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Hi all -
Just looking to interact and get guidance from people with Australian Shepherds and other high energy/high intellect breeds. We have an 8 month old Aussie male.

Both my wife and I work full time outside the home during the day. While we are gone, he relaxes in a pen that is about 3 feet by 5 feet. He doesn't seem to mind being in the pen area. He has a bed and lots of toys. In the evening, we spend time with him outside and go to open space dog parks to play.

We try to take him to a dog daycare to burn off energy and socialize. Our goal is to take him one full day a week, but sometimes that extends to once every 2 weeks. He has now been kicked out of two dog daycares because he is "too high energy" and won't slow down or stop playing. If the dogs he is playing with want to stop playing, he humps them. Both daycares told us "That's an easily correctable issue", but both after 3 visits have said "he's too high energy for us here".

Any suggestions?
 

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Sounds like my wolfdogs, they can't go to day care because they are too high energy and, they play too rough/sound too vicious in play. The four of them can run, tumble, wrestle and play fight, growling and snarling with tails wagging and, play bows going at every spare moment for 3-4 hours solid. Normal for them but, not so good in a day care situation. They are harmless to other dogs, just very annoying when they won't stop playing for hours on end and, scary to people unfamiliar with them due to the husky and malamute in them making them rather vocal.

My solution, when I have to be away is a hired dog sitter for two hours per day to let them play for a couple of hours while I'm away, then a couple of more hours after I get home. If you have a fenced yard, then a sitter could play with the dog at home, if not, a sitter could come and take him to a dog park or other fenced area to play for a couple of hours during the day.

Even a dog walker to take him for a walk midday every day would help.
 

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You're never going to wear a young Aussie out. Never. So settle on a good amount of exercise, like a 45 minute to 1 hour walk, maybe some fetch afterward, and then he has to settle and just exist as part of the family.

As for the rude behavior, it is normal for Aussies (and most older puppies, really). The humping is typically an excitement behavior, and as they mature it tends to go away. I have an Aussie/Collie mix, and he behaved just like you're describing. When they start the humping, they typically just need to be removed from play for 5-10 minutes to calm down. I think the daycare means "too rude" when they say "too high energy". It means your pup can't take a hint! I would not take him back to daycare until he matures a bit. Hopefully by then he will have developed some better social skills. Instead, take him for playdates with other known dogs that match his energy level.

Taking him to daycare is going to get him to expect that type of stimulation and build his endurance. You don't really want that. Settle with an appropriate amount of exercise, and teach him to chill out.
 

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You definitely need to wear your dog out mentally. Giving it more exercise will just build your dog’s endurance. If you haven’t already, invest in some puzzle toys and start teaching your puppy complex tricks that take several weeks to master. Keeping your dog mentally tired will help keep your sanity.

For teaching your dog to settle down, try working on the Relaxation Protocol with your puppy. This will help teach your dog that when you’re not actively engaging with them, it’s time to settle.

Another way to deal with the crazy puppy/aussie energy is to put all people/dog interactive toys away. Make sure your dog still has appropriate chews, but schedule playtime with your puppy with your interactive toys (frisbee, ball, tug toys, etc.). This should also teach your puppy that when you’re not walking them, playing with the interactive toys, or training, the puppy should be chilling out.
 

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Yep, he sounds like a crazy Aussie boy! Mine was (is still?) similar to yours, and he's two now. Atlas has always had an extremely good 'off switch' in the house if nothing much is going on. He will instigate games of fetch, or find a toy to squeak or something appropriate to chew on, but if we're chilling out, so does he.

That said, get him playing and he sounds exactly like your boy - plays hard and won't stop! I agree with the suggestion of finding good dogs for him to play with if you can - Atlas has my parent's Aussie who is NOT afraid to put him in his place when he gets out of hand (and we still watch them, as sometimes he almost flattens her), and then a Labrador who he can play tug with and are well matched in terms of weight, a shepherd cross who he can run around with and wrestle, and a handful of other dogs he can be social with but doesn't really play all that much with. I don't take him to places like dog parks or doggy daycare, only because I don't know what kind of trouble he might find himself in.

Atlas is also a humper - it has improved greatly in the last year (after he turned 1), and now we are down to him really only trying to hump one dog on a semi-regular basis - the Labrador. For some reason she smells delicious and exciting to him - she corrects him, or we will call him off and tell him to chill out.

If you're looking for other ways to expend energy that don't involve other dogs - honestly, training. I didn't necessarily believe that some training would effectively tire them out, but when Atlas gets particularly whiney (and has been outside thirteen times already that evening) I will sit down and run him through his tricks or work on something new and afterwards he often settles down for the rest of the night. He has an intermediate trick title with Do More With Your Dog, which may be something you are interested in. We've taken agility classes and rally-obedience classes (those I found to be the most helpful). Or something like a scent detection class could also be fun. The classes have given me general life skills to work on with him. Things like focusing on me and not other dogs when they walk by (this is still a big work in progress, but there is progress) and not dragging me along behind him when leashed. This has given a new purpose for our walks and when I take him out to town or hiking.

And if your pup is level headed and has an off button, don't worry about doing something with him every day. Half our winters here in Canada are spent hibernating, so there are many days Atlas doesn't get out further than the dog yard to play and do his business. Even in summer when it's warm out, we don't always do stuff and he's pretty ok with that. (I'm probably one of the lucky Aussie owners that way!)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Anna -
Thanks for the response. I'm not familiar with "the Relaxation Protocol". Can you provide more information or direct me to something? He really seems to be learning to chill with us. The biggest issue is when he gets around other dogs and then he completely ignores all training and commands from me.
 

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Thanks for the advice. Chewy (I had no idea how appropriate his name would turn out to be) does great with us at home in general. We can usually even kick him out of rooms if we need to (laundry room, kitchen, etc.). As long as he can sit and still see us, he's usually fine. He's even getting better about greeting company. He's stopped jumping on them and just wiggles until he gets attention.

I'm really interested in teaching him some new tricks and working on his training. I'm just confused by all the different philosophies that seem to be out there...treat rewards or no treat rewards, negative responses ("No") or ignore incorrect responses, clickers vs. praise...on and on...

The first treat puzzle we bought was an intermediate level. He completely solved it in under 8 minutes, and he's down to less than 90 seconds after a few sessions with it.

We were at the dog park last night for 2 hours of nonstop play, even through the light rainstorm and a series of playmates. He didn't hump a single dog, and played very well with dogs of all sizes. He's very good at taking a dominant role or submissive, depending on the dog he is playing with.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as trick titles, I guess that's something to look at for goals, once I figure out the training style that matches our needs.
 

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Thanks for the advice. Chewy (I had no idea how appropriate his name would turn out to be) does great with us at home in general. We can usually even kick him out of rooms if we need to (laundry room, kitchen, etc.). As long as he can sit and still see us, he's usually fine. He's even getting better about greeting company. He's stopped jumping on them and just wiggles until he gets attention.

I'm really interested in teaching him some new tricks and working on his training. I'm just confused by all the different philosophies that seem to be out there...treat rewards or no treat rewards, negative responses ("No") or ignore incorrect responses, clickers vs. praise...on and on...

The first treat puzzle we bought was an intermediate level. He completely solved it in under 8 minutes, and he's down to less than 90 seconds after a few sessions with it.

We were at the dog park last night for 2 hours of nonstop play, even through the light rainstorm and a series of playmates. He didn't hump a single dog, and played very well with dogs of all sizes. He's very good at taking a dominant role or submissive, depending on the dog he is playing with.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as trick titles, I guess that's something to look at for goals, once I figure out the training style that matches our needs.
That's good! Just remember to intervene if necessary, and if he's not listening to your commands, it's time to go. You will have to go and get him if he will not come to you.

Positive reinforcement is always a safe method that will get you results, and the dog is always happy to do it and happy to work with you. I wouldn't recommend correcting an Aussie, physically or verbally, because they are very sensitive and they will remember when you treated them unfairly.

If you're interested, you could try agility or enter a trick dog class. They sometimes have them at local dog clubs.
 

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Yes! And if Chewy is registered with the AKC you can actually get a trick title attached to his name. (I'm waiting for Canada to catch up, so for now we have Do More With Your Dog titles.) I highly recommend positive reinforcement (clicker/treat) training. I think it is not only positive (har har) but it helps them want to learn and get rewarded for thinking things through. I was able to teach Atlas how to shake a paw in one session when he was about 9 weeks old using a marker word ("yes") and treats. The minute I bring out the treat bag to work with Atlas he gets very excited and I have all of his attention. You don't have to be worried about needing to have treats on you 24/7, because as you go along (as I'm sure you've noticed already), you don't have to reward every time for common things like sit/down in everyday life. I do use negative marker words like "no", but that's more because I can't help myself than because it furthers our training.

There are tons of resources/recommendations around this site, so definitely take a look! Two youtube personalities that I think might be helpful are "kikopup" and Zac George. Both use positive reinforcement, but have slightly different styles. Zac George is annoying and is always hyping his sponsors - but the actual training is good. (I used his method to teach Atlas to shake.)

If you're looking at something else to do with Chewy - if there are any rally obedience classes around they might be worth looking into (or watching videos about). I personally find regular obedience to be quite 'stuffy' and seeming way out of the league of my training abilities, but rally-o is much more attainable! Atlas and I have done a few sessions of classes now, and he's learned quite a bit and it's pretty fun! (And he sleeps like the dead after class - it's awesome.)
 

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You can get a trick dog title even if he can't be registered as a purebred or if his parents weren't registered. He can get a Purebred Alternative Listing number (PAL), or, if you know he's a mixed breed a Canine Partners program. Pretty much all AKC sporting events are open purebreds or mixed breeds. You can sign up online, and they send you your dog's number via email or in mail.
 
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