With Star, and with every young foster dog in recent memory, there is a period of time in the evenings where I just don't know what to do with the little thing. Forget about getting a moment's peace to read a magazine, eat dinner unmolested, or attend to the other dogs.
These young dogs have a need for near-constant activity for those hours between about 5:30 and 10 in the evening. Generally I get home, walk all 3 dogs, then bring Fozzie and Star in the backyard, let them play together if I'm feeling brave, throw balls for them, and go back in.
That sounds like plenty of activity, right? Nosireebob. I've had to get a bit more creative with this little thing.
Like positive trainers always say, mental engagement is just as tiring as physical activity. Plus Star needs a bit of training in impulse control and manners--OK, a lot of training--so we've been working hard to tire out that fevered brain of hers with positive learning.
Every night, we work on skills with all three dogs at once. We work with all 3 so no one gets jealous and all 3 can learn to be calm around each other, and that good things happen when they're in proximity to one another.
I ask Fozzie and Star to sit on the two dog beds, while Lamar gets to watch from his perch on my bed.
Lamar gets treats just for remaining calm (senior privilege) while Fozzie and Star have to sit, down, stay when I stand up, roll over, do push-ups, and/or gimme five.
I'm not sure how seriously Star takes the whole thing,
but she is learning her skills rapidly and seems to love it.
She learned to give me her paw in a flash and now its one of her favorite things. She is still working on giving me just one paw, and not both of them, plus much of the rest of the dog, in my lap, before I give the cue, but those are just details.
I do think trick training is important for all sorts of reasons, but Star's progress on Down and Stay--learning to control her impulses and not bounce up and run around every 30 seconds--is a proud accomplishment for Star and something that will serve her well in whatever life holds in store for her.
When we're done with our training session, Star is generally still not done blowing off steam so I break out a toy.
Amazingly, she is capable of amusing herself for a while. Yes, she'll spend a good session engaged all by herself flipping a toy over her head, whipping herself over the back with it, doing these incredible aerial leaps. I was so happy when I discovered that.
After a few hours of madness, finally Star is tired and is out like a light until morning.
Do your dogs go nuts in the evenings? How do you manage those blasts of energy?