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I'll say it: I'm EXHAUSTED.

Puppies are demanding. I've been through it before. But never with a spoo, and Peggy is by far the most childlike dog I've ever encountered. Even her naps have to be closely managed, as she'll lay awake, if we're not careful, quietly listening and watching for any exciting activity that she might miss out on.

And when she gets OVER tired...look out! It's a constant balancing act.

I've been throwing lots of money at the situation, investing in an endless stream of (sometimes shockingly expensive) toys and chews, but what I'd really like are some simple games or activities we can do together that require her to analyze and engage in a thoughtful way.

For example, hand feeding her kibble, piece by piece, settles her down beautifully.

Wondering if you have any other suggestions?

Thank you in advance!
Robin

Edit: Peggy will be 4-months-old tomorrow ?
 

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I would be careful about hand feeding kibble. For a very baby puppy it is a great way to teach them to connect with you and to learn that you are the source of all important things, but once the pup is older as I think Peggy is make it more thoughtful. Make sure you have her do things to earn it. Otherwise you will be at risk of doing it forever! Teach her tricks and do basic baby dog obedience and manners to earn the kibble. Check out games like It's Yer Choice to help her with things like attention and impulse control. Nothing to buy, no special equipment needed.
 
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I would be careful about hand feeding kibble. For a very baby puppy it is a great way to teach them to connect with you and to learn that you are the source of all important things, but once the pup is older as I think Peggy is make it more thoughtful. Make sure you have her do things to earn it. Otherwise you will be at risk of doing it forever! Teach her tricks and do basic baby dog obedience and manners to earn the kibble. Check out games like It's Yer Choice to help her with things like attention and impulse control. Nothing to buy, no special equipment needed.
Thank you! I don't handfeed her meals, just sometimes the first 1/4 cup or so when she needs some quiet focus time. I also use this as an opportunity to gently run her through sit, down, leave it, and touch. But I never considered there could be negative consequences, so thank you!

I'll look up "It's Yer Choice." This sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.
 

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Are you taking Peggy to a good obedience training class?

I don't have puppy experience because my dog was almost a year old when I got her - but she was a conformation only dog and didn't know sit or down or anything beyond standing and stacking. I started with a beginning obedience class. What I loved about taking classes (when you have a good training facility and good teachers, my first class was terrible and I left to discover many wonderful training places) is that you have a guide - a frame work for training. I liked that I didn't have to think about what to train - the teacher gave it to me in a reasonable order. I had homework that I could work on my dog during the week.

You should be taught how to teach your dog not only the basic sit and down.................. but also how to settle which comes in handy when they are overly tired, crate games, go to mat, getting them used to exams at the vet, how to greet people politely, come, stay..... so many useful, every day behaviors. I highly recommend to everyone to take classes till your dog earns the AKC Canine Good Citizen title - because that class teaches you about keeping your dog safe and well behaved out in public. Good teachers are happy to discuss any common problems you are having, and you'll meet other people going through the same process who can share resources and ideas.

The other thing is to think about what would make your dog perfect for you. For example, I didn't want my dog running out the front door when someone came to the front door. I taught my dog to sit at the door and she's not allowed to stand and go out with me saying the magic release work "free". Settle was also something I needed for my dog - when she got overtired, she would dig and rub against the couch. Most of the time now she settles down to sleep on her own but for those rare times I just need to say settle when I see her "over tired" behavior - she knows to lay down and put her head down and lay quietly and soon she's snoozing. It sounds like your dog needs a settle command trained.

For fun ideas, you can check out the AKC trick dog - they list tricks dogs have to perform to earn trick dog titles. https://www.akc.org/sports/trick-dog/ You can train this at home.

I use some of my dog's dinner when training - whatever is left over is fed to her on the floor.
 

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Scent games are easy and cheap! Hide the treats around the room and tell her to find them. Hide toys and teach her to find them. This is really quite easy. Tether her someplace and get a favorite toy of hers. Show it to her and let her watch you hide it in the room she is in. Let her loose and tell her to find it. Nice treat and praise. Hide it where she can't quite see in the same room. Next leave the room and hide it in an easy place in the next room. Hiding places get harder and harder. At this point I am walking all over the house to hide the toy so she doesn't just go where she heard me go, it could be anywhere in the house. This is a really good way to give the dog mental exercise. Most dogs really love it, and mental exercise is as good as physical for tiring a puppy out.

This is also a good way to work on stays once she gets fairly reliable at that. She has to hold a sit stay while you are hiding the toy.
 

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Thank you for the link to that excellent list, Skylar! I should print out the novice tricks and start working through them when Peggy's itching to get into something (i.e. most of the time).

We're enrolled in an excellent puppy class. Actually, Peggy has her last one on Friday and then we "graduate" to pre-teen. It's definitely been extremely helpful, not just for obedience basics but for socialization. It's really boosted our confidence, as well as hers! And we're sent home each week with a packet of homework handouts, followed by some videos mid-week.

Maybe that's actually contributing to why I'm so tired?? It honestly feels endless—the to-do lists, the deadlines, the important windows for learning x,y, and z.... My last puppy was born into a very different world. 14 years later, it can some days feel like information overload.

I think I need to create more space for quiet times together. Just plain old bonding. But that's hard for such a busy-brained girl. (And I'm not just talking about Peggy!!)
 

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Thank you for that suggestion, reraven123! My childhood dog was a German Wirehaired Pointer and I used to play scent games as well as hide and go seek with her all the time. I was about 8 years old and didn't realize I was training her to stay. We were both just having so much fun.

I guess that's how it really should be? Learning through play whenever possible? And bonus points if it's mutually fun!
 

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PeggyTheParti - It's hard to remember during this early phase when you're exhausted..... but all the work you are doing know will pay off the rest of Peggy's life because she will be the best dog.

I'm also glad you found a great class.
 

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PeggyTheParti - It's hard to remember during this early phase when you're exhausted..... but all the work you are doing know will pay off the rest of Peggy's life because she will be the best dog.

I'm also glad you found a great class.
That means so much to me. Thank you for the reminder.
 

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You can also play hide & seek. Sit & love on Peggy for awhile & have her on leash. Hand the leash off to your spouse or a friend. Get up & walk away in a hurry, if you can trot off do so. You want to build a little excitement/curiosity as you leave. Go hide where you'll be easy to find but where she can't see you. The person holding her could say something like "Where'd she go?" in a tone that builds her interest. Just say it once. Then give the 'seek' or 'find her' or whatever command you choose to use meaning 'use your nose & find the human'. The person hiding should be the dog's handler for the first couple of times & then you can switch it around & have her hunt for someone else so long as the pup's interest is in it. Don't do it too much at first. Just once, maybe twice & then quit while she still wants more. (This is the handler lost exercise which leads to tracking people)

You can go to the dollar store & pick up some little containers (I got mine 2 for a dollar). I put numbers on the bottom of mine. Get yourself some little items that are cheap & not important. Carry them in your pockets. Have the pup sit stay. Pull an item out of your pocket. Show it to her & show a great deal of importance to it. "Hmmm... what do we have here." I start them out by waiting until the pup is not paying attention to me & I flick the item down on the ground near the pup. If the pup alerts on it (ears go up, they poke their nose toward it, etc...) I tell the pup "Good find" & then I very slowly & meticulously pick up the item & pet them with it on the face. "Good find" & then I'll wait until pup isn't paying attention & flick it near them again but a little behind them or off to the side & say, "FIND it" or "seek" (insert whatever your chosen word is). Then I'll touch the muzzle as I did when I pet her nose with the scent item & then I'll point to the ground as if I'm helping her find it. I'll very quietly say, "find it" or "seek". The moment the pup starts for the item I say, "GOOD FIND" with a lot of enthusiasm but not so much as to bring her out of the work mindset. I again pet her with it on the face. (When you pet the face/muzzle with the object you do this with a bit of reverence not in a hyper way. You want to keep your pup thinking & if you hype them up that's hard to do). I will be working to train my pup to sit, to lie down on command & when I transition to having her find the object which requires a little more work I will praise "GOOD find" then have her lie down on command & praise for that. Eventually when she finds I will then give the down command then praise "GOOD find". (This is the work that lays the ground work to evidence recovery work or item location.)

Both of these things can cost you $0. You likely already have things around the house you can use. These exercises work the mind & the nose, the body of course follows. Some dogs have a real knack for scent work, others not so much so or they're brought into it in a way that doesn't connect with the dog. I do not use food of any kind in this training. A lot of praise & repetition. I've had dogs who could locate something as small as a diamond earring or a drop of blood that was smaller than a match head.

I often times will use things around the house as a bit of an agility course but not ever for speed. It's used to get the dog thinking. Kitchen chairs can be used as tunnels to low crawl through, behind the couch can be a dark narrow tunnel & if I put some boxes back there, the dog now has something to walk over or hop over. I can put a throw over the end of said tunnel & it becomes a different kind of barrier for the dog to learn to trust my voice that if I say go through... s/he can. I have hoolahoops (also bought at Dollar Tree for $1 each). I can hold them up & ask pup to go through. I can wedge them between two chairs or tie them & they become a little jump. I can teach my pup to not just blow through things but think & listen to my commands by having the dog do different patterns. Stand/stay, wait, easy (meaning slow down), over/under. I have used yarn & later clear sewing thread to simulate trip wire detection (meaning for the dog to indicate & warn me so we don't blow through it) or for the dog to crawl under or jump over. (WORD OF WARNING: if you use rope or string or thread do not tie it hard & fast. If a pup catches a toe or toe nail on it & hangs up you do not want an injury or to scare the pup out of the work completely.) So I only loop it so if the pup hangs up or catches on something... no big deal. I'll say something like "AWWWW" in a disappointing tone & go back & reteach the dog to watch for it.

I've been known to put a leash on the laundry basket & drag it through the house while the pup's around. It gets her used to seeing such an odd sight. Then one day I'll have her on one leash, the basket on the other. Eventually I'll put a little harness on her & have her pull the basket. I might just have like one towel in the basket. It's just little things that can eventually turn into really big things. Sometimes you'll have a dog who sees you take laundry out of the dryer & they'll help you. Let them. It's not the point that YOU need them to do these things. It's the point that dogs need jobs. It's good for them to participate & be helpful.

A bucket with a lid & a board can become a teeter totter :)
Garden wheel barrow can be a fun exercise. Teach the pup to hop up into it, then have the dog sit/stay, down/stay while you wheel them around. This really builds trust with your pup just don't get the thing overbalanced & topple the pup.
When you see an opportunity, use it. The other day Mr. Layne (my 6 month old) was under my desk. It was about time for him to wake from his nap so I eased out of my desk chair, making certain it was positioned just right. I woke him & asked him to come to me but guided him under the chair where he had to negotiate the rungs of the chair. I would give him the proper commands even if he doesn't know what they mean right now... then praised him as I helped him get it right. He was so pleased with himself when he came in. :)
Always put safety first. Experiment with the items you have in mind to use then bring the dog along to try it out.

One more caution. If you get an idea to teach your dog to climb or scale things, be very careful. Once a dog gets the knack of going up ladders, scaling fences or board walls, it's hard to keep the little suckers in a yard or pen. I've had one client's dog whose young master taught his Rottie to climb anything. I mean this dog was a seriously amazing dog. Thing is he couldn't be kept outside the house for fear of where he'd go or what he'd do. He could climb ANYTHING. He would climb up on the barn, jump from there to the garage, then onto the house roof & let himself in an upstairs window. I had another pup that scaled a woodpile, then up onto the roof & alerted on intruders robbing the house next door. Cops arrived in time to arrest them red handed, then the fire department came to get the pup off the roof. So think it through before you train it but there are so many things you can do with little to no money & still have a very happy dog who is excited to work with you.
 

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Skylar's words are so true. Raising spoo puppies is extremely challenging, and if you have a high drive dog, as it sounds like Peggy is, it's even more challenging! But, if you can put in the time and energy in the first year, they will be set for life. My spoos were my full time job as pups, and I went nuts many times, and spent a small fortune on all the bully sticks and toys, but now, they are so good--much lower maintenance! You got this!
 

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It is a long time since my two were puppies but I well remember that feeling of needing to fit everything in - training, manners, socialising, learning about the big wide world... Loads of helpful ideas already but I would add remembering to just have fun. Sometimes forgetting everything and just having a silly, giggly time together is what you both need most!

And for human sanity Settle is the one I valued most. The puppy class I took them to provided comfy mats and wonderful treats to stuff into Kongs, and the puppies spent much of the class learning to relax with a chew while humans talked or moved around. At home I took care to praise and treat them when they were quiet and relaxed - at first, of course, they would bounce up hoping for more but gradually the snooze habit grew on them. Routine helped - up, breakfast, play, snooze, walk, snack, snooze...
 

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Cannot remember who recommended this before but you should join "Canine Enrichment" on Facebook!! Its an awesome group filled with enrichment brain games for your pup! It has given me so many ideas for tiring Norman out mentally and physically! People post daily new ideas and showing off their pups. I can scroll through it for hours gaining so many ideas!!
Life saver!!
 

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Thanks for posting this question! I'm curious to see what people have had success with, especially if it's something that doesn't require food.

dogsavvy- what great ideas you have!! I'm definitely going to try to set up an indoor obstacle course for Jessie, and I love the laundry basket idea. It's great that you come up with things that don't involve treats. I don't have a puppy on my hands, but Jessie is not particularly food motivated so all of the treat dispensing or sniffing games don't really interest her for long. The only thing I can reliably get her to work on is a frozen kong with a small amount peanut butter- even if I try to feed her meals out of the kongs (even unfrozen) she licks them about 1/3 empty and then tries to go play somewhere else ;) I feed her out of a 24 well mini cupcake pan so it's both a little more challenging/interesting for her and she eats all of her food on a schedule.

I've had success with hide and seek. We bought a 50' carpet runner for our house to provide traction for indoor fetch, and I clicker train her different tricks with fetch as a reward. Taking her for a ride in my bike basket is also good mental stimulation. Sometimes even having her carry her ball during a walk seems like it tires her out more from having a job to do.
 

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The suggestions (and reassuring words) in here are just fantastic! THANK YOU!

I'm watching Peggy chew her bully stick right now and I *swear* she's frustrated she doesn't have opposable thumbs. ? Poodles truly are so special.

Something as simple as narrating my day's chores for her ("Now the clothes go into the washing machine....") appeals to her need to always be learning new things and engaging with us. I shouldn't over-complicate it.

And my husband LOVES building forts and obstacles courses (he wooed me with a really lovely fort for watching movies when we were first dating ?), so I'm going to remind him that Peggy would love to play that particular game with him.
 

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Cannot remember who recommended this before but you should join "Canine Enrichment" on Facebook!! Its an awesome group filled with enrichment brain games for your pup! It has given me so many ideas for tiring Norman out mentally and physically! People post daily new ideas and showing off their pups. I can scroll through it for hours gaining so many ideas!!
Life saver!!
Oh my goodness WOW! I feel like I've hit the jackpot with that Facebook group! Thank you ?
 

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That Facebook group is neat! I'm not a fan of FB itself, but I'm happy to see it can be useful :)

I tried one of the games I found on there today and Jessie loved it. It recommended burying treats in a wrapped up bath towel or closed cardboard box. Instead of treats, I used a sound box from a purring cat cuddle toy I had (that my cats just ignored). I removed the sound box from the toy and wrapped it in a towel, turned it on, and let Jessie hunt for it. She loved it!! It "purrs" for 2 minutes, so she has lots of time to get in there and find it. Cardboard box was equally fun. Of course, the sound box could be a choking hazard so it's supervised play only for my non-destructive dog who knows drop it/leave it.
 

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That Facebook group is neat! I'm not a fan of FB itself, but I'm happy to see it can be useful


I tried one of the games I found on there today and Jessie loved it. It recommended burying treats in a wrapped up bath towel or closed cardboard box. Instead of treats, I used a sound box from a purring cat cuddle toy I had (that my cats just ignored). I removed the sound box from the toy and wrapped it in a towel, turned it on, and let Jessie hunt for it. She loved it!! It "purrs" for 2 minutes, so she has lots of time to get in there and find it. Cardboard box was equally fun. Of course, the sound box could be a choking hazard so it's supervised play only for my non-destructive dog who knows drop it/leave it.
What a cute idea! I rolled up Peggy's lunch in a towel yesterday and she was so content after all her snuffling, she fell right to sleep. Love it!

So much nicer for everyone if we give them outlets for natural behaviour rather than try to fight or suppress it.
 

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Who knew that a ball and a plastic bowl could be SO MUCH FUN?? This had 16-week-old Peggy more entertained than all her expensive toys put together.

We practiced "take it" as I'd offer her the ball. Then "drop it" as she placed it in the bowl. And then CUE THE WILD CELEBRATION as she carried it proudly all over the house! ?
 

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