Well, here we are. We’ve survived a whole 10 weeks without strangling her, abandoning her on someone’s porch or sending her to the pound.
We’ve had a bit of a rough go of it but in the last week or so Chris and I agree that things seem to have (mostly) turned a corner. I say mostly because we still have lots of crazy, and lots of challenging going on. But we seem to have a better control of the nipping. Walking on leash is improving ever so slowly. I think a big contributor to her improvements have a lot to do with us actively trying to get her out to play with other dogs, to burn off her excess energy. We go to the dog park when the weather isn’t totally wretched. We’ve been taking her to indoor play groups on the weekends when we can, and as of last week she started doggy daycare. That’s right. I’m a soccer mom. For my dog.
The daycare is going to go a long way in keeping us sane for the next few months, I expect. She’s got lots to keep her busy through the day, and she’ll learn that we’re not the only people in the world she is expected to respect and behave for. It’s also great ground work for potentially needing to board her if we have to go away. I never did this with Zeus, and our closest dog sitters are a two-hour drive away, so having someone nearby that she is familiar with where she can spend a weekend, here in the city, is really important. She’ll be going twice a week, and they do pick up and drop off, which makes it incredibly convenient. We could even go out for drinks after work without rushing home first — imagine the freedom! The best part: she comes home and crashes out. SHE STOPS MOVING. IT’S FABULOUS.
We also both agree she’s starting to show more affection for us, and our bond has deepened. It helps when your puppy stops biting you every time you put your hands near her. Luna seems to trust us more, and respect us more. For such a long time it always felt like she was constantly challenging our leadership, always doubting our role as policy makers and trying to set her own rules. Pretty big kahunas for such a young thing. Now she seems to have come more to terms with who we are and what we represent, and as a result, we’re all able to have as many moments of cuddles, belly rubs and genuine play as we do moments of asserting our roles as the big bosses. By no means would I say she’s finished challenging us; that never really ends with dogs, but there is definitely improvement.
A few weeks ago I suddenly realized that Luna is pretty much fully house trained. I told Chris that we needed to celebrate this small victory. It’s one of those things that passes you by; it’s easy to forget that you haven’t cleaned up a pee accident in a while. Not only that, but as of this weekend Luna has graduated to going all night — as long as 8 hours — without going out for a break. Hallelujah praise the lord because I was usually on the night shift. I’ve read that the average that most puppies can go is their age in months plus one hour, which means Luna would only be able to last about 5 hours. But she seems to have the capacity to make it all night, and I would say she even seems to be regulating how much she drinks over night.
We’ve also just granted her a bit more space in the house. Now she can go between the kitchen and living room, when she’s out of the crate. This means she can sometimes be out of our sight, but she still can’t really get into major trouble. There are objects to test her, like tea towels hanging off the stove that are oh-so-enticing, and a garbage can that smells interesting, but so far she seems to be respecting the rules. We’re still very much working on no-chasing-the-cat. I’m really starting to wish Smokey would haul off and bite her, to show her he does in fact have weapons. Luna long ago figured out that there aren’t any claws in them there paws. Thankfully Smokey is robust enough in character to keep coming into her space and giving her opportunities to learn, rather than totally cowering in the basement.
A really great trick we’ve picked up is that when she needs a time out, instead of always going to her crate, we can put her on leash and loop it around the backside of the door handle. This means she can pull and freak out all she likes, bark, be a bad ass, and she can’t bother anyone. She has to stay there until she settles down and until she remains that way for a while. This allows us to avoid associating the crate with any kind of punishment, which she was starting to do. She still gets crated for time outs, enticed with her cherished liver treats, but she’s also getting this other form of respect building training. If you plan to try this with a teething puppy however, I highly recommend you treat the leash first with bitter apple. When she’s really wound up she often tries to chew herself free. So far we’ve managed to avoid having to replace her leash.
So here’s to the next four months. It can only get better from here, right?
Oh, and did I mention she’s already a hulking 40 lbs?