Training a Puppy (The Ups, Downs, & Destruction)
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Our dachshund/pit bull puppy, Doc (aka Fred), turns one year old this month, so in honor of him, I present to you this post. He has been a joy and a tester of patience, but we love him whole-heartedly. Please keep this in mind as I describe our first year together, because I am keeping it honest & real.
Our first meeting:
We rescued Doc from the ASPCA at one of their Petsmart ‘adoption day’ events on the very first & last time I had to drop off Koko & Vera at the vet. Leaving my pups causes me anxiety so I was an emotional wreck on this particular day.
As my husband and I were leaving the store, we saw a sweet, calm little puppy in the middle of a kennel filled with hyperactive, rambunctious puppies. When we walked up to the kennel, he looked up at us with his sweet little puppy dog eyes just begging us to take him home. I was totally hooked and nobody stopped me! My husband didn’t remind me that we were getting our other two babies back in a few hours & the ASPCA didn’t reject my application. And then Koko & Vera seemed to accept him into our family as they accept other things – through complete ignorance and pretending each is the only dog around.
Then the hard part of every new puppy came – the growing up and training. Doc has been insanely hard to train (from my perspective); we’re still trying and learning every day.
The Training & The Downs:
We started with crates & kennels. Every time we would come home (only 2-3 hours alone time) we would end up scrubbing Doc, the floors, the walls, & the kennel itself. We tried different sizes, leaving them empty, leaving toys, & covering them with a blanket. Nothing seemed to work so we tried sans-kennel in our laundry room to no avail. In fact, it may have been worse since he had access to smear everything on the entire wall and floor rather than just the section next to his kennel.
It nearly ruined our laundry room.
Once we remodeled the laundry room, we were left with trying to let him free roam most of the house (Koko & Vera already do that). My biggest concern with that was, ‘Are they going to get along?’ because our two girls like to be left alone & he was more puppy-like now than he was at the ASPCA. [read: playful]
Guess what? They got along fine! Yay!
But, he started chewing on everything. I bought him more toys & things to keep his interest. He thanked me by destroying my coffee table corners. I reciprocated by putting hot sauce on the corners to dissuade him from chewing them anymore. I bought more toys, more chewy things, more kongs, more bones, more everything. Some days were fine; other days I would come home to shredded toys, blankets strewn everywhere, & the toy basket in a million pieces. I left music on, the tv on, played outside with him more, & made more toys. He responded with getting a hold of shoes, hats, and anything else we forgot to put out of his reach. Then he started on the coffee table again.
It is an ongoing process with his destruction. All the internet articles & books tell me to keep doing what I’m doing and HAVE PATIENCE.
It’s hard to remember patience when all of your sandals are in the trash (including Rainbows & Birkenstocks), your husband’s prescription glasses are eaten in half (how did he even get them?), you have no more outdoor cushions, & you’ve had to shut off your bedroom completely during the day (the one place our two girls could get away from him if needed).
The worst part of this (besides the hundreds of dollars’ worth of damage to our things) is that he KNOWS he is doing wrong. When I come home to the next shredded cushion, or shoe, or hat, he runs away before I even say anything. If he knows it is bad, why does he do it? He has lots of options to put his teeth to, why does it have to be the coffee table?
Thankfully, he is almost fully potty trained. He still goes on the pee pads I leave out if my husband doesn’t wake up on time to let him out, but the pee pads are there for emergencies like that.
He is the sweetest puppy that just loves belly rubs and taking naps in the weirdest positions. He is relatively quiet, although he finds he wants to bark at the fence some mornings. He loves his sisters, but he mostly loves to chase them. He hasn’t quite realized that Vera is a lot smaller than him, but she lets him know he needs to back off.
He loves to roll in the grass on his back & soak up the sun. He likes to perk his ears all the way up and cock his head to the side just to remind you how freaking adorable he is. He likes his picture taken, probably because he knows how photogenic he is.
Sometimes he just looks at you with his under bite and you can’t be mad at him; all you wanna do is cuddle him and ask “Why you so sad Fred?”. It kills me how cute he is sometimes.
[He also answers to the name Fred. According to our friend, he looks like the dog from Smokey and the Bandit & our friend has called him that since the beginning.]
Final Puppy Takeaway:
So, if you have a new puppers, good luck through the trials and tribulations. Give them lots of love and attention. And when they try your patience, remember they can’t communicate like we can so you just gotta keep trying to figure out what it is they want. If you have any further advice on the best way to train a hard-headed, but lovable dog, let me know in the comments!