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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 9 month old Border Collie/Australian Shepherd. I have been trying to teach her to settle in the evening when we are sitting in the living room, but she pants like crazy and is completely restless. She rarely lays down for more than a minute or two and is constantly walking around the room nosing into this, pulling that down to chew, and hoping for food.

It can be hot in the evening - I live in Hawaii without A/C - but it seems to be more than that. She doesn't pant through most of the day, but once it gets to the evening hours, she is a panting/restless fool.

Part of my wonders if it's just a very high energy dog needing more mental exercise during the day, but part of me also wonders if there is a deeper health issue.

Thoughts?
 

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Sounds similar to everything you've ever experienced with this dog.

My advice is the same.... use a management tool. Put her in a pen (same room, near you) with water, her bed, a stuffed Kong/other long lasting chew, and some chew toys, then totally ignore her. Do this multiple times a day, every day. Think of her free time as lock down. You wake up, take care of her needs, then pen her or tether her to something sturdy. Train with her, then put her away. "Away" simply means, physically unable to pace or touch you; she can and should be in the same living space so that she learns to settle down in that space.

Sounds pretty extreme. But your dog sounds like she is in a constant state of anxiety, and I think that is less kind than forcing her to learn she needs to calm down.

If your dog truly can't handle a very simple routine that involves some more management and structure, then she probably needs medication to help her calm down. But that would be a conversation to have with a vet.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the advice. We did that for a while and she would be fine. She would sit in her pen and relax (usually). But when we let her roam the living room with us, she get anxious. We don't want to keep her constantly locked up because we want to teach her to relax around us in the living room.

During the day she is great. I take her to the dog park for an hour then come home to work. She usually lays at my feet and sleeps. I do minor training and food at lunch time, then she goes back to relaxing until 3 or 4 at which time she's ready to go. Oftentimes I take her on a 5 mile jog, other times a walk and the dog park. Then evening hits and I'll do some training while I make dinner. I eat and she eats. If I put her in her pen or crate, she calms and relaxes. If I give her freedom to roam, she rarely settles, despite me trying to get her to lay down and relax. Sometimes she will settle, but it's much later - usually when it's getting time to go to bed.

I understand it's okay to leave her in her pen, but I didn't get a dog to keep locked up most of the time. I want her to relax and lounge in the living room. Is it just a matter of time (she's still young, she'll learn) or is there something else I need to be doing?
 

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Alternative to the pen is tethering her to you. Look up "sit on the dog". Quill didn't pace, but he was terrible with my SO about WE MUST PLAY ALL NIGHT. So we would go to sit down and watch a movie, or relax, and Quill would bite at my SO's feet, bring him toys nonstop, etc. I think part of why I didn't have the same issue is I would bring Quill to the office with me and if he got too rambunctious, tether him to me...essentially doing sit on the dog without realizing I was even doing it. So my SO started doing sit on the dog for 30-60 minutes every night, depending how long it took Quill to calm down, and he eventually learned that evenings are for relaxing, not playing. It may take awhile, but I'm sure she'll get there!

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have done the sit on her technique but she just pants and won't relax.

I've had dogs my entire life and never seen a less cuddly or more hyper dog than this one. She's sweet as can be, but man is she challenging.
 

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The whole goal of sit on the dog is sitting until they relax and not allowing them off the leash until that is achieved. So if you have her on a short leash, she shouldn't have access to any toys/etc, and you should be ignoring her 100% until she lays down and stays laying down for X amount of time (I can't remember the recommended...I think we did 15 minutes). Until that point, she should not be let off the leash or she's being reinforced that she doesn't have to settle.

Sometimes it would take Quill half an hour to finally calm down and that was often half an hour of him biting at my SO's ankles, tugging at the leash, spazzing out. We would put on a movie and just ignore him until he finally simmered down.

Your dog is a mix of two very often high strung breeds, and she's at an age where being calm or snuggly aren't high priorities. We couldn't PET Quill until about a year and half, really, because every time we tried to he saw it as FUN PLAY and tried to mouth our hands, wrestle, get a toy. Even now when we have guests over it is gogogogo MUST PLAY.
 

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Thanks for the advice. We did that for a while and she would be fine. She would sit in her pen and relax (usually). But when we let her roam the living room with us, she get anxious. We don't want to keep her constantly locked up because we want to teach her to relax around us in the living room.

During the day she is great. I take her to the dog park for an hour then come home to work. She usually lays at my feet and sleeps. I do minor training and food at lunch time, then she goes back to relaxing until 3 or 4 at which time she's ready to go. Oftentimes I take her on a 5 mile jog, other times a walk and the dog park. Then evening hits and I'll do some training while I make dinner. I eat and she eats. If I put her in her pen or crate, she calms and relaxes. If I give her freedom to roam, she rarely settles, despite me trying to get her to lay down and relax. Sometimes she will settle, but it's much later - usually when it's getting time to go to bed.

I understand it's okay to leave her in her pen, but I didn't get a dog to keep locked up most of the time. I want her to relax and lounge in the living room. Is it just a matter of time (she's still young, she'll learn) or is there something else I need to be doing?
It is absolutely, perfectly fine to IGNORE THE DOG. It sounds like she gets plenty of attention and time to be with you during the day! She can handle being locked in a pen and physically unable to pace and be restless.

Remember, this is just temporary. She needs to learn that she does not have to be doing something ALL THE TIME. Move the pen into the living room or wherever it is you are hanging out, put her in it, and ignore her. She is very young, and she still has a lot of learning to do concerning what is expected of her. Structure and management at this stage of her life will help both of you enjoy each other's companionship when she's an adult.
 

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Is it just a matter of time (she's still young, she'll learn) or is there something else I need to be doing?
She can learn but she needs your help to build good habits. She will likely also naturally calm down as she ages. Letting her continue amping herself up just reinforces the behavior you don't want - it's building a bad habit. It's also keeping all that cortisol and adrenaline and whatnot circulating in her system. You definitely want to interrupt the cycle.
 

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She will likely calm down energy wise some with age and maturity, but if she thinks her routine is to be entertained all the time, and life is only to be lived going full tilt, then none of this is going to get a bit better until she's well into her senior years and hasn't got the physical ability to do it anymore.

It isn't just going to evaporate. You have GOT to enforce quiet/chill time. There are suggestions for how, here, but it's going to take you getting consistent with it, otherwise you're just basically saying 'you need to try harder' and effectively doing the same thing you would by asking for a longer and longer stay, or building duration and difficulty in any command.
 

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As Canyx suggested, teach her to relax by crating her at various times throughout the day. For most dogs, if the dog has adequate exercise and food, then if you place the dog in a 'boring' situation, she may get a little anxious, then lay down, ... and then go to sleep. It may take a few weeks for her to learn the routine, and to learn to relax, but from your description, she will learn to settle.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks everyone.

The pen and crate are both in the living room. We will continue trying to sit on the dog. It's good to know we can crate her without feeling bad, but as another poster mentioned we are trying to teach her good habits in the evening so we want to work with her.

If there are other suggestions please let me know. It's good to know this is temporary (I hope it's on the short side of temporary ;)
 

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Just to be clear... I recommend the pen in the living room over the crate. The closer the setup is to real life, the easier the transition will be. Crate to free roaming is, typically speaking, more of a transition than pen to free roaming.
 

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Thanks everyone.

The pen and crate are both in the living room. We will continue trying to sit on the dog. It's good to know we can crate her without feeling bad, but as another poster mentioned we are trying to teach her good habits in the evening so we want to work with her.

If there are other suggestions please let me know. It's good to know this is temporary (I hope it's on the short side of temporary ;)
Hi, I've got a 70lb Rhodesian Pit mix that used to do that same thing. I think you're on the right track with your comment about mental stimulation. I found my boy needed both physical exercise and mental stimulation. For a quick fix, I taught him to chase a remote control truck. 5 or 6 laps around our 3/4 acre backyard, every other day, and he's a happy and calm camper. He's trained so that when he catches it he flips it over and barks at it but doesn't chew on it. I had to replace the body with a flat piece of cardboard.

At first it was easy to stay ahead of him, however he adapted and started understanding how to play the angles. He also learned how to keep running fast and reach down and flip the truck. I use a 30MPH truck to have much chance of staying away from him with the required slowing down to turn. The trucks are a bit spendy and I break some parts with his help. However, it's been a great move for him and me.

We do other activities together. He runs alongside my bike and he's training to compete in nose work. When it comes to the day to day needs the RC truck is our answer.
 

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I have a 7 year old Border Collie mix and have had him since he was 9 months old. He also used to pant and pace in the evening. I used all the suggestions for crating, tethering, and playing. They all helped some but the biggest change happened when I explored feeding him based on his personality through Chinese Medicine. I know it sounds a little crazy but he definitely had a hotter disposition than my other dog. At the time I was feeding kibble made with lamb. Lamb is considered a hot protein. So I tried a “cooling” protein, duck, and saw an immediate change in his pacing and restlessness at night. I have since transitioned from dry kibble to feeding raw which has also made a huge difference. There are veterinarians who have been trained in the food therapy of Chinese Medicine. If feeding lamb or beef kibble, try feeding duck, rabbit, or fish kibble. See if you notice a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Will give it a try JJ. We are up for anything.

We also moved her crate to the spare bedroom, bought her a thunder shirt, signed up for new dog training classes, and bought an easy lead for walks to prevent her pulling and jumping.
 
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