Hi All. I have had six-month-old Elphie for almost two months now, and she's kind of starting to learn to play after being in a multi-dog shelter (meaning lots of dogs all in one little enclosure) for the first five months of her life. When I first got her, she didn't really know what to do with a ball or anything else, and now she'll run around the yard with a ball in her mouth if I chase her and keep her constantly engaged. It's been difficult for me, especially on days I've been ill or injured (back problems).
I'm a teacher, and I'm trying to get Elphie on a schedule so that when I go back to work, she is used to doing the same thing every day. We just built a dog run for her outside, and that's where she lives when we're not home. I tried crating her, but she goes insane even after months of working on crating. The dog run has shade, water, toys, and some room to roam, which works well for her.
However, I can't just wake up and put her in the dog run since she needs to release some energy, right? That's where the problem starts. I can get her to play sometimes, but never in the morning, which is when I really need her to play. She's awake and enthusiastic, but becomes "ADD dog" the minute I get out of bed. She gets really excited about her ball or frisbee, but the minute I throw it, she's off sniffing something or just lying on the grass. I've tried playing with her about an hour after we get up, but even then it's a chore to get her to even chase a ball for more than a few throws.
We've been working on fetch, but she's so food-motivated that the minute treats are introduced, she has no interest in anything but the treats and won't chase anything. She's super smart and has learned a lot of new things (sit, down, come, up, off, etc.), but this whole fetch thing is just not working out.
Since I can't run her until she's at least a year old, what else can I do to expend some of that energy? I'm already getting up 40 minutes early just for her, and I guess it's still not giving her enough time because the only time she really wants to play is when I let her out of her dog run when I get home. I also give her Kongs while I'm gone, which helps a little, but she's been digging and crying a lot lately, telling me she still has a ton of energy to spare.
I googled "puppy won't play" and nothing came up. I guess it's not a common problem? I'm going to keep working on "fetch" with her, but it's hard when she picks up other things so fast, and this one just doesn't seem to stick.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
Elphaba - Rescued 5/17/12, and forever a pint-sized lab
Have you tried taking her for a walk in the morning as soon as she gets up? A nice long walk might work. Someone might be able to recommend how long of a walk she can do. My pups don't like tennis balls (go figure) but if it squeaks they will chase it. Do you have any squeaky balls? If not, give those a go and see if you can get her attention. Petsmart has a 4 pk for $5. My pups go nuts for them. All I have to do is squeak it and I have their attention. Also they have something called Kong Wubba. My two fight over it constantly. It looks like a squeaky octopus doll thingy. Might be worth giving it a shot if she likes squeaky stuff with strings. Hopefully someone else has some better ideas.
not all dogs want to play in the morning. I would just walk her for 30 minutes and leave it at that in the AM. Then if she wants to play after you get home all the better.
No jogging or running with her on leash until she is closer to 2 years old (not 1).
Are you saying she is crying and whining outside while you are gone, and digging? NO matter how much exercise you gave her in the morning she may do this anyway. So I don't know that getting her to fetch is really going to help the actual problem (if that is the problem). What exactly was she doing in the crate that was problematic?
For fetching you can try different types of toys. the squeaky ball is the one thing that might work with my dog but he's pretty hit and miss for fetching as well. I was able to get some fetching of a bumper done using the clicker (first click for going near it, then click for touch, then lifting, then eventually bringing it to me - took less then a week and he become exited about fetching BUT i have to be careful how often I do it because it will wear off if I over do it).
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
Agree with Tanya, don't run her til she's 2yrs old. I would not mistake digging and crying for a need of exercise - it could also be loneliness. She is a rescue, she likely has some issues that may not be getting addressed since of course she can't talk!
Can you expand more on the crate training issue?
Despite your dog run having shade, with the incredible heat waves we've been having this summer I would be concerned leaving her outside all day long. Is there an area inside your home that you can gate her off to since a crate isn't working right now?
She sounds stressed and it isn't necessarily due to lack of exercise -- not saying that doesn't need to be upped or fixed somehow. Continue trying to find toys for her to be intrigued by, you can also work on training - exercise her brain could also tire her out. Try not to over treat her, you want her to listen to you whether you have treats on hand or not.
Thanks to all for your responses. The crate issue has been that, since she was flown here from China, she panicks in closed-in places. She's gotten better about that, but she still destroys anything near her (bed, toys, etc.) when left confined. Since when school starts I'll have to leave her home for 8-10 hours per day, I don't want to leave her crated and in need of a potty break for that long. I have left her crated when visiting others, though.
Lately I've just been leaving her outside for short times due to the heat. Is it better I crate her inside, even for 8-10 hours? She seems to be find when I let her out of the dog run, and she willingly goes outside again into the heat. I give her I've cubes and a frozen Kong, too, which seems to help.
Elphaba - Rescued 5/17/12, and forever a pint-sized lab
Careful about the ice cubes. Do a search on this forum for "bloat" and you will see the correlation to ice - just be cautious.
I think it is in her best interest and yours to gradually and patiently get her used to a crate again. There may come a time when it is done/required for her safety. Baby steps. Put her in, shut the door, leave the house for 2 min, come back and let her out giving her lots of love so she knows it isn't a bad place and that you will come rescue her out. Increase the time to 5min, 10min, etc work your way up when you get to 30min try 45min, etc.
As for leaving her crated 8-10hrs a day, no that is not ideal. Is there anyone you know/trust to come mid day and take her for a walk? Even just 15-20min. Make sure her crate is big enough for her to turn around, stretch out, etc.
Poor thing! Thank you for rescuing her!!