Incremental Puppy Progress

Today marks a month since Apollo came into our lives.  It’s been a busy, hectic month, but each day Apollo burrows himself further into my heart.

Don’t get me wrong.  That first week was tough.  I had him to myself and definitely had flashes of Oh God, what have I done? when he was barking at 2:30 in the morning.  But I would say that period passed fairly quickly and I adjusted to my new schedule fairly easily.  My job does not require for me to start work at 8, so often I would roll out of bed at 7:30 or 7:45, make it into work by 9, and then work through lunch so I could leave at 5.  Now, I have to get up at a decent time to take care of the dog, so my schedule is a little more responsible.

He also keeps me from being too lazy.  I have found that laziness can directly be correlated to shitty puppy behavior.  Since I do not want my puppy to grow up to be a canine Kim Kardashian, I have been working hard to ensure that I expend his energy with walks, that I train him with the necessary tools to be a good dog.

And he’s getting here.  He’s an otherwise great puppy except for two items – housebreaking and biting.  Now, I acknowledge that my living situation can be tough for housebreaking. I live on the top floor of an apartment, so that adds a wrench to the housebreaking process.

I can handle pee and poop, though. I am more frustrated by biting. I don’t think Apollo bites maliciously.  Most of the time, he is wagging his tail and being playful, so there usually isn’t any inherent aggression by it.  But his bites HURT.  My hands are all scratched up and he’s even drawn blood several times.  I can’t say that I handled the biting very well initially.  I mean, it’s hard to respond gracefully when puppy teeth are embedded in your skin.  So my way of handling it would just be yelling, which made things worse.

Boyfriend and I did a lot of research on how to handle the biting, and it comes down to the idea that you have to let him know that he’s done something wrong in his language.  Dogs can interpret the yelling as barking, as something to get excited by.  So I’ve been working on being a lot calmer, even when the bites get painful.

There were two milestones made today.  The first is that Apollo went by the door to go to the bathroom.  He’s done this before, with a spotty success rate.  This time, though, he immediately went poop when I took him outside.  This cheered me.

Apollo has been doing well with the biting all day, because every time he would start getting snippy, I would follow the advice from my research and either ignore him or put him in his kennel for a brief timeout.  We also had lots of exercise today, so I feel like a lot of his energy was expended.  Still, he had time for one big bite.  I had picked up his bone and put it on the couch.  Then I was picking him up to set him on the couch beside me.

Cue a massive bite that fucking hurt and drew blood in several spots.

Instead of raising my voice, I said a firm, “NO” and put him in his kennel.  I waited for two minutes, then took him out.

It was like I took out another puppy.  I brought him on the couch to play, and he dutifully chewed his toy without a fuss.  At one point, he started gnawing on the bottom of my pants but then seemed to remember what would happen if he did.  He gave up and started chewing on his toy again.

Then, without warning, he stopped chewing on his toy and crawled onto my chest to cuddle.  He started giving me kisses, and started licking the bite wounds.

Cue my heart melting into a gigantic puddle.

I think this pup will be A-OK.

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