case very little training was necessary, as both came socialized and with basic manners.  One thing I'd never do is expect one dog to help me solve a problem with another dog, as training and problem solving is entirely my domain.

One advantage to waiting until one dog is mature and fully trained before getting another is that the mature dog will help a lot in training the new dog or puppy. In my experience, the new dog will tend to watch what the current dog(s) are doing, and learn faster as a result. That seemed to be the case with foster dogs I had.

Having more than one dog is more fun for me, and I do think it is good for them to have each other for company when I am not there. Mine don't play with each other, but they do seem good company.

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I'm in the same boat as you, song.sparrow: a 6-mo-old HIGH energy boy who I bring to my office when I'm not working from home (I'm 3-4 days at my office, 2-3 days at home working). It's a big struggle, no doubt, and some days are better than others.

The only thing that's working for me is the crate. I'm lucky in that my dog really likes his crate and generally settles down easily, especially when I drape a blanket over the whole thing and make it dark. I can keep him in there and quite for 1.5 hours, usually, before he'll give me little barks or whines. When I'm ready, I'll let him out and we'll go on a short walk, then some training and some cuddling, then back in the crate he goes. If I leave him out of his crate, he's immediately chewing on something he shouldn't be, so we just don't do that anymore.

He gets a good exercise in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening.

Many days, I give him a kong that I've stuffed with kibble mixed with gravy and then frozen. He likes that. Also bully sticks. When I'm at home, I'll give him a raw beef bone to gnaw on outside, which can buy me an hour or so. But's it's really all about the crate. I simply couldn't live/work without it.

good luck!



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  • 2 weeks later...

We got a inexpensive baby monitor as the home office space is on the top floor & the crate is on the lower level rec room (3 levels), it's been a godsend.

Pizzles & bully sticks work great for those longer important meetings where puppy whines aren't welcome, I am not a fan of the smell of the sticks but they came recommended by our vet as a option for the occasional times we need him to be quieter for longer.

We were advised by our gentleman farmer breeder that the dog will run as long as the day, you have to engage his mind ie training as much as you walk/run him, mental stimulation &  keeps our 5 month old happy, thankfully he is toy driven & not food driven.


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