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Discussion Starter #1
Hoping that someone can help us better manage/entertain our new 8-month-old spoo!

He seems happy and well-exercised during the day, but gets restless and paces in the evening when we're trying to settle ourselves. He very recently started chasing his tail a little and the first time parent in me is worried that he'll develop an obsession with it. I can't figure out if he's overtired or that we're not working him mentally/physically enough.

Right now he gets a 45-minute fast-paced walk (with short runs on grass) in the morning, a 20-minute sniffly-walk in the evening after dinner, and three 10-15 minute potty walks throughout the day. He also gets four 5-10 minute training sessions throughout the day in the office (currently working on 'stay').

When we're in the office, he'll walk around and inspect the room a little before settling down for a nap for basically as long as we're in the room. He'll do the same in the morning and during lunch when we're not in the office - pace a little, then if no one interacts with him, he'll settle down for a nap or play with a toy.

However, he has started pacing in the evening and will do so even after his post-dinner evening walk, ignoring his toys and pace at a much faster rate relative to during the day. (If we hadn't just taken him out, I would've thought that he needed to go out again.) After an hour or so of this, he'll flop down to sleep...but he has also stopped walking himself into his crate to nap/sleep. He'll now only go into his crate for the night with a Kong (but he will happily go into the crate and settle in there if he sees me holding a Kong). But to get him up and into the crate for the night will induce another bout of energy + pacing. One thought is that he's hearing the neighbors coming home around that time and getting inquisitive, but this is a recent change.

I can't tell if I'm over-worrying and/or obsessing, but we'd obviously like for him to be happy and mellowed out at the end of the day. Thanks in advance for any help/advice!
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Peggy gets restless (and a little weird) at night when she's overtired, and sometimes this manifests as obsessing over reflections in our dark windows. She's always very relieved when we initiate her bedtime routine.

Giving her more exercise is the last thing she needs, but I can see how her behaviour could easily be misinterpreted.

Have you tried just skipping right to settling him in the crate when it's time for your evening relaxing? It sounds like he's trying to settle himself with the pacing and it's not working, so you probably want to interrupt and redirect him when he does it. I definitely wouldn't let him pace for an hour anymore.

You could also try teaching him to go to a bed or mat (tethering him if necessary) and let him chew a Kong there.

So as soon as the pacing begins, redirect to mat or crate for a chew and a snooze. The hope is that he'll eventually catch on that tired = time to rest. Right now he might just not be mature enough to always know how to handle those feelings.

Peggy's better at it than she used to be, but not all the way there yet. (She's almost 14 months.)
 

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I don't see much in your description of your boy's day to suggest that he is asked to think very much other than your short trainings (which are really important). He needs more brain drain work. For example it can be easily incorporated into training during walks to up the ante. I generally don't walk my spoos much in my neighborhood since there are no sidewalks and people drive like demons. Whe we do walk in the street we are very careful and I have trained in breaks at stops signs fo controlled behaviors like sits and downs and such. Most of their exercise comes from being put to thinking work. I took Javelin to a private training lesson today and we worked for an hour. He is out cold on one of the dog beds in my room right now and has been since we got home at noon time. He will get up for dinner and we will have some cuddles and play some silly stuff later but when I settle in he will too wihtout having spent any time pacing around. He is five though and it took some time to develop his settle routine.
 

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It does sound like your have sufficient physical exercise. It's good you are having several small training sessions through the day.

I agree with you about the tail chasing - don't allow that to build to an obsession. Do what ever you have to do to stop it immediately - distract him with a game/toy or command.....or catch his collar and put in a sit or stand stay, pet them - anything to break that behavior. Don't yell, or make it a punishment. Distract him and replace with something else to do. Praise him when he respond to your intervention behavior.

I also feel that your dog is having trouble settling. My minipoo was almost a year old when I got her and she had settling problems. She acted a little like an overtired toddler - she was rubbing her body on the couch and/or digging with her paws into blankets. We spent time training settle - settle at home on a special mat, in the kitchen and family room then settle outside on the deck ending with settle in more distracting places like the park with other dogs nearby. Train settle during the day when you're dog is not exhibiting pacing.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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Here's an example from last night: We'd eventually like to start phasing out the elaborate pen/crate setup we have in our living room. So rather than putting sleepy Peggy in her x-pen or straight to bed, I brought out the clicker for a settle session.

I was a little annoyed, as that's my husband's and my precious quiet time before bed. I really just wanted to watch an episode of Seinfeld in peace, and that's easiest to do if she's tucked in for the night.

But I regularly try to remind myself that every puppy investment pays off. And it's important Peggy can consistently settle anytime, anywhere.

So for a while I clicked and treated for her elbows touching the floor. She'd lay down, then spring back up to wander around, halfheartedly pick up a toy, lay back down again...

Ugh.

Eventually I started clicking only for chin down.

And then....just like that.....she was asleep.

There's something so lovely about a dog snoozing at your feet. In fact, she's doing that right now as I type. Hope we see more of this tonight!

And I hope you see some progress, too. Keep us posted. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all so much for your great suggestions!

We immediately put your advice into effect. I did a round of lengthier training session with him post-dinner and started him on the go-to-your-mat-and-stay-calm training. It worked for a little while (he got up after "stay-on-your-mat" training and ended up napping behind the couch, which was fine), but he had a burst of energy about an hour later and started going after my partner's feet despite our attempts to distract him (they squeak and move!). I redirected him to a Kong in his crate this time and he spent the rest of the night checking in on us occasionally with his snoot and flopping over to work on the Kong. Much better than the pacing/tail chasing! We'll have to see how things go tonight, but we're hopeful.

I would also love to get him into a class/get a professional's input on training. He's smart and seems to really enjoy training, but I worry about failing him with the DIY, follow-the-video approach. Due to COVID-19, most of the trainers/classes are on hiatus around here - Does anyone have any suggestions for a better alternative/resources that I might've missed?
 

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I like the DMWYD groups on Facebook. The instructor I follow has great videos on how to train a lot of things using clever clicker/marker training. I have learned a lot, and my dog loves doing tricks.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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I really like Spirit Dog:


And I think it sounds like your little guy is doing great for his age. Give him some pets for me. :)

Reading your account of his evening, one thing I'd consider adding is a "zoomie" session. Peggy's needed an evening zoom since she was a puppy. It often precedes a poop.

Just make sure he has ample time to digest his dinner first. Peggy usually hangs out in her pen for an hour after her dinner while we eat, and then it's backyard time for about half an hour for fetch or some fun training, and at least one good zoom.

Then it's settle for the evening, a short toilet stroll, and bed. (If she's persistently restless, bedtime can be as early as 9:30.)

The post-dinner training session you're doing sounds great; he just might need a good release before he can really relax for the night.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I like the DMWYD groups on Facebook. The instructor I follow has great videos on how to train a lot of things using clever clicker/marker training. I have learned a lot, and my dog loves doing tricks.
Thank you! I'll check it out.
 

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I really like Spirit Dog:


And I think it sounds like your little guy is doing great for his age. Give him some pets for me. :)

Reading your account of his evening, one thing I'd consider adding is a "zoomie" session. Peggy's needed an evening zoom since she was a puppy. It often precedes a poop.

Just make sure he has ample time to digest his dinner first. Peggy usually hangs out in her pen for an hour after her dinner while we eat, and then it's backyard time for about half an hour for fetch or some fun training, and at least one good zoom.

Then it's settle for the evening, a short toilet stroll, and bed. (If she's persistently restless, bedtime can be as early as 9:30.)

The post-dinner training session you're doing sounds great; he just might need a good release before he can really relax for the night.
That sounds like a really good idea! He also seems to always have a last burst of energy right before bedtime (even if he was nodding off the entire afternoon...). We'll try to give him space for zoomies this evening and see if it helps. Thank you for your insight once again! His pacing was making me concerned which was making him anxious, I think. 😅 (And the pet, as requested.)

IMG_20200717_103248.jpg
 

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Do you have a flirt pole? I used one to drain off the last bit of energy with Buck. It was so desired he had to work for it. Down, stay until I pulled it out of the garage and the last poodle hurrah for the day.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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That sounds like a really good idea! He also seems to always have a last burst of energy right before bedtime (even if he was nodding off the entire afternoon...). We'll try to give him space for zoomies this evening and see if it helps. Thank you for your insight once again! His pacing was making me concerned which was making him anxious, I think. 😅 (And the pet, as requested.)

View attachment 468259
Gah!! What a cutie boy! What's his name? He might need his own picture thread so we can ooh and ahhh over him.

I can personally relate to having jumpy evening legs, especially when I'm over-tired, so I imagine it's rather torturous being a young, athletic poodle, trying to contain that end-of-the-day urge to RUN before the crash.
 

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Do you have a flirt pole? I used one to drain off the last bit of energy with Buck. It was so desired he had to work for it. Down, stay until I pulled it out of the garage and the last poodle hurrah for the day.
I'll have to check that out. He finally started playing tug with me, so maybe that'll help with the late evening restlessness - Thank you for the suggestion!
 

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Gah!! What a cutie boy! What's his name? He might need his own picture thread so we can ooh and ahhh over him.

I can personally relate to having jumpy evening legs, especially when I'm over-tired, so I imagine it's rather torturous being a young, athletic poodle, trying to contain that end-of-the-day urge to RUN before the crash.
His name is Loki! He's such a sweet boy, even if he's being stubborn on his walks right now..."You don't want to keep walking? OK, let's go home. What, you don't want to go up the stairs? Let's keep walking - Not that either? What do you want, Dog? (Cue him huffing/doggy grinning and finally going up the stairs.)" has become a daily conversation.
 

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I rotate between off leash park and 2-3 mile walk. I need the walk as much as my 18 week old male does. The off leash running has done a world of good for him.
 

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In case if anyone else stumbles on the thread trying to find advice to appease a restless, on-the-adolescent-cusp poodle (as I have done with other threads on this forum), this is what has worked for us:
  • Decrease exercise - Yup, @PeggyTheParti was right and he was overtired. Trying to exercise him more had backfired.
  • Change activities - We now alternate his daily outdoor activity between a long walk with short training sessions along the way (mainly LAT and reviewing "sit" and "down"), a flirt pole session (thanks to @Mfmst for the suggestion!), and a fetch session. I'm learning to watch him during flirt pole and fetch. There's an optimal amount of running that makes him happy and relaxed after, but going over it amps him up for the rest of the evening. I've also started adding some "sit," "down," and "stay" during these more strenuous activities, which seems to help with bringing him down faster after the activities.
  • Tethering - One of the hardest things for me (and I still struggle with sometimes) was that I didn't know what an "overtired" dog looks like relative to a "bored" dog. Turns out that 9 times out of 10, especially if he's chewing/pawing something he typically wouldn't, tethering him leads to a satisfyingly asleep dog within 5 minutes.
  • Chewing - He really likes chewing to wind down in the evening. One thing that I've noticed whenever we skip an evening is that it takes longer for him to settle. He seems to need that time of focusing on something easy and mindless and you can usually see him get sleepier and sleepier as he chews. And even if he's not ready to settle after I remove the chew, usually tethering him and quieting down the environment puts him out quickly.
It's been an interesting couple of months and it's definitely still a work-in-progress, but it's nice to look back and see that we're slowly figuring each other out. :)
 

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Just stumbled upon this - I have similar issues with Kuzco (also approximately 8 months) some evenings. Usually it is after I take him for a walk around the neighborhood, which I only started recently with the nicer weather. I don't take him all that far (in my adult human eyes, I guess), but he usually pants and paces for a good while afterwards. I was debating the reasons the other night - overheated (only in the 70s and he has a short cut), overworked (he runs nonstop when playing with his Dalmatian bff with minimal panting), or overstimulated. I had leaned towards overstimulated being the answer, but this seems to confirm it is likely overstimulation and overexercise. Thankfully, he's always been pretty good at self-regulating and has been settling faster.

I also use some of the methods @DNi does -
  • I give him a kong with peanut butter, a new yak cheese chew, or put probiotics on his food (which he LOVES)
  • I alternate his activities - depending on weather, my energy level, and time I get home
    • Fetch with soft frisbee or JW hol-ee rubber ball
    • Flirt pole
    • Backyard play with his Dalmatian bff
    • Walks with plenty of treats and training
  • Ignore him - this works like the tethering for me. He'll jump up if I make eye contact, so if I avoid looking at him, he will generally settle within sight of me and quickly pass out.
  • Alternatively, sometimes a short petting/cuddling session will get him calmed down too.
I knew to look out for destructive/rebellious behavior as a sign of him getting overtired as a young puppy, but I didn't immediately realize that the signs would change once he was better trained/better mannered. Poor thing is trying to find an outlet without getting in trouble! We're definitely a work in progress 😄

Another thing to note is Kuz looooooves people (especially kids) and other dogs. So with the other people taking advantage of the nice weather to walk their dogs or take their kids out on trikes/for walks, he has periodic triggers of excitement. He does great (probably 80% him, 20% me lol). But it is another thing to consider when it comes to stimulation levels.

Picture after a walk then crash last week -
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@DNi how’s your dog now 2 months later ?
He's getting much better! I think it's a combination of him getting older and learning how to settle/entertain himself and me learning to read him.

Our evenings are honestly pleasant now as opposed to a constant "what's he up to now?" wariness. He usually picks out a ball from his toybox to play with and spends most of his time rolling it and pouncing on it with occasional breaks where he invites us into his game. Usually, he ends the game by flopping at our feet. (Lately, he's been rolling the ball to me and we spend a good couple of minutes rolling the ball back and forth lazily between us.)

I've also started to incorporate more impulse control games in the evenings in addition to It's Yer Choice and Leave Its. We've recently added a "game" where I ask him for a sit and wait, throw a treat out of his sight, release him to go sniff it out, then reward him again for coming back and sitting. He hasn't been that interested in the nosework games that I've tried with him, but something about throwing the treats out of sight makes it the Best Game Ever (right after Chase the Ball).

He really makes me smile every day (even on days when I struggle with trying to teach him that, no, for the umpteenth time, he does NOT have to go greet every dog he sees - it's our main challenge right now).

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