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Archer will be two years old on April 30th. He’s an amazing dog - really. He graduated out of needing a crate when he was 8 months old, he has literally never chewed on anything inappropriate, he’s never counter surfed, he never pulls on the leash, he never had issues with being mouthy, doesn’t destroy toys, behaves like a dream out of the house. Great dog.

I know shepherds are high energy, I know they’re brilliant and need lots of mental stimulation, I know they’re tons of work. I put that work in. He knew over 60 tricks by the time he was 11 months old, literally. I exercise him constantly by going on hikes, playing fetch, playing tug, practicing agility in the yard, etc. I do training multiple times a day, and all of his play sessions include training. He eats out of a Kong Wobbler and not out of a bowl. We do Nosework multiple times a week. I’m always searching for new tricks to teach him. I take him to dog friendly stores to do training and socialization. Point is, I do SO MUCH with this dog.

My problem? He has way too much go. I can leave my house at 8AM with him, not get home until after 1PM (we went for an off leash hike, then to multiple dog-friendly stores while I did errands, went to my work to give him a bath, then home for lunch out of his Kong). It took him over 30 minutes after we got home of pacing, whining at me, and bringing me toy after toy before he finally settled for a nap. How long did he sleep? One hour. That’s it. Then he was back to pacing, whining, chomping toys in my face, and otherwise annoying the crap out of me. He cannot rest for longer than an hour no matter how much I do with him. He’s absolutely nonstop, and I can’t tell when he’s truly had enough for the day and I need to stop catering to him or if he actually needs more. I’m exhausted. I love going to work purely so I get a break from him. He’s making my life miserable, and I feel like I’m a slave to my dog. Not a good feeling.

I’ve tried putting toys away in the house and only getting them out when I want to play - he isn’t allowed to decide playtime. That just makes him whine and pace and be obnoxious. He sits and whines near wherever I hid the toys. (I always ignore him, or when I get really sick of it, correct him and tell him to go lay down.) I’ve tried not playing in the house at all and only playing outside so he thinks inside is for resting. Well that just makes him completely obsessed with being outside and he’ll sit at the door and whine. And if I do so much as breathe in the direction of the door, he sprints across the house like a madman thinking we’re going outside. He won’t settle that way either.

How do I know when he’s actually had enough exercise and mental stimulation for the day so I stop feeling guilty and catering to him? Do I really need to get his crate back out and put him back on a crating schedule? How much sleep does a two year old dog need?
 

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They can get too much activity and attention. Have you taught him any settling techniques? I started when mine was about 12 weeks tethering him to the table when I ate. He could not go anywhere so he began lying down quietly until I was done. When I wanted to sit and read or watch TV, I let him lie on the couch next to me and rubbed his stomach or between his ears. I rewarded him with praise when he was calm. I also taught a Place/Stay command. It worked.
 

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They can get too much activity and attention. Have you taught him any settling techniques? I started when mine was about 12 weeks tethering him to the table when I ate. He could not go anywhere so he began lying down quietly until I was done. When I wanted to sit and read or watch TV, I let him lie on the couch next to me and rubbed his stomach or between his ears. I rewarded him with praise when he was calm. I also taught a Place/Stay command. It worked.
Archer knows a place command, and he will stay on his bed until I release him. While on his bed, he stares at me the entire time. He doesn’t really settle there.

He didn’t used to be this bad until after he had his TPLO surgery and he could do nothing but rest. That’s when it got bad with the constant need for entertainment.
 

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These are my methods to teaching my dogs to settle.
The first part is making sure that the dog gets adequate mental and physical stimulation regularly. Beyond that I think it involves teaching your dog impulse control and being comfortable doing nothing in the environment you expect him to settle in. Most trainers I see do this using a place mat. They send the dog to it and he is only allowed off or rewarded once he settles and is calm. I don’t use one of those. I have a command for my dogs to go to their kennel. I’ll send them there if they are being unruly or over excited. I don’t close it so they can leave on their own. If they aren’t calm when they do, I will send them back. Usually they come slink back out and lay down. In a more public setting I would just use a down and reward calm behavior with praise or food. I would avoid anything like toys or play that would excite the dog too much. I have informal phrases that signal the end of play. They just develop meaning over time. If I say that’s enough they know to calm down.
 

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I know it’s my fault because I do too much with him so he thinks constantly being interacted with is normal. I honestly just struggle with knowing how long I can expect him to rest and how much I need to do with him before asking that of him. It’s hard to gauge for me.
 
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I taught Juno this one:

It really helps her settle down. I post about this exercise a lot because it is not a place/down/stay command. My 16 month GSD gets so worked up when I put her on place, because she knows that I am going to release her and then we are going to continue to train etc.

Sitting on the dog is more about the dog doing nothing because I am busy with whatever (work, TV etc).
So is not dissimilar to what @LuvShepherds taught. Basically, the dog learns to calm itself.

When she was about 10 months old, I could not tire her out. We were out and playing for longer and longer, and it occurred to me that all I was doing was just building her stamina. So we supplement with mental work: the beginnings of scentwork and toy discrimination.
 

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@Bearshandler : “I have informal phrases that signal the end of play. They just develop meaning over time. If I say that’s enough they know to calm down.”

I use this a lot. “All done”, “I’m done” mean to my boy ‘leave me alone, I don’t want to play’. And he’ll huff and pout but then go chill somewhere.

I also have heavy engagement toys (squeak balls) that get put away when I’m not going to play.

How long can Archer hold a place? Can he hold it beyond boredom?

To give you a comparison, Vandal is 20 months. I’m giving him about 2 tongue hanging out fetch with OB, agility and fun stuff a day (maybe 10-15 minutes each) and about 1-2 higher level schutzhund OB a day (maybe 5 minutes). This doesn’t include exposure or pick up and play sessions because he tempts me into a quick tug. He also does daily place sessions for about two hours a day during school time.
 

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My dog who I consider to be very reasonable as far as energy and drive was recently on 2 weeks of rest for a minor injury. He has been very accustomed to being very active his whole life, training, hiking, having free roam of our big property with his dad.

He got obnoxious in a hurry. He's currently at like mid-level resuming exercise, gentle walks and gentle training with no toy throwing. I can definitely tell a difference.

And your dog had I think a way more intensive layup than mine did. Cut both of yourselves a break, I think- and just reteach him how to chill out. He probably just got used to feeling pent up and needs to hit reset now that he's got his life back.

And my vote is definitely get rid of certain toys from the house permanently. If I let my dog have a chuckit ball int he house he's OBNOXIOUS. They get left outside the door or put in a basket on the wall inside the door and he is not allowed to ask for them unless we are going out the door.
 

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PS YES get his crate back out, definitely! I can't think of a better use than what you describe. You're already doing a ton with this dog, you are more than entitled to just put him up and have a break without going to all this trouble to teach him to settle. You should do that too but do it on your own time and crate him in the mean time to just get yourself some peace.
 

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When you go out do you sometimes take time to just hang out and watch the world go by, like sit on a bench and watch people walk by, sunset whatever, or it's always 'doing' something with your dog? Same in the yard, is it always about him or you do your own project and your dog does whatever he wants at the moment as long as it's not digging?

I always dislike when dogs are eating their meals from toys. They are always in a state of anticipation, they know they have to work for every bit, they are emotionally dependent on the owner. Teach him some independence and self sufficiency. Try to control him a little less, I guess, and teach him that's it's ok to disengage in your presence. Sit on the dog exercise is good.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
When you go out do you sometimes take time to just hang out and watch the world go by, like sit on a bench and watch people walk by, sunset whatever, or it's always 'doing' something with your dog? Same in the yard, is it always about him or you do your own project and your dog does whatever he wants at the moment as long as it's not digging?

I always dislike when dogs are eating their meals from toys. They are always in a state of anticipation, they know they have to work for every bit, they are emotionally dependent on the owner. Teach him some independence and self sufficiency. Try to control him a little less, I guess, and teach him that's it's ok to disengage in your presence. Sit on the dog exercise is good.
I’m usually outside with him when it’s playtime. I honestly don’t have much to do besides play with him out there. Maybe I’ll come up with some projects to do just to practice being in the yard without engaging.

As far as the food dispensing toy, he has to use one. I’ve tried different slow feeder bowls and none of them work well enough for him. He eats so fast that he pukes it back up if I feed him out of any kind of bowl.
 

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@Bearshandler : “I have informal phrases that signal the end of play. They just develop meaning over time. If I say that’s enough they know to calm down.”

I use this a lot. “All done”, “I’m done” mean to my boy ‘leave me alone, I don’t want to play’. And he’ll huff and pout but then go chill somewhere.

I also have heavy engagement toys (squeak balls) that get put away when I’m not going to play.

How long can Archer hold a place? Can he hold it beyond boredom?

To give you a comparison, Vandal is 20 months. I’m giving him about 2 tongue hanging out fetch with OB, agility and fun stuff a day (maybe 10-15 minutes each) and about 1-2 higher level schutzhund OB a day (maybe 5 minutes). This doesn’t include exposure or pick up and play sessions because he tempts me into a quick tug. He also does daily place sessions for about two hours a day during school time.
To be honest, I’m not sure how long he can actually hold a place. He doesn’t ever break it until I tell him to, but I’ve never made him hold it longer than maybe five minutes. He stares at me so intensely during a place or stay (doesn’t chill out), so I’ve mostly used it for things like people coming to the door or needing him out of my way for a short amount of time. Nothing long-term. I can work on that for sure.
 

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I’m usually outside with him when it’s playtime. I honestly don’t have much to do besides play with him out there. Maybe I’ll come up with some projects to do just to practice being in the yard without engaging.

As far as the food dispensing toy, he has to use one. I’ve tried different slow feeder bowls and none of them work well enough for him. He eats so fast that he pukes it back up if I feed him out of any kind of bowl.
Try spreading his food out on a big cookie sheet. I wonder if teaching him to settle can also teach him to eat slowly. He sounds almost like a hyperactive child.
 

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No toys in the house but if I do which is rare it’s for a reason. I only have bones for him to chew on. Ozzy will pester even with a bone, literally will put the bone on ur lap and stare at you to do something, sometimes I throw in OB commands but if I want to be left alone he knows “ur done” and walks away and chews his bone or goes lays down reluctantly but obeys. The house is the quiet zone unless I decide otherwise. My house my rules. Ozzy is very high drive but he has an awesome off switch which had to be channeled and trained at a young age. He is never crated but rules were established young.
You just need to put all toys away teach a quiet command. Crate is a start for him to learn.
 

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I’m usually outside with him when it’s playtime. I honestly don’t have much to do besides play with him out there. Maybe I’ll come up with some projects to do just to practice being in the yard without engaging.

As far as the food dispensing toy, he has to use one. I’ve tried different slow feeder bowls and none of them work well enough for him. He eats so fast that he pukes it back up if I feed him out of any kind of bowl.
Ok with feeding it's a necessity, I understand. Yes, try to do something in the yard, walk around pull some weeds, fix a fence, grill a dinner, walk around and talk on the phone. You are busy, period, and he needs to settle and since the yard is more interesting place then the house, he'll disengage from you and settles faster. When he settles, do not praise him, just do your thing.

I disagree that you need to work on longer stays etc. Stay is work. Work on teaching him to relax which means less control from you, less direction. His choice where to lay down, it's his free time from you. He'll learn to enjoy it.
 

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To be honest, I’m not sure how long he can actually hold a place. He doesn’t ever break it until I tell him to, but I’ve never made him hold it longer than maybe five minutes. He stares at me so intensely during a place or stay (doesn’t chill out), so I’ve mostly used it for things like people coming to the door or needing him out of my way for a short amount of time. Nothing long-term. I can work on that for sure.
IMO he doesn’t need to stay in one place for a long period of time. Not fair to the dog. He needs to be taught a command that means go away and chill.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
IMO he doesn’t need to stay in one place for a long period of time. Not fair to the dog. He needs to be taught a command that means go away and chill.
If I simply ignore him, he paces and huffs a lot. I was thinking that teaching him to stay on one spot may make him relax faster. It’s hard to know.

He does know ‘all done’ means I’m not playing with him or training him anymore, but that usually only lasts me five minutes before he starts whining and pacing.
 

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Here's a little video for a beginning disengage game to get started. You can use a ball instead of the bowl. The idea is that the dog keeps away from you and the bowl/toy, and slowly he starts ignoring you. Seems silly but doesn't hurt to try and modify it to suit your needs.
 

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As an aside, he is amazing while I’m out of the house. He’s left loose and doesn’t get into any trouble. On Wednesdays I’m gone for a total of 13 hours. I have someone that lets him out, feeds him lunch, and occasionally throws his ball for a few minutes. He never chews on things, gets into food on the counter, barks endlessly, tears toys up. He’s good about settling that way. I think he just sees it as my job to constantly entertain him when I’m home.
 
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