Normal behavior changes with age or is something wrong? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 01-13-2014, 12:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Normal behavior changes with age or is something wrong?

Sookie, my female gsd mix (with Australian cattle dog) is now about 13 months old. When we first got her at 7 months she was insane - energy level off the charts at all times even with 6-8 hours of exercise/play. The past 2-3 months there has been a real change in her energy level. She now only needs about 3 hours of exercise a day to be calm in the house (usually a 2 hour off-leash hike through fields and forest with lots of running and recall training in the morning/early afternoon and a 1 hour off-leash run-around in the field playing tag in the evening). We do some obedience work throughout the day, at random times, five minutes here and there. She would still be happy to have more exercise in that she never gets tired when we are outside, but she no longer requires it in order to be chilled out in the house now. Is this normal - is she just becoming a 'good dog' rather than an insane puppy/adolescent, or should I consider something is wrong? She is still very alert and focused and 'ready to go' at all times, but now will just relax and be calm inside rather than destroying all things. She is super smart and I am also worried that throughout the day she isn't getting enough mental stimulation because even if I do command work 5 - 15 minutes every couple of hours there is still a lot of down time where she isn't actively being engaged. Thanks in advance for your replies!
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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She is super smart and I am also worried that throughout the day she isn't getting enough mental stimulation because even if I do command work 5 - 15 minutes every couple of hours there is still a lot of down time where she isn't actively being engaged. Thanks in advance for your replies!
I don't have dogs that require that level of exercise, so I can't speak to that, but I do think that dogs NEED downtime.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I definitely agree they need downtime, I guess I'm just wondering if it's normal to go from needing 6-8 hours play/exercise to needing 3-4 hours play/exercise in the space of about 2 months. Is it normal development or could she be sick or depressed (ok - not 'depressed' like a person but doggy depressed) or something?
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't know!
I hope this doesn't come out wrong, but I can't imagine a dog/puppy needing 6-8 hours of exercise/play. That's a full time job.
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Old 01-13-2014, 10:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Was this a very sudden change, or gradual? If it was literally overnight, I'd say a vet visit to make sure nothing is wrong would be in order. If that doesn't show anything causing her pain or issues, then my guess would be that she is maturing and learning to use an 'off switch'. She's very smart, and is probably adjusting her schedule to fit the best with yours while still meeting her needs.
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Old 01-13-2014, 11:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would say she is maturing and also feeling a lot more comfortable in her environment (she may have been in an unstable environment up to when you got her at 7 months). The exercise you are giving her now sounds great.
It is important to remember cattle dogs are a very hardy working breed, they are breed to work for hours and hours in the hot Australian sun, she could take more exercise easily, but the fact she is happy and calm in your home, to me sounds like she is satisfied.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:30 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't know!
I hope this doesn't come out wrong, but I can't imagine a dog/puppy needing 6-8 hours of exercise/play. That's a full time job.
It doesn't sound wrong lol, lots of people have said this - I couldn't imagine it until I adopted Sookie. When people first meet her they are floored by her energy level. She goes to doggy daycare once a week when my partner and I are both out of the house all day and the couple who runs the daycare love her because she wears out all the other dogs and puppies - they call her a tornado because after playing 6-8 hours straight with other dogs she is still going. I teach at a university so I only need to be out of the house a few hours at a time 3x a week, otherwise we could not have dealt with her needs. I've had dogs before, and my partner grew up with border collies, and we have never known a dog like it.
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Old 01-14-2014, 06:41 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I would say she is maturing and also feeling a lot more comfortable in her environment (she may have been in an unstable environment up to when you got her at 7 months). The exercise you are giving her now sounds great.
It is important to remember cattle dogs are a very hardy working breed, they are breed to work for hours and hours in the hot Australian sun, she could take more exercise easily, but the fact she is happy and calm in your home, to me sounds like she is satisfied.
This is what I was wondering; I wouldn't call it sudden - not an overnight change, but over about a 2 month period she stopped constantly *needing* (as in she would not sleep at night without it, and she would not sit down for more than 5 mins at a time) the 6-8 hours exercise/play. Now she needs 3 hours minimum to settle down, but, as you say, if at any point I were to offer a walk or tug or flirt pole or scent work in addition to those 3-4 hours, she would be all over it. But now when I don't offer she will lie down and chew a bone for an hour, or even take a nap. She came from a rescue where she lived in a huge pen with 4 other puppies - run by an amazing and hard-working couple who save Bulgarian street dogs from horrific abuse and have about 200 dogs at any time. So she was used to free reign, play and running around with a little pack 24/7.

I guess I am just so, so very hopeful that this is simply her adapting and getting mature and comfortable and understanding that inside the house is not crazy go-time that I want reassurance that dogs do mature in this way rather than it being a sign that she is miserable and bored when inside. Hope this rambling makes sense! Thanks so much for the replies
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