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Questions at 5.5 months

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Hello everyone.

our pup is now 5.5 months old or so and still struggling to settle in the house. She is not horrible, just paces around looking for things to get into or pestering our old cat (which is not tolerated!) kind of like if I am not actively engaging her, she can’t figure out what to do on her own or just chill a bit. 

Wondering if I can give a sense of our approximate daily schedule and see if it is to do with too much or too little exercise? Will try to not be too long winded!

7:00 am i get up with her. She goes out to pee, very short training session, has some of breakfast, then we go for morning walk. This varies from 30 min. Long line walk or street walk slightly longer.

note: she goes to “dog daycare” in the morning twice a week for a couple hours, those days I skip morning walk because she runs about playing there. We started doing this because she was quite timid around dogs and struggled to socialize her during lockdown here, which is ongoing. Has helped a lot in that sense and she loves it. I trust them there a lot, we took a VERY scared foster dog there, she was terrified of everything except she loved other dogs, so being in that environment with confident friendly dogs helped her a lot.

after walk I would like her to relax a bit, but this is one of her pacing phases while i get breakfast ready for the kids and stuff.

when kids are up and eating she goes in her pen with frozen Kong. That last about an hour, she goes out to pee and run around a bit. Then I either have her out in the house a bit, or put her in pen if kids have a million toys out and she wants to pick them all up.

this goes on till about noon, when she goes out for a play in yard, short training session. Then she has crate nap, littlest kid goes for nap and older one does schoolwork (homeschooling at the moment). About 1.5 hours.

pup gets up, then it is outside time. In the winter this has only been 2 hours or so depending on how cold for kids, but gets a longer in summer. Pretty much kids and I are outside all afternoon.  So what we do varies, sometimes she has a walk and play in yard. Sometimes we walk into town for errands and I bring her along. Or we go to the park. Or go to a place we can have her off lead for a run about (kids love this, take turns playing game where we call her to work on recall, she listens to them quite well even though just turned 3 and 5), or long line walk. Really just varies. 

We eat lunch late, so then we have lunch and she gets a snack either puzzle toy or Kong in her pen. 

Then boys go for “quiet time” in their rooms and she goes for crate nap ( this could also be called “mom time” for me haha), they have about an hour, she more like 1.5 because they get up and have snack and I read to them awhile. 

Then comes evening madness. So this is her worst pacing time I guess. I do a longer training session with her in this time because it keeps her occupied. And a game where I get her to stay and then hide train8ng treat and she sniffs around to find it. Repeat. Left to her own devices she wanders around and doesn’t settle. She goes out in the yard couple times to pee and run around. Then pen while we eat and she gets dinner there in her snuffle mat. Then out and bed.

she sleeps great in her crate till morning.

she is still just a pup so maybe settling will come in time? I do practice a “mat” command with her, which means pretty much stay on the mat no matter what. Duration up to maybe 5 min or so for now, maybe a bit more, at a time. But she doesn’t relax on the mat, more sits there and watches me like a hawk waiting for release word. 

Anyways, does schedule seem we do too much or too little? This is pretty loose, not a strict sort of timeline. Any suggestions welcome. 



One more thing, kind of in the lines of the jogging for 6 month old thread.

so one day I would like her to join me on runs, i enjoy running and would love her to join me one day. Obviously not ready yet, but I wonder if I could start kind of training her to run alongside just by trying 100 m or so here and there on our walks. So, we worked hard to get to loose leash walking and generally she is a pleasure to walk. We don’t do a formal heel, but a loose sort of heel sometimes I practice crossing streets and such. If I jog just a couple steps, she kind of falls apart. She gets super excited, wanting to jump all over me and such. So wondering if I could start training this a bit now, might take awhile to be run ready. And also how to go about it! I don’t need her heeling, just jogging along somewhat calmly when I pick up the pace. Thanks again!

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Sorry, just to add a couple things.

i know there have been some similar posts, which I have read, just wondering if it seems we do enough with her in our general schedule. If so, I would feel better about confining her when she starts wandering looking for mischief. Also, her crate is upstairs in our bedroom, quiet spot. Where her pen is in the main living area, much busier spot. She doesn’t sleep in there, more plays and watches the action. She can get a bit fussy there when lots is going on, kids are getting goofy, get jumping up and stuff.

i have been wondering if I should add an evening walk. I haven’t up to this point because her afternoon is quite busy most of the time. We usually get in a good walk or hike then and afternoon yard time is active, she plays and digs with the kids (supervised), Runs about, I tug with her, etc. Can be a couple hours, but on her terms.

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So this is her worst pacing time I guess. I do a longer training session with her in this time because it keeps her occupied.

How long? Keeping it 5 min or less is recommended, I've found with our 5-6 m/o, 3 minutes is even better, just more frequently. When mines tail is wagging and she's following me around, I stop. Long sessions can cause frustration and rile them up more, could possibly make her not enjoy training either. I used to do a sniff to find game with mine, and tbh it kinda just frustrated her and wasn't a relaxing activity, esp close to mealtime, so we stopped that.  Also, would resist the urge to 'keep her occupied'. It's easier to accept that if you cant provide attention right now, she can chill and wait, or she'll need to go to a secure place, crate or pen.

It's hard to tell from your formatting, but she seems to go really long stretches awake, which if she hasn't been taught a calm settle would probably have her clinging to stay awake and getting into trouble. Even as a young young pup ours would pace etc, but really was only awake an hour or two at a time. Now she's 'awake' more but laying at our feet or lounging in sun spots.

I won't speak from deep experience, but we worked with a trainer, and checked here as well, and we were doing way, way too much with ours, we backed off, and shes settled wonderfully. Our schedule even then wasn't half as full as yours is now, so could be hard to sustain, but again it depends on lifestyle and how you plan to involve the dog. Overall it was hard to hear that doing less would result in more calm, but the more I learn about working breeds, the more that makes sense. 

Management helps a lot, when ours needed a nap, she went in the crate, when we couldn't supervise she s in the pen, and she only has access to the kitchen and living room to keep her world small. She's fully earned free reign of those rooms now, and settles where she likes all day. We don't have a yard so potty trips can be much more utilitarian (imo a benefit of not having a yard).

As well, ours gets a frozen kong, takes her about an hour to finish. At her age, an hour of thinking and working at the kong, she's exhausted and sleeps for 3.5 - 4 hrs, yours is going outside to run around which I find surprising/ impressive, you must have a super dog. 

Yours also gets two kongs, a snuffle mat, possible puzzle toys, hidden food, and training. You have her working very hard for her food, but could you be cultivating an intensity and drive you may not want? More experienced people here might chime in with better advice there. Does she get any chew snacks?


Anyways, does schedule seem we do too much or too little? This is pretty loose, not a strict sort of timeline. Any suggestions welcome. 

If she's not settling, maybe try flipping the above statement. Do much less, but much more of a strict timeline? Let your pup relax by not worrying what could come next or what could be needed, let her turn off. 

Have you tried capturing calmness, or the relaxation protocol? Both reward the pup for being calm, contrary to lots of obedience training which rewards alert & focus, something frankly BCs may not be lacking in already. FWIW, we started both from day 1, as we reduced her schedule these stayed in, and there wasn't much of a linear progression of it, she more 'clicked' into the house and schedule vs showing signs of gradual calming. However we also have no cats or kids, and are perfectly fine if our dog thinks we are too boring for her throughout the day. 


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So I guess we are doing too much? Haha. Ok, thanks for suggestions.

i will try to clarify couple things. 

We have more a routine than a schedule I guess. We do the same things in the same order, just not always at a strict time. Somethings are at the same time, like waking up, but times can vary. Same as when the kids were babies. Most days are pretty consistent apart from what we do in afternoon, which can vary as needed. 

Most training sessions are in the 3-5 range, evening is longer because I practice the mat with her. Where she lays on it for 5 minute intervals with the intention of relaxing. She hasn’t shown frustration with training yet, she is eager and I try to keep it fun. 

The going out after her Kong is more for a pee break and she sniffs about for couple minutes, because she always needs to pee then. Then she goes back in pen hopefully to rest. From reading what you say I think I might need to switch out some pen times for crate times for her to actually nap more because she doesn’t nap much in her pen.

i really wish she would nap in sun spots like yours does! That’s the goal. Sounds lovely. I worry that since I confine her to nap all the time maybe she is not learning to relax on her own. I don’t know. I do praise when she does relax or doze in her pen, I just have to be careful I don’t get her popping back up when I do so! It is tough on her with the kids always about too, they aren’t allowed to go up by her crate so that is best when she needs a solid sleep.

i give her the snuffle mat etc because she enjoys it, but maybe I should just give her meals in the dish? she has nylabones in her pen and crate but she doesn’t care for them (not the edible ones, just the chew ones), so I sometimes give her a chew as while she is in there as well. 

I hope she figures it out. I will think how I can reduce activities for her a bit. We do work on our mat exercise and I will try to capture calm moments when they happen.

our current times are sustainable of morning walk, afternoon outside times, I am home all day at this point for couple years at least still. I might be starting a farm job for just couple hours a day to help out with sales prep for some yearlings (thoroughbred) this summer, but she and the kids can join me (that will be exhausting! More the kids than the dog, wish me luck!) I just need her to be able to relax in between times down the road like in the mid morning and evening times. Otherwise she is a great dog!

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Hi Rosalee!

This sounds so similar to what we were experiencing with Bailey (now 6.5 mo), especially the evening madbess which exhausted us. I posted my routine on here a month or 2 ago and the advice i received have completely transformed Bailey so i hope i can share some of what we've changed to help you!

I would suggest you are doing far too much interaction with your pup. We were the same, and when we added it up it was ~5 hours a day of interaction and he was in a near constant state of hyperarousal. We've now really cut things down to 2-3 hours max. Here's our very brief routine (i say ignore when i mean we're not giving him our undivided attention, we're getting on with chores etc but he'll still get a pat etc):

6.30am: up, wee, ignored or very gentle play (e.g. I'll hold a toy while he tugs it but i watch tv)

7.30am: 30 min walk/run & ball chase at the park 

8.15am: brekkie in a puzzle toy, nap time until ~1pm (either crated or on sofa, or a mix), toilet break as needed

~1pm: 45min sniffing walk interspersed with training (heel, focus, sits etc) and short play session

2-4pm: enforced nap (crate or sofa)

4-5pm: self play, chews etc while we ignore

5-7.30pm: 15 min high energy play with mum+dad, 15-30 min neighbourhood sniffing walk, dinner in puzzle toy, calming protocol

~8pm: frozen lickimat while we eat dinner, ignore, self play/chew

9pm: asleep until morning


One thing I've learnt is that you have to train and practice calming, otherwise they will just keep taking all you can give and not learn to settle. Enforced naps (there will be some barking initially, build it up or use frozen kongs), rewarding when calm, keeping play and training sessions short, mental stimulation all help.

I've attached the calming protocol someone on here shared with me and it's really helping! We're on Day 11 now and would really recommend :) 


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Thanks for sharing! I have gone back and read your earlier post and I see what you mean.

i practice a mat command with her, less formally, with varying degrees of distraction but I will try this way in the link. Maybe the added structure of that will help, again thanks for sharing.

i guess I feel guilty for how much time she spends in her pen or crate, but if she is out for the “ignoring” times she just seems to wander around getting into things or pestering someone. The ignoring/nap/self occupy times (with bathroom breaks) would be approximately 9-12 , crate nap always about 12:30-2, crate nap 5:30-7, then self occupy 7:30-9ish. Maybe in those self occupy times I should give her the chance to settle, if not try the pen, if she is fussy there put her in the crate? I will try working on the relaxation protocol as well. I notice working on mat work, she doesn’t really chill on the mat, not tense or stressed out or something, just focused on me and waiting for what is next so maybe this will help the whole “relaxing” thing to click in a bit. She definitely needs help learning to calm herself. After a walk we come back and maybe I try to chill on the couch with her a couple mi utes, she generally is up and down or pawing at me or something. I have noticed if I put her in the pen, she will take a rest instead after couple minutes of whining. I hope this will translate to napping on the couch someday. I noticed in your earlier post you mentioned how your pup could be more amped up after a crate nap and I definitely notice that as well. 

I will work on these things and hope time will help as well.

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8 hours ago, Rosalee said:

i guess I feel guilty for how much time she spends in her pen or crate, but if she is out for the “ignoring” times she just seems to wander around getting into things or pestering someone.

Completely understand, we sometimes feel the same. Luvkily Bailey now seems to have decided the sofa is the place to be and is quite happy to flop down on it after a walk for a good few hours of snoozing. We tidy up all his toys and other distractions and just leave him to it, although he will sometimes wake up amd get into mischeif. It probably helps that we both work from home full time so he's had to learn that during those times we're busy and boring, so he may as well just sleep!

I notice working on mat work, she doesn’t really chill on the mat, not tense or stressed out or something, just focused on me and waiting for what is next so maybe this will help the whole “relaxing” thing to click in a bit.

I will say that Bailey isn't exactly relaxed during the exercise, but is aware that I'll be giving him a treat/doing something etc. But the gaps inbetween are getting longer, and once we're done he's usually in a generally calm place. I hope it helps!

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i guess I feel guilty for how much time she spends in her pen or crate

They need a lot of sleep, and if she can't turn off, then she'll be on her feet too long, climbing/ getting into stuff and you've got to keep her safe. My partners much more relaxed than I am, and our middle ground that seemed to work was to give her a chance during cooldown times to relax on her own, but if shes not settling then its crate time. In reality they may not always be sleeping in their crate, but they are resting which is important. As her 'chances' got longer and longer, she kinda figured out, 'well I would rather relax in my sun spot and keep an eye on my people vs hanging out in the crate'. 


I notice working on mat work, she doesn’t really chill on the mat, not tense or stressed out or something, just focused on me and waiting for what is next so maybe this will help the whole “relaxing” thing to click in a bit.

@Meghan FWIW, the first time through was almost always like that. As we started over in higher distraction areas, she figured out it wasn't capturing any particular pose or movement, just 'dont get off the mat'. So we'd see her hip slide out, getting comfortable and treats still kept coming. Now 5 times through, we put the mat down, she gets on it, and her chins on her arm the whole time, she knows she can be as comfortable as she likes, just cant get off the mat. We also sprinkle in different times of the day, the mat goes down, she gets on it, jackpot reward, we say 'off', she gets off w/ no treat, move the mat, same thing, mat goes away. Someday in the future, we'd love to sit at cafes outside with her on the mat, so building the value now in hopes in a year or two that skills very deeply ingrained. 

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