I get what you are saying BUT -- mental exercise can be every bit as tiring as physical exercise. Good training that involves thinking and problem-solving can go a long way toward keeping a dog from bouncing off the walls, even in a confined space.
Let's make it clear - I'm not expecting a high energy dog to stay quiet when locked up in an apartment all day but I am looking for a breed (like mastiffs or greyhounds) that are okay with snuggling up on the couch when we're at work or can miss a day of long walks/huge amounts of playtime when I have the flu or something.
The dog will be walked frequently. The dog will be taken on hiking adventures. The dog will accompany me to the barn for 3+ hours of playing with other dogs/trail riding once appropriate trained. I want a dog that has energy, for sure, but I also want a dog that know when it needs to chill. And a large part of that is training, of course, but I do think some dogs are more inclined to be this way.
And I need a dog with energy because I am a play time machine. Animals usually are done playing before I am ready to stop. haha
I'm loving hearing what everybody has to say. Keep it coming!
What's with the idea that the OP's list is just training? You can't train a high-energy dog to calm down. Maybe if you're a pro trainer who has 24/7 to spend exercising/training the dog, you can "train" them to calm down, but an average owner who needs to go to work, buy groceries, etc.? Ha. Same for predatory behavior - some dogs can be trained with relative ease to leave small animals alone, some can't. Simpler to go for a breed/type not known for being predatory. Simplest of all to get a grown dog with the desired traits, but I understand bf wants a puppy. Which leads me to this comment - a baby dog of almost any breed is going to be NONE of the desired traits for at least 3 years. Those first years of a dog's life are the longest to live through, and that is not a training issue, that's just a life stage issue. It's great that OP is thinking ahead to what she wants the grown dog to be, but keep in mind that when you get a puppy, the grown-dog-who's-calm-around-the-house is far in the future. Far, far, far in the future. Really, really far. Does bf really know that? I mean, could you borrow a friend's puppy for the weekend, to get the feel of that very special sense of total physical collapse that comes from returning home from the 3rd 14-mile hike of the day, and the dog's still moving too fast to be seen except with a special camera?
As a breed rec, have you considered the huskies? The easiest dog I've ever owned was a husky mix - calm around the house, full of energy but not hyper. They are known for being predatory, however, and famous for being horrible off-leash. Mine was not - she would catch things, but not hurt them - I doubt the small animals truly enjoyed the interaction, but they always walked away. And she was amazing off-leash. The neat part about mutts, you sometimes get the best of both worlds. The sled dog breeds are pretty effective at worrying people, because for some reason, the same people who will run up to a Rottweiler or pit bull squealing that they WUUUUUUV these big dogs will flinch away from a big shaggy dog (particularly a dark one) and ask "Is that a wolf?" Weird, but true.
As a breed rec, have you considered the huskies? The easiest dog I've ever owned was a husky mix - calm around the house, full of energy but not hyper. They are known for being predatory, however, and famous for being horrible off-leash. Mine was not - she would catch things, but not hurt them - I doubt the small animals truly enjoyed the interaction, but they always walked away. And she was amazing off-leash. The neat part about mutts, you sometimes get the best of both worlds.
Sounds like your dog had very little Husky in her. I did have a purebred Husky; he would take every opportunity to squeeze past you & escape out of the house, he could NOT be let off leash (there's no way we would have found him), he did display predatory behavior toward the two house cats (even though the cats were there when we brought him home as a 10 week old puppy). There was a distinct difference in his behavior toward "his" house cats and a cat he would encounter outside. Outside cats were fair game, in his mind (as were birds, bunnies, possum, basically anything smaller than he was).
I now have a Husky/Lab mix we obtained as a 4-5 month old puppy from a rescue. There are threads in this forum about her. It's taken us two+ years of constant, very structured training, two behaviorists (one from Univ. of Pennsylvania) to figure out a program that worked for her. Granted, her behavior (and separation anxiety) is most likely a result of her life prior to us, but Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol was a tremendous help, as was our commitment to not giving up on this dog.
If you're even thinking about considering a Husky, please take a moment to browse through the various personalities of the Husky, complete with photos, humorous but oh-so-true (click on each "personality" at the bottom of the page): http://www.siberescue.com/breed/personality.php
Having said all that, I would absolutely LOVE to have another purebred Husky. Independent, intelligent beyond belief, (did I mention independent?), high exercise requirement, easily bored... But I love 'em.
Best of luck to you in your search and please do check with your landlord and renters' insurance to cross off any breeds on a restricted list right off the bat.
Last edited by tarynls; Mar. 26, 2013 at 01:05 AM.
Reason: Cat info
How awful is your neighborhood? A barking dog would deter most people, regardless of breed. Is your neighborhood really that sketchy?
Yes. I don't go outside by myself in the dark, unless it's just to the car. I have been followed a number of times. I love my area and most of the people are great, but we do have some real weirdos. Doggy will of course need walks after dark, and while realistically I would be fine 99% of the time but for that 1 per cent, I want a big a** dog to be by side.
ETA: And I also just prefer very large dogs, in general.
My other dog is a purebred black lab female. Large, stocky, gorgeous dog. Friendly, very easily trained - honestly, this girl lives to please you.
She is 75 lbs of an imposing black dog. If we are approached by someone she doesn't recognize, she goes on alert. Head up, ears pricked, eye contact, tail stiff and unmoving. If she senses I'm uneasy about someone, the fur along her spine will stand up. Not to mention the single, deep "WOOF".
Yet she's friendly with other dogs, good around the horses, the type you could trail ride with. She's a completely opposite personality from my late purebred Husky and my current Husky/Lab mix.
I've had several Rhodesian Ridgebacks that would hit all your requirements. They can, however, be VERY difficult dogs to raise and require someone who's pretty experienced. And getting a puppy and knowing what it's going to be like as an adult is just SUCH a gamble. You can stack the deck in your favor by going with a breed that generally does what you want, and making sure the sire and dam are dogs that you like, but after that, all bets are off. I've had Ridgebacks from the same breeder that were VERY closely related but were total polar opposites of each other.
Really since you're looking at apartment living and some serious restriction about what will work because of that, I would either go with a teen-ager dog (6-9 months), an adult or SKIP the dog thing for now. HOLD OFF of the puppy thing until you've got more flexibility about what is going to work. Puppies will routinely throw you a curve ball, no matter how much homework you've done beforehand
I was told by an urban police department that a barking dog (regardless of size) will stop most criminals from breaking in. Since you're living in an apartment and most apartments have size restrictions on animals, I would consider getting a smaller more apartment size dog with a loud and deep bark.
I can't see getting a puppy if both you and your boyfriend are gone all day. Realistically, puppies need to be walked or let out for potty breaks more frequently than every 8 hours. To get a puppy under the circumstances you describe would be a mistake IMO.
Prime Time: My boyfriend actually only does seasonal work so he is off in the winter. We would like get the puppy during that time, so it could have a few months of having somebody home nearly all the time.
Simkie: I totally agree about getting a teenager. I just have to convince his highness, but I've got a while to work on it.
I think there are a few breeds that would work, and many that will not. There are standard schnauzers, medium sized but very protective and have the potential to do what you would like, the giants are larger, and a bit more intense. There is a boxer at our barn that would fit perfectly with what you are looking for. Spend time with the different breeds, decide what grooming you are up to. If the dog is going to the barn and out on trails, what type of coat, amount of grooming are you willing to do? And, if you are interested in a parcticular breed, research known health issues so you know what testing to look for.
Also, consider the cost of some purebreds from reliable breeders, older pups, young adults can be more reasonable in price. Older, but young dogs from guide dog training that did not work out will have a ton of training and be reasonable priced. If you have time you could get on a list to adopt one of those. So many things to consider, so many options. It can be fun and overwhelming.
What's with the idea that the OP's list is just training? You can't train a high-energy dog to calm down.
well, yes you can- yes, you have to meet the dog's physical and mental exercise needs first. You can't skip that. If you get a hunting-line pointer who NEEDS to run 10 to 15 miles a day, you can't possibly get the dog to calm down until you've met that need first, and if it's a working dog, you're going to have to meet it's need for work. But even the most high-energy working dog isn't expected to work 24/7, and it's not that hard to install an "off/on" switch in a dog. You tell the dog "we're on now" and the dog goes immediately into high drive working mode, and when you're done, you tell him to "turn off" and he should immediately relax and wait until the next working session. It is impossible to do this unless you meet the dog's physical and mental needs for exercise FIRST.
Some people mistake "hyperactive" for "high drive/high energy". A high-energy high-drive dog devotes his energies towards goal-oriented activities, and in the absence of the opportunity to do this, is usually very calm and relaxed. A hyper dog just bounces around erratically out of his own control, unable to settle. Hyper dogs are usually born that way- some clueless breeders think hyperactivity equates to high drive, so they breed for it, but it's not. It's not a desirable trait in any breed for a dog to be hyperactive. If you end up with a hyperactive dog, you can work really hard on self-control behaviors and improve the dog, but it's a difficult inborn trait to overcome. Choose your breeder carefully.
I still find it bizarre that people think that apartment dogs somehow, mysteriously, get less exercise/activity than dogs that live in houses. Many dogs who live in houses spend their days confined to crates or to small segments of the house- very few people leave their dogs outside all day because they do nothing but bark and annoy the neighbors because they are bored; even if left outside, most dogs just sleep until their owners come home. And many of the people I know with fenced yards don't bother to exercise their dogs at all- they just toss them out in the yard for an hour or so per day, and the poor dog has nothing to do out there, and basically just sits. We put GPS tracking units on dogs, and found the "yard dogs" generally got less than one mile worth of exercise per day vs. the apartment dogs, whose owners took them out for walks- most of them got at least 3 to 5 miles a day of exercise. The most glaring one was several dogs who lived on a 100+ acre farm. The owner fondly thought they "self exercised"- turns out they barely moved around at all, they'd just lie there waiting for the owner to come home and then they'd follow the owner around, obviously hoping for SOMETHING to do. The higher-energy dogs did better in the apartment setting because their owners worked at satisfying them more than the yard owners. Obviously the ideal situation is a fenced yard + an owner willing to actively work and exercise the dog.
Regardless of the dog's living situation, in-between owner involved work/exercise sessions, most dogs don't do much of anything except sleep. If you find your dog is not doing this, most likely you're not working the dog's mind and body enough.
It's important to work the mind as well as the body- if the dog just engages in aimless running around, like fence-running, or wild ball-chasing, often the dog just gets worked up. You have to work the mind- a session of controlled advanced retrieving exercises will tire and satisfy the dog far more than a session of wild ball chasing.
And if you're a busy working person who really cannot devote 2+ hours a day of your life to your dog, be honest with yourself and look for the low-exercise needs breeds of dog. They certainly do exist, and make excellent pets for the busy working person. If you choose the wrong breed, both you and the dog will be miserable. Of course there are options if you end up with the wrong energy-level type of dog for your situation- you can hire dogwalkers, you can take your dog to doggy daycare, you can make an effort to change your own lifestyle and take up jogging, or you can try out some doggy sports and see if you like them.
Have you thought of a rescue Dobie with cropped ears? The dog could have three legs and still be "scary" because 1.) It's a Dobie and 2.) Cropped ears makes dogs look more "serious."
Or how about way out in left field Irish Wolfhound!? Biggest dog I have ever seen! My family had one growing up, very mild dog, great with cats, quiet, low energy. Not sure how that would work in an apartment because they can get so big, but the ones I have seen/met are very relaxed and chill.
If you live in a sketchy enough neighborhood that you don't want to be out after dark, I really don't understand why you would want a dog that would have to be walked after dark. Dogs don't dissuade everyone from mugging or worse. Why not just get a couple of large dog bowls and a recording of a dog barking when someone knocks on the door? Or an alarm system?
ever hear of Karen Overall? She says you CAN teach a high energy dog to relax and calm down. That's the point of Relaxation Protocol. many pet owners have already done this. I do train for money (makes me a professional) but I still hold a f/t outside job & only train on the side.
Maybe we're talking at cross-purposes. I meant 2 things:
1) You can't train temperament. Can you train a all-over-the-place Lab to calm down by directing his behavior and getting him to focus on particular cues and goals? Sure. What I doubt is that you can easily train a dog whose eyes are whirling like the kid in the exorcist to calm down just by clicker training him. You can improve his behavior, but you can't actually train him to be the OP's ideal dog who is calm around the house. The video's nice, but that dog was not high-energy; it was a GSD who was able to be calm and focused before the earring kid started chucking treats at it.
2) This thread's about a person who wants a calm dog. The average pet owner (no insult to OP, but I think a lot of us just want to be average pet owners, not part-time pros) doesn't really want to have to do a lot of extra work to make an excitable dog into a calmer one. If they want a calm dog, they want to get one. I think OP ought to shoot for a breed known to be able to relax, not one that isn't.
My poodles are just a smidge under 60 pounds each. They definitely scare people when they are in watch dog mode. It helps that they have undocked tails, and I don't keep them in poodle cuts. People can't figure out what breed they are. A lot of people think they are some kind of afghan/collie/doberman cross.
So far they haven't eaten the cat. One of them has always pointedly ignores the cat, rather like someone avoiding making eye contact with a panhandler. The dog with more prey drive is a little more unpredictable. When he was a puppy he would have loved to play with the cat. Now that he's older he understands that kitty is off limits. However, I can sometimes see the gears turning when he's bored and underexercised. Luckily the cat has good dog sense and can see the gears turning too. He sticks to his safe room when the dogs are in a hyper mood.
I agree about the value of training, but I also think that there are some dogs that are naturally lower energy. Certain breeds really need a lot of high intensity exercise (German Shorthaired Pointers, Jack Russell Terriers, Malinois, etc.). Others don't seem to need as much exercise.
If getting an adult dog is at all an option, I'd encourage you to consider it - especially if you can return him (or her) if it doesn't work out. I love puppies, but they are labor intensive and a lot of work.
I'd also caution you to think about what LauraKY is saying. Puppies especially, but even adult dogs, sometimes want to go outside very late at night. My last puppy went outside about about 1 or 2 AM for quite a while, and then I was just taking a little puff ball (which grew into a very large dog) outside. I live in a quiet area, but it was pretty eerie. I can understand what you are saying about a deterrent though. I think color makes a big difference - people seem to worry about darker colored dogs more. Some large dogs are also pretty low energy a lot of the time, and a long walk can be enough to keep them happy.