Sunday, July 16, 2006

Yap yap grrrr woof. Uppity puppies.

I'm going for an up-north (Michigan) mini-vacation in a couple of hours. To save time, I'm just C & P'ing an email I just sent to someone who asked me for Rottie puppy advice. Her 8 week old pup has some normal puppy bad manners and is play-lunging and trying to bite people's faces.
I wrote this email in 9 minutes, but honestly here's some excellent advice (if I say so myself) and if you're ever planning on getting a puppy you should take it to heart.
Unedited, if grammar & syntax are off, bite me. No, don't.

"Puppy growling and biting is normal, especially for such a young pup. Never ever let her use teeth on any person, even in play - you can use a tug toy or something, but it won't be cute when she gets to be 80lbs! Jumping at your face is totally unacceptable even for a little pup, though. She might be a bit dominant, or maybe just bad manners (I can't tell from here!)
Say NO (or whatever word you use), grab her muzzle and hold still until she quits wiggling and growling. Not to hurt her, don't get mad, be calm & matter-of-fact. Some people advocate shrieking loudly, freezing still and avoiding eye contact when a pup gets bitey - sort of what another dog would do to her. She'll learn that biting = immediate cessation of all play. If she gets particularly uppity, you can grab her by the scruff and hold her down for a bit. This sort of rude behaviour is more common with pups who are taken away from mom & littermates real young - they learn manners very early on, and now you have to teach her.
She is a little sponge right now - start teaching sit, come, let go, start using the same words for everything - want to go OUT? want to come INSIDE? Time to EAT, etc etc. So she'll learn to be responsive to you & other humans in the house right from the start, make everyone use the same words. Make her work for food and treats, using sit or shake or something. If she is bitey about food or treats, feed her by hand and say take NICE or something, don't let her get into the habit of being grabby or guarding her food. So she realises all these things are yours to give, not hers to take. Don'rt ever let a puppy do anything now you don't want her doing when she is 80+lbs, because it's not fair to change rules on a dog. Always say what you mean, Rotties tend to be real honest dogs and owners should return the favor. :)
OK, that was a five minute brain-dump on puppy manners! Oh, start getting her used to a leash too, even just by dragging it around if she's uncomfortable with it at first. If you take the leash, don't follow her around, she has to follow you...I don't mean dragging her around or anything, let her sniff around and stuff, but encourage her to stay with you.
Get her out of the house and meeting nice people too, now and then, so she is comfortable and confident out in the world and in different situations. Don't baby her if she gets stressed or barks at strange things or people, be cheerful and tell her she is being silly and to knock it off. Pups often go through a couple of fear periods - 9-12 weeks, then again in a few months. I don't know why. But she'll startle easier, don't tell her "there there it's OK" because that will reinforce fear.
Alright, now that was an 8 minute brain dump on uppity puppy 101! Hope that helped. It's all about being a "benevolent dictator" and some Rotties can turn into little monsters when they hit adolescence, you may wonder where the heck your cute little puppy went! So the better foundation in manners, attention and obedience you have, the easier that will be. Not all do, but feisty pups are more likely to try challenging you later on.
Oh PS, bully sticks are awesome chews and you can freeze them first, that will help her teething and feel good on her gums. In case you are wondering, they are bull penises (no, really, and you can get them over 3' long) and they sell them at Pet Supplies Plus and many pet stores. Digestible and long lasting. Rawhides are not real safe, especially for aggressive chewers. I think most vets would tell you that too, they surgically remove many rawhides from dog tummies! Also the ones with knots can be choking hazards.
Hey, that was pretty good, I oughta write another book LOL."


Blogger Semavi Lady said...

Good stuff. I hope puppy's new parent keeps in touch with you.

I strongly advocate NILIF and I think often the described puppy behaviors escalate to where they are because pups become convinced that the humans are love vendors and petting machines - things are handed to them while they are cute and people forget that these dogs are going to be too big to pick up in a few months. Pup parents really need to learn early on that "nothing in life is free" and how to instill that. A simple example is when the puppy sees you and bounds over for attention, the puppy should sit and wait patiently to earn the attention. Some of this stuff needs to be taught with baby steps, but the end result is well worth it.

My dogs all politely sit for attention, pets, and cookies. It really doesn't FEEL like bootcamp is going on, it just becomes automatic for them to be polite, show self control and have a soft and gentle mouth (and pawing is also put under control!), in order to get attention, some nice ear rubs or a treat. It really does work, but you gotta start early. :)

3:03 AM  
Blogger JJ said...

yes, write a book about bull penises. :-) I'd be thoroughly amused!

Our pup is doing quite well. I'd say I have this puppy thing down from years of teaching obedience, but you know.... the minute I say that all hell will break loose.... so I didn't say that :-)

Have a good vacation!

12:12 AM  
Blogger Behind Blue Eyes said...

Have a great trip. Actually, I think that these tips could apply to kids to. (Not the part about the leash.) At least, not for me.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Semavi lady - yes, with your Anatolians I'm sure you know all about being a benevolent dictator! Thanks for your comments.

Hey Jamie, glad Derby is doing well and I LOVE his ears! :) I would be scared to write a book on bull penises, haha.

Diana, I think you could use a leash on the kiddos, why not? I don't think there's a law against that. Don't give them bully sticks though, ick.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous maritzia said...

We had a problem with our dachshund pup with biting hands when we were playing tug of war (dachsies are greedy little things and they fight dirty *laughs*). We used the immediate cessation of play on her and it worked great. We'd say "no" very clearly, and put the rope down, not look at her or give her any attention. After a few minutes, we'd resume playing until she did it again. She's very good now and seldom bites while she's playing.

The main problem I've had raising a puppy is my husband inadvertantly reinforcing bad behavior. One of our dogs is rather skittish and has barked and snapped at people on our walks. His response was to pick her up and cuddle her (because she was scared) and I had trouble convincing him that he's reinforcing her bad behavior. We've been trying instead to just call her back, and kneel down next to her while people and dogs approach, so she feels safer. It's taken us almost two years, but she's finally getting better socialized. Unfortunately, she was a breeder dog for two years and didn't get much socialization, so when we got her it was a bit of an uphill battle with her.

2:41 PM  
Blogger Carina said...

Maritzia (is that your actual name, it's pretty) it is harder to train the humans in our lives than the animals, sometimes!
In my working life I'm a painting contractor, in and out of people's houses. The barking at the door dog thing is so, so common and invariably people either pick the dog up and carry it around, or natter away at it "no - no - shush, now - NO!" thus teaching the dog quite effectively to ignore the owner, of course. If it's not going to seem rude, I tell people to ignore the dog, it's not going to bother me, and if ignored the dog invariably stops barking pretty quickly.
Doxies are such tough little dogs, there's quite a few in agility, funnily enough. They look really quite adorable running an agility course!

3:11 PM  
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