The delight of your new puppy is probably going to last a few weeks, maybe four if you are lucky. When 12 weeks old hits, and you will feel a slam, the Child of Delight is going to demonstrate ungrateful, obnoxious traits.
The love you have invested, the care for a perfect diet, the no expense spared bedding, toys, harness, bowls, food. Your pride, affection and joy have been poured into this essence of pleasure but today the only time you feel love is when He is fast asleep.
When pups first leave the litter they have an inbuilt reflex called the “touch me and I’ll bite” label. Siblings will take a chunk out of your backside as soon as breath on you, every unseen touch needs immediate and snarky protection. Boy those teeth hurt, even through puppy fur. This will fade as they learn hands can offer food and affection, but unseen grabbing will still evoke a memory of snark first, think later. Ensure this fades completely by avoiding any grab and pick up as much as possible.
Get your feet under the table
By 14 weeks they have learned your house, your routine, your patterns, food sources and toy boxes and place of comfort … the sofa.
You are so proud of them.
Now they can begin the serious learning of boundary testing. They will want to know what the boundaries are, and whether they are made of steel or paper, who will fold quickest and when. Lots to learn. This is achieved by full-on assault against the defences. Repetitive assault until steel is recognised for its impenetrable state.
This does mean, “no, you cannot chase my feet” is a steel, not a paper, law.
Normal, active puppy development is shaped by the try-it-until-it-succeeds strategy. The more determined to test the resilience of steel the more likely this is going to be a super learner. A pup that will be determined to find success no matter what barriers are presented. Those barriers are often our lack of skills in teaching, but these pups get through and become the “once in a lifetime” types of guy.
Adults and siblings are the barriers that assist with the heavy lifting. They may indulge certain assaults and then get pushed one inch too far and take the puppy out. Siblings, or young adults can get into a frenetic bickering match which may need some diversion, experienced adults familiar and comfortable around puppies should be allowed to deal with Child Obnoxious when it is supervised.
I see Merrick allowing Child Obnoxious to swing on her ears, but approach her when she is enjoy the evening bone ….. death growls demonstrate a quiet steel that is instantly recognised.
Fortunately Zip is only 2 years old and seemingly enjoys the regular, lengthy bickering as they sleep comfortably in preparation for the next bout.
Bicker all their waking moments but sleep side by side
Gear Up. This is war
If your household doesn’t have other adult dogs to assist with this process you will need to invest your own time and imagination.
This 12-16 week period is vital preparation of the next Obnoxious Stage 2 when teeth are changing (18-24 weeks) and will be followed by obnoxious Stage 3 when puberty hits (7-12 months).
Now is the (easy) time to establish the boundaries and avoid nuclear conflict over the next few months.
Crates for sleeping and chewing time to give everyone a rest are essential. Extensions to this in the form of pens where possible.
Door gates always beat door-closed to allow the pup to be nearby, as they chew and play, rather than on your kitchen table, round your head, or emptying your wardrobe. Being able to see you through a barrier is far more acceptable than being shut out, or excluded. This can lead to confused wailing, when that doesn’t work angry screaming, when that doesn’t work angry destruction on anything that they can bite or dig: plaster, skirting, flooring, doors …..
I have had the same gate across the kitchen door for the last 20 years ….. the tall one!
A voracious need to learn
You main aim will be on finding ways to soak up that voracious appetite to learn. If you ignore it, it will follow its own agenda and be testing every barrier that you can present. This learning appetite is like a fast running stream, building to a full scale river in flood and good preparation is needed because it WILL find its way down hill.
This learning-appetite also coincides with fast growing which needs regular, good quality food in quantity. This will become your best tool of defence. Food should rarely be an easy plate on the floor, it should be a learning adventure in itself.
If you feed raw, the meat-on-the-bone content will provide extra work soaking up the energy. Any raw bones are best served away from soft furnishing but can beneficially be paired with the “behind the barrier” locations.
Air dried bones and flesh can be sourced HERE. Do your research and please shop very carefully for chews and cooked bones. Many are just plain dangerous or ethically extremely questionable from where they are sourced.
I keep food on my person at all times. I need instant response when calling for redirection. My elderly dogs are seen as an easy-mark for learning how to bully the vulnerable. After they have done their time rearing the young of previous generations I consider they have now earned a peaceful retirement.
Emergency ammunition for interrupting obnoxious harrassment of the elderly
The adults enjoy these extra pleasures as well – and they earn it. Without their help I would not get ANY work done at all.
The recycling service would recognise the “puppy household” as everything is pre-chewed before it is offered for collection. All plastic containers can be re-employed.
Winter puppies do seem to be a hard challenge – perhaps the shorter daylight hours. Certainly time spend outside means more energy is used up absorbing all the scents and sights and sounds that travel through the garden.
I find the sparkling water bottles have an extra strength, empty, completely washed, shampoo bottles, and juice bottles on a daily basis.
I load them with small amounts of kibble or diced cooked meats (can’t use raw as it sticks to the insides and proves impossible to get at). The bottle will need to be flung around on a random basis to release the bounty. A noisy activity, but a small price to pay.
Remove all labels and the plastic ring around the bottle neck.
In preparation of when you want a sleeping pup ….
Meat trays seem to come in a corrugated sort of plastic – excellent for squishing meat into the corners and crevices. Homemade lick-it-outs, that you can then use as a slide-around-the-floor noise maker.
All cardboard packets can be crushed and folded around the dry-bone treats. Home delivery is a new source of imagination …. hmm, what can I hide in this ?
Build a learner
At the same time I am also presenting constructive learning packages:
- climbing staircases,
- stepping over poles,
- along planks,
- over and around bricks.
I plan and schedule at least one learning adventure every day. Vital learning for the puppy about how to move, awareness of feet placement, searching skills and self-confidence in our confusing world.
These are lifeskills.
Tracking food trails around the woodland, swapping this toy for that toy, exchange key rings for food.
This is laying down protocols for the next few months. I do not want daily battles when the next stage hits. The puppy that simply questions everything because they can.
Household items, favourite foods can be your puppy’s adventure playground.
Accepting affection and “out-of-sight” hand touches whilst No.2 hand is feeding.
Outings that offer amazing television. Parking up where much can be seen from the car, many scents and new noises whilst safe and observing.
That brain needs filling
This learning appetite is designed to expose this new brain to many experiences. The memory banks will be filling up with the reviews of success. Who, what and how will be remembered from single experiences. That one occasion you take them out for a last minute wee without shoes and your toes get tasted. (Hmmm … not forgotten, she can be made to dance)
This puppy brain needs to learn and it is up to you to decide WHAT they learn and HOW they learn: the difference between steel and paper. You get to write the rule books before the next brain takes up residence.
Steel barriers are not about being harsh, just barriers that will not collapse. I will divert you to more interesting and easy pleasures, and when I block you from chasing my feet, I will not let you do it “just this once”.
Design thoughtful and adventurous learning experiences, but never impossible or hasty.
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