Entering Adolescence

IMG_2285Wade’s passing 6 months now, coming up on 7. This stage in a puppy’s life is known as the “I’d like to kill you” phase, (technically referred to as adolescence.) At around 6 months, puppies begin to realize that they are independent beings, and that they could possibly make it on their own without you.

This sense of, “I can do whatever I want, I don’t need your help,” can be one of the most frustrating parts of puppy ownership.

Just remember, it’s all a part of puppy development.

They’re not going to have that sense of independence forever. If you really did leave them to their own devices, they’d be in bad shape. They’ll soon realize it and come to their senses.

The night is darkest just before the dawn… Or something.

9-11 months is the ‘terrible two’s’ of puppy ownership. After that, it gets easier.

Wade Times Two

Wade has now more than doubled in pounds since I first met him.

Day one, Wade weighed 12 measly pounds!

IMG_2164Wade weighs 30 pounds now… And he’s going to double AGAIN by the time he’s done growing!

His 4 month birthday just passed without much of a fuss. He’s starting to lose his baby teeth, and so far I’ve only found one. (I’m keeping a close eye out for those canines! Maybe use them as sewing needles in the future… Kidding.)

Wade has a few tricks under his belt now. He can sit, stay, lay down, shake, wave, and roll over. I’ve been slacking on his formal training recently, but I have been maintaining his basic obedience.

Working with more and more people and their dogs, I’ve been noticing some trends…

Plus, puppy class is adorable!

Plus, puppy class is adorable!

One: Not enough people bring their puppies to any sort of training!

I’m not just saying this because I’m a dog trainer.

Even if your puppy has excellent basic obedience skills and hasn’t had an accident in the house, you should still go to some form of puppy training. It’s a fantastic opportunity to meet other puppies, and the socialization is in the best possible environment. It’s invaluable to hear what your local trainer has to offer, and get that puppy to meet as many other dogs as possible! Dog parks are great, and dogs of friends and family are fantastic, but your puppy should meet tons of new and unfamiliar dogs! Puppy classes are perfect because it’s a very safe environment to meet other dogs.

Two: Puppy classes aren’t enough.

The entire world is your dog’s classroom. It should be learning everywhere it goes! Your dog should be learning throughout it’s life! Never stop training your dog. Every minute you spend together, you can be teaching your dog something.

Wade reminds me every day to enjoy life... He sure does!

Wade reminds me every day to enjoy life… He sure does!

Your dog will teach you everything it possibly can. Return the favor.

I’m not suggesting you constantly train your dog new tricks, (although I’m definitely not discouraging it,) I’m suggesting that you constantly be working toward something new. Work toward a quicker sit, a longer stay, a more distraction-filled environment, keep challenging your dog!

Leash Manners and Stay.

Leash manners… Oh leash manners…

Let me start off by saying there’s about five thousand bazillion different ways to get your dog to walk nicely on leash.

Right now, I just expect Wade to be well mannered. Because he’s so young and attached to me, it works. However, I have learned a little trick that I wanted to share.

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Ta-Da!

Wade is half labrador retriever. Retrievers like to carry things around for their owner. It’s part of their genetic makeup. I first noticed that Wade liked to hold the leash in his mouth if it got in front of his face and started bonking him in the nose.

I also noticed that holding the leash in his mouth would make him walk much better on leash. He was ignoring all the interesting smells, sounds, and sights.

Plus, it's adorable.

Plus, it’s adorable.

Rather than fight nature like an idiot, I decided to embrace my pup’s genetic predisposition!

He had a job.

Nobody can multi-task.

Plenty of humans will tell you they can multi-task, but they can’t. Nobody can from an objective and scientific standpoint. It’s why we turn down the radio in our car when we’re looking for an address.

So giving Wade a job to do during a walk is going to force him to concentrate on that job and only that job!

So now, if we’re going on a structured walk or I need him to not lolly-gag, I give him something to carry.

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“Yeah, you telling me is the reason I’m staying put… Uh-huh.” -Wade

 

Stay

I don’t know how Wade picked this trick up so readily, but I blame it on his laziness. Wade is really really good at staying put.

The best way to start your dog learning this trick is to just ‘mark’ the behavior whenever your dog does it naturally.

That means, whenever your dog is naturally staying put for some reason, just start giving the stay command, I always pair it with a hand signal. (I hold up my index finger as if to say, “One minute, hold on.”)

Then release your dog from this natural stay, and praise it!

Your dog is going to start to learn that, “Whenever I just don’t do anything, my human loves it! Easiest trick EVER!”

The morning routine

The morning routine. Make careful note that although I know he won’t go anywhere, he’s still got his leash just in case.

Once your dog seems to be understanding a basic idea of what stay means, (meaning that you’re the one that releases them from their stay 90% of the time,) you can start upping the difficulty.

Establishing a routine with your dog is going to make your life with your dog infinitely easier. Your dog appreciates it too.

My routine with Wade is:

Wake up, put on a jacket, and get outside.

We walk to his favorite potty spot close to the front door, and he goes number one.

Then we walk down to the dumpster, and he gets to explore the grassy area across the street from the dumpster. This is where he goes number two.

I pick it up, and he sits and stays. Waiting for me to go throw it away and come back to him to take him home.

Just having a morning ritual for your dog is going to make your dog happier, and it’s going to make your life as a dog owner more fulfilling and happier as well.

The “distance stay” is a great way to up the difficulty of a ‘stay,’ and really solidifies that your dog actually knows what ‘stay’ means.

Wade’s Tummy Problems…

Well I messed up. I’ll admit it. Wade paid for it… So did I, in a way…

I switched Wade’s food too fast.

This stuff works. (Anything that is specifically formulated for pets and uses enzymes seems to be effective.)

This stuff works.
(Anything that is specifically formulated for pets and uses enzymes seems to be effective.)

Rookie mistake! I know.

It was an honest accident. I bought a giant bag of puppy food, thinking it was the same one, and it wasn’t. I figured, “they’re the same brand, basically the same thing… The new one’s just not grain free.”

Sorry Wade.

It was a normal night. I fed him his new food, (mixed with… a little bit of his old food.) That night, I came back from a night out with friends to discover that Wade had made me a rather large present of… Well… Loose stool.

I didn’t think much of it, (stupid,) cleaned it up, made a huge mental note to get some pet cleaner with enzymes, and slept on the couch with Wade.

3am: I’m awoken to sounds of a puppy attempting to throw up on my face. (I wish I was exaggerating.) Got up to take him outside, and discovered three piles of more loose stool.

An hour of scrubbing the carpet later, and we were back to bed.

The next day, I fed him plain white rice with some low sodium chicken broth, hoping that would quickly end our woes. He threw it all up.

So I called the vet, (they told me he might have Parvo,) and quickly realized, “Why am I calling the vet?”

One happy pup!

So I just went and bought his old food. He’s been fine ever since.

The moral of the story is: Switching your dog to new food is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

The proper way to introduce new food is (probably) on the side of your bag of dog food.

Start by feeding your dog 25% new food, and 75% old food.

In about 5 days, move to 50/50.

Another 5 days, you can go 75% new food, 25% old food.

After about two weeks, you can proudly say you switched your dog’s food properly!

Everyone makes mistakes. It happens. The best thing you can do? Tell your pup you’re sorry, and buy him/her a new toy. It’ll make you feel better… (Because your dog has already forgotten about it and forgiven you.)

Month 3

Alright, so I haven’t had Wade for 3 months yet, but he’s now officially 3 months old, (13 weeks to be exact… 96 days to be even more exact.)

The last few weeks have been lacking in formal training, and lacking even more in excitement. I could post tons of pictures of him sleeping though, because that’s most of what he’s been doing. Which is great! Puppy brains grow while they sleep, so he’s going to be one smart pup!

 

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The room is a mess because SOMEONE likes blankets all over the place. I won’t say who.

Wade has also been watching TV.

Yeah, I’ve become the pet parent that plops their dog in front of the TV to fry brain cells in a desperate attempt to get him out of my hair.

I’m kidding.

I’ve never seen it in person before now, but I have heard plenty of stories about dogs watching TV.

In particular, he likes silly shows on Animal Planet heavily featuring dogs. Obviously.

This took a few minutes to set up. He didn't care.

This took a few minutes to set up. He was so focused on the bully stick that he didn’t care about the toys.

In other news, I bought another bully stick today. I was terrified of buying any more after he swallowed one whole last time. He chewed up the whole thing, making it soft enough to be swallowed.

I couldn’t sleep that night, thinking that it would get caught in his intestines and I’d have to sell my organs on the black market so that his organs would be okay.

He was fine.

But nonetheless, I didn’t get any more for a couple weeks.

This time, I got a bigger one. And now he doesn’t care about the rest of his toys, he just wants his bully stick!

I did forget how much bully sticks STINK! I don’t want to think about what the bully stick is made out of, (but if you don’t know, don’t find out.)

It’s always great to find something that he loves to work on, because it gives me a way to occupy his time when I can’t give him my undivided attention.

Next up… Obedience training!

Week 2

Here I am in my second week of puppy ownership.

Wade has been getting better about his social skills. I’ve been physically presenting dogs to him, booty-first, in an attempt to teach him how he should properly greet another dog. So far, so good. He definitely prefers big dogs, and tries to play with little dogs, (unfortunately, the little dogs are usually older and don’t want to play anymore.)

IMG_1969We’re working on some trick training, along with his basic obedience. He knows sit VERY well, hes got a down, shake, high-five, drop it, and “hup!” over a broom handle. Detailed post to follow.

Wade’s new favorite things are his toys. We cracked and bought him some stuffed animal toys… He LOVES them!

Using the toys as rewards is perfect as well. That’s how he learned “hup!”

 

Mostly, I just wanted to post this adorable picture of him…

Wade’s New Behavior

It’s not so much new as it is just becoming significantly more frequent.

Wade likes to pick up anything and everything from the ground.

Rocks, bark, flowers, grass, EVERYTHING!

It’s driving me bonkers.

I’ve just been telling him no, and “leave it,” to let him know it’s not acceptable behavior. It’s a relatively normal puppy behavior, as long as it isn’t an obsession. He’s not obsessed with picking things up. He’s just curious and a little monster.

Other than that, more sleeping. This dog sleeps constantly. It’s nuts.