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When is ignoring no longer training calm?


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I've loved this forum for gathering resources leading up to us getting our BC mix puppy, so thanks for all the wisdom! My question is on training and habituating calm time for a puppy. Our pup is a little over  4 months old, happy/ healthy. Crate trained, needs enforced naps with the crate covered as she's very attentive otherwise and won't get proper sleep (as sort of expected). The crates in our front mudroom which has an additional gate, so she has a proper proofed space for hanging out in, when out of the crate, but we are working or busy.

We know she is physically and mentally stimulated enough, in fact we were way, way overdoing it the first few weeks. Week over week we back off on the training and exercise more and more, and she still gets tired at the same times, her behaviors improved, and she's sleeping through the night, and no more witching hour for the last month at least. (No repetitive exercise either, no fetch both for her growth, and due to how it wires her up too much afterwards). We also want her to have adequate exercise, but not mistake physical exhaustion for rule following and calm in the house. 

We are really trying to help her with calm/ settle training and wanted to ask more experienced owners what training methods they have done in the past with their BCs. We have done the Dr. Karen Overall relaxation protocol twice through now in increasing distraction rooms, we 'think' we are seeing some difference (?). We plan to continue that. I have no expectations of a quick result or her to become a couch potato, I just hate to see when she's clearly tired, her pacing and pouting. We enforce crate naps, but also really want to at least try and give her opportunities to calm herself alone in her pen. In her covered crate, after some activity, she's out like a light. More recently we have been putting her in her ex pen, hoping to better instill that outside the crate when she's awake, there's not always something to do. We are seeing mixed success there, she's obviously very visually stimulated so if she starts to drift off or lays calmly and one of us moves around, she's back up, standing and staring. We praise and reward calm behaviors when we see them, and even her overtiredness isn't super terrible or bitey anymore. We ignore bad behaviors like whining and jumping at the door etc, and they are becoming less and less frequent.

I wouldn't put her in the hyperactive 'oh my god my puppy is insane' category (yet ;) ), she just needs a little help, or maybe I am expecting too much so early? Even on her most enforced nap days, she's not getting the recommended 18 hrs of sleep. This largely due to our (maybe naive) attempt at making sure everyday she's around us while we are too busy for her for some portion of the day so her life isn't just 'covered crate or activity with us'.

This has led to her having large sections of time where she needs to calm or self occupy, and some days she's great, some days she's quite fussy about it. Nagging the back of my brain is that ignoring her to train her also feels like neglecting her, any tips?

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It sounds to me as if more covered-crate time is in order. She is still extremely young at 4 months, and I wouldn't expect to see all that much progress is self-settling at that age in any dog, especially a border collie. If what you are doing isn't showing progress, revert back to what you were doing previously...in this case, if putting her in the X-pen isn't resulting in calmness, then use the covered crate time to enforce the relaxation and nap time. Days when she is calm in the X-pen, let her stay there. Days when she is not, crate her. 

Welcome to the forum, by the way, and.....be advised.....we really like to see puppy photos here!

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OP, do you provide

On 2/11/2021 at 7:03 AM, Enzsound said:

The crate is in our front mudroom which has an additional gate, so she has a proper proofed space for hanging out in, when out of the crate, but we are working or busy.

What is the overall profile of the environment, with respect to simulating influences?

  • Illumination
  • Noise
  • Vibration (nearby furnace motor?)
  • Drafts
  • Scents

How successfully could you lose yourself in meditative thought if you sat cross-legged on the floor beside the crate for 15 min?  If this would not work well for you, what measures could you take to reduce stressors?

When you allow the dog to move about in the home, does it show a tendency to settle in some location of its own choosing?  If so, is it at all feasible to make THAT its home base?  I am not suggesting that the dog be permitted up on the couch or on top of your bed, but it has become apparent to me that dogs recognize/respond to some form of canine Feng Shui.  Consequently, if the dog seems happy in THAT spot over there, and provided there is no significant reason to deny him, then THAT is where his bed gets situated in my household.  This has repeatedly proven to be a win-win approach for dog and family.

Provision of background sound is another practice I have come to espouse.  I had firsthand success with the calming effects of Stingray Music's Cool Jazz channel on an Australian that suffered life-long sensitivity to and extreme fear of electrical storms.  When my present BC first came home at 1-1/2 yo, the all-music format of a french language channel served as a form of white noise, masking late night sounds in the home, the thump of the paperwoman's car door at 04:30 and the voices of two neighbors that walk by each morning at 06:00.

 

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Welcome to the forum, by the way, and.....be advised.....we really like to see puppy photos here!

I can't believe I forgot! Here she is a few weeks back. This is her usual face at about the 10 minute mark of training, so far her favorite 'game'.
531493927_IMG_8722(3).thumb.jpg.365b796eddc98e884209bf343246e6b1.jpg

 

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Keep doing the little things you are doing, but just being patient and allowing her brain and impulses to grow up and calm down. Age will be your friend.

:lol:  I will! Thanks for the advice. She's can already be calm chill girl sometimes, but its so easy to get carried away, she looks so much like a dog I forget she's just a baby, and needs help.
 

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What is the overall profile of the environment, with respect to simulating influences?

That's a really good point, I'll try and take note next time she's pacing if something in particular is new like outside sound/ or if the temp is higher/ lower than usual.
 

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How successfully could you lose yourself in meditative thought if you sat cross-legged on the floor beside the crate for 15 min?  If this would not work well for you, what measures could you take to reduce stressors?

I've started doing this! Funnily enough I read this, and I sat down next to her in her pen for about 30 minutes, she settled in about 3 minutes next to me, both of us just doing nothing. Gotta remember to get some downtime together!

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On 2/15/2021 at 10:24 AM, Enzsound said:

I can't believe I forgot! Here she is a few weeks back. This is her usual face at about the 10 minute mark of training, so far her favorite 'game'.
531493927_IMG_8722(3).thumb.jpg.365b796eddc98e884209bf343246e6b1.jpg

Such a cutie.  Keep taking photos, they grow so fast ...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just coming back to this, as resolution. Like all above said, we just sort of waited her out, and on her 5 month bday..... calming in the house just completely clicked. Actually so much so that I called our vet and she took a look when we went in for a checkup, as I would have classified it as a 'sudden change in personality'.. All clear. Thought about contacting the breeder to inquire if she possibly gave us a cat.

Out and about she's anywhere from joyous puppy to overstimulated maniac (working on that), we get home, she plops down in any of her 30 'spots' and either sleeps or sort of zen meditates. We haven't crate napped her in about 3 weeks.. She gets a 30 minute walk in the morning, a 15 at lunch, a 30 at night, dog park 2-3 times a week, 3x3minute clicker trainings. Unfortunately haven't done a long line walk in a while as she outgrew her old harness and we're waiting on a new one, so not lots of running lately.

She gets a chew treat a day if shes up, and we're on a work call, but tbh she doesn't pester really, and she'll go and inspect her toy basket to see if everything is there and up to code, makes sure we are also doing a good job at work etc. 

One thing my partner and I have noticed that since she's not covered crate napping, her sleeps not as deep, but throughout the day her energy is much less 'spikey'. Just a few weeks ago, she'd come out from a deep 2hr nap ready to rumble. Now, she may nap from 9 to about 1 on and off sort of just chilling. The advice to wait, and to give her time and lessen my expectations on her was greatly needed. Now lets just see how long this sticks for:P.

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  • 6 months later...
On 3/17/2021 at 8:18 AM, Enzsound said:

Just coming back to this, as resolution. Like all above said, we just sort of waited her out, and on her 5 month bday..... calming in the house just completely clicked. Actually so much so that I called our vet and she took a look when we went in for a checkup, as I would have classified it as a 'sudden change in personality'.. All clear. Thought about contacting the breeder to inquire if she possibly gave us a cat.

Out and about she's anywhere from joyous puppy to overstimulated maniac (working on that), we get home, she plops down in any of her 30 'spots' and either sleeps or sort of zen meditates. We haven't crate napped her in about 3 weeks.. She gets a 30 minute walk in the morning, a 15 at lunch, a 30 at night, dog park 2-3 times a week, 3x3minute clicker trainings. Unfortunately haven't done a long line walk in a while as she outgrew her old harness and we're waiting on a new one, so not lots of running lately.

She gets a chew treat a day if shes up, and we're on a work call, but tbh she doesn't pester really, and she'll go and inspect her toy basket to see if everything is there and up to code, makes sure we are also doing a good job at work etc. 

One thing my partner and I have noticed that since she's not covered crate napping, her sleeps not as deep, but throughout the day her energy is much less 'spikey'. Just a few weeks ago, she'd come out from a deep 2hr nap ready to rumble. Now, she may nap from 9 to about 1 on and off sort of just chilling. The advice to wait, and to give her time and lessen my expectations on her was greatly needed. Now lets just see how long this sticks for:P.

Reading this post I was literally about to write the whole wait it out thing. My Border reached 2 years old recently and I went through the same stages with her. Around 6 months in she just clicked, went from crazy to completely chill, don't get me wrong; she's still a Border so when the games on she gives it 100%, but I've found through my own experience of puppydom that there are many of these lightbulb moments, where suddenly all your hard work pays off and then just switch on. It's one of the joys of bringing up a puppy in my opinion, watching their growth and maturity. Now my puppy has reached adulthood and I see an affectionate, chilled but incredibly fast, strong and intelligent dog. You'll get there, just be consistent and keep doing as you're doing.

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