Pixel is an amazing puppy, sweet as can be, likes every person & every dog & just is full of personality. She is also an extremely high energy puppy & very smart, both of which have made training her challenging. I have also made some mistakes along the way. These factors are what led me to decide to hire a trainer to help both of us!
Here’s what we needed/need to tackle:
- Housebreaking: We’ve had some difficulty with this because I let Pixel use wee wee pads for too long due to the bad winter here in New York. This meant that she never had to learn to hold it, so she didn’t grow her bladder. Now at 9 months, we are doing what should have been done at 5 months, but, better late than never!
- Leave It/Drop It: Pixel likes to pick up little treasures she finds on the streets. In the city, that can mean many things. Her favorites seem to be chewing gum (I had no idea so many people chewed gum & spit it out on the sidewalk!) and cigarette butts. But she is willing to give anything a try – she is a pug, after all!
- Jumping: As mentioned, she loves EVERYBODY & she wants to play as soon as she sees anyone. Most kids that see her want to say hi, and I really didn’t want a dog that knocked little kids off their feet. Not a way to be popular in the neighborhood!
Of course there are other things we want to work on, but those are the majors. After two sessions with Jenny at Give Paw Dog Training, we have made some great progress. The housebreaking has remained challenging, but we are slowing expanding her hold time, but Pixel has really taken to the drop it/leave it in exchange for tasty treats. Since pugs are so food oriented, the will pretty much do anything for a tasty treat.
During our last session, we learned some leash walking techniques. I know what you’re thinking, you just put the leash on and walk – if only it were that easy! First, Jenny had us switch to a front clasp harness which immediately helped with Pixel’s tendency to pull. Then we worked on me keeping Pixel’s attention while we walked, so she didn’t pick up everything on the street. See us in action below:
We are making great progress, although my little puglet is definitely filling out a bit!
Pixel will be turning 6 months in a few days, so that will mean she has been with me 4 months. I have learned A LOT about puppies, my puppy & had quite a few revelations. In this post I am going to share them with you.
1. Every puppy is different - you can read all the books you want, but the fact of the matter is, your puppy may not fit into any of the generalizations. This could apply to bathroom trips, eating, sleeping through the night – anything!
2. What goes in, must come out – this we all know and it seems so obvious, but it needs to be repeated – we seem to forget it.
3. The amount of times your dog needs to go to the bathroom has a lot to do with how active they are. I have talked to so many puppy owners, and people whose dogs aren’t feisty, active, crazy – whatever you want to call it, take their dogs out a lot less often then I needed to. Active = more water (see #2)
4. Don’t expect anything to happen overnight. It can be frustrating, but eventually they get it, they just don’t get it the 1st, 2nd or 100th time – just keep doing it!
5. To me, a dog is housebroken when you don’t have to walk them 7 times a day and they know to wait to go outside. I have found that many, many people do not share that definition of housebroken.
6. Learn to accept that you will now be known as ‘Pixel’s mommy’ (or whatever your dog’s name is) – no one will ask your name, no one will care what your name is*.
*Note: This may apply only to city dogs, not sure if the same happens in the suburbs!
7. Carry tissues, paper towels, wipes, with you wherever you go – you will need to stick your fingers in your puppies mouth an obscene amount of times.
What revelations did you have as you made your way through your dog’s puppyhood? I would love to hear some in the comments below!
Yesterday I was outside in the front area with Pixel and she picked up a rock in her mouth. This happens roughly 9 thousand times a day (I’ve learned to carry tissues with me so I can wipe my hands I have to put my fingers in her mouth so often).
At that moment, this guy walks by and stopped to look at her – “That’s the problem with puppies, you need to muzzle her” he says to me. I do not judge those that choose to muzzle their dogs, I don’t know why they are doing it, but i will give them the benefit of the doubt that they felt it was the only & best option.
I will not muzzle my dog. One, she’s a pug – a notoriously gentle breed; two – she’s a puppy, this is what puppies do – it isn’t about aggression, it’s about diligence; and three- how the hell do you muzzle a short nose dog anyway?!
Seriously, put a muzzle on it!
Teething, biting, chewing – whatever you want to call it, it is all your puppy wants to do. Whatever he/she can get her mouth on, he/she will. Pixel is no different – everything goes in her mouth. People keep telling me she is teething, her baby teeth are coming in, but the real teething doesn’t begin until later. I have been given quite a few tips:
- - Toys: divert attention from biting by giving her a toy & praise enthusiastically when she switches to the toy
- - Spray bottle: Spritz her with water when she chews something she shouldn’t. Some have suggested adding vinegar to the water.
- - Lemon juice: spray lemon juice directly in her mouth – after a few you won’t even have to spritz, she will stop when she sees the bottle
- - Say ouch! in a loud high way to startle her and let her know it isn’t acceptable
- - Walk away: stop playing with her and walk away, she will learn she doesn’t get to play when she bites.
I am not saying any of these worked, again, I think it depends on your dog. My latest experiment is a squeaky toy. I squeeze the squeaker and it seems to divert her attention.
Well, the real teething begins at about 4 – 5 months, when her puppy teeth come out, and her big dog teeth come in.
I will definitely add more teething resources later on when we get to that stage!!
I would love to hear any other tips/tricks you have tried. What worked for you & your pup?
Here’s a story from the first week I had Pixel. She was only with me a few days, and naturally sleep had been in short supply, so I decided at about 3pm to lay down on the couch for a little while. As I went to sit with Pixel, I saw a tick. I freaked – 15 years of having Bandit, including many summers in Fire Island (tick central) and her romping in my brother’s backyard, and never was a tick seen. Now, 4 days in with Pixel and I have a tick in my APARTMENT?
I killed it, and called the vet. They said she was too young for Frontline, but there was a different treatment we could do that was safe for such a young pup. Great – one catch, I had to come in* because it was prescription only. They said I could wait a week if I didn’t want the new treatment and then she would be old enough for Frontline.
*A little aside – My vet is 45 minutes (with no traffic) from my apartment. I had used them for years with Bandit, and I completely trust them. They were so good to Bandit & loved her, and when I had to put her to sleep (hardest decision of my life), they were kind, compassionate & helped me get through that difficult day. I get misty just thinking about it, but I will always be grateful to them for that.
I hung up, and knew there was no way I would relax without making sure Pixel was safe. What if she had been bit, what if something happened to her. I would be the worst doggie mommy ever if my pup got sick not even a full week into my care. So I did what any slightly neurotic new mom would do, I put the tick in a bag, grabbed Pixel and headed for my car. Needless to say, it was not a no traffic day, and the trip took about an hour and 15 minutes. I walk into the vet and hand them the bug….”That’s not a tick” they say. “What, are you serious, that’s not a tick?” I say. “Pretty sure that’s not a tick, but I’ll show the vet” they say. The vet comes out and looks at the bug “That’s not a tick, it’s a baby spider” – yeah, ok, I’m a moron! We all cracked up. I was exhausted and had at least a 2 1/2 hour trip back and forth for a baby spider.
I should have encased that ‘tick’ in amber.
Have a good pet story to share? I would love to hear it – just add your story in the comments!!
I am learning this lesson…slowly! I wanted to start housebreaking her just at the right time. I also wanted to get her on a schedule as soon as possible. After about 7 different schedules each printed twice, I realized that I just have to accept that as much as she (and I) want and crave routine, right now 2 hours ahead is about all the planning I can do. Pixel turns 11 weeks today, and although she can hold it for longer at certain points of the day, it isn’t consistent enough yet to set a schedule. I don’t want to be continuously disappointed that we can’t stick to it.
This also applies to almost everything else I have done so far. First crate – wrong size..way too big. First pen, also too big. This truly is a trial & error experience – at least it is for me.
I guess the lesson is that I have as much to learn as Pixel does. I never raised a puppy before. I’m going to make mistakes – I just have to accept that and relax!!
I admit it, I can drive myself crazy sometimes. I’m a planner. I like to know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. So when I started thinking about housebreaking Pixel, I did my research. I read books, blogs, posted on forums, talked to people on Twitter and of course spoke to my vet. I wanted to know when I was going to start, and get her on a schedule. Everyone had a different opinions. Most of the people I spoke to said they started crate training overnight pretty early and most of the ‘experts’ said that you should wait until 3 1/2 to 4 months to really begin, although you can start laying ground work earlier. I went back and forth – 2nd, 3rd and 4th guessing myself that I might do wrong by Pixel by starting her too early, or for that matter not starting her early enough. Exhausting, right? I think I finally realized that like human babies, each puppy is different. For some, their bladder might be able to handle 5 or 6 hours and some can only make it 2 hours, just like babies crawl, walk, talk & toilet train at different times. The key is to see what my dog does.
I have much more to say on the whole crate thing..guess that will be another post.