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Hello All,

I’m looking for some advice or general thoughts about problems we are having with our new mini poodle puppy, Finn. We got him when he was 8 weeks old and he’s now about 19 weeks. Finn is an absolutely gorgeous dog, extremely handsome but unfortunately we cannot seem to figure him out. We certainly are not dog training experts but we’ve had many dogs over the years and none were ever even remotely as difficult as Finn. Potty training has been extremely slow and difficult, for the first month he peed in the house 1-3 times a day despite us taking him outside 8-12 times a day. We’d take him outside, he’d pee, play for a bit and then we’d bring him in and within 5 minutes he’d pee in the house, often while making eye contact with us. He would also pee in his crate even if he had just gone outside within the last half hour although thankfully that seems to have stopped. Now we might go 2-4 days in a row without an accident in the house but that’s still not ideal for his age and for how much we watch him and take him outside.

The next thing we have noticed is his complete and total inability to calm himself down. He doesn’t nap outside of his crate and he needs constant redirection or else he gets into trouble by chewing clothes, furniture, pulling in anything he can find, etc. Keeping him out of trouble is a full time job. Admittedly our crate training hasn’t been a total success, he doesn’t really mind the crate and if we put him in there for a nap he usually doesn’t whine for more than a minute or two before he falls asleep but he does not like going in there on his own if he thinks we are going to lock him in for a nap. He’s very clever, he’ll stick his 2 front paws in to grab his toys Rather than fully walk inside. He sleeps well at night, usually 6-7 hours straight and I’d say he gets 4-5 naps a day.

Here is the strangest and most disappointing part... Finn cannot seem to handle any sort of human affection. As soon as you start petting him he gets more and more worked up until he’s totally unmanageable, aggressive, biting, mouthing etc.. and if you get down on the ground at his level it’s the same thing. He’ll immediately walk over and sit in your lap, and then things start escalating. He’ll start by chewing himself, then he escalates it to mouthing or attempting to chew on a shoelace/shirt/pants and next thing you know he starts aggressively trying to lick your face by climbing your torso. He’ll lick and lick forever, getting more frantic by the second. The only thing that seems to calm him down is totally ignoring him, if we ignore him long enough eventually he’ll calm down but it’s a struggle and also very disheartening. Our old mini poodle was a great cuddler so this really caught us by surprise.

We’ve taken him to the vet a couple times to have him examined and they haven’t found anything wrong with him. Our biggest concern is the fact that we literally cannot show him affection without creating chaos, and it hasn’t gotten any better in the almost 3 months that we’ve had him. Keeping Finn out of trouble is a full time job for 2 people and frankly it is not sustainable. We absolutely do not want to give him back to the breeder but we are at our wits end. Any advice or insight is appreciated.

Thanks
 

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Do, please, let the breeder know about this. This is definitely not normal behavior. Certainly if I were the breeder I would want to know. It sounds as if it might be a neurological condition.

I think it might be useful to try a "thunder shirt" to see if that calms him.
 

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I’ve had a miniature poodle, female, with a similar temperament. She was very, very active, more hyperactive than active. Very hard to calm down, if at all. Almost impossible to groom because she was wiggling and fighting the whole time. She was the most difficult dog I ever had (and I’ve had lots of dogs).

Unfortunately I had to rehome her when she was less than a year old because of allergies in the family. The family who got her were absolutely in love with her so I suppose she eventually calmed down.

About housebreaking, Beckie (blue, pictured below) was really hard to potty train. She needed to go every 1 1/2 - 2 hours until she was about 8 months old. She had the bladder control of a 2 months old puppy at 8 months. Her bladder eventually matured and she is now 100% housebroken. It took more than a year to get there. So about this part, unless there is a medical condition (ask your vet), your puppy will get there too. You just need to work harder than with a « normal » puppy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I’ve had a miniature poodle, female, with a similar temperament. She was very, very active, more hyperactive than active. Very hard to calm down, if at all. Almost impossible to groom because she was wiggling and fighting the whole time. She was the most difficult dog I ever had (and I’ve had lots of dogs).

Unfortunately I had to rehome her when she was less than a year old because of allergies in the family. The family who got her were absolutely in love with her so I suppose she eventually calmed down.

About housebreaking, Beckie (blue, pictured below) was really hard to potty train. She needed to go every 1 1/2 - 2 hours until she was about 8 months old. She had the bladder control of a 2 months old puppy at 8 months. Her bladder eventually matured and she is now 100% housebroken. It took more than a year to get there. So about this part, unless there is a medical condition (ask your vet), your puppy will get there too. You just need to work harder than with a « normal » puppy.
this is good to hear. The interesting thing about Finn is I don’t think it’s a bladder control issue. When he first wakes up in the morning we take him outside and he’ll pee for a solid 25-35 seconds. However during the day when we take him out he usually only pees for 5-7 seconds, so it would appear he never fully empties his bladder during the day. I think maybe he’s too excited all the time? Or he’s saving it to mark later? I don’t know.
 

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Boys have smaller bladders and need to go out more. Also, count how many seconds he needs to empty. If he pees for four seconds in the yard and then 3 seconds in the house, that's eight seconds. Keep him outside and running around until he has peed for 8 seconds. Or come back inside then go out again after the extra time needed (ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes). I have had breeders from puppy mills and counting the seconds of their normal output is a wonderful clue.

Licking is a way to pacify you, unless you have encouraged this. It is possible that he was not handled at the breeder's. Try just using one finger to rub his throat or under his ear for a couple of seconds, then stop. Don't wait for him to become anxious. If you run the side of your finger from the side of his neck down to the shoulder and softly to the rump he should find this calming. Gently, softly, rubbing the tip of an ear should help.

With my last foster, I ended up taking a kitchen magnet and stroking him three times, from forehead to tip of tail. Only three times. Something about the magnetizing does something to the energy. I don't really know why, but it made a big change in his craziness.
 

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In terms of settling, I think I've been pretty lucky so far (extremely early) in that she is pretty calm in general and would sometimes just lay around when not in the crate. Regardless of where she is ANY time she lays down I just put a treat in between her paws and say 'Yes' or 'Good' calmly and sometimes will reinforce it with an extra treat or two.

She has definitely picked up on it and settles herself around more often than before, and even does it on her bed in the crate + pen area sometimes because she maybe realizes she only gets string cheese when she's in there and laying down.

Of course, this all depends on if your pup ever lays down at all on his own? I would just watch like a hawk and reinforce it any time he does that, if possible!
 

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I’m going to play devil’s advocate and say that nothing in your description of Finn sounds particularly alarming to me. Challenging, yes, and vastly different from your previous puppy experiences, but not alarming. Maybe that’s because Peggy was a tough puppy and the memory is still fresh. We had to teach her how to relax, and also how to receive affection and attention without going through the roof. But now—at 20 months—she’s a snugglemonster couch potato. She’s not even high energy, despite what some well-meaning folks suggested to me when I was in the thick of it. She just needed to learn a) some impulse control (which takes time and patience) and b) what was expected of her (which also takes time and patience). How your puppy was handled at his breeder’s home may be a big factor here.

Have you reached out to a trainer? Here are some good resources:


I’m not sure what we’d have done without ours.

I’d also highly recommend investing in an indoor exercise pen. Used as part of a broader training plan, they are excellent for establishing boundaries and reinforcing calm behaviour. They can also give you some breathing room and time to regroup, which is so important. We got ours from Chewy. Frisco brand.
 

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However during the day when we take him out he usually only pees for 5-7 seconds, so it would appear he never fully empties his bladder during the day. I think maybe he’s too excited all the time? Or he’s saving it to mark later? I don’t know.
Puppies are immature like little kids. They want to play and peeing isn’t fun so they hurry up and don‘t empty their bladders completely. I used to count how many seconds Beckie would pee (I still do by the way and sometimes have to send her out again when there are too many distractions because she forgets to do her business. She will be 4 years old but still gets easily distracted).

So I knew when Beckie wasn’t peeing at least 13-14 seconds her bladder wasn’t empty and I would have to keep her tethered to me if she didn’t go a second time. Tethering is your friend. And so is teaching a pee and poop command. Having your dog pee on command is a savior.
 

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Not fully emptying his bladder coupled with additional play jostling the residue before bringing him back in goes a long way to explaining many of the earlier mispees.

In general, his neuromuscular system is still too immature for him to have full control of the urge as it strikes. At 19 weeks he's getting closer. He's likely recognizing the urge and now understanding that he must try to hold it til he gets to the proper pee place, but he's still some few weeks away, usually around 6-7m, before he'll really be able to comply fully.


he doesn’t really mind the crate and if we put him in there for a nap he usually doesn’t whine for more than a minute or two before he falls asleep but he does not like going in there on his own
How much total sleep time a day would you say he's getting? It may be a bit of overwrought toddler not knowing how tired they are or even a bit of an adrenaline junkie, depending on sleep vs activity, duration and type.

Finn cannot seem to handle any sort of human affection. As soon as you start petting him he gets more and more worked up until he’s totally unmanageable, aggressive, biting, mouthing etc..
Does he do this also when getting combed out or brushed? I didn't really pet my boys much at this age, but I did use the grooming to set the stage, and it needed to be done daily anyway :). They weren't particularly cuddly til some months later (now if I'm sitting, I'm draped in poodles).

He’ll immediately walk over and sit in your lap, and then things start escalating.
What happens if you put him down before the escalation? Does he try again or wander off or ??
What happens if you offer a treat or chew toy to him before he escalates? Does redirecting help break that pattern?

he needs constant redirection or else he gets into trouble by chewing clothes, furniture, pulling in anything he can find, etc. Keeping him out of trouble is a full time job.
If you're saying that he has more or less free access or he's in the crate, it sounds like middle ground is needed. He's too youg still to manage himself, and you need to be able to do a few things other than Finn :).
This is where tethering him to you (responsible family member) so that he can't get into trouble for a while yet or use an expen to keep him contained but in the loop, so to speak.
Don't let him have the chance to make these mistakes and reclaim some sanity for yourselves :).

I did this with two, so I sympathize.
 

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Not fully emptying his bladder coupled with additional play jostling the residue before bringing him back in goes a long way to explaining many of the earlier mispees.

In general, his neuromuscular system is still too immature for him to have full control of the urge as it strikes. At 19 weeks he's getting closer. He's likely recognizing the urge and now understanding that he must try to hold it til he gets to the proper pee place, but he's still some few weeks away, usually around 6-7m, before he'll really be able to comply fully.




How much total sleep time a day would you say he's getting? It may be a bit of overwrought toddler not knowing how tired they are or even a bit of an adrenaline junkie, depending on sleep vs activity, duration and type.



Does he do this also when getting combed out or brushed? I didn't really pet my boys much at this age, but I did use the grooming to set the stage, and it needed to be done daily anyway :). They weren't particularly cuddly til some months later (now if I'm sitting, I'm draped in poodles).



What happens if you put him down before the escalation? Does he try again or wander off or ??
What happens if you offer a treat or chew toy to him before he escalates? Does redirecting help break that pattern?



If you're saying that he has more or less free access or he's in the crate, it sounds like middle ground is needed. He's too youg still to manage himself, and you need to be able to do a few things other than Finn :).
This is where tethering him to you (responsible family member) so that he can't get into trouble for a while yet or use an expen to keep him contained but in the loop, so to speak.
Don't let him have the chance to make these mistakes and reclaim some sanity for yourselves :).

I did this with two, so I sympathize.
Answering your questions in order:

1. In total I would say he sleeps around 14 to 16 hours a day. We’ve Had trouble getting him to sleep any more than that, once he wakes up he’ll start whining in his crate because he wants to pee/play.

2. Yes he gets overexcited during brushing too. The groomer said it was a bit of a struggle to get him to hold still.

3. if you’re sitting on the floor with him he’ll do whatever he can to sit/stand on your lap. He does not respond to negative commands at all so we’ve given up on those and instead try to use redirection and positive reinforcement but it doesn’t always work. Sometimes when he’s in our lap we can get him to focus on a bone or chew toy but more often than not he cannot be redirected.

4. we have started tethering him to one of us while cooking and eating as that seems to be one of the times he’s on his worst behavior and it’s helped to some degree, although half the time he ends up playing tug of war with his tether. We tried an ex-pen but he constantly peed in it and would get extremely riled up by himself so we stopped pretty quickly.

We are bringing in a trainer/behaviorist to see if they can help, I’m interested to hear from a professional who can see him in his natural habitat. When we bring him to the vet he’s always on his best behavior so they don’t really get to see his true self.

Thanks everyone for your responses.
 

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I forgot to ask, is he teething now as well?
 

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Hello All,

I’m looking for some advice or general thoughts about problems we are having with our new mini poodle puppy, Finn. We got him when he was 8 weeks old and he’s now about 19 weeks. Finn is an absolutely gorgeous dog, extremely handsome but unfortunately we cannot seem to figure him out. We certainly are not dog training experts but we’ve had many dogs over the years and none were ever even remotely as difficult as Finn. Potty training has been extremely slow and difficult, for the first month he peed in the house 1-3 times a day despite us taking him outside 8-12 times a day. We’d take him outside, he’d pee, play for a bit and then we’d bring him in and within 5 minutes he’d pee in the house, often while making eye contact with us. He would also pee in his crate even if he had just gone outside within the last half hour although thankfully that seems to have stopped. Now we might go 2-4 days in a row without an accident in the house but that’s still not ideal for his age and for how much we watch him and take him outside.

The next thing we have noticed is his complete and total inability to calm himself down. He doesn’t nap outside of his crate and he needs constant redirection or else he gets into trouble by chewing clothes, furniture, pulling in anything he can find, etc. Keeping him out of trouble is a full time job. Admittedly our crate training hasn’t been a total success, he doesn’t really mind the crate and if we put him in there for a nap he usually doesn’t whine for more than a minute or two before he falls asleep but he does not like going in there on his own if he thinks we are going to lock him in for a nap. He’s very clever, he’ll stick his 2 front paws in to grab his toys Rather than fully walk inside. He sleeps well at night, usually 6-7 hours straight and I’d say he gets 4-5 naps a day.

Here is the strangest and most disappointing part... Finn cannot seem to handle any sort of human affection. As soon as you start petting him he gets more and more worked up until he’s totally unmanageable, aggressive, biting, mouthing etc.. and if you get down on the ground at his level it’s the same thing. He’ll immediately walk over and sit in your lap, and then things start escalating. He’ll start by chewing himself, then he escalates it to mouthing or attempting to chew on a shoelace/shirt/pants and next thing you know he starts aggressively trying to lick your face by climbing your torso. He’ll lick and lick forever, getting more frantic by the second. The only thing that seems to calm him down is totally ignoring him, if we ignore him long enough eventually he’ll calm down but it’s a struggle and also very disheartening. Our old mini poodle was a great cuddler so this really caught us by surprise.

We’ve taken him to the vet a couple times to have him examined and they haven’t found anything wrong with him. Our biggest concern is the fact that we literally cannot show him affection without creating chaos, and it hasn’t gotten any better in the almost 3 months that we’ve had him. Keeping Finn out of trouble is a full time job for 2 people and frankly it is not sustainable. We absolutely do not want to give him back to the breeder but we are at our wits end. Any advice or insight is appreciated.

Thanks
Before I got my spoo, I spent a huge amount of time researching dog breeds. My previous dogs were cocker spaniels, a Lhasa Apso, and a mini schnauzer mix—all except the schnauzer mix (inherited from a friend who died) were easygoing and easy to live with. Felix is, without a doubt, the most challenging dog I’ve ever had. He’s high-energy, with a strong prey drive, and wicked smart. As a little puppy, he just wanted to play CONSTANTLY, and was the mouthiest, bitingest puppy ever—I became quite frustrated with the endless assaults on my hands and arms (which sometimes drew blood). Every attempt to cuddle was an opportunity to engage mom in play! At four months old, he did start to calm down some. I think at 9 months, he’s maturing nicely into a still-high-energy, but much better behaved teen aged dog.

Can‘t speak to the potty training, because I had no problem with that at all.

Is your puppy getting adequate exercise? I found Felix‘s obnoxious behaviors got way better if I tired him out.

Finally—I may be way off base here—could your own expectations be causing you to negatively interpret your puppy’s behavior? I spent a lot of time on this Forum looking at posts from poodle owners and I was not surprised by the puppy I brought home—there are a lot of posts in the archives just like yours. Are you regularly training with your dog? It could be that I started seeing improvement with my dog’s behavior after we had done a certain amount of training, in addition to his maturing. It may be that Finn just has a much different personality than your previous dog, and you may need to adjust accordingly.

Best of luck in working through this!
 

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Strictly for commiseration purposes, when you have some time, browse thru this thread:

Poodles can be very challenging, causing many of us to question just why we did this, and then, looking into their eyes, we know exactly why, and that it will be worth it :)
 
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