New Puppy Problems

21 01 2009

golden-lab-puppyOver the holidays, many families across America became new and loving homes for puppies.  A friend of November 2008’s addition to my pack was one fo those lucky puppies.  As with all new relationships, there is a period of adjustment, and this post addresses some of the “new puppy issues.”  Specifically, we are going to discuss this Golden Labrador Retriever, but many of the puppy issues pop up regardless of breed.

All of the retriever breeds are born being comfortable with having or carrying something in their mouths.  I am no exception, as I often wander the house with my toy du jour.  We are also notorious chewers, especially as puppies.  Sometimes I spend a whole day just wanting to walk around with something in our mouth.

My doggie mom, Autumn, used to fall asleep with a tennis ball in her mouth.  If it happened to roll out, she would wake up, position the ball back in her mouth and go back to sleep.  My doggie grandfather used to walk around with this goofy looking moose hanging out of his mouth, when he was not retrieving other things like tennis balls or sticks and carrying them about.

We find chewing to be a natural thing to do, especially the retriever breeds, as we are so prone to just have things in our mouths.  When we are puppies, we chew because it relieves some of the discomfort brought about by teething, just like a baby.  For those of your with puppies that are chewing on everything in sight, like Lucy’s new friend, I have a few tips for you about the chewing thing.

Buy your dog a Kong.  When I was a puppy and Mom had to work all day, she would stuff my Kong with all kinds of puppy treats and then seal the end of the Kong with peanut butter and put it in the freezer overnight and in the morning, I got my Kong.  It would take me hours and hours of work, licking the peanut butter and chewing the toy to get all of the treats.  Sometimes I would work so hard that I would get tired and have to take a nap.  But when I woke up, it was right back to work with that Kong!  When puppies are teething, they may not be able to handle the peanut butter and they may have some loose stool.  When that happened with me, mom would stuff my Kong with cheese, instead of peanut butter.

My next suggestion for dogs that like to chew is to make sure your dog has a rope toy appropriate for your dog’s size.  You do not want to get a Pomeranian one that is meant for a dog of my size.  When gave me my first rope toy, I did not really care much for it, but Mom made it interesting.  She took the toy and let it soak in a jar or pot of chicken stock.  After a few hours, she would take it out of the jar, put it in a freezer bag and freeze it for me.  Oh, did this feel great on my little teething gums, it tasted GREAT!

Many trainers and other dog professionals suggest something called a “Nylabone.”  It is made of a hard rubber, and I can recommend it as a pretty good chew item, especially if it has been soaked in the chicken stock.  The last thing a person should do before leaving their dog alone at home, is to make sure they have something to entertain themselves in the human’s absence.  Tax and I are very devoted to the television set as a source of entertainment, even when Mom is at home.  We are quite partial to Animal Planet’s programming, especially Animal Cops.  I like to tease Tax with the theme to People Cops when Animal Cops comes on.

Bad Tax, bad Tax
Whatcha’ gonna do?
Whatcha’ gonna do
When they come for you?

HAHAHA! That gets him riled up every time I sing it.

Back to the issue at hand.  For every puppy that will spend time in a crate, you should purchase a CHEAP shower curtain liner to put underneath your their crate.  This will keep any accidents from getting all over your carpet or flooring.  Mom makes sure that we can see the television any time we are in our crates.  It is very important not to make a big deal out of leaving, as this will just get your puppy wound up right before you head out the door.  Just say goodbye and leave.

When dogs play, we can only use our paws and our mouths, so any biting you are getting from your puppy is a form of play.  Those bites are not out of meanness, but out of a desire to play.  This is the way that he or she chooses to play.  If you watch her with some other puppies, you will observe that she plays the same way with them as she does with you.  I recommend as much socialization as possible for your puppy at the dog park and with play dates.  This will help your dog to learn what a “soft mouth” is.

In the mean time, try putting some Bitter Apple on your hands before you play with your puppy.  Mom also suggests foul-tasting things like lemon juice and vinegar as a taste deterrents for dogs.  The first time that your puppy nips you, say “OW!” with a strong voice and take your hands away and stop playing.  After a period of thirty minutes, you can resume play, and if your puppy insists on biting, stop all play for the day and ignore her.  Your puppy truly wants to play, but biting dog play is painful to humans, and your puppy must learn that to keep a human playing, he or she must not bite!

Lucy’s friend also mentioned that her puppy likes to bite at her feet and pants.  To stop this behavior, put a leash on her, and when she jumps and growls in a vicious way, simply put a quick snap on the leash, with a harsh “NO” and ignore the behavior.  Remember, a dog will continually repeat any behavior that gets them attention.

Please, please, please, do not feel guilty about leaving a puppy in a crate.  A crate defines our space, and I think of my crate as my room.  We keep our stuff in there, and it makes us feel safe.  We bark because there is one thing better than our beloved crate, that is time with our human, but humans cannot always be with us, and your puppy will learn this.  So we accept this as our safe place, when our human is away.  Deep down inside, your puppy loves her crate.  She knows that a lot of fussing will get you to stick around and pay attention.  Be a good Mom or Dad and stay the course. You can always come back to me for the answers, since I have been through it all.  I am a pro…  After all, I am a dog!

One day soon, I will figure out how to work Mom’s camera and provide a pictorial about how much a dog enjoys their crate.  The subject of that project will be my brother, Tax.  He hogs everything he has ever owned (and a few things he has stolen) and arranged them in his crate.  He lays on top of it all when he sleeps, so that no one sneaks in and steals it.  Mom says it is like a hen trying to hatch an egg!

This may not apply to everyone, but our new pal has to contend with some cats.  My solution to all cat problems is to send in Tax.  He would to love come over and visit the cats, but I do not think the cats would enjoy a visit from him.  Honestly, I do not understand why people are so worried and protective about cats, because a cat in possession of all four of its claws can open a whole can of WHOOP THAT DOGS A$$!  Since there are two, your puppy will learn his place REAL QUICK.  In this situation, I recommend that the cats come to your dog at introduction, especially since your puppy will grow to be much larger than the cats.  She should stay in her crate and allow the cats to approach her.  After they are aware of each others’ presences, put your puppy on a leash with very little slack and slowly introduce her to the cats.  Animals have our own way of “talking”.  They will work it out amongst themselves, but do not push it!

Ask Spike Online



2 responses

14 02 2009
Bonnie StJohn

I have a few concerns with my “pups” :
1) They serch out and eat feces,
2) they continualy lick and eat anything on the floor–I know other dogs that would have long been dead if they did this. Food I understand but things like paper, pills, etc.
3) I can’t seem to rid them of flat little white worms–any advice on how to do this and how do they keep getting them.
Thank You for any help you can give me

14 02 2009


Have you seen the vet for the worms? That would be what I suggest addressing first.

Recently, I wrote about the conditions you described in the first 2 concerns you noted. For #1 (coprophagia), check out this article. Issue #2 is PICA, which I addressed here.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you are able to use those tools to address your concerns.


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