Guess what? The surface of a bubble bath is not strong enough to hold a puppy’s weight above the wet terrors lurking below.
Last week, my four-month-old fluff jumped into the bathtub – while I was taking a bath. Chaos followed: she thrashed about, I yelled, water flew, then she jumped out. Just to make sure what happened actually happened – she tried again. Only this time, faster.
One incident and she’s learned not to jump in the tub … when it’s full of water. Instead, now when it’s full, she leans over the edge, drinks the soapy water and licks my shoulders until I finally yell, “This is not relaxing!”
Puppies are wonderful, no question. Adorable big-eyed head tilters with over-sized paws waiting for little bodies to catch up. My black-and-white Sprocker (half cocker, half springer) is especially cute.
Puppies are also trying, and patience is not my virtue. Thanks to this pandemic pup, I’ve been tested in ways I wasn’t expecting, especially while working from home. After two months, I have new appreciation for sleep. And quiet. And calm. And relaxed cats – but that’s a story for another day.
The Truth About Puppies
When you have a new puppy, walking from the bedroom to the bathroom is a challenge. With each step, a puppy bites at my slippers and jumps at my feet. She grabs at my jeans after I’m dressed, ripping holes in the denim (twice). Getting ready to take her out for morning pee is a game of keep-away with my snow boots, already sporting one chewed-off tie.
Everything. And I mean everything, goes in a puppy’s mouth. Constantly. We play, “What’s in your mouth?” about 27 times a day. We’ve cleaned up the neighbourhood of trash.
“Hide all the cords,” was the first piece of advice I got after asking for it online. “Puppies chew everything. Everything.”
And that explains why I need a new phone charger and the upstairs television cable no longer works.
In September 2020, a little Sprocker was born – one half Springer, one half Cocker, all Spaniel – three months ago, she came home with me. It’s been a ride – and not just the journey home (see here).
Of course, she’s cute as heck and is garnering attention everywhere. I’ve got neighbours wanting to puppysit her, yet other’s ready to call bylaw officers. She’s a handful, and much to my surprise, I have no idea what I’m doing.
I bought all the books, did all the reading, Googled, “how to train a dog.” In the end, I might be relying on The Force for training strategies – that wasn’t the advice I got from those who’ve gone before me.
She’s my first baby anything, and the learning curve’s been steep.
Back when I was waiting to pick up new dog – eight weeks between birth and heading to her forever home – back when I mistakenly thought “I got this,” I solicited some online advice from dog group members who’d been there before me.
What ‘advice for a new puppy’ did I receive?
Crate train a puppy
This one I’ve failed at but in retrospect see the value in. Puppies need constant attention and a crate gives you a break. Also, a crate provides a safe place from the cats.
Crate training also helps house training – which I’m having an issue with. I was skeptical at first and bought a playpen instead of a crate (less ‘cage-like’). She didn’t like it the first month, but recently she’s been complaining less and last night crawled into it herself because the door flap was open. I’m hoping this becomes a regular thing.
Apparently, the main purpose of a crate is house training, which I’m failing at. The idea is to buy a crate big enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around, but not much more. Puppy’s won’t soil their ‘dens,’ so they’ll ‘hold it,’ waiting to go outside with you.
However, conventional advice also states that a puppy shouldn’t be in a crate longer than their age in months plus one hour. So, a two-month-old puppy (which I brought home) shouldn’t be in a crate longer than three hours. That means I’m getting up every three hours during the night if she’s in the crate?
After two weeks, I opted instead for pee pads and a closed bedroom door.
My puppy’s also been resistant to peeing outside during cold mornings. And by resistant, I mean complete refusal. We’re working on it, and pee pads (affiliate link) have come in handy.
On that note … Stockpile a lot of patience
I was actually told to get sleep before bringing her home forever and yes, I can reinforce that puppy’s first few weeks are not all fun and games. I got very little sleep the first two weeks I brought her home because she woke up every two hours – and needed to pee almost as often. I also have new home repairs to do.
Everything is chewable
I knew this from second-hand experience with another puppy (who was particularly destructive) a few years ago. Everything is chewable, or my new pupper tries to chew just about everything. Vigilance is necessary, and I already need to replace the new wall moulding on the stair landing (installed six months ago) because someone got bored waiting for me outside the bathroom.
I’ve started using crating – specifically, the playpen – at night at least, because the cats need some relaxation and too much is getting chewed.
Buy a lot of chew toys and rotate dog toys
Chewing, chewing and more chewing is the norm, and as I’m removing non-chewing home essentials from her mouth, I’m replacing them with a chew toy. She’s also picky about packaged dog chews. She’ll get excited with one brand then bored with it a day later.
Much to my surprise, I actually did something smart … by accident. Before I brought her home, I bought a bin of new toys (in addition to the ones we already had) but forgot about them for a while. Now, rather than dumping a second ‘toy bin’ of playthings all over her the first week, I pull out one toy at time introducing her to a ‘new’ toy every week. She gets bored of the same ones, even after a week, but fortunately her memory is short. Some go back in the bin for later.
Biting and nipping is common
Puppies nip and grab at things with their mouths, like toddlers do with fingers. And puppies don’t understand boundaries – or hissing. The cats haven’t set boundaries with her as well as I’ve hoped, but fortunately there’s been no eye injuries (which can happen easily). It’s likely not helping that my odd orange male cat sometimes entices the puppy to wrestle. Other days, they fly around the house like Tom and Jerry.
Socializing and exercise are essential
Exercising is essential and I knew that I was in for a high-energy canine companion when I signed up. This one I might have been most prepared for, though not entirely. I run her mostly off-leash (I have a field behind my home) three or four times a day. Romping first thing in the morning buys me some calm time at breakfast. A late evening leash walk now gets us through the night, though middle-of-the-night pee pee (on pads) still occurs.
But even four runs a day isn’t enough, because socialization with other dogs is minimal, unless we happen upon other four-foot playmates in the park. My dog gravitates toward other puppies like little kids do to each other during pre-school recess.
So, I’ve signed up her up for doggie daycare. Specifically, time at the ‘canine socialization centre’ Tuesdays and Fridays. Doggie daycare has saved my life. More about that soon. Stay tuned….