A tooth for a tooth

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The Tooth Fairy has paid Pippi a visit!

I’m sure that plenty of her 28 baby teeth have fallen out already but this was the first one found on the carpet after a particularly vigorous tug-of-war session.

A tiny, but very sharp incisor (I think). It would explain all the excessive chewing on clothes, hands, noses and anything else she can get her teeth into.

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The tiny tooth

It was news to me that dogs lost their baby teeth before they got all 42 adult gnashers. Apparently it takes longer for small dogs to develop theirs, so there might be a bit of a wait for the chewing to subside. I’m so sorry shoes.

Chewing it over

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It’s never ideal to get home and find your posh Jimmy Choos (more likely Clarks) and Gucci handbag (in reality Next) with teeth marks decorating the leather. Or cook books and oak furniture with chunks gouged out.

But it’s what puppies do when they’re teething or bored. . . Bite and chew. The only way to deflect their attention from your prized possessions is to occupy them with lots of toys and loads of chew sticks.

Even if you give them a vast selection they may still turn to chomping on your stuff just because they can!

There are chew-stop sprays that are meant to taste vile (they do, I accidentally got some on my hand and licked it! Yuck!). Coat your cupboards and chair legs in the stuff to save them from being bitten to bits.

It was sprayed on the kitchen shelving and outside on the bamboo canes she was insistent on nibbling through. Turns out she grew to quite like the taste. . . A lot! The word ‘no’ became the most used in my vocabulary for weeks on end and my patience was well and truly tested!

Pippi’s sharp little needle teeth chobbled on everything and anything!

She has her own box full of toys, all different along with oodles of chew sticks. There was always a new novelty to play with.

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Pippi gets her teeth into something

Alas, the cupboards still got gnawed and the oak coffee table has little teeth marks etched in it. As for those bamboo canes. . . ravaged.

It won’t last forever, it’s a phase that will pass. So those books say. Fingers crossed. Or have we bitten off more than we can chew?

Print   Pippi’s thoughts

Owww! My mouth is all sore and hurty, I think it’s ‘cos my teeth are coming through. The only thing that helps it feel better is chewing on things. But sometimes when I do mummy  shouts ‘no!’ at me. And when it’s loud I know I shouldn’t really be doing it and I’m making her cross. But I can’t help it.

I like bits of wood best, the coffee table is lovely and the shelf part is just the right height if I’m feeling lazy and want to lie down. Mummy and daddy’s hands are fun to bite down on when we’re playing, oh and their clothes are too.

Surely the two-legged people must remember what it’s like to get new teeth? When they coo and smile at me there are huge white blocks in their mouths. They must’ve really hurt when they were growing!

I think I’ll try and use all the special toys they’ve got for me. I have got a few favourites but it’s always nice to try something new. . .

 

Poo-Poo-Pee-Do

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Toilet training. It’s a trying time. All eyes have to be on your pet pooch or you may miss the signs and end up on your hands and knees constantly clearing up their mess.

Here wee go

Boy dogs will cock a leg and leave their scent when and where they fancy. It’s a man thing. Lady dogs are more picky, naturally.
Both will have a good sniff about to find their perfect place. With a lift of the leg (boys) its job done and easy to spot. The girls like to squat on a soft area. This can make it harder to tell if they’re just sitting or having a wee.

It’s wise to remove any rugs and have cleaning products handy (avoid ones with ammonia in. . . it’s an attractive smell to a dog and you want to prevent them weeing on your carpets).

Training pads are good, especially if left by the back door. Top tip: before you throw the used pad away, rub the new one in the old wee to scent the fresh one so it will attract your pup to use it. Sounds a bit gross but it works.

Whenever Pippi had an accident indoors we tried not to react and picked her up and put her on the training pad. When she had her jabs and was allowed outside we popped her in the garden if she did her business inside. Using the words ‘wee wee’ and ‘poo poo’ also helped her associate the action with the outside area.

There was no shouting, no rubbing her face in her mess, no tapping her nose, just simple learning parrot fashion.

We found keeping a ‘doings’ diary’ and noting down the times of any weeing or pooing helps to see a pattern. You can then establish how long your pooch can hold itself which is good with planning when you need to pop out.

Poo o’clock 

To spot when your pup might need a number two, you’ll spy lots of tail chasing, more frantic sniffing and heading to any corner of a room. That’s what to look for. Act with haste and get them outdoors.

Be quick with your poop bag though. Your dog will go back for a sniff and if you’ve not bagged it this might happen. . . Your puppy might EAT its own poo. It sounds grim. Surely not the tastiest treat either! Your bundle of gorgeous fluffiness chomping on its excrement. . . Shock and horror. I was aghast when I witnessed Pippi do it.

Don’t be alarmed. It’s common. It’s even got a fancy name, coprophagia. And although it’s disgusting, the sooner you remove the waste the easier it’ll be to break the habit.

It requires a lot of vigilance but puppies aren’t stupid and learn quite quickly but it does mean putting the effort in to help them.

Then, before you know it, puppy’s waiting by the back door to be let out!

One last thing. . . Don’t compare your puppy’s progress with others. They’re like babies. They’re all unique, and develop at different stages and have their own personalities. It takes time and it doesn’t make you a failure and your pooch difficult. It’s just the way it is.

Print   Pippi’s thoughts

When I first came to live at my new home I was really scared. I was taken away from my mum, dad and two brothers and I missed them so much. (Well not my stinky brothers, they used to pull me around by my tail and fight with me. Meanies.) In my new home it was all so different, I’m the only puppy. I didn’t know what to do when I wanted to go for a wee wee or poo poo. I just did it when I needed to. There didn’t seem to be a special place so I guessed it was okay.

But I noticed that whenever I went in the cosy lounge, mum or dad would pick me up and put me on a soft white mat by the back door, and after a while outside in the garden. Hmmm. This got me thinking, perhaps there was a special place after all. Over the next few weeks I always tried to get to the mat but sometimes I missed and went on the floor. Or I got a bit excited and it just happened. Ooops. There was a bit of huffing and puffing when I did this and lots of sprays and bottles came out. I felt really naughty and bad.

I tried so hard to do what I was supposed to. I realised that the garden’s now my toilet area. So when I need to go I head to the back door and look at mum or dad and they let me out. If it’s in the night I don’t want to mess in my bed, that’s not nice, so I wake them up and it’s all okay.

See, I’m not silly it just took a while for me to sniff it out.

 

Walkies! – Leading the way!

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Every dog likes walkies. You say the ‘w’ word and little pooch wags its tail, desperate to get his/her lead on and hit the open road. All those dreams you’ve had of long, lazy walks through the countryside, little puppy calmly bouncing along at your heel, both enjoying the fresh air and playing fetch. . .

Crash, bang, poof! Back to reality. Getting the collar or harness on can be a mini drama. Puppy runs away. Puppy grabs lead out of your hands. Puppy ducks and dives, refusing to get leashed up.

When you finally win the battle, puppy bites on the lead.

Do we have to go walkies?
Do we have to go walkies?

Once you’re out the door, surely things will fall into place.

New noises, new smells, people, other dogs, cars, swans, geese, a river, everything is an adventure to explore or a danger to fear.

Pup sits down refusing to move. Nope, not budging for anything. She is desperate to go back the way she came, which on the plus side is comforting because at least she knows the way home!

Once again it’s the ‘P’ words that need to be applied.

Patience.
Perseverance.
Positivity.

If you’ve got a stubborn puppy the only way to get it out and about loving ‘walkies’ is to keep on doing it. Graded exposure to traffic and all the other fear factors will see your pooch walking further and further.

Take treats to tempt them along the route. Take toys to make it a fun experience. Let them socialise with other dogs and people as much as possible. Repeat the walk three or four times a day. And don’t be defeated.

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Pippi gets out and about

Pippi’s stubborn (I now know how my mum and dad must’ve felt bringing up me!). We’re still working on getting her to venture out of her comfort zone. But she is, slowly but surely. Have faith in your loyal companion.

And one day, I’m sure our walking dreams will come true and she’ll learn to love it.

Print    Pippi’s thoughts

Mummy and daddy are always wanting to take me outside. They get my lead off the hook and I do get a bit excited ‘cos it’s something different and I know I’ll get treats too, especially if I sit down and pretend I won’t go any further. I think they think I really want to go home, hee hee! But sometimes I’m just tired and want to snuggle up on my blankie. Sometimes it’s all wet and cold and I’d rather not get my paws muddy. Other times I just don’t want to go, I don’t fancy it.

Lots of times it’s really noisy and there are two-legged people out walking four-legged creatures like me. Even though I know they are part of my dog family it can be really scary ‘cos some are like big, really big giants. If I’m feeling brave and they are gentle, I’ll touch noses with them. But if they’re bouncy and boisterous I don’t like it all. I hide behind mummy’s legs until they go away. It makes me shake a little bit.

There’s always something new that frightens me: the big boxes on wheels that are loud and thunder past; or the strange long-necked birds on the river; and the people that whizz past on bikes. I don’t want to get hurt and I know mummy and daddy wouldn’t let that happen but everything is so huge. I’m trying to be brave but I do get a bit panicky.

The curious incident of the puppy in the night

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Use a crate,” they said. “I did with my puppy. It’ll whine for a bit but that’s normal.”

Hmmm. I visited a few forums to check out the pros and cons for the great crate debate. . .

It proved to be be a real, pardon the pun, bone of contention.

Some people seemed to swear by them, putting up with the the whimpers for a few nights, no bother. Others appeared to be horrified by the very idea of caging up an animal.

I have to say I was on the fence. I could understand the use of tough love, but honestly putting an animal in a little cage all night. It doesn’t seem right.

We tried it for one long, upsetting, disturbing night. Except it was so awful and we felt so terrible that we only lasted about three and half hours.

Three and half hours of lying awake and listening to not just whining and whimpering but a horrendous guttural yowling.

We lay in bed staring at the ceiling. I felt sick to my stomach as the miserable sounds filtered up through the ceiling.

In the end I caved and went down to check on Pippi. I couldn’t even wait for her to calm down before opening the door (as all the books suggest, after all you don’t want to reinforce bad behaviour). She was thrashing against the sides and biting at the bars like a thing possessed and that, to me, seemed inhumane to leave her locked inside. So after opening the door and calming her down we decided on Plan B. To let her have the run of the utility room so she wasn’t locked in a cage.

Back to bed we went. The noise began and again. An hour and a half later I ventured to the door, softly trying to calm her before opening it. She looked like a rabid animal. She’d done a frightened wee and was shaking. No way. On all the forums I’d looked at what people were saying: the whining stopped after an hour or so or a few days or a few weeks. But my heart was telling me our puppy wasn’t cut out for the strict crating regime and with both of us working full-time we couldn’t really cope with weeks of contending with the torturous noise and sleep deprivation.

Plan C. The boyfriend slept downstairs with her for a couple of nights. But realistically this is no way to live in the long-term.

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Catching some zzzzs

We took the choice of having Pippi in our bedroom in her own basket.

Oh you’ve made a rod for your own back there. She’ll never sleep anywhere else now,” the opinions came thick and fast. Thanks so much.

But she slept. And so did we. When she needed the loo she’d get up and tap the side of the bed. After a week or two she was sleeping through the night.

It’s no different to having a baby in your room and there’s something quite comforting about hearing the gentle snuffling of a dreaming dog by your side.

We did what we felt was right. For us.

Crating probably is a great training technique for some dogs but for Pippi it wasn’t and we stand by our decision.

Print   Pippi’s thoughts

It was scary enough coming to a new home. Then my human mum and dad wanted me to sleep on my own. I was used to being with my brothers, and even though they used to pick on me it was nice to snuggle up with them at night. It got worse when I found out they wanted to put me in a cage. I thought I’d been naughty. As soon as they left the room I got really upset and cried. I couldn’t stop. I was so scared and lonely.

Eventually mum came to rescue me and let me out of the horrid cage. Honestly, how would they like to sleep in it? But then she shut the door and disappeared. I was so sad and still cried. Mummy came back and in the end daddy slept in the cosy lounge with me. I felt safe and settled then.

This happened for a few nights but then I was allowed upstairs, with mummy and daddy in my own comfy bed. I was so excited, I tried to play games with them but they got a bit cross.

Now I know it’s a place for resting not playing and that makes them happy. I like it up there. I love having them near me. It’s nice that they understand me and have let sleeping dogs lie.

Booked in, checked out – Read all about it

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Books. How-to guides. Helpful handbooks full of practical ideas. I’m a sucker for reading up on a new project to learn how to tackle and approach it to get the best results.

This is exactly what I did during the countdown to puppy arrival. I wanted to be clued up before Pippi arrived rather than dipping in and out of the pages to find out things as and when needed. Being an organised kind of girl, I needed a plan.

Three chapters in and I thought it all sounded very matter-of-fact and pretty straightforward. Nothing to worry about, it all sounded perfectly manageable. I. Can. Do. This.

All I will say now is that by the time I had leafed three quarters of the way through the book, it went back on the shelf and hasn’t been referred to since.

It turns out that while the book was full of tips and suggestions which I digested fully, unfortunately Pippi hadn’t had the chance to read up on what she should and shouldn’t do or how she must behave in certain situations. Poor love. Her motor skills weren’t up to literacy. Darn it.

Learning how to be a puppy was tiring. Pippi decided to sleep on it. . . literally
Learning how to be a puppy was tiring. Pippi decided to sleep on it. . . literally

The book was useful for learning about dogs but most of our puppy training came through trial and error along with trying to understand Pippi as an individual dog.

I’m sure these guides are beneficial and do give some useful information. For some lucky dog owners the results can even be achieved as they suggest they should.

In the absence of the dreaded book, I turned to Google. Yup, let’s see how other people in the same situation are getting on.

This was not a good move. For every post there seemed to be a mixture of positive and negative responses.

Case one:
My puppy just howls all night.”
Well, my puppy’s been sleeping through no problem since the day we got him/her.”

Case two:
My puppy keeps weeing on the carpet and never seems to do it when I take him/her outside.”
Well, my puppy was fully house-trained after four days.”

Case three:
My puppy bites everything in sight even thought we’ve got him/her lots of toys.”
Well, my puppy sits quietly and never bites, chews or does anything naughty, ever.”

Bah! If you didn’t feel like a failure before, you soon will after scrolling through the forum threads.

Don’t do it, it can seriously damage the ability to feel good about your own personal predicament. Either that or you’ll turn in to an ever-so-annoying smug person. Boo!

Helpful in small doses but take them too seriously or you’ll be an emotional wreck. Just go with the flow and keep calm (so much easier said than done at times).

If it’s anything serious then an expert website can be valuable. Then and only then hit Google.

We made the decision to learn our own way and in Pippi’s own time. Which turned out to be perfectly alright.

Print   Pippi’s thoughts

I’m not really sure what books are. I think they’re the slabs of paper that used to be on the kitchen shelf. I got a bit bored one afternoon when there was no one home and my teeth were hurting so I had a chomp on the corner of one book. Mum pulled a face when she saw it and then they all vanished.

It happened again. Mum put a book out of my reach on the coffee table. I wanted to show her how clever I am by jumping up to grab it with my teeth. I managed to have a little nibble. It turns out that wasn’t a good idea. It was her friend’s book. She did that face again.

The thing is, I like books to have a chew on even though I know it’s mischievous. I can walk, run, fetch, dance (sort of), pick up sticks, look, listen and learn, but I can’t read can I? Don’t be silly! I’m a dog for goodness sake!

 

Paws for thought – ten tips

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  1. Start how you mean to go on – If you don’t want your dog on your bed or sofa, or don’t want it to jump up at visitors and bark for no reason, nip it in the bud straight away. Every time pooch does this  and you don’t want it to you must firmly say ‘no’ and not give it any attention. It will soon realise there is nothing to be gained from these actions and will stop doing them.

  2. Do what works for you – Books are great at telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing but puppies can’t read books and they each have their own personality. You can try all the advice and methods taken from well-meaning books but don’t be disheartened if you’re not getting the results they suggest you should be getting. Set your own rules and boundaries from the off. No good can come of Googling. People’s lives are different and your four-legged friend needs to fit in with you as much as you need to adapt to their presence.

  3. Don’t compare you puppy’s progress to that of others – Just because so and so’s pooch was house trained in five days doesn’t mean your pup is useless because it has taken several weeks, even months, and it still has the odd accident. They’ll get there in the end.

  4. Observe your puppy – Understand what it does and doesn’t like, what makes it happy. Pick up on its routine, when it seems to like to sleep, the signs for when it needs the toilet. Does it sniff the ground, chase its tail? When it wants to play or go for a walk. You’ll soon understand it.

  5. Watch where you put your feet – Your puppy will want to be near you a lot of the time so will hover about your feet. Be aware so as not to tread on him/her. Ooops!

  6. Get lots of toys – This will keep it amused and prevent it from chewing your chair legs, kitchen units, favourite boots. Hide some of its play things for a short while and then reintroduce them so they don’t get bored. Give them toys stuffed with things they have to work to get. Kongs are GOOD.

  7. Create a den for your puppy – A cage/crate with a soft blanket inside and blankets draped over three of the four sides creates a safe place for your puppy to retreat to. (Although Pippi HATED hers and we got rid of it after a couple of weeks. Crates aren’t for every dog.)

  8. Get your puppy used to having its ears, paws, tail touched – It will make it a lot easier when he/she visits the vet or groomer.

  9. Keep a diary of its ‘movements’ – I don’t mean when it has a play date but each time it goes to the toilet so you can build a picture of its habits and it’ll also give you a window of when you can get things done without having to constantly watch for the signs.

  10. Give your pooch lots of love and cuddles – Having a puppy is a commitment and a responsibility. You can’t just get one and expect it to sort itself out. It needs attention and if you give it care and consideration it will give you lots of love back.

 

One woman and her dog – the five stages pre-puppy

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  1. EXCITEMENT – You’ve met your little bundle of fun. You’ve imagined all the fun you’ll have together playing. You’ve dreamt of long summer walks in the woods and cosy winter nights curled up in front of the fire. You just can’t wait. Your new puppy will be your bestest friend.
  2. APPREHENSION – You start having concerns and worries about the impending arrival. Will my puppy settle in okay? Will he/she miss her mum, dad and siblings? Will it like me? Will he/she behave? Will it bark a lot? Will he/she be okay left alone while I’m at work?
  3. SELF DOUBT – Then come the fears of being able to look after an animal and being responsible and committed. Will I be able to train it? Will I feed it enough? Will I feed it too much? Will I make it ill? Will I be able to cope? Will it like me?
  4. SHOCK – Oh.My.Dog! – One small bundle of joy and one significant lifestyle change. Lie-ins? Nope, temporarily on hold. Popping out whenever you fancy, for as long as you like. Nope, can’t leave puppy home alone for too long. Lounging around on the sofa. Only when puppy is having a sleep which is generally when you need to catch up on all the things you can’t do while you’re keeping pooch entertained. Puppies need attention. They need to be taken outside to go to the toilet regularly. They follow you from room to room lingering around your heels. The moment you take your eyes off pup for too long it’ll be nibbling something it shouldn’t.
  5. REALITY – It’s quite a lot of hard work and a big responsibility. You need to be patient and tolerant and accept that accidents will happen, your pup is only a baby and it will take time to fall into place. Puppies demand a fair bit of attention and not always at convenient times. But they are a lot of fun, love snuggling up, will always be happy to see you and quickly become your new best friend.