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Hi everybody. I have a 5 month old male spoo puppy Riley and I'm really really struggling with his behaviour right now. I'm pretty much at the end of my rope (crying daily from frustration). When he's awake and in the apartment, he can't settle down or entertain himself. We have to be actively engaging with him at all times or he's destructive and some of the ways he's destructive are dangerous to him. Everything I do seems to make it worse and the behaviours are escalating.

In "crazy poodle" mode, he aggressively chews the bed frame (which is made of wood that comes off in shards which could be very dangerous for him). We have been redirecting this with "sit" and "bed" and treats to reward success, to some degree of effectiveness, but he gets bored of repeating the commands quickly and keeps returning to the behaviour. Same with toys, sometimes I can redirect by playing with him with toys, or by playing a "find it" game with treats but he seems to get bored of these things quickly. He chews the walls. He chews his crate making it impossible to leave him in it to settle (we first had a wire crate and when he wouldn't stop obsessively chewing at the wires we switched to a soft-sided one that he seems to like more, but also chews). We've tried deterrent sprays, but this just distracts for a couple of hours and doesn't hit the cause of the behaviour. He obsessively digs at the cupboards and floor boards and winds himself up further. He's definitely learned that these behaviours get attention, but in trying to protect him I end up engaging. I usually end up on the floor with him trying to calm him down, but he pulls at my hair and mouths/chews at my hands, and in the last two days he's started humping my legs. After he finally falls asleep, if I get up off the floor about half the time he'll wake up and start everything all over again.

We're basically at the mercy of whenever he finally passes out (usually 60-90 minutes after he starts his "crazy poodle routine"), which is not conducive to our mental health or his since this happens multiple times over the course of the day (after every nap, after his walks, after his meals). My sense is that the behaviour is rooted in anxiety, because he gets lots of exercise (on and off-leash, with and without other dogs) and love and stimulation from us throughout the day. We go to puppy classes on the weekend. We may actually pay too much attention to him, but ignoring him just increases the destructiveness.

Help?
 

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I'm so sorry to hear you're struggling with your puppy. From your description, it sounds like you're hitting all the right marks: on and off leash exercise, training, playdates. Can you tell us what a typical day looks like? If indeed you simply ended up with a puppy with no off switch, it may be time to call in a professional. I'd start with a call to the breeder.
 

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I woulld suggest you try to find a CPDT-KA or APDT member who can come do in home work with you to reset some things. An outsider's POV will help you understand where things are going off the rails. I think one of the keys to helping your situation is to train/retrain crate behavior so that your pup can learn to settle himself there. I suspect part of why your emotions are shredded is that you are so close to the situation that you may not be able to look at the situation objectively. I had lots of horrors with Lily when she was a puppy. I also did a lot of crying, was frustrated because I had teeth marks on me all the time and was mad at her for wrecking my work clothes. Once I was able to straighten out my head and be more honest with myself and her things improved greatly.
 

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My baby just turned 20 weeks today, here's some tricks I do to try and wind her down or when I want to create chill-time. She's very food motivated, I'm not sure if your puppy is, but it's worth exploring. Keep in mind she's my first pup so I'm picking things up as I go

-Pretend yawn (lol). It works. I'll start yawning to indicate it's bed time. Sometimes she reverse psychologies me and I start getting tired when she yawns.

-Chewing animal products (bully sticks) - she grew up chewing fig sticks from my parents tree before her jaws started getting strong and I had to start worrying about splinters. So, a bully stick (google it) is like a meat version of a stick that she might find at the park.

-Frozen Kongs - this is more trial and error. I found that shredded chicken about 1/2 inch big, then frozen gets a good 3-4 hours of busy. As it defrosts, more falls out in chunks and she can lick the juices as it defrosts. It's taken me 3-4 goes for her to finally not give up in frustration.

-Insta pot chicken thighs and "stay". This is the one place where I have control and yesterday she "stayed" for 10 minutes. She knows that if she doesn't wait for the release word, then i'll take the bowl away. I'll randomly pretend to eat some of her food to mimic pack leader.
 

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You're at a challenging age. You'll get through it, I promise!

Does your puppy have safe outlets for his chewing and digging urges? We used an indoor exercise pen for puppy Peggy, and on an average day it looked like a junkyard. We gave her paper and carbaord to shred (only okay if puppy doesn't eat these), toys of all imaginable textures, treat dispensing toys, etc. And we always gave them to her in that confined space.

If she wasn't in that confined space, she was tethered (either directly to us or nearby).

She got a couple of opportunities to zoom outside each day, but generally speaking her exercise was more of the mental variety: Slow "sniffy" walks in store parking lots, that sort of thing. About 20 minutes of following her nose in an interesting place was perfect to settle her down. More than that and she would get over-stimulated, which = Crazy Puppy.
 

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Get a flirt pole, to drain off some of that extra Spoo energy. Stick to a schedule, if possible. My favorite trick to bore a poodle into dreamland is folding laundry. Training exhausted my puppy, too. The sweet spot is eventually landing on a fair schedule for both of you. Godspeed.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the responses already. I’ve gotten some really good suggestions (been doing reading on training an off switch, for example, and working on some of those exercises). Just those words opened up a world of resources.

The weekday schedule is approximately the same every day unless I have an early meeting and have to switch the morning main walk and breakfast around. Also we’ve added additional play and/or trips outside to pee whenever he gets really overexcited, and additional play that aren’t reflected below.

7:00 - first trip outside (pee and poop usually) and walk around block
7:15 - breakfast
7:15-7:30 - Calm training indoors (sit, down, etc.)
7:30-9:15 - Partner and I work from home so we start working. Up until a couple of weeks ago pup was pretty good at settling on a chair in the office or at our feet and sleeping for most of this time. This is more of a struggle now. The 2 hour break before the walk is for digestion because of what I’ve read about preventing bloat. He would 100% be willing to do a walk right after breakfast.
9:15-10:00/10:15 - Walk with off leash or long-leash play (frisbee or play with other dogs)
10:00-12:30 - I go back to work. Again as before, until a couple of weeks ago pup was pretty good at settling on a chair in the office or at our feet and sleeping for most of this time. This is more of a struggle now.
12:30 - Outside to pee (usually a trip around the block so 15-20 minute walk) and lunch
12:45-1:00 - indoor training again
1:00-4:00 - We work, he sleeps, same caveat as before. Perhaps I should be working in more breaks? I never want to wake him up if he’s actually gone to sleep though haha.
4:00 - Partner takes him out (often a block walk) and then tries to play with him or do more training. He’s usually pretty wired at this point.
5:00-5:45/6:00 Walk (usually on leash, occasionally off leash or training leash play)
6:00 - Dinner
Evening - The schedule is less regimented. And maybe that’s part of the problem, definitely open to feedback. I’m usually in the kitchen (which he’s gated out of) doing chores, during which he hangs with my partner and is usually decently calm but sometimes she spends that time wrangling him and when I get back to him he’s wild and so we spend the evening triaging and distracting him from the behaviour I mentioned before. We would like him to sleep while we unwind, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it does eventually, then we have to wake him up to take him out for his last pee (about 10) and he’s not quick to settle after that.

The weekend schedule is pretty similar timing-wise, but one of the walks usually takes the form of a hike or walk in a new park or a city adventure (car or transit and then walk in a new neighbourhood, trying to sit on a patio etc.) These are longer periods out but also involve breaks to sit. If we do a longer excursion, he’ll crash for a couple of hours when we get home and then be up and wild again later and it’s challenging to settle him. I was hesitant about these types of excursions at first because they’re inherently long for a puppy, but we definitely want to expose him to things, he seems to enjoy them and they don’t seem to make his behaviour any better or worse just status quote.
 

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I think you need to add at least 2 (maybe 3) more training times and would also suggest that the way to make the time for them is to short 15 minutes to 10. Include at least one training session after dinner since making a dog think will make a dog tired. An after dinner training could be as simple as having a session that adds distance, duration and later distractions (in that order) to sit and down stays. You can read a book or watch TV while you work on that.

If he gets so wound up that you feel like you are wrangling a wild animal and then have to do triage then you should be working on training a time out. Get a mat or use an old towel and teach him to go to place (Susan Garrett has good video on this). He should only be allowed to leave that spot when you say it is okay. He may only last 2 seconds at first but you will be able to add duration and it will give you a way to have a quick chance to reset your thinking.
 

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Years ago, I was studying for a certifying exam with two puppies at home (1 yr and 7 months old). I started my day much the same as you, but then took a 5-10 min break every hour or so to walk them around the block. The frequency of the breaks helped to wear them out, even though the activity level was low. By late morning they really didn't even want to get up again to walk around the block.
 
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