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Cami's almost six months batch of questions

January 23rd, 2006, 12:29 PM
Cami, my golden retriever, is approaching 6 months old and I have a few questions about tranining issues and exercise. First of all, what is the appropriate amount of exercise for a dog (puppy) of this age/breed to be getting daily? Before, when she was younger, people kept warning me to be careful not to let her get too much exercise, so i don't want to overdo it, but i don't want to under-do it either...she has endless amounts of energy! We do play fetch/catch with her in the yard and in the house several times a day, but on her walks we take her to a big park that is always empty and let her run for a little bit, and that is the only thing that really seems to calm her down. Is something like two walks a day, an hour each time okay? Too little or too much?

Then we are having some problems with her becoming aggressive with the cats. Very possesive of her toys, her food, even of just the floor in the living room, as the cats have a section of our house gated off with a baby gate so they have a safe place where Cami is not allowed. I think Cami has taken that to mean the living room is all her's. I have done some searching on the internet and through these forums and read about the NILIF program for alpha dogs. We already do most of that, however, as far as making her sit or down and stay for everything she wants. The problem isn't with us, though, she has no problem when we take her toys or stick our hands in her food while she's eating, it's the cats.

I have this one cat, Penny, that acts much more like a dog than a cat. She refuses to stay on the other side of the gate and actually refuses to stay away from Cami. Cami like to pick her up by the scruff and run after her when she runs. We have resorted to keeping Cami on a leash, trying to teach leave it, but we are making zero progress.

The other day Cami spilled some of her food and Penny happened to be in the general area on the floor. Cami growled and lunged at Penny and thankfully my husband was close enough to grab her. I'm really scared someone (Penny, most likely) is going to get hurt, and this aggressive behavior is really worrying me in general. Any suggestions? Oh, and she is in obedience class, she goes once a week.

One more thing, is there a way to teach a dog to just calm down? That might be a stupid question, maybe she just needs to get older. But at obedience class she is the most riled up dog there by far. Same with when people come over to the house. Is there a command for "settle" or something like that, and how would i go about teaching it to her?

Thank you!

January 23rd, 2006, 08:13 PM
An hour long walk is pushing it. We like to equate a dogs age in months to a childs for the first year. So 6 months = 6 years. Would you take a 6 year old child on two 1-hour walks a day? Probably not. It is good that you have been thinking about the amount of exercise she gets but it sounds like she is getting plenty.
It is just as tiring to work your brain as it is to work your body. So lets put her brain to work. Training 1X a week isn't enough. It is about who you are with her all of the time. How much free time does she get? Is she pretty much doing as she pleases 24/7?
The living room is not hers and not the cats - it is your house, your room and your cat! She needs to respect that and have manners in regards to it all. You need to reinforce the 'leave it' command with the cat. If you see her even thinking about approaching the cat she gets a 'leave it'. If she has to be on the leash in the beginning to be sure she respects your words than thats what needs to happen.
From there you need to teach her 'easy' or 'gentle', so that she can learn how to be with the cat safely.
She needs to learn patience and how to settle down. Again this is easier to enforce if she is on the leash. When you are on the couch watching TV or reading it is time for her to settle down (because you said so). She will challenge you a few times and try to get away to play, but you need to stick to your guns and keep meeting every challenge. Then you will see her take a big sigh and submit - the challenging is over for now. She is learning that you mean what you say.
Try not to label her as an 'alpha'. If she is it is because we have allowed her to be - not because she wants the job. Too much recess (freedom) can put any dog into the 'alpha' role. They are in charge of their own life so they think they must be in charge of yours and the cats too.

January 23rd, 2006, 10:06 PM
I would definately not overdo the exercise at this age.Her bones are still growing.And over doing it at this age will cause problems as she gets older.This could consist of early arthritis which can cause Hip Dysplasia.And you also don't want to "run" her for to long.A safer age for this would be around 14 months.This was roughly the age that I started to let my GSD's do more running and even jumping(for balls)

As for the walks,I would cut them down from an hour to say half an hour.

And tenderfoot is right about about putting her brain to work..Use this for training.Here she has to use her brain and think.It's not always the physical part but the mental part.Do things with her that will make her think..Take some treats and hide them,then get her to search for them.Here she will have to use her brain to figure out where they are.Or hide one of her toys.Get her thinking more......:D

As for the cat issue....I used the "leave it" command...Or if they got to close to the cat,I would say"be nice" and praise right away if they were...9 out of 10 times they were good with him.

January 24th, 2006, 12:01 PM
I have 2 things to ask/add:

1) My male golden is 5 months old and I take him out for walks 2x a day as well for about 30-45min each, but when we get to the door he doesn't seem to want to go back in. He seems to want to run outside for a bit longer and (depending on the weather, etc.) sometimes I do add another 10 or 15 min to the walk. So would it be alright to do that? or just simply cut his walks short.

2) About the "too much recess (freedom)" issue, at the moment Hunter gets half the basement to himself to roam around when nobody is home, and when somebody is home, we let him to the main floor and (sometimes) upstairs to the bedrooms. So I guess what I'm trying to ask is: How much freedom is too much? (keep in mind that both amber416 and my goldens are relatively big dogs)

Thanks (and I hope this doesn't considered "thread-jacking", if so, pls let me know)

January 24th, 2006, 06:36 PM
Too much recess is relative.
Some dogs handle tons of recess just fine and never behave badly. Other dogs get the same amount of recess and are downright obnoxious. When my dogs are acting poorly then they get to be with me more and do more jobs and I engage them more. They get much less recess. But as I see them behaving better and making better choices then they earn more recess. The size of the dog doesn't matter - its the attitude.
Dogs will act like they would like more time to play and thats great but observe dogs in a natural environment and they play, sniff around, get a drink, lay down, play some is more broken up and usually on softer ground than a sidewalk. They exercise themselves in shorter spurts. It is the forced, continuous jarring of the joints, muscles and bones that does the damage. They may not show the pain for even a year or two but then you will notice them getting up slowly, not recovering from exercise as quickly, acting lethargic in bad weather - the damage has been done.

January 24th, 2006, 11:29 PM
Hunter,you can keep length of walks that you are doing now.If you can,just add another walk..Say just before you go to bed.

How much freedom is enough?Well to be honest that's up to you.I have raised 3 GSD's..All of them had freedom of the house when they were almost 6 months old.This was when no one was home.They were not distructive.And they could be trusted to be in the house loose.When they were younger,heck they were all over in the house.I gave them as much freedom as they wanted.This way here I was able to test them.To see if they were distructive.And easier to train them.When it was time to just lay back and relax,well they knew that.All I had to say was laydown.Or if they got out of hand with roughness,I just said "enough".And I was raising 2 at the same time.Both 12 weeks old.