The puppy project

by DaniGirl on April 6, 2013 · 6 comments

in Life, the Universe and Everything

To say I was unprepared for the upheaval in our lives due to the arrival of a puppy would be a bit of an understatement. A laughable understatement, really, since I’ve had dogs pretty much my whole life and puppies more than once. I have not, though, had a puppy with three kids and a cat and yard without a fence and a winter that will.not.quit. The combination is making me very, very tired.

For the most part, Bella is a great dog. She’s intelligent, has a wonderful nature, loves all the members of the family, and I think she’ll make a terrific lifelong companion. We just have to get through the puppy phase first.

Oy. Puppies. Nipping, peeing, willful, leaping, chewing, cat-chasing, obstinate puppies. It’s exhausting, the relentless puppyness of it all. Can we just fast forward to the year mark, where she’s housetrained and done teething and doesn’t keep confusing the kids’ feet with her chew toys?

It’s funny how much she (and we!) have changed since we brought her home about three and a half weeks ago. I thought at first she was on the timid and skittish side, but there’s very little trace of that left now. For the first few days, I had the hardest time just getting her outside to pee – she’d cower miserably by the door each time I tried to bring her outside. Now I have to bring her out on a leash most of the time as she so loves the yard and charging around it so much that we can’t get her back inside. She howled pitifully, trembled and was sick in her carrier the first time I brought her home in the car, and now she sits happily beside me in the passenger seat for short rides, only whining occasionally. I used to have to carry her away from the house (trembling in my arms the whole way) just so I could put her down and let her drag me back to the house — that was our version of a walk for the first week or so. She’s still terrible on leash, either pulling backwards or forwards half the time, but at least we can walk now, and she’s way better on a walk if her littermates, erm I mean, the kids, are out on a walk with her.

I think the thing that gave me most insight into her personality was bringing her for puppy class last week. We’re in a small class with only two other dogs (kind of defeats the socialization aspect, but oh well) and seeing how quick and bright and eager to please she is in the training session really gave me hope and reminded me that while it seems like we’re constantly scolding her for her puppy mischief, she’s actually a clever little girl who will do just about anything for a treat. And did I think this dog was timid? She was a little submissive with the older and larger Rottweiler (!) puppy, but while she tucked her tail and rolled on her back when he chased her, she just as quickly hopped up to chase and play with him.

I think maybe what I need is some valium. Oh, not for the puppy – for us! Our biggest challenge is not getting worked up about the puppy mischief and accepting it as both natural and (I hope) short-lived. Her worst transgressions to date have been tearing Tristan’s favourite jammies beyond repair, and peeing on a couple of beds. (How NOT to ingratiate yourself with your owners in one easy pee.) If I could snap my fingers and remove one behaviour problem, it would be nipping and jumping at the kids when she’s excited, so that’s what we’re working on the most but I’m finding it’s one of the harder ones to control because she does it out of pure excitement and joy to be with them. It’s also a huge challenge because she is at her most rambunctious in the early morning after I’ve gone to work but before the rest of them leave for school and work.

I know the responsibility is on our shoulders. We need to keep her chewing on the right things, exercising her regularly, showing her lots of love, and training her. We’ve lifted throw rugs and other things she might chew or pee on and the house is a warren of baby gates (much to the dismay of both Willie and Lucas.) Even though I’ve been through this before, though, I do not remember it being quite so exhausting! If I’m not scolding and redirecting the puppy, I’m scolding and redirecting the kids around the puppy. She sure is loveable, though. When she’s not out of her puppy mind with energy, she plays a great game of fetch (I love fetch!) and is very affectionate. She sleeps through the night with no problem in her crate and she’s getting better on leash for walks. She understands sit and stay, and is a little sketchier on ‘come here’ but we’re getting there. She’s only 14 weeks old after all!

Most adorably, her ears seem to be trying to become the stand-up shepherd ears I’ve always loved. Well, one of them is trying to stand up. Which might, after all, just amp up the cute factor.

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I suppose the puppy project is just the last in a long list of obsessions over the years. Way way back it was crafty things, then woodworking, and I went through a sewing phase. More constantly in the past few years have been blogging and photography, and losing 30 lbs was another one back a couple of years ago. So if you see a little less of me online in the next little while, at least you’ll know why. I’m working on the puppy project.

Any puppy advice, oh clever bloggy peeps? Share your stories of puppy insanity and how you survived, please. I’ll read the comments on my iPhone as I pace the frozen back yard with Bella, waiting for pee and spring.

Edited to add: Ha! The blog’s related post feature thinks this post about life with 14 month old Lucas, written nearly four years ago almost to the day, sounds suspiciously similar to life with 14 week old Bella. Why yes it is, clever blog. So you’re trying to tell me something? (Reading that old post brought a smile to my face. Okay, we CAN get through this, too!)


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah McCormack April 6, 2013 at 8:17 am

no advice, no stories……. but tons of sympathy… knowing you’ll get through it and laugh about it one day.

2 DaniGirl April 6, 2013 at 8:26 am

Oh I will definitely take sympathy! And thank goodness, there’s lots to laugh about each day. 🙂

3 Valerie April 6, 2013 at 10:51 am

Just like having another baby. I remember having to remind myself constantly that she/he was only x months/years old and acting normally for that age. But it was harder the second time around, since the first was already done acting that way. So it must be even harder the 4th time! She’s sure cute, though. 🙂

4 Lori April 6, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I totally understand puppyhood. One minute I am hugging and praising Loveridge, and the next minute…well…the next minute I’m cleaning up and wondering how long this stage lasts. I am certainly appreciating Lovey’s intelligence. She knows when she’s done something wrong….just like her siblings. I spoke with my brother who has 2 of Bella’s and Loveridge’s brothers. His boys have torn 2 pillows and 2 blankets, chewed through telephone and speaker wires. After doing something bad, one puppy will smother my brother with kisses, while the other pretends nothing is wrong.
But they sure are adorable.

5 Jen Hughes April 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Yikes. We are seriously thinking about taking the leap into puppy ownership soon too, and I’m a bit scared. I grew up with dogs, but we haven’t ever owned one as adults. I do feel like we’d need to prepare in much the same way we’d prepare for a new baby – puppy proof the house, have all supplies ready, sign up for classes, etc. I will be following your puppy adventures with interest!

6 Lindsay Wyllie April 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Maybe consider a doggy daycare once or twice a week? I take my dog to Dexter’s Den on Fallowfield and it really helped get us through the puppy stage. My puppy would come home exhausted and would at least give us an evening and part of the next day to relax because he was so tired out. They also worked on the jumping issue we had and he got to socialize all day long. I have had a really great experience with them for the last 2.5 years.

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