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Discussion Starter #1
I have a five month old Australian shepherd who I love to pieces. She is so smart and everything I could ask for, but I have one question. While all of her training have gone incredibly well, I can't seem to teach her to have an off switch.


I don't know how to teach her to just lay down for more than three seconds other than putting her in a stay. But I don't want to put her in a stay... I want my dog to cuddle with me. She loves being around me, and is a total velcro dog. But she wants to bounc in my lap, get pets for 10 seconds, and then darts off to circle the living room and wrestle with the other dogs and repeat.

Is this something that will happen with time? Is there any way to teach her to just lay and cuddle for a little bit?
 

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She is 5 months old, so there's only so much you can expect, but you can always reward what you want to see any time you see it. So any time you see her being calm, for any period of time, reward that. It's also a good idea to work on impulse control in general, with things like It's Yer Choice. By training and rewarding calm, you're creating a dog who will choose calm more often on her own. Once she gets old enough to, anyway, lol.
 

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I use it's your choice a lot! It works great for her, she picked it up so quickly! My big issue is like she'll jump and a lie down and if I praise her at all she gets fired up again and does victory laps around the living room because mom said she did good. I don't know how to encourage the behavior when I can't reward it. Sometimes I'm able to keep treats on me without her noticing and I try to calmly slip one of those, but it's hard to do anything calmly when you have a 5 month old aussie hahaha.
 

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For me and my BC:

Crating - if she got overworked/over excited/wouldn't chill? She got crated or tethered to me with something like a kong. If she stayed calm, she could stay out with said kong or bullystick, but any over the top nonsense? Yep. Don't get me wrong, she got crazy time and exercise and training - mostly with me, but also quite a bit of rough and tumble with the other dogs, but when it was time to chill out in the house and she was still trying to instigate and not chill? Crate or leash and 'sit on the dog' (that's an exercise, I didn't sit on her). The message there being 'crazy pants behavior is not desirably/acceptable'.

I also didn't use regular treats for rewarding her. I'd just catch her lying down and relaxing a bit and say 'Good girl, that's good' very quietly. It was enough to mark what I liked, but not overly exciting for her.

That said, you may or may not ever have her being cuddly. My BC likes being around me and near me, but crawling into my lap is not something she did when she was young and even now, with her being MORE snuggly, that adds up to maybe a total hour a day - and that's *counting* time she's in bed with me. She's just not into cuddling/snuggling/stuff.
 

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I second crating. Also, teaching your dog to settle. It doesn't need to be a clear mark-reward training. Just create a boring situation and ignore any attempts at soliciting attention or play. When she naturally settles down, either calmly pet or quietly drop treats (whichever is fine, just don't get her amped up again). If your dog is the type to bounce up every time you get out of your chair, you might need to start with her on leash and right next to you.
 

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Yeah, boring situation is key, especially in the start.

My house is BORING for the dogs. If they want to roughhouse with each other, they do it outside. The only toys allowed in the house are chew toys - the balls, the frisbees, the tugs, all live in a box on my porch or in my training bag. I'm not rigid about that now that they're all maturing and getting the idea themselves, so they can play tug with each other and do a little bit of wrestling around here and there, but mostly energy burning happens outside.

Inside, they can basically chew, nap, train a little bit, or watch the television. It's self-preservation :p
 

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5 months is kind of prime time for them to start being wild all the time. They are no longer as easy to tire out as they once were, and they're not mature enough to have much of an off switch. So she's normal, and I wouldn't expect her to have an off switch at this age really. My 5 month old is all over the place all the time unless we really tire her out, or she's crated. There are things you can work on now, but I wouldn't expect any of it to really take much of an effect until she's almost a year. By 2-3 years she should have settled significantly. This is just what high energy puppies are like.

If she will settle in a crate, you can use that for some enforced quiet time when she's getting really rowdy. You can also put a leash on her and tether her to you so her only option is to stop moving around and lie down (then praise her when she does). Bully sticks and food puzzle toys are great for giving them something quiet to do. I second the suggestions of "sit on the dog" and "the nothing exercise" (they are basically the same thing).
 

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I think everyone has given awesome suggestions... but I just want to reiterate that it will probably take MONTHS before your dog perfects the "off" switch. Even my crazy 7 lbs Pomeranian x Chi mix did not learn to settle until I started implementing doggy zen for like 2-3 months. He was older when I adopted him (9-12 months) but still a complete wild child.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you all for the great advice! I have been doing crate training with her, but honestly it's created a problem haha. I don't have a real yard (it's just big enough for potty breaks and her little kiddie pool) so rough housing occurs in the house. I've always used the crate as "ok you're being cray cray or mommy needs a break" she's so used to going in there to nap or settle down she doesn't know how to totally do it outside of her crate.

She's slowly getting better, now that she's getting older she's getting more mental stimulation she didn't used to want when she was younger. I'm incorporating more interactive toys and we've been doing a lot of new places. It's a big adjustment getting used to making sure to work her brain as much as her body.

I think my biggest problem is this dog has been perfect since the day I got her. She housebroke quickly, she doesn't chew, she learns so freaking fast. Sometimes I forget she's only 5 months old and is still a very young puppy. I'm very patient with her, but sometimes my brain gets ahead of where we are haha.
 

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I don't think you've done crate training wrong. That's exactly what I use it for. Basically, she's not going to get better at 5 months, she's just at the point of getting worse. It's just how puppies are. Hang in there and she'll be awesome but not for a while and that's ok. As a wiser person than me once said (on this forum) "you can train a young dog, but you can't make him an old dog"

I love baby puppies. I find them super easy. It's 6-12 months where they try my patience. They kind of get worse and not better at this age but that's a normal part of development.
 

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Yeah I do a lot of crating/"forced" settling for my 4 month old ACD. He'd be pretty happy to just mosey around the house all day but if we've had a good play session or if he's been up and about for a couple hours, sometimes I'm just like all right, you can chill out in your crate for a bit. It's kind of the beginning of the off switch.
He's a sweet dog and loves attention but the only time there is calm cuddling is late at night when he is sleepy and done for the day - but otherwise, for the most part, "cuddling" is him rolling around on me and chewing on my arms ;)

But it's normal. My other high-energy dogs were the same when they were young, needed to be crated in order to truly settle, or would be given quiet activities (chews or puzzle toys) to keep them stationary for a moment. 2+ years old is when they were better about just chilling out on their own.
 
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