We were not prepared for this wild child rescue puppy! We prayed for the right puppy at the right time without looking. And, in God’s perfect timing, He presented this beautiful 7-9 week old lab mix puppy. We’re experienced lab people. But, let me tell ya – this girl is a WILD child! She is alllllll teeth. She BITES. She barks. She jumps. Oh, not in that, “awe, how cute” kinda way – in the “crap, she drew blood again” kinda way. And, she runs from us – because, you know, everything is a puppy game, right?! So, research time – how do you train a puppy not to bite and be so bonkers?
ADOPTING A RESCUE…
First, let me preface by saying that we knew before adopting this girl that we were her furever family. And, you MUST understand that and be fully committed to doing so before adopting ANY animal.
Next, know and be prepared for the fact that she (or he) may either be exhausted or hyper when you meet them. And, that might not be how they are when comfortable at home.
Finally, be sure you get adoption papers with any medical records for your puppy. As I found out, this will save lots of stress and the threat of double vaccinating your puppy.
Oh, wait – one more thing – don’t go overboard. Buy the essentials, quality USA made and sourced food, and a few key toys. Then, see what she is drawn to and get what best serves her needs.
SO, WHERE DO WE START?
The BITING is the WORST! And, The Dinosaur Kid is NOT a fan of the (play) biting, being jumped on, and being barked at by his Blue – even though he KNOWS she is just trying to play. He was afraid to interact because, well, it hurts, especially when you’re an eight-year-old kid!
So, adaptive thinking. In the movie, Blue had a trainer – Owen. Owen had to be in command or the raptors would turn on him. The same goes for The Dino Kid and our Blue. When I remind him that he is Blue’s trainer, his mentality shifts from fear to power. It’s pretty awesome.
I researched new puppy biting. Blue obviously was not socialized with humans, meaning she treats us as playmates and does not understand that hands and humans are for lovins! But, how do we get her to understand the difference?
At first, we tried the sound training device we’d successfully used on all of our previous pups. Aaaaand, only a few occasional side glances. Then, the “yelp” method made her stop, look at me funny, go right back to it, then not be bothered by my fake yelp – which, at that point was not so fake. Ouuuuuuch.
Then, I started figuring things out…
1 – Blue needed to learn that hands give good things – like TREATS and loves. I started by breaking Three Dog Bakery Itty Bitty Treats in half or even thirds – and started teaching SIT. The sit position is encouraged by pushing her back end down. Most dogs will then naturally sit. Even the wild child girl quickly figured out that if she sat when asked, she was rewarded in a yummy way! We quickly worked up to her also being required to SNIF before the treat is taken, which slows her down and reduces teeth action.
Here’s how it goes: Blue, Sit, Sniff, Good Girl – while she’s eating her treat, I’m rubbing her head and ears.
At first, she was trying to play-bite while chewing. Then, she just stopped trying and started enjoying both the treat AND the loves. Puppy Lightbulb moment! We do this multiple times a day – breaking up 3-4 treats each time.
2 – We never play empty-handed! We TRY to always be prepared with something she CAN chew on. Because, she is, after all a teething puppy! I’m comparing the months of screaming and crying when The Dino Kid was teething. Chewing and biting is her equivalent. So, making sure she knows what she can safely sink those growing and irritated teeth into is essential. Whether she is trying to bite (play with) or chew on things she should not, always providing HER toys will help BOTH of us – in the moment and long term. And, with the barrier of the toy or rope safely between us, we are still able to teach her a new way to play without her drawing blood.
3 – If we’re standing and she jumps or is barking at us – we turn around and ignore her. Yes, it’s haaaard to do at first. You just WANT to fuss at her. But, she is seeing EVERY interaction as plaaaaaay. You yelp – play. You fuss – play. You push her away – play. You run – play. You get the idea. The more you try to MAKE her stop – the more WILD she gets. So, we IGNORE her! No, NOT in approval of her behavior. We’re refusing to engage in her craziness. And, thankfully, to her, that’s just no fun!
We wait for a second or two until after she stops. We walk away or give her a toy or rope. Then, she gets a pet ON THE BACK and praises for the good behavior. If she does it again, we repeat the process. She’ll quickly lose interest in her own game.
4 – If we’re sitting down and she is in full-on attack the feet and hands mode or is trying to jump all over one of us – of course, giving her a rope or toy is ideal. But, it’s inevitable – ya find yourself without any toy distractions! Ugh! First, we try removing our hands or feet from her face and being still. Sometimes, the simple lack of engagement will make her get bored and stop. She sometimes will sit there and back-talk (bark), though. If she is not biting – we’ll give her a quick “eh-eh” – WITHOUT looking at her – and, ignore her! If she continues on, I’ll place her in her crate (more on that next). By removing her from the situation, she learns that her behavior has consequences.
Unless she is needing to take a nap, we only leave her in there for thirty seconds or a minute – long enough to calm her down.
5 – The BIGGEST thing that has helped – beyond staying equipped with toys and ropes – is that a TIRED puppy is a WILD puppy! Now, I had never considered the use of a crate. I thought of it as just a confining space – doggy jail. But, I started remembering the days of putting my (human) baby to sleep in his safe and comfy crib, how he always slept the best in his own bed, and that sometimes he needed to be in that bed, even when his exhausted-self did not agree. Translating that to this fur baby made me appreciate giving her a safe and comfy space, as well – a crate. She does, in fact, sleep the best and the longest in her crate. She sometimes whimpers 2-3 times when you put her in. But, she eats her Itty Bitty Treats and settles right down. Inside her crate is a cozy bed and her fav toys (puppy safe )are always included. There have been several times where she’s had to go in there for her minute of puppy time-out and just laid down and gone to sleep. Problem solved, lol!
IT’S A PROCESS
We must always remember, above all, she’s a baby! And, she (and we) must be given the grace of time to learn. Just as a toddler must learn the ropes, so must a puppy. She loves and adores us. She’s worth it! Being patient and CONSISTENT with her and loving on her is how we’re changing the ‘game’!
I can’t wait to share more of our learning process! Let me know how any of these have worked for your fur baby and if you have any other great tips!
Blessings and Happy Puppy Raisin’!
Diane – and Blue
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WHEN you can take a minute, I’d love to hear your comments! I mean, how else can we get to know each other? 😉