Our dog goes to the door all the time, but 3/4 of the time she won't go outside. We figure there's some personality or psychological reason, but just can't find out what it is. Oh, she completely housebroken; she just fakes us off over and over!
Do you have any windows open when your dog does this? A lot of the time my dog goes to the door, she just wants to smell what's going on out there. She'll go outside for 10-15 seconds and come back in. The other times, it's usually that she wants me to go outside with her — she wants to go hang out in the yard, but also wants to keep an eye on me, so if I don't go, she'll choose to stay inside and keep an eye on me.
Sadie's an almost 8-month-old English Springer Spaniel. She's the smartest dog I have had in my 62 years and she's also the most destructive. Like a gifted child, I think she bores more easily than most and has to find things for those 'idle paws' to do! We're retired and I'm guessing she wants us to go outside with her, also take her everywhere with us. If we don't, she tears something up, including her crate. It's been a trip! The responses to my posts have been so helpful - several of them! We got her to calm down at the front door by putting her on leash. I now know WHY she may be 'faking us off' at the back door, but I don't know how to fix it, not when we can't go out with her. Thanks for ALL the help.
It isn't unusual, I don't think, for a dog to go to the door and not really be interested in going out. She's bored. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior, too, as you know. Some level of destructiveness is also normal puppy behavior. We dealt with these things (boredom, destruction) when we got our current dog as a puppy. She still goes to the door when bored.
Since your puppy is bored, she probably needs more things to do inside: a number of different kinds of toys and rawhides, etc. that she can chew on and play with, then change to another one when she gets bored with the first. Peanut butter stuffed into the crevices of a rawhide or a toy can keep a pup interested for a long time if she's bored. A chunk of soup bone will provide fun for days. And so on.
The other thing that comes to mind is exercise. A tired pup is always easier to deal with. Are you giving her walks every single day? If not, you might consider that. If you are, you might think about longer walks. If you tucker her out, she'll do less damage and be less bored. Our dog weighs about 12 lbs and I used to give her 1.5 hr walks when she was misbehaving. That helped a lot. I still take her on long walks but shorter ones are enough to prevent problems now. A springer is a hunting dog and is bred to have energy and drive and might need even more.
Most dogs will mellow out over time. With patience and consistency, things will get better.
Unfortunately, I'm not able to give Sadie organized exercise, i.e. walking on the leash or anything where I have to do the moving along with her. I have a knee injury and am facing a total knee replacement this month. Husband has psoriatic arthritis and peripheral neuropathy in his feet. We're not old; we just have joint issues, especially for me, in the time since we adopted Sadie. For me, things will improve, but for now I cannot walk or actively play with her. It makes me sad, but it's just life for us right now.
This Springer is absolutely brilliant! That probably doesn't help the situation. She has almost immediately learned everything I've taught her. As a retired teacher, however, I know that the brightest kids are often the ones who are the most easily bored and get into trouble! This is the case, too, with Sadie. BTW, we will be breeding her once. We live in Alabama, in case anyone is interested.
I'm going to double down on the idea that you play with her in a way that doesn't involve you walking or running. Most dogs seem to enjoy our attention as much as anything. So a mechanical device that plays with her is not a substitute for your attention.
I'm not saying that attention shouldn't be given- but there are many dogs that have so much energy especially with puppies- that there's no feasible way to expend it all by playing with them. This is where tools like a treadmill are useful. Also using backpacks on dogs when they're on walks and giving them little jobs to do.
There are just many dogs (often in working breeds) that have more energy than most people can handle. When you take these dogs away from the jobs they were bred for and try to make them house pets- some get bored quickly and start acting out. A great example is a pet husky in Las Vegas. A dog bred to pulls sleds for miles and miles in snowy cold weather- kept indoors (because they have to be) as a house pet. It takes creativity and ingenuity to come up for solutions for that. Now should a husky be owned in that situation? That's a question that I have an opinion on which I'm sure doesn't agree with everyone else's in the world.
Basically- high energy working dogs need a few things above the basics of food, water, shelter and love. They need to expend their energy, they need to be mentally challenged, and often they need a job. (Which can be taking a toy to the door when someone rings the doorbell, carrying something in their backpack (like bottles of water), pulling around a kid's wagon, catching rodents, or anything else you can think of). It depends on each individual situation what will work best. Since the OP mentioned having mobility issues I suggested something that would require less major movements for them. Training a dog to walk on a treadmill is pretty easy, and mine enjoy it. I often play with toys and treats with them on the treadmill. The key is making it fun! Another great thing is swimming, but a pool is often a much larger investment and I find more dogs hate swimming than walking.
I suspect this "gifted child" of a dog needs a major combination of the above but it may end up looking very different than any of us are picturing it. It's hard to give a concrete solution without seeing the exact situation the pup is in and seeing the exact actions/reactions of the pup /owner.
I have a smart, high energy dog as well. At 6 years old he's still full of life, gets bored easily, and wants something to do. As a puppy and young dog he was quite the handful. He did go through a 'fake us out at the door stage too. He just wanted our attention and learned that while we might ignore him when he wanted to play we always got up when he gave the 'need to go out and pee bark'. We got him to stop my combining giving him more attention other times and selectively ignoring he when he asked to go out. He got one chance to go out and pee. If he didn't actually pee then he'd be ignored for the next several time he asked to go out. When we did let him out we'd just stand in the yard with him until he peed, no playing, running around, or anything else fun or interesting...strictly a pee break. Then we'd do something fun with him or give him a treat, or a bit of attention later when he wasn't barking at the door.
I pretty much managed him with a combination of exercise and training. These dogs really do need lots of exercise so it would be best for everyone involved if you could find a way to give it to her. Lots of fetching is a good way to exercise the dog without you having to do a lot of walking. I've never done the treadmill but have several friends that have and so I know it can work really well for some dogs. Is there any way you can have a friend take her for a walk every day or hire a dog walker to come by a few times a week. Maybe a kid that would want to do it for a little spending money? Does she like to swim? Do you have a lake or pond where you could take her. Swimming really seems to wear them out more than just walking.
The other key is mental exercise. Lots of training helps. I do lots of short training sessions though out the day with my boy. Lots of just practicing simple things like sit, stay, come, lay down. Teach her to 'settle' on her bed or a mat or small area rug. When you tell her to settle she has to go to her spot and stay there. Then call her back to you and give her a bit of attention. Then ask her to go settle again. make the amount of time she has to stay 'settled' slowly increase starting with just few seconds or mins. Once she's worked up to being able to settle for a good period of time this can be a great way to keep her busy while you're doing something else. Send her to settle for 5-10 mins and then call her to you and give her a min of play time, repeat over and over again. She'll settle but keep alert for your command to come back so she's mentally busy. You can do this when watching TV, make her settle while you're watch but when a commercial comes on call her to you and play until the show comes back on then send her back to settle.
Another game that I pay with mine is hide and seek. Take a water bottle and poke a few holes in it so the scent can get out and put a treat or handful of food in it. Hide somewhere while your dog is sitting out of sight in another room. Then call her into the room and tell her to "Find the treat". At 1st just lay the bottle somewhere out in the open, point to it when you tell her to find, ask her to pick it up and bring it to you. When she gives it to you open the bottle and let her have the treats. As she figures out the game you can start hiding the bottle in more and more difficult to find places. You can also also hide multiple bottles around the house in different rooms and she'll stay busy for quite a while finding them all and bringing them to you to open.
Teach her to find and bring you all types of things can also be fun. Teach her to get her 'ball' or get your 'slippers' or really anything you want. Smart dogs will learn the names of objects and be able to bring you what you ask for.
Try to teach her a new command or trick every week. Learning something new is great mental stimulation and can actually wear some dogs out even more than physical exercise. It doesn't have to be complicated anything you can think of or get a book of training tips and tricks. I've done all kinds of activities with mine from formal hunting and retrieving training, to agility, and obedience classes. Meals are a great time to give them attention and training. Mine have to sit and wait until I tell them before they can eat. When they we younger I would ask them to do a command and then give them a handful of food as a reward. Then another command and another handful of food. I'd do this until their whole dinner ration was gone. It would take 10-15 mins to feed them but they got quality training time in the process.
Treat toys and food dispensing toys can be a good distraction and way to keep her occupied.
I think Sadie is the kind of dog that puzzle-type toys were made for. There are many toys on the market that offer a treat--after she solves a complicated puzzle. I owned a dog day care for several years and tried a few of these toys for my more complicated problem dogs.
For example, KONG company offers the "wobbler," a food-dispensing system that labradors absolutely go nuts for. Like "Weebles," the "Wobbler" wobbles, but it won't fall down. You put the dog's kibble in it, so he chases it all over the house to get dinner. Instead of snarfing his meal in 30 seconds, the lab chases the wobbler around for an hour.
Take a look at www.petedge.com to see other puzzle-type toys. Perhaps you can find a few to entertain Sadie while you are doing other things.
You have given so many great ideas for us to try. I cannot thank you all enough for your ideas and experience. Hopefully, some day I can help someone myself. On Monday I'm having knee replacement surgery, but we do have some family who can walk her. We also have a pond and I had never though of the tiring effect of swimming, so that's a real possibility! My house is a bit small for the treadmill, but I've tried fetch with her and sometimes that works; other times she just isn't interested. Sadie has a nice large yard. The main limiting factor with her seems to be that she wants to be with one of us ALL the time. I've even noticed that she spends more time eating her food when I'm nearby in the kitchen.
Anyone have any great tricks to teach? She knows sit, stay, down, speak, shake, come, and turn around already.
We're not new to this dog-rearing thing. We've had three German Shepherds in succession, just no one the slightest bit like Sadie. She's smarter than any of the GSD's, by a long shot. It's amazing. And don't even get me started on the scent-detection ability. There's no way to every have a secret snack around here!
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