Thursday, July 19, 2007

My life as a chew toy

Hi Guys. It's Cindy and I did it. In a weak – VERY weak moment, I relented and gave in to my DH’s desire to get a new puppy. An 8 week old Brittany Spaniel.I know. I know, I KNOW. I should have known better. I should have remembered the house breaking issues, the chewing issues, the house breaking issues, the up several times in the night issues, the house breaking issues, the whimpering and crying issues and did I mention … the house breaking issues???

So, what was I thinking? I was thinking about our old dog, Boomer, also a Brittany Spaniel that we lost in November and how much I miss him. He was such a sweetheart. But he was an old dog. There’s just something about old dogs. They are so special. But a puppy? Who chews? On me, on her bunny, on my rugs, on my shoes? URG!!

But, I was also thinking about this face. Yup. The moment I saw her, my heart melted and I forgot about the disrupted sleep, the wet newspapers, the sharp little teeth that would rather chew on me than on her stuffed bunny.

And I was also thinking about our other dog, Ellie, who has been missing Boomer. Somehow, however, I don’t think a puppy was what she had in mind for companionship. The look on Ellie’s face tells the tail – er pardon me, tale.

Yet despite it all, I am totally, completely, irrevocably in love with Margaret. Yes, we named her Margaret. On the way home with her a week ago, we were trying on name after name after name and none seemed to fit. So I lifted her up, looked her in the eye and said, “Well, Miss Margaret, what ARE we going to call you?” My dh and I looked at each other, grinned and knew we had our name. Not Maggie, not Meg, not Margie, but Margaret. Because she’s beautiful and classic and regal – when she’s not chewing or whining or peeing. And when she’s sleeping – ah, what an angel.

So – advice? It’s been a long time since I house broke a puppy. We’re doing pretty well but helpful hints are always welcome. She’s cutting teeth like crazy so the biting is a huge problem. She has chew toys and little tiny puppy raw hide chews and flyswatters (she seems to have a thing for flyswatters) but her chew toy of choice is ME. Help. Any and all suggestions for not only housebreaking but training her not to bite are more than welcome.


mitchiesgranny said...

Delurking--our newspaper has a column by a dog guru, who goes by the handle Uncle Matty. Here is a link to his website. Oops, sorry, it didn't link, but you can cut and paste. I have always enjoyed his column, he has really good advice, and plenty of it about young dogs chewing, training, etc. Hope it helps.

Liza said...

Margaret is so cute. I think there is a bitter spray you can spray on items that you don't want her to chew on again. I've also been told to keep a spray bottle with water in it to spray at the dog/cat when they try to chew on something or someone. Lots of rawhide chews worked with my dad's dog when she was a puppy.

Kalayna-Nicole Price said...

Hi Cindy,

Margaret is a doll! (But poor Ellie, she has such an Eeyore look on her face.)

For house breaking, I usually start with modified crate training. (Normal crate training tells you to put her in a crate only big enough for her to turn around...but anyone who has ever tried that knows puppies physically can't hold their bladders/bowels, so that only leads to a mess and aggravation.) When no one is home, I suggest putting her in a small confined space with enough room for her bed, some toys, and room to put down newspaper. (make sure you put the paper in the back, not where you'll come to get her, or she will get excited and trek through anything on the paper--very messy) Slowly expand her space while cutting down her paper. When people are home, put the puppy on a leash and attach the leash to a person, that way she can't wander away and go in the house in secret. If the 'leashed' person sees her acting like she has to go, rush her outside and give her lots of praise. (Later you can teach her to beg at the door when she needs out.)

For chewing on people...well this is going to sound weird...but what I usually do is push my hand/arm further into the puppies mouth (not down her throat, but to that soft gummy spot behind her teeth.) Puppies don't like the way it feels , so they will spit out your hand. Then give her something she can chew on (rawhide or toy) My lab eventually started bringing his own toy to the door when I came home because he knew he needed something in his mouth.

-Just things that have worked for me in the past. Good luck training Margaret!

Cindy Gerard said...

Wow! What a great site! I'm studying it now.
How about the rest of you? Anyone have any tried and true methods that work? This little darling is very smart but high energy. She'll be around our grandchildren soon and I'm afraid her little inquisitive mouth will make for a few tears if I don't get her under control soon.

Cindy Gerard said...

Liz and Kaylana - I'm loving this. Never thought of the leash in the house for house breaking. And I've thought of the spray bottle but only for keeping her down from things. Never for chewing.
We got her last Sunday and I left for Nationals on Wed. When I left she was this sweet, snuggly, snuffly, grunting little darling. When I came back 5 days later she'd turned into 'monster' pup :o)
Keep 'em coming. You guys are GREAT

Michele Hauf said...

Ah, what a, um, er...cute little puppy. :-) (Do I get points for saying that, Lois?)

Lois knows I'm not keen on canines. I'm a cat person. Though, I did pat a pug on the head and call it cute a few weeks ago. There is hope for me!


Christie Ridgway said...

Margaret is so darling! It's been a long time since puppy training around here, too. My lab is 13 years old.

On the biting, though, I remember that when they get arms, fingers that I would try to get their lip between their teeth and my skin, so when they bit down it hurt them...they'd let go!

And I'm going to confess that my most spectacular lab was so eager to please that he understood what things were not okay to wreck. Honest. However, he did knock down my younger son a lot and bite his ears. Took him a long time to figure out his new brother wasn't quite the same as the puppy siblings he was used to.

Cindy Gerard said...

You get an A for effort Michelle.:o) We also have cats now (I never was a cat person either) and while one gives Margaret a wide berth, the other seems to really like her. they even play a little together.

Margaret is just falling asleep on the floor beside me as I type this. I'd better go and make sure she doesn't have a computer cord in her busy little mouth :o(

lois greiman said...

Hauf, wow!! You are so grown up. :)

So, Cindy, advice, other than having your head examined, of course, :) would be to take puppy out for play dates. Which is easy for me to say cuz I always have extra puppies for them to play with. But little ones really need to romp, so if you know of anyone with say...a yearling or under, I'd try to get them together and let them roll each other around for a while. It really wears them out. And there's nothing cuter than a tired puppy. Unless it's a tired puppy in someone else's house. :)
They are a little destructive, aren't they?

Cindy Gerard said...

Lois - funny you should mention another puppy. ahem. We are actually getting another one. I think that makes me insane times 10!! Hubby wanted a pointer pup too but she won't be ready to go until the end of the month. I figured like you do. 2 puppies aren't that much more difficult than 1 and if I have to house break one I'd just as well tackle two together. And yes, I'm counting on them to gnaw on each other.
Somebody send me a Zanax okay??

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- Margaret is a cutie-patootie! My house breaking tips are probably the normal--provide frequent opportunity and repetition. You never let the puppy out of your sight until house breaking is complete. That means you have the puppy in the room with you at all times. You take the puppy outside every time they wake up, after they've eaten, 15 minutes after they've eaten. We also use a crate for when we aren't at home. We try not to be gone for longer than an hour or two when getting a new puppy. If I have to be working away from home, I make sure hubby can hit the house about every two hours.

Helen Brenna said...

OH. MY. GAWD. :)))

Margaret is adorable, Cindy. Love her name. Love puppies, as long as they're not mine.

My youngest dog is only 2, so the puppy training business is still pretty fresh. I walk around with treats in my pocket and reward them when I catch them being good.

Wish I'd learned that little trick when my kids were little. He, he, he.

Have fun and take a gazillion pics. Puppies grow up soooo fast.

Betina Krahn said...

Cindy, you're a saint. Who has taken leave of her senses.

It's been a while since I housebroke a puppy, but the crate thing was very helpful. And the frequent trips outside are a must. I'll never forget rushing my little Tippi outside and prasing her "performance" only to be caught by a neighbor walking by. She looked like I'd lost my mind. I was uttering things like "great pee-pee, sweetie," and "what a good tinkle you made!"

I like the suggestion of shoving whatever body part she's gnawing on a little deeper in her mouth. . . making it slightly unpleasant for her to gnaw on you. My late hubby cured more than one dog of licking by literally catching and holding the beastie's tongue. Very startled dogs, I can tell you. Of course, you have to be fast. . . And I don't think he ever did it on a puppy. He reserved such "strong medicine" for older offenders.

Me? I just grab the muzzle, glower and say "no bite!" Hey, my brother-in-law had trouble with a nibbling Brittany. Are they more "bite-y" than other dogs? Anybody know?

And Cindy, I LOVE the look on your older dog's face. It's priceless!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Darn you, Cindy Gerard! That is the cutest face, and my favorite aunt's name was Margaret. We had a Brittany years back, and the thing about Brits is...they smile. I have a picture of our oldest when he was 2 taken with Brit in a park in Mandan. One of my faves.

We had to put our Aussie down a yr and a half ago, and Clyde swore no more dogs. In fact he swears that when the cat "kicks" there will be no more animals in the house. I miss the Aussie terribly. He was my sidekick. Dear daughter has 3 dogs and can't go anywhere because she won't kennel them and no one will dog sit for a 200 lb Giant Malamute. That's kind of a deterrent for me. It's like adding a kid to the family, and Lord knows...

But, oh, that puppy face. I'm a dog person at heart. Darn you, Cindy G!

Cindy Gerard said...

Yes, Betina. The senses left the building:o)
And Kathy - I hear you. Brits do smile and, oh, gosh and golly :o)- this puppy makes me smile. She's worth the trouble. I say that now because she'd napping and I've actually gotten some writing done this afternoon. It's very much like having a baby. And when she looks at me with those big, liquid eyes ... well, I'm a goner.
Right now we are fortunate to exchange doggy sitting with a friend so if we go somewhere where we can't take the 4 legged critters, we have a house and animal sitter. But I hear you about being tied down. It can be an issue.
Oh-oh. I think I hear Margaret. Sounds something like ... I'm cute. come and play!!!
Catch you later.

Cindy Gerard said...

Thanks everyone for all the excellent suggestions. I'm trying ALL of them :o)

PJ said...

Hi! This is PJ delurking to comment on absolutely adorable Margaret. What a little love!

Cindy, my Cassy is 9 months old and out of the "chew on mom" stage. Margaret will get through this. I promise! I used Betina's method of breaking the habit. Also, as soon as I scolded her I'd hand her a chew toy and as soon as she'd start chewing on it I'd give her lots of praise. She eventually learned what was ok to chew and what wasn't.

If she has lots of energy she needs LOTS of activity. A second puppy or play dates is a great idea. I've learned over the years that a well exercised dog makes a happy dog and even happier doggie "parents". Enjoy your new little sweetheart.

PJ said...


I have a lab like that too. She's 11 and was the easiest puppy I ever trained. In fact, she was so smart she almost trained herself.

Thankfully, nobody in our house was small enough for her to take down and chew ears. That's one of the funniest puppy stories I've ever heard. LOL

PJ (a/k/a the chocolate lady from Atlanta RWA)

Cindy Gerard said...

Thanks for the encouraging words. I'll be anxious for her to get out of the chew stage - but not the other things that go along with being a puppy. she is SOOOO sweet. And she's so smart. She already figured out how to get back in the house through the doggie door. Drat. I was hoping I'd have a month or so before she caught on to that as when she's out side in the fenced in yard, it's sometimes the only time I can get some writing done :o)
Her sister puppy will arrive next Sunday. They will be fun for each other.