Here’s the cold, hard, often-neglected truth about puppies.
I know. You all just gasped and, were you talking to me in person, I’m sure I’d be slapped by some of you. My apologies. But hear me out.
I love my Jack Sparrow. He is the cutest thing that ever walked the earth, and I just want to play with those little, spastic ears all day long. But I cannot tell you how much stress, blood, sweat, and tears came from our first couple of weeks with him. I guess I’d forgotten that puppies bite, and I was not prepared to deal with that all day long. I work at home most days, and therefore, Jack ran around me (or at me) all day. Of course he’s just playing, but those teeth… Let me inform you that German shepherds have the sharpest teeth and the most powerful bite out of all. the. other. breeds. True story.
I had planned this perfect dream in my head of what life would be like with a puppy…the worst would be potty training and crate training, and the rest of the day would consist of pictures and snuggling in between my work and housekeeping. HAHA. I’ll be the first to admit it. I was very, very wrong. Oh, pre-puppy Caitlin. You fool. If I could go back and warn you, I would. Our first couple of weeks consisted of me chasing Jack around with twelve toys trying to get him to not pee in the house or chew on my carpet or guests who stopped by to see him. When I wasn’t busy doing that, I was defending myself from bites and barks. Or I was victory dancing when he finally fell asleep. I got absolutely nothing done unless he was sleeping or in his crate. And if he was crying in his crate, I was crying outside of it, telling him I was sorry I had to cage him like an animal. Oh, wait…
Now. Don’t get me wrong. My dog is worth it all, no doubt. He’s the bees knees. Boy is TOTALLY potty trained now. He’ll sit at the back door when he has to use the facilities, and it’s awesome. He sleeps through the night without a peep, and he knows how to sit, shake, lay down, come, and stay. And he’s got the most adorable puppy face I’ve ever seeeeeeen. He’s turning into quite a looker, and I can’t wait for him to be big and learn that snuggling is supposed to last longer than two minutes. But the first few weeks with him were an obstacle I was not expecting. I’ve grown up with dogs. I grew up loving all of them, and the bigger, the better! I squeal every time I see a dog on the street. It’s ludicrous. But when sweet, innocent little Jack Sparrow came into my house, he somehow was under the impression that he was alpha and that biting people is super fun. I’d researched to no end before we got our pup, but I had no idea how much more research I’d be doing after we brought him home. I think the first suggestion that comes up on my google now is “WHEN WILL MY PUPPY STOP BITING!?” Hahaha.
I’ll have you know that the little ball of fluff is now playing by himself as I type this, and has been a stellar pup all day. He’s not only learned how to play by himself and avoid chewing on my carpet, but he hasn’t made me bleed in days. ;) Haha. So. Here are a few tricks and tips that have helped us and our little rascal…just in case you ever dare to bring a German shepherd puppy into your home. Jack is by no means perfect yet, but I am determined to turn him into a model citizen. He’ll be sporting constant outstanding behavior and manners any week now, I assure you.
1. Yelp. If your dog bites you, scream bloody murder and pretend your arm is going to fall off. When he learns that he is hurting you, he will start to bite you with less force…still annoying, but it makes for less wounds and band-aids. (Side note…do NOT yell angrily at them…German shepherds are super sensitive, and this could scar them for life. Use a deep, firm voice to show ’em who’s boss.)
2. Muzzle. I’ve heard this works for some dogs and doesn’t for others. When your dog bites you the first time or two, yelp like a hurt puppy. If he keeps biting you or bites down harder, pull back, grab his muzzle and shut it closed for 7-10 seconds…make sure it’s that long or he’ll think it’s a game. If you’re feeling really dramatic and frustrated, you can do what I did once and hold him to the ground with his muzzle closed while you stare him in the eye and whisper in an epic, angry voice, “If you ever bite me again, I will end you.” …I’m not even ashamed…his teeth are weapons. Lol.
3. Cradle. This is a new one I learned from our vet at Pet Medical Center (they rock, BTW). He made some fabulous analogy about wild dog packs and how the alpha male is never on his back. So he scooped Jack up in his arms and cradled him like a baby so he was on his back. Jack was not. pleased. He barked and wriggled and whined, but the vet did not let him down until he stopped struggling. Every time Jack plays too rough or starts getting too hyper, we cradle him until he calms down a bit. Oftentimes, he’ll go lay down for a few minutes after being cradled. It. Is. Awesome. (I doubt we’ll be able to do this in a few weeks when he’s ginormous, but we’re relishing in it for now.)
4. Exercise. Here’s where I’m ready for Jack to be older and fully vaccinated. They say one of the best ways to calm down a puppy is to exercise him like crazy. Take him on long walks and he’ll fall asleep for the day. I’m trying not to run into any other dogs since he doesn’t have all his shots, but I’ll take Jack around the neighborhood a few times to tire him out. Although yesterday, a giant (but SUPER sweet) pit bull scared him half to death with his invasive sniffing, and I think Jack is scared of walks now…Hahaha. We also take him to my parents house to be chased by Lexi, and that definitely takes it out of him.
5. Love. Obvious, right? Trust me. It’s forgettable. I have dreamed about this sweet little puppy for years, and somewhere in the midst of his unexpected, ornery puppy behavior, I forgot to love on him excessively. Oh sure, I loved on him in the beginning…until he turned to my limbs as chew toys. I was too busy wiping up my blood and drying my tears to recognize that I have to teach him how to behave. While loving on him is sometimes difficult because he’s running around in his hyper mood, it’s necessary for him to feel safe and bond with me. I’ll end with a confession. I broke down a couple weeks ago. Fell on the floor weeping kind of break down. After Jack had bitten me (playing of course), I sat cross-legged in the kitchen, sobbing like a madwoman, frustrated and exhausted. Puppy came up and literally licked the tears off of my face and sat in my lap. Puppies will be puppies.
At this very moment, Captain Jack Sparrow is peacefully laying down in my office. The truth is, I love that pup…probably way more than a normal human being should love a dog. And one day, when he learns that biting is unacceptable and learns that snuggling is the greatest thing ever…we will be best friends. And I will probably never leave the house.