What I’ve learned 2 Months into puppy ownership

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/puppy101/comments/hjl37g/what_ive_learned_2_months_into_puppy_ownership/

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We adopted our pup Luna (we think she is a lab pit bull mix) 2 months ago. The vet thinks she is 8-10 months old (6-8 months when we first got her).

In the first couple weeks she was home with us, my partner and I cried, had breakdowns, questioned our decision to adopt her, and questioned our training as her behaviors only seemed to get worse.

She chewed anything she could get her hands on, she frequently attacked and chewed on her leash (within one week we had to buy a new leash as she destroyed it), and she was HORRENDOUS on walks—pulling like a maniac, plopping on the ground and refusing to move, and occasionally deciding it would be fun to all-out attack her leash (once while we were crossing a rather busy road). Whenever she saw another dog she would whine and lunge like crazy trying to get to the dog. The behavior that caused us the most stress was her biting and nipping while playing, on one instance hard enough and out of control enough that my legs and arms were covered in bruises.

Two months later, I can hardly believe that our sweet, goofy little girl used to be that wild devil dog. She is not perfect. She is still finding new ways to misbehave, and we don’t trust her as far as we can throw her when outside the house. Even in the house, we always know where she is and have our eye on her. But she has become a very good dog, and getting better everyday. All those bad behaviors I listed above, she just….doesn’t do them anymore! She is sooo much calmer around the house. She only chews on her chew toys now, and her favorite hobby is cuddling on the couch with us. She also walks so nicely now!

Reading about other puppy owners’ struggles on this subreddit made me feel so much better, because it helped me realize that it wasn’t that my dog had horrible, unsolvable problems, and it wasn’t that I was failing as a dog owner….but that puppies are little maniacs and setting them on the right track just requires patience! So, I thought I’d share a few of the things that really helped my partner and I stay patient with our dog and her training.

Zak George YouTube videos: I know some people think he is too positive (?) or that he relies too much on treats for training, but his videos helped us so much. Kikopup has great videos too (her loose leash walking vid is what helped us turn Luna into an A+ walker), but many of her videos are working with already really well-trained dogs. What was so helpful about the Zak George videos to us is that he has videos with dogs exhibiting the same bad behaviors we were trying to corral with Luna—attacking the leash, exuberant jumping and biting, etc. Watching him work with those dogs gave us the confidence that it is possible to control our crazy dog.

Lots of treat dispensing toys. Luna has three Kongs, the west paw zogoflex tux, a kong ball,a long tube like Kong toy, and a bob-a-lot. We use all of them, everyday. We stuff all the rubber toys and freeze them so they take her longer to work at. They not only buy you some peaceful chewing time, but they are mentally stimulating and she loves them!

-Longer-lasting toys to chew on: the treat dispensing toys can last for a good while, but eventually she sucks them dry and there is only so much food we can give her in a day. A friend suggested we use elk antlers, as they shed and don’t splinter. She loves them and will chew on them happily for long periods of time. She is less psyched about nylabones, but if we store them in a tub of freeze dried liver treats she has more interest in chewing them. Constantly being on her butt and stopping her from chewing/destroying our stuff and giving her a chew toy instead has been what has stopped the bad chewing behavior. Even when she doesn’t want to chew they toy you are offering, it distracts her from the bad thing she was trying to chew and teaches her over time what she is allowed to chew and what she isn’t.

-Timeouts. This is what really helped us control her biting during play time. The whole yelling “ow!” looking away and stopping playtime was doing nothing for us. By the time she would bite you she was already so excited she really couldn’t care less if you aren’t paying attention to her…she is going to jump and bite anyway! So, the moment she bit…even just a soft graze of the teeth, we started picking her up, putting her in the bathroom, closing the door, and as long as she was quiet for a few seconds we would let her back out. (Note—we would talk to her softly and gently as we were doing this. We weren’t angry at her. It’s not so much a punishment as it is giving her a chance to calm down) We then could resume play, but the moment she bit again it would be back for another timeout. This worked wonders…it was like a doggy reset button. Give them a few moments to chill out and regulate their excitement levels. At first we would have to do upwards of 10 timeouts in a play session, now we hardly ever have a reason to give her a timeout.

Hope this is helpful to anyone out there suffering from puppy blues! It will get better, just stay diligent and patient with your training.

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