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Kacie, turning one next week, is in a large pen when I can't keep eyes on her (during work day, working next to her pen). She seems fine in the pen, naps on the floor or in her attached crate, and is very calm. She goes out for long leash walks twice a day, runs around in yard 2-3 times per day, and has training sessions several times per day. We're working with a trainer, using positive methods.

When she is out of the pen in the house (gated off small area in living room including the pen area, TV and sofa) in the evening, she does not relax. She constantly patrols and wanders around. We cannot take eyes off her for more than a few minutes because she is likely to start chewing on things (furniture, brick wall, carpet, etc.). She likes to play bring/drop it with a ball but will not play with/chew a toy independently for more than a few seconds. Toys are available, but she generally ignores them.

It's hard to imagine that she'll ever be able to be out of her pen in the house without constant supervision. The trainer is aware and is helping work towards this goal.

Why can't she spontaneously relax when not in her pen? Any advice? Thanks in advance.
 

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I've had a couple of dogs like that, including my current Golden. Could be a lot of things, including lack of aerobic exercise and/or anxiety. My current dog's problem is anxiety. What has worked for me is a chew item that the dog loves and that keeps him engaged. I've used frozen stuffed Kongs, and I've found (by trial and error) some chew items that he loves - bacon Nylabones, and a chew thing that looks like a tree branch. He will settle down for long periods with them. Another thing I sometimes use is a snuffle mat: I hide treats in it and he will dig them out. In addition, I take him to training two evenings a week, obedience one night and agility the other. This tires him out mentally and he always settles quickly on those evenings. He is also better when he isn't confined. He will sometimes settle just outside the living room door, or on the floor by my chair. If I close the door, he becomes more anxious. If all else fails, I play an interactive game with him - tug, etc. - or do an informal training session to tire his brain.
 

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I have had a couple dogs who look for "cave space" to relax in. Rukie hunkers down between a chair and side table sometimes. I think they like feeling enclosed and where no one can sneak up on them. Maybe you could help Kacie find a safe spot.
 

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As I'm typing, I'm being extra quiet... because my youngest (8 months old) will pop up and start fussing again. With him, he desperately wants to go outside and run - because I've apparently conditioned him to think that this time of the night I will layer on the coats and boots and go outside to sit in the driveway (I have a canvas chair I bring out vs sitting in the snow LOL) while he and his brother run and play in the dark for a good 20-30 minutes. I go out with them because we have deer that use a corner of our property as a shelter area in winter + we have coyotes passing through sometimes. And no fence to contain my dogs if they see something to chase.

Generally speaking he knows that when I completely ignore him + his dad and brother go to sleep, he gives up and goes and settles. And I can get away with not taking him outside for that run. <= Normally I'd just take the dogs out, but we have single digit temps out there. It's pretty cold to go sitting out there while they run around until they burn off enough of their energy to crash when we get inside.

And nope - walking the dogs doesn't work, because I am not a jogger and I'd have to jog in order to help them burn off the same amount of energy in 20-30 minutes that they would while chasing each other around for 20-30 minutes.

And training - God Forbid! :) Training only hypes the two younger dogs up (they gain more energy the more we train).

^^^ I shared that because I understand the frustration when you've got a very busy and active young dog who is DEMANDING attention or something else when you want to hunker down inside. In my case, I'm trying to get work done.

That said, I also think that what you describe above is the dark side of relying on crates and pens to contain active young dogs.... instead of directly training them to settle down and behave.

With my guys literally the first thing I work on with them is getting them used to settling in the 3 rooms of the house where they will absolutely be given free range (living room, rec room, my bedroom). This means that as puppies I do what I described above where I'm completely ignoring them and not interacting with them... and they just learn to go to sleep during those times.

When I'm not home, they do have more free range of the house - but choose to go hang out in my bedroom or that rec room. Every once in a while they come up to check on people, but go back down to hang out. <= That's something you should be able to accomplish with your dog, especially since you just have one dog.

Maybe crack a window or turn on a fan to keep your dog cool, give a rawhide bone or bully stick for her to chew on - but you've got to teach her that being loose in the same room is the same as being in her pen - including the fact that you will not be constantly interacting with her and she can hang out and go to sleep. Obviously keep her in the same rooms as you so she can't get into trouble. Shut doors or set up baby gates. Dog proof the rooms she is allowed to be in.

If you have her in your living room or office with you - set up a spot by a window where she can hang out. They love watching things outside. With my guys if they aren't perched up on the ottoman in front of the living room window during the day, then they are down on the floor under my feet.

You can get there - but to a certain extent there's part of it that you have to teach your dog to settle... the other part is relaxing and trusting your dog to settle without you constantly watching him.
 

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Thanks so much for these thoughtful replies. Kacie's getting more exercise and more time with the interactive toys. She has access to her safe space (her open crate) when she's out of the pen. Finding her a spot where she can look out of the window is a great idea.

Teaching her to settle seems to get to the heart of the problem. Maybe I'm interacting with her too much when she's not in the pen, and she's become conditioned to expect me to play with her and give her treats--not very conducive to calmness. Right now she's in the living room area with pen and crate open and available. I'm trying to stay near (outside the baby gates) and not interact with her, hoping she'll decide to take a nap!
 

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Just like with our kids, our Golden Maggie has what we call "the witching hours" in the evening. Usually start sometime between 5:30pm and 7pm. They act out a little, fuss and are just not their normal little selves. Our pediatrician says it was how they dealt with all the stimulus of the day. Luckily, Maggie was such a mellow puppy that even her witching hours were not that bad. Seems like the more people I talk too, the more I hear about this type of thing.
Jules
 

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Golden retrievers are in fact field dogs. Sadly the desire to work, hunt and retrieve has been mostly bred out of some bloodlines. It does recur in some pups and I guess it is considered fault by some.
My question is, if you wanted a couch pillow why did you buy a retriever?
 
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