Ruby will be four months old soon, which means we’ve almost survived the first two months of puppy-parenthood. Phew! Having a puppy is hard work, but it also can be a lot of fun. In the matter of five minutes we can go from “Ruby is so cute and so sweet and so good” to “ohmygod why did we get a puppy???” Life is very unpredictable these days! We thought we’d share a little bit about what we’ve learned and what life is like with a three-and-a-half-almost-four-month-old puppy.
Ruby just graduated from puppy training class, and we’re so proud of her!
Since I spend aaaaallllll day with Ruby almost every day, some of my experiences are probably very different from someone who works outside the home. I’m sure all puppies are different, but here’s what we’ve learned so far with Ruby:
Puppies take a lot of naps. And when they nap, you nap. Or write blog posts. Ruby generally naps every morning from 8-11 a.m., then may take another hour-long nap in the afternoon, and then goes to bed for the night around 7-8 p.m. This is AWESOME. If, however, I get up or even move at all, she’ll fly out of bed ready to play. But a tired puppy is a BAD puppy. Like, really bad. Like, she will attempt to bite your arm off and then eat your sock bad. So that means, at 7:55 a.m., I gather my phone, my laptop, my glass of water, every remote control I may need, and plan on hunkering down for the next three hours to let her sleep. It’s not an ideal situation as far as getting stuff done around the house, but the peace and quiet and the well-rested, non-cranky puppy that comes from it, is totally worth it. (Plus I get to watch Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Yesterday I suggested to Andy that we consider a move to Connecticut.)
When Ruby isn’t napping, she is FULL SPEED AHEAD. Puppies have a ton of energy (um, maybe because they sleep so much) and need to be entertained pretty much at all times. They also need 100% constant supervision. At this age, puppies could eat something dangerous, have an unexpected potty accident, chase a cat, get stuck under the couch… just any number of terrible situations if you’re not paying attention for even two seconds. It’s CRAZY how fast Ruby is able to get herself into trouble when I get busy with something else. When I just can’t give Ruby my undivided attention or when she’s being particularly rebellious (and she’s not even a teenager yet!), I will put a leash on her in the house and let her drag it. That way I have something to grab if she decides to steal a sock and run, and I can hear the leash drag on the floor if she suddenly disappears.
Training is fun. Ruby looooves training. She takes it very seriously. When she gets crazy and starts to fly out of control in a puppy temper tantrum, the fastest and easiest way to get her to calm down is to make her start training — for us, it’s usually sit, look at me. This forces her to focus her attention on something else and teaches her to calm herself. (When that doesn’t work, she gets a “time out”.) We usually do about 15 minutes of training every hour that she’s awake. Plus, really, every single waking moment with Ruby is a learning situation. I keep treats in my pockets at all times, plus her clicker (since we’re doing clicker training, which I thought sounded dumb at first but now I love). We actually treat Ruby with her regular food (Dr. Gary’s Best Breed from Ohio City Dog Haven). When I scoop out her meal allotment, I put half in her bowl and the rest goes in my pockets for training. That way she’s not getting overfed.
Don’t give up. There’s been about a million times, um per day, that I want to give up on one of our rules or ignore some of Ruby’s training just because it would make her life or my life easier at that moment. Andy and I keep fairly strict rules, like no dogs on the furniture (because of this), no jumping on people, no chasing cats, and we use positive reinforcement with an occasional “no” to enforce them. Sure a 15-pound-dog jumping on you is kind of cute, but in a year a 55-pound dog is scary. The things you have to remind yourself, sometimes over and over, is that being strict now will only make your life and your dog’s life better in the future. It’s a lot easier to teach a 3-month-old puppy than a 3-year-old dog. So whatever rules you have, stick to them. It’s hard and you’ll feel like a huge jerk, but in a year, you’re going to have an awesome dog.
So that’s about it. I could probably go on for a week, but no one wants to read all that. Or maybe you do. You just let me know. We’re currently starting the first week of teething, poor thing (poor us), but I’m sure we’ll get through it (with a lot of ice cubes), just in time to start the “teenage”
years months (we’re terrified). The best news about turning four months old is Ruby will be able to go to doggie daycare sometimes!
Do you have any questions or advice for us on surviving teething and a puppy teenager? Have you survived two months (or more) with a puppy and want to share your story? We’d love to hear it! We’ll let you know how the next two months go!