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Hi, I have a 9 month-old mini poodle/sheepdog mix. I read online that mini poodles and sheepdogs just need 2 20-minute walks per day, and have an "off" switch inside the house. However, even after he plays for an hour, he still has lots of energy and wants to play (and will bark and nip if I won't indulge him). I really just want to spend 40 minutes per day on walking, and not more.

Also, the nipping is a bit of a problem. When I have guests over, he nips them, and it can be painful. I've tried saying "no" in a calm but forceful manner, and I've tried yipping like a puppy, but neither works. He's not aggressive or angry, he just doesn't seem to understand that he's hurting people that he loves.

The dog has a great personality, I just wonder if these things will improve in the next 2 years of his life. Also, he has neutering coming up, and I wonder if that could be a big help. What do you guys think? At this point, I'm inclined to give him to a trusted friend who leads a very active lifestyle. However, if you think there's potential once he gets neutered for this to be a lot more manageable, maybe I should keep him.
 

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IMHO, you've read some mythconceptions on the internet about dog walking time and "Off" switch.

My guess is the dog needs more walks for longer duration. I have a 14 lb mini-schnauzer, we walk a minimum of 3X/day for 30-40 minutes each walk. Yes, we go despite the weather.

We have bouts of indoor play that includes tug, chase, schnauzer fetch, ball chase...…. The "off" switch for my dog happens when he has burned off trapped energy. He is 3 1/2 years old and neutered.

My point, Your dog needs more exercise or activity to burn off the energy. Your dog is trying to play with you. 40 minutes of walk per day is not enough for a poodle/sheepdog mix, they are high intelligence and lots of energy.

I don't suspect neutering will "calm" the dog. If this is your rational about neutering, then you have another mythconception.
 

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When you say "sheepdog" are you talking about Shetland Sheepdog? Both Mini Poodles and Shetland Sheepdogs are high energy dogs, which is one of the reasons they excel in sports like agility and obedience. The idea that either breed could be kept sane and happy with no more attention than 2 short walks a day is somewhat mind boggling. Yes, they can, and frequently do, develop and "off switch" with maturity and training, but at only nine months, your guy is still a baby. He needs mental and physical stimulation. He needs exercise. He needs training.

Most herding breeds tend to be nippy and mouthy. It's one of their methods of controlling livestock. To counter that, you need to institute some strict protocols. Namely, his teeth on human skin ends all interaction. You stop paying attention to him, and walk out of the room or else pop him in his crate for a few seconds.

And no, neutering probably won't have any effect on his need for exercise and mental stimulation.
 

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You have a mix to two very high energy breeds and one is a herding breed. The nipping is the herding coming out and the energy is to be expected from this mix. It never ceases to amaze me that people want a couch dog and then proceed to derail that by choosing high energy breeds that were designed to go all day. That is what you have in this mix.

Neutering will do only two things: Separate you from your money and the dog will not mature properly (I NEVER neuter male dogs unless medically necessary such as a retained teste or prostate issues). Neutering calms nothing down.

I will tell you what does calm dogs down. Brain games a few fun for you and the dog and in the end you might end up with a well trained dog.. Look up Karen Pryor clicker training (and then learn how to use a clicker with your dog). Look up 101 things to do with a Box.. much there to make a dog think and think. Thinking will tire a dog out more than walking and is way more effective than neutering.
 

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He needs training.
^This. At least in terms of proper, acceptable behavior around the home. I'd start with ...


I would also teach him how to tug as an acceptable form of release for his extraneous energy. Dogs naturally interact with their mouths and teeth. Tugging, when taught correctly is a good, safe outlet.

Walking him any more than you already do will only increase his stamina. Twice per day for 20 minutes should suffice as far as physical exercise.

It's very unlikely that neutering will change his current energy level. He is a puppy, and puppies have ... energy.
 

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However, even after he plays for an hour, he still has lots of energy and wants to play
You've just described nearly every 9-month-old puppy on the face of the planet.

He's a puppy. He's acting like a perfectly normal puppy. What you read online was likely describing a fully trained, well bred (pure) adult. Did you actually look up what it's like to have a puppy? They are a tonne of work. It requires a lot of training, patience, and consistency to get what you are wanting. As for only needing 40 minutes of walking per day, that is very dog-specific. Some dogs will be okay with that, some dogs will need more. There is no set amount of time that is good for all dogs, even of the same breed. Not to mention you have a mixed breed so you never really know what you're going to get with a mix.

Puppies are basically a blank slate. It's up to YOU to put in the effort required to get them where you want them to be. And even then you might have to accept certain things might not be what you want.

Neutering will not likely change anything except his ability to breed.
 

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Neutering is a guarantee of nothing other than stopping the dog's ability to breed. It does not typically result in any significant behavioral changes.

Your dog is still a puppy, and they are generally higher energy and lack the off switch of adults, but a mix of those two breeds is likely to be on the higher end of the energy spectrum and will likely need more than two twenty-minute walks a day. I mean, you can probably get away with that, but you would have to supplement it with training sessions, or perhaps a game of fetch, something that lets him run and exert some energy.
 

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In your shoes, if the trusted friend wants a puppy like this, I'd hand this guy over. He needs more than you're willing to give and may all his life. Puppies are higher energy and need to be taught manners, but maturity doesn't mellow all dogs. Some are still go getters right into old age, and it seems a poodle/sheepdog cross would be a pretty active adult dog.

Admittedly my experience is with Rottweilers, but I disagree that neutering doesn't change anything except ability to reproduce. There's a pretty good likelihood, particularly done young, it will mitigate sex-based behaviors such as marking and leg humping. Most times a neutered male isn't as likely to take offense over what he considers an insult to his pride, so to speak, as an intact male. That said, some males seem unaffected. Neutering a dog doesn't have the pretty sure and pretty substantial effect gelding does on a stallion.
 

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I have an oversized mini poodle and a puppy (different breed) only a month or so younger than yours.

Poodles run the gamut. Some lines are pretty chill, but many are more intense and very go-go-go dogs, smart enough to be constantly looking for something to engage their brain, especially when they're younger. My 7 year old would be fine with 2x20 minute walks most days (but happier if he gets something longer at least a couple times a week), but that wasn't true when he was younger. Knowing the personalities of your pup's parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. can help predict whether he'll be more chill or more active, but each dog is still an individual. Additionally, puppies of any breed virtually always need more attention and engagement from us than a mature dog does.

Some things to consider: walks are not the be all and end all of making a busy dog mentally stimulated and emotionally/physically satisfied. What else are you doing with the puppy? Training, even 'silly' tricks, is a good way to get their brain working and take the edge off them getting into trouble due to boredom. Same with feeding out of puzzle toys or tools like a snuffle mat, so they engage those problem solving skills and foraging behaviors on something constructive/appropriate. One of my favorite activities for days when there's nasty weather or it's otherwise difficult to get out on a long walk are nosework games, because they're easy to set up indoors and really tire a dog out!

For the walks themselves, where you bring them can matter. A walk on a short leash on asphalt around the same route every time can get boring quick, especially if you don't allow the dog to stop and sniff or explore a bit. Walking next to us at a human pace is typically REALLY slow for most dogs, so it doesn't even get much physical energy out. If possible, look for parks, forested areas, and other natural spaces where you can let your dog explore on a long line. 20 minutes in the woods vs. 20 minutes around the neighborhood makes a HUGE difference with my dogs in terms of how tired and content they are afterwards.

And make sure to enforce naptime in the house. If your puppy seems really worked up and obnoxious, especially if he hasn't slept for a while, he may well be overtired (just like a toddler!). Our puppy still needs us to occasionally intervene and put him in his pen until he settles down and sleeps for a while. Nine times out of ten, he's much less demanding, loud, and intent on getting into everything once he's had a nap.

All that being said, there's no shame in admitting a dog isn't fitting with your lifestyle. Puppies are HARD, and your lifestyle may lend itself more to a mature dog that you already know has a laid back personality. I'd personally rather people rehome a dog into a more suitable household than make both the dog and themselves miserable trying to make something work.

Just going to end by backing up the others: neutering is no guarantee of changing behavior. Our m. poodle was neutered <8 weeks, and still behaved as a puppy very much like how you describe your boy (also he humps, screams if he can't greet other dogs on-leash, gets destructive when he's bored, etc.). Our current puppy is intact and will likely stay that way unless a medical concern pops up. He's a busier puppy than our poodle was, but that's because he's from lines that are more active; none of his obnoxious puppy behaviors are hormonally motivated.
 

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Admittedly my experience is with Rottweilers, but I disagree that neutering doesn't change anything except ability to reproduce. There's a pretty good likelihood, particularly done young, it will mitigate sex-based behaviors such as marking and leg humping. Most times a neutered male isn't as likely to take offense over what he considers an insult to his pride, so to speak, as an intact male. That said, some males seem unaffected. Neutering a dog doesn't have the pretty sure and pretty substantial effect gelding does on a stallion.
I don't disagree with you storyist, since every dog truly is different. But your post made me chuckle because I had a 50% rottie/X who was a pediatric neuter. He was a heavy marker and absolutely took "offense over what he considers an insult to his pride" - that is such a perfect description for his ornery nature towards dogs.

That said, there is an anecdote for every case out there! I agree with everyone that neutering, in itself, will likely not help OP's dog calm down.

I think a lot of anecdotal experience is just chance and correlation. My still-intact 3 yo male did calm down more at around 1 year of age. If I happened to neuter him them, why wouldn't I believe neutering helped him calm down? At around 1.5-2 years of age I dropped him from 5.5 cups a day to 3.5 cups a day because he refused to eat, even though he had been eating 5+ cups for all of his life so far. If I had neutered then, would I have said that neutering resulted in a drop in metabolism and appetite? It's just too easy to pin behavior change on something obvious and visible, like a surgery, rather than on something we can't see - the constant chemical changes happening in a dog's body and brain and they mature.
 

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I don't disagree with you storyist, since every dog truly is different. But your post made me chuckle because I had a 50% rottie/X who was a pediatric neuter. He was a heavy marker and absolutely took "offense over what he considers an insult to his pride" - that is such a perfect description for his ornery nature towards dogs.

That said, there is an anecdote for every case out there! I agree with everyone that neutering, in itself, will likely not help OP's dog calm down.

I think a lot of anecdotal experience is just chance and correlation. My still-intact 3 yo male did calm down more at around 1 year of age. If I happened to neuter him them, why wouldn't I believe neutering helped him calm down? At around 1.5-2 years of age I dropped him from 5.5 cups a day to 3.5 cups a day because he refused to eat, even though he had been eating 5+ cups for all of his life so far. If I had neutered then, would I have said that neutering resulted in a drop in metabolism and appetite? It's just too easy to pin behavior change on something obvious and visible, like a surgery, rather than on something we can't see - the constant chemical changes happening in a dog's body and brain and they mature.
LOL I was going to say the same thing! Ralphie was neutered at six months and still marks heavily, was a terribly obnoxious humper in his youth (probably more due to excitement than actual sexual behavior, haha), and would get very excited if he met a female in heat. He, however, does not typically take too much offense to insults to his pride and is more likely to back down, but I think he would likely be that way even if he was intact! That's just an individual dog thing.

Conversely, we had an intact dog years ago when I was still in high school who was also a voracious humper of people both great and small, marker, and liked to randomly run off when he was supposed to be helping with the cows. At around 1.5 years old those behaviors just stopped. He was not neutered and never was. Could it be that he grew a brain?!?!

So I agree with you, I think many of the perceived behavior changes from neutering may actually just be the dog maturing and up to chance!

Some things to consider: walks are not the be all and end all of making a busy dog mentally stimulated and emotionally/physically satisfied. What else are you doing with the puppy? Training, even 'silly' tricks, is a good way to get their brain working and take the edge off them getting into trouble due to boredom. Same with feeding out of puzzle toys or tools like a snuffle mat, so they engage those problem solving skills and foraging behaviors on something constructive/appropriate. One of my favorite activities for days when there's nasty weather or it's otherwise difficult to get out on a long walk are nosework games, because they're easy to set up indoors and really tire a dog out!

For the walks themselves, where you bring them can matter. A walk on a short leash on asphalt around the same route every time can get boring quick, especially if you don't allow the dog to stop and sniff or explore a bit. Walking next to us at a human pace is typically REALLY slow for most dogs, so it doesn't even get much physical energy out. If possible, look for parks, forested areas, and other natural spaces where you can let your dog explore on a long line. 20 minutes in the woods vs. 20 minutes around the neighborhood makes a HUGE difference with my dogs in terms of how tired and content they are afterwards.
This is a good idea, too. I live on 22 acres in the country now, so it's easy to properly exercise my Aussie/Collie mix, but when we lived in town I would put him on a long line and harness and take him to large green areas for walks. This pretty much doubled the amount of exercise and mental stimulation he was able to get as opposed to just walking on a 6 ft leash beside me. Most weekday walks were only 45 minutes. Most of time he was ready to go lay down and chill, but sometimes he needed a little training session or a game in the backyard to really be satisfied.

But, we also did agility at least once a week. On the weekends our walks would usually be an hour or more, though, also on the long line.
 

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It helps. I had very moody American Pitbull Terrier that looked like a Chihuahua when he was a baby and he was already food aggressive and territorial. If I was not mistaken he was probably taken out his litter because of his behavior. I remember a lady approaching my little sister and asking her if she wanted a Chihuahua puppy and my sister had barely said yes and like magic that lady was GONE, nowhere to be seen.My parents were upset. At the vet the doctor said he was no Chihuahua but a Pitbull terrier. He was quite aggressive with our other dog and he would growl even at us just by watching him eat. This was brought up to the vet who suggested early neutering. My boy (he became mine) always remained a bit moody, was never able to share food, or socialize with other dogs besides the one we had but he definitely did mellow down and became a sweetheart with me and family. He kept to himself and didn't attack dogs or barked at them he just didn't want them close.
 

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You have a mix of 2 active breeds. 2, 20 minute walks isnt enough for most dogs/breeds, even the lazy couch potato ones. And if you are walking your dog on a lead at your pace then it most definitely is not enough, neither mentally or physically. My 17 year old shih-tzu got more than that, and she was off lead the whole time.
I feel your pain though. I have a 2 year old Jack Russell, we go to the beach every morning for 2.5 hours, all off lead, so he can go at his own pace, and then a 60-90 minute off lead walk every evening. This is 7 days a week, i have not, and will not miss these outings for him every day. One bonus is that he keeps me fit too, he's like my own personal trainer.
 

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You haven’t mentioned any type of training or mental stimulation. Have you taken any training classes with him?
Nipping doesn’t just “go away”. He’s a bit old to still be nipping and it certainly shouldn’t be hard.
You mentioned a lot of telling him what Not to do, but he needs to know what he should do. If he shouldn’t nip at you, what’s a good alternative? Nip on your toy or chase after it? Saying No and Yelping at him just give him the attention he’s looking for, so essentially he’s being rewarded for unacceptable behavior.
What kind of calm mental stimulation do you provide for him? Toy food puzzle games, frozen Kong, hide and seek, etc... Get a flirt pole to engage that herding behavior.
Does anyone play wrestle with him using their hands? If so, stop now. Always have a toy in hand when playing.
Honestly, it sounds like this might be a bad match. Neutering might help promote a tiny bit of calmness, but it won’t be anything major. Dogs don’t have specific walking limits or timelines. If you found a good home for him, sadly that might be your best bet.
 
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