Raising a Puppy: Mia the Blue-Nose American Bully Pit—7 weeks old
A day in the life with Mia the American Bully (Bully Pit) puppy. Mia's first week—7 weeks old, 9 pounds, 9 1/4 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).
7 weeks old
Introducing the Crate
I was very careful when introducing her to the crate. I used a bully stick and later some dog treats to show her it was a happy place. Each time I put her in I did not close the door until she was relaxed.
Sleeping the First Night
The first night I put Mia's crate on the dog bed, thinking she would like to sleep next to Bruno and Spencer. The next morning I noticed that Spencer let out a little whine as he paced around. I realized by putting Mia on the bed after she had walked into the house acting like a leader, Spencer took that as her claiming the bed and he didn't know where else to sleep.
Since Mia is a natural-born alpha and Spencer senses her confident, authoritative energy, I decided to move Mia's crate where she can see the beds, but she's not on top of them. After I moved the crate, Spencer seemed to be happy. He started a play session with her and happily slept next to her later in the day.
Housebreaking First Night
It was in the evening when the breeder brought Mia over for us to look at her. By the time everyone was settled in for the night it was about 1:00 a.m.
At 1:45 a.m., I heard Mia cry so I got up and took her out to pee, which she did promptly.
Unfortunately, everyone in the house gets up at 5:30 a.m. for work and school. I usually go to sleep after midnight and wake up around 8:00 a.m. Of course Mia woke up when everyone else got up. I heard her yip and went downstairs to let her out to do her morning business. Turns out Amie had already taken her out to pee and poo, and she had yipped when Amie put her back in her crate. I could have gone back to bed, but I was already up and she was too cute not to sit there and watch as she jumped around the house playing with the dog toys.
By 7:00 a.m., Mia went back to bed. I had just taken her out to pee and I set her down on the floor then she curled up on the dog bed. After a bit, I put her back in her crate because I was not going to stay to watch her. At this age puppies need 100% supervision. Mia lay down and closed her eyes. I waited until she was relaxed before I closed the crate door. Never close a crate door on a dog that is not relaxed or you will make the dog feel trapped rather than being in a secure place. When Mia heard me walking away she yipped. "Shhhh!" That was all it took; Mia went back to sleep.
The next morning Sara and I were both watching Mia as she was running around. We must not have noticed her smelling the ground because she squatted and peed. I caught her mid-stream and picked her up. "Hey, no!" Mia let out a little growl of a protest as I picked her up. Yep, this little alpha will have to come down off of her pedestal.
Later in the day Mia did it again right in front of me. She squatted. I said "No!" and picked her up and took her outside but this time she did not protest. I have to pay closer attention to the little girl. I seem to be rusty in the puppy department. At this age any accidents the puppy has inside the house are due to human error. No human is perfect, that includes me. Time to pay closer attention.
Housebreaking is going to be challenging until the weather gets warmer. Today it is windy with a temperature of 8 degrees and a wind chill of -12° F and Mia does not like it one bit. As soon as we walk outside she starts to whimper. I have been tucking her into my coat, putting her down to do her thing and putting her right back into the coat as soon as she goes. Her reward for relieving herself outside is to be able to come back inside the house. She had been going right away, both pee and poop. When she does not have to go that badly she runs between my legs so I slowly back up, trying to get her to go. A few times she just sat down and began to cry. It was too cold and she didn't have to go. I scooped her up into my jacket and brought her back inside. Pee pads are always an option; however, they often confuse the dog. If I can avoid it, I do not want to go backwards in the housebreaking department by teaching her that sometimes it is OK to relieve herself inside the house. I also do not want Bruno and Spencer to see another dog allowed to relieve herself inside. The house is the den and the den is supposed to stay clean.
I need to teach Mia to walk to the door when she has to go outside; however, right now because of the frigid temperatures, outside is a huge negative. I have not tried to teach her to walk to the door just yet. Tomorrow the temperature should reach 29° F and the wind should die down. It will be much more tolerable to be outside; I might even be able to show her it's fun for short bits of time. At that point I will begin to teach her to walk to the door.
The rest of the day went very smoothly. Mia caught on that if she peed and/or pooped outside she got put into the coat and brought to a warm place.
Housebreaking Second Day
At 1:35 a.m. Mia cried in her crate. I went downstairs to let her out. She whined the entire way out the door and peed immediately when she got to the grass. Then she ran to me, sat down and whined to be put into my coat. She does not like the cold and she snuggled in under my neck. She is the most comical dog I have ever had and possibly the most affectionate. The temperature was in the single digits during the night and Mia was shaking like a leaf from the cold so I did not make her walk all the way back to the house. I got her warm as soon as I could. She will, however, need to begin to walk on her own. I need to balance the danger of the cold with the need to allow her to be a dog, and a very important part of that is making her walk on her own.
At 3:40 a.m. Mia woke up again and yipped in her crate. I took her out where she peed immediately then we headed back inside. She went right back to sleep in her crate.
I woke up at 7:00 a.m. to find the kids had taken care of Mia all morning. She was walked out to do her thing and put back to bed before they left for work and school. It's so nice to have a family that understands dog behavior and helps with the care.
Housebreaking Third Day
Oh Mia, oh my, what have you done? Is that pee I see? "Hey mom, remember that thing you said where if a pup my age pees inside the house it's not my fault? Remember? Do ya, do ya?" Sara had let Mia out of her pen without letting anyone know and she got distracted with cooking dinner.
Overall, Mia is doing great with housebreaking. By great I mean when we take her out she usually goes right away. She has figured out what we want her to do outside. The frigid temperatures have not helped any as she gets cold very easily and it seems sometimes she will pee and not want to hang around long enough to poop. I have found that bringing Bruno and Spencer outside with us helps her forget how cold it is and concentrate on getting it all out.
"Hey kid, do you see Spencer over there? He's peeing. That's what those humans want you to do. If you want to get back in the warm house quickly than just get it done."
Housebreaking Fourth Day
We take her out often and she understands if she goes, she gets to come back inside. It's cold outside and she is smart, so she usually goes right away. I have been using food to lead her to the door to get her to go out on her own. To her, outside is very cold and it always has been. Going to the door means going to a cold place. Food should help her see it as something positive. As positive as it can be, that is. When it gets a little warmer outside it will be easier to get her to see it as a true positive.
I had just taken Mia out to pee, which she did so we headed back inside. I started preparing the dogs’ breakfast when I spotted Mia mid-poop in the dining room just a few feet from where I was standing. "Hey!" Mia ran off as the last of the poop slid out. I took her outside but it was already done. I should have stayed outside longer when I took her out the first time, but there was freezing rain coming down and I had rushed it. Oops!
Later the same day we went back outside in the freezing rain and she pooped and peed. I usually love winter, but this is a real hindrance.
Later the same day Mia peed in the same spot where she had just pooped. Hmmmm, what is my excuse this time? Surely I can come up with something, right? I was putting groceries away and it was boom, she was here and then she was gone. She had already peed before I found her. How about this excuse: this is the same area Spencer used to pee when he was a puppy. Could she be smelling that? Oh, wait. I am supposed to be watching her 100% of the time while she is out of her crate. How about the excuse that I am just a human? I'll try harder. Promise.
Housebreaking Sixth Day
Mia was in her bed playing and chewing on a bone when suddenly she hops out and pees on the floor in front of the dog bed. WOW! I was not expecting that one. No warning. "Hey, no!" I was able to catch her mid-pee. Hopefully that will get it in her bully head that she can't pee inside the house. Now, where did I put the roll of paper towels and cleaner?
Mia's breeder had told me she was the alpha puppy in the litter and he was correct. The first time I noticed it was upon her first meeting Bruno and Spencer. I picked her up as she was strutting around showing Bruno and Spencer how confident she was. As I did this she growled and it seemed to be directed at the dogs and redirected to the person who interrupted her, which was me. Later, after the breeder had left, a couple of times she let out a little grumble of a protest when she didn't want to do something. For example, once I had picked her up from the dog bed to put her into her crate and she made a little protest sound that sounded like a growl mixed with a yap. Another time was when I caught her mid-stream peeing inside the house and picked her up saying, "Hey, no." It was her saying, "Hey, I don't like that and I don't want you to do it!" In the dog world it is normal for the leader to tell the others in the pack what it is they want and do not want. What little Mia is going to learn, however, is SHE is not the leader in this pack. The humans are. We will teach her this by acting like leaders in our everyday life. Just like the other dogs in the pack, she will not be allowed on the furniture, in the family room, or upstairs to the bedrooms. There will be no gates; it will just be a boundary she will have to respect on her own. We will also teach her that rolling onto her back and exposing her belly is rewarding by rolling her over a few times a day for a belly rub until she relaxes. She will also be taught the "dead dog trick" just like Bruno and Spencer, where we say "dead dog!" and the dog lies down on its side and goes still for a tasty treat. It is a submissive position that is rewarded with food. She will also need to keep her paws on the ground, come when called, heel on a leash, out the door after the humans etc. then Mia will fit right in. She just needs to learn the rules and this house has lots of them. At the same time, the humans are calm, we do not fight or yell at one another and no one talks disrespectfully to anyone so she will not feel tension in the home. Energy like that coming from the humans is a weakness to a canine animal. If a home has that type of tension coming from the humans, it is almost impossible to create balance for a canine.
Uhhhhh, a belly rub...
Mia does allow humans to touch her food when she is eating. I had tested it out once and so did the kids. It is something that is good to do once in a while, but it is NOT something you want to do several times at every meal over and over. You do not want to constantly take away a dog’s food while they are eating. Doing this will teach the dog that it must eat fast and/or it must protect its food. Food is required in order to survive so while it is good to make sure a dog allows you to touch its food and get it used to having someone be able to take it away, you do not want to harass a dog by testing it over and over. There is a fine line between being reasonable about it and harassment to the point where you will actually create issues.
That being said, a human should always be able to take things from a dog, be it food, a bone, a toy or another object. It is not safe to live with a dog that guards. If a dog guards anything at all, it is time for the humans to step back and look at the big picture of how THEYmust change in order to change the dog. The temperament of a dog is always a direct reflection of the pack around it. When humans live with a dog they are the dog's pack.
I noticed something I found intriguing. When I would correct Mia for something such as chewing on an off-limits object, peeing inside the house, jumping on humans or puppy biting, Bruno and Spencer would watch very closely. I could tell they understood the puppy needed to learn what was expected and they could tell I was trying to teach her. Bruno would look up at me when Mia would come over to pester him while he was lying down. His eyes said, "We have a lot of work to do with this little squirt." He looked wise making eye contact with me as he tolerated her antics.
The day after we adopted Mia I noticed that little spark of attitude she had the first day I met her seemed to be gone. I don't see it or sense that it's there anymore. My guess is that she's learned the order of the pack. Time will tell if it comes out again, but if we are consistent we can keep her that way.
There was meaning behind the way Spencer pushed Mia around in his morning play. He was showing her she was not a leader and he showed it to her in a play session. It was a lesson. An entire conversation between them. Watch the video and notice how Mia holds her tail high. In the beginning Bruno and Spencer really get to know her by smelling her back end. Notice how Spencer is playing with her but also take notice of the meaning behind the play. The way he noses her and pushes her off of the dog bed then allows her to come back. At 1:36 Mia stood proud and as tall as she could as she made eye contact with Spencer. Spencer used his nose to push her back down into a submissive posture. He was saying you can come up, but you can't own any of this. Watch how he rolls her onto her back with her belly up a few times. He was not telling her he was alpha and he was not telling her he owned anything. He was not trying to scare her or send her away. He was giving her a friendly attitude adjustment that said she was welcome to the pack, but she was not welcome to lead the pack. The night before, Mia had come into the house as if she was going to run the show. By the next morning she was put into her place by Spencer with help from Bruno. What amazing communication to be able to have witnessed and capture on video. For anyone who can read the language of the dog, you will see exactly what I am talking about in this video. This is the point where Mia's alpha attitude piped down and she gained some respect for her surroundings. Two balanced adult dogs taught Mia in a day what I pictured the humans taking weeks to teach her. Fascinating.
Mia seems to have really taken a liking to Bruno. He is very tolerant of her, yet he too will put her back into her place by nosing at her. When Mia got too rough he nosed her around a little while he remained lying down, then laid his heavy head on top of her, pinning her to the bed for a second. "Calm down kid, you got to learn some manners."
At the end of the video, watch how Spencer walks over wagging his tail. He's happy to see Bruno helping him teach Mia to be respectful. Spencer has been working on her since she walked in the door.
The first feeding time went very well. Bruno and Spencer ate their food in their normal spots and Mia's bowl was placed at the other end, making an invisible triangle between the dogs. I held Mia while I placed Bruno and Spencer's bowls on the floor. I asked them to wait. As I set Mia's bowl down, I told Bruno and Spencer to "get it," meaning to eat their own food, so all of the dogs started eating at the same time. Bruno and Spencer finished first and they did not try and take Mia's food. Mia does not know the routine yet, but she will soon. I did not tell Mia to wait this time. It was the very first pack feeding and I did not want to confuse her by saying no to the food. One step at a time. When she learns what happens at feeding time and where her spot is, I can add in a wait. If I tell her wait before she understands it is time to eat she may mistake it as not being allowed to eat. I am going to let her learn the routine before adding in the command of “wait.”
Mia has had a few pack feedings and now understands it means everyone eats. It is time to teach her some place manners. Sara leaves Mia's bowl on the counter and uses her hand to poke Mia back when she tries to eat Bruno's food, which she placed on the floor. Spencer is over on the other side of the counter patiently waiting. She tells Mia to leave it and wait. She walks over and sets Spencer's bowl down and tells him to wait. Mai waited without trying to eat Bruno's food. She seems to catch onto things very quickly. Sara walked over and picked up Mia's food bowl and waved it under her nose to lure her over to her place. She sets the bowl down and tells everyone to "Get it." We will add in a wait at the bowl for Mia after she gets the feeding positions down in her head. One thing at a time to insure we do not confuse her as to exactly what we want of her.
Feeding Day 4
Feeding time is going great. I prepared everyone's food. I set Bruno's bowl down as Mia came running over. I said sternly, "wait!" As I raised my arm to block her in case she had kept coming. Mia skidded to a halt and backed up. I set Spencer's bowl down and told him to wait. Then I walked over and placed Mia's bowl down in her spot. She knew where to go and followed me to the spot. Her understanding has improved greatly, judging by her quick reaction when I stopped her from getting Bruno's food. When she successfully completes the task a few times without intervention I will ask her to wait a few seconds before eating after her bowl is placed on the floor.
Feeding Day 5
At feeding time today Mia didn't try to get Bruno’s or Spencer's food. Instead, she waited a few feet back. She knew it was not for her. I set Bruno's bowl down and walked over and set Spencer's down, asking both of them to wait. Mia was sitting down a few feet from where Bruno eats. I lowered her bowl from across the kitchen. She ran to her spot and I told everyone to "get it." She's learning very quickly.
Teaching to Follow
I don't have to teach this pup to follow. She follows me everywhere on her own.
While we were out for a pee break, Mia spotted a cat. The cat looked at her and hissed. Mia took off in the cat’s direction. I was close and she was slow enough that I was able to quickly give her a poke in the shoulder with the tips of my fingers. "No chasing cats!" Mia came to a halt and looked up at me. "Oh, OK then" and she headed in the other direction to pee. Good girl.
The next day Mia came nose to nose with our cat, Sylvester. Sylvester did not run from her. He smelled her and walked away. Mia didn't try to chase him. Good girl, Mia.
I needed to get Mia's measurements for the 7-week-old page. I picked Mia up while she was busy playing and cradled her like a baby to move her over to the area where she needed to be measured. Mia didn't like being in this vulnerable position with her belly up. She let out a little growl. I tapped her with my finger "No!" She was not expecting that and she relaxed in my arms.
She really wanted to go and play. She was hyped up and ready to run to the toy bin. I attempted to put her into a stack position to get her to stand tall and she growled again. I tapped her again and picked her up by her scruff. "No, you little squirt, you're going to stand!" I gave her a growl of my own and she allowed herself to be measured.
Mia wanted to play and I wanted her to stand still for 30 seconds. A lot of owners who have heard that little grumble coming from a spunky puppy who just wanted to play would have laughed. She's tiny and her attitude was all, “I want to play let me go, let me go.” When dogs become biters there are always beginning stages. There is always some type of sign or signal that there could be issues in the future. Never does a dog just start to nip or bite out of the blue. At some point when the dog was growing up someone somewhere did the wrong thing and allowed a behavior they should not have or reacted to a behavior in a way they should not have.
Ten minutes later that same morning I was at my desk writing about what had just happened. Mia was chewing a bully stick when she decided she wanted up on my lap. She yipped and raised a paw. It was adorable. She wanted to sit on my lap. She was as cute as a button, but I knew better. Nope, she can't tell me when she wants to cuddle. If I allowed that, we would be well on the road to creating a dog with Small Dog Syndrome. Mia gave up on trying to tell me to hold her. I had kept telling her no and tapping down any paws that she put on my leg. She walked over to her dog bed on the floor and went to sleep.
Now I clearly see that it is time to start making her walk. Yesterday was the first full day here with us and the temperatures were dangerously cold. There was no way I was going to be able to get her to walk out the front door to pee in single digit temperatures with a wind chill of negative 12. When it was time for her to do her business she was carried. Now it’s warmer with the temperature in the 20s and the wind has calmed down somewhat. Now she must be treated like a big dog. She must walk and if she does not want to go she must be made to go. This is the point where a lot of owners make mistakes. The little puppies are carried around and are allowed to demand what they want. They are adorable and we humans think it's cute, and to be honest it is. But there is a meaning and a consequence behind it that will not be funny in the future. It is time for me to inform the rest of the family that she needs to be treated like a 50-pound dog that is too hard to pick up. They already know not to tolerate the protest growls, but we have not spoken about carrying her around and making her go on her own. Everyone will be in full agreement; that I know for sure. I just have to bring it to their attention.
Later that same night, Sara silently, calmly, and confidently got her to relax while she was belly-up. What started out as being a little squirming protest along with what some might call "talking" turned into a relaxing belly rub that was very rewarding.
Where's Mia? She was just here a second ago and now she's gone. Oh wait. I looked straight down and there she was. She keeps doing that. I didn't see her because I didn't look down far enough. Mia likes to be close to the humans. Very close. If you can't find her be sure to check your immediate surroundings, such as down by your feet.
The Fireplace Battle
Mia walked into the dining room and discovered the wood-burning stove for the first time. She was very curious. She looked at it and cocked her head. What the heck was that thing? She felt the heat coming from it. Now that was nice. She hated the cold. But look at that light. She just didn't get it. She backed up as the heat made her face too hot. She cocked her head again and went closer. She just could not figure it out. This is nice, but it's very strange. She got closer, trying to smell it. "OUCH!" Her nose touched it. She sneezed and jumped back. "What the heck! Are you kidding me?" Mia walked back up to that big thing that just bit her in the nose. She raised a paw in the air and tried to swat at it. It didn't jump back. "Oh, it's brave, is it? It's not as brave as me. I'm a Bully Pit. Do you hear what I said? A Bully Pit! That's what I am." She tried swatting it again and let out a yip. "Are you listening to me? Why have you not backed off already. Yip!!!" Pawing at it now. "It'll back off any minute. OUCH! What?! You bit me again?! OK, OK I'll just go away now..."
"...well maybe I'll just lie down next to Bruno because you are really warm and did I tell you I really, really hate the cold? Maybe you're not so bad after all. You can stay. Did you hear me? I said you can stay." (true story)
It's been so cold; walking outside is a big negative to Mia. She hates the cold and wants to be in where it is warm. We, on the other hand, need to teach her to walk to the door when she needs to relieve herself. If a puppy is picked up and carried outside every time they need to go out to use the bathroom they often never learn how to alert you that they have to go. They will stand in the middle of the room waiting for someone to come and take them out because that is what happens when they need to pee; someone carries them out. Puppies that are just standing in one place often do not set off alarm bells for humans that mean they have to go. The puppy will eventually just go. Puppies can only hold it for so long before it is physically impossible for them to hold it any longer. It is important to teach a dog to walk to the door to help the humans understand when it needs to go out. Sara lures Mia with a sweet potato wrapped in chicken. Mia loves it so much that the smell and thought of food overrules the cold. Good girl, Mia.
We have also been working on getting Mia to climb the one step back into the house. It is important when raising a puppy that you allow them to try and figure things out on their own. It is a learning experience for her to realize that if she tries hard enough she can indeed climb over that step. It helps her remain secure and confident. If she were living with her canine mother, her mother would not walk over and drag her up the step every time they went inside the den. The mother would stand there and allow the puppy to work at making it. Some people make the mistake of overprotecting their little dogs, which always creates unwanted behaviors. There is a line between keeping the dog safe and overprotecting it to the point where the dog never gets to feel the satisfaction of overcoming a challenge.
Learning to Sit
Sara wanted to teach Mia to sit. She got a cup of treats and called Mia over to her. Oh great, I'll go get my camera so I can video how you do it. I walked into the other room where my iPhone was sitting on my desk, picked it up and walked back. By the time I got back I caught the tail end of Sara gently tapping Mia on the back end, asking her to sit. Mia sat down. Sara said "Good girl" and handed her a treat. OK, I have my camera, show her again. Sara tapped the floor with the treat to get Mia's attention. She said "Sit" and Mia sat down right away. That was it. I missed her teaching Mia to sit because Mia learned in 30 seconds. This could not be right. I texted her breeder and asked if she was taught to sit. Nope, she was not. Mia learned to sit in about 30 seconds. She is a very smart girl.
Learning to Stay and Come
A very important part of creating a balanced pack and helping Mia to adjust into her lower spot in the order is going to be pack walks. I don't think we could achieve a complete balance without this instinctive activity. Our very first pack walk together was a short one down the pipeline and into the back woods looping back to the house. Mia walked a quarter of the time and was carried the rest. She's very young and the temperatures were in the teens. There is only so much a puppy can handle. Even inside my jacket with her head hanging out the top she got a sense of being out with the pack. When I put her down and allowed her to walk I didn't have to ask her to heel. She naturally fell into place behind Bruno and Spencer and followed them. This helped the dogs bond as a group. It is hard for dogs to get a sense of things trapped inside the den at all times. The den includes the house and yard. A pack walk is when you leave, going somewhere other than your house and yard with the dogs all heeling on the leash following the human.
Mia was sleeping in the bed next to my desk when she woke up and casually started chewing on the corner of the door. "Hey, no!" I put a bully stick in front of her to show her what she can chew. Puppies have an urge to chew and it is not fair to just tell them no without redirecting them to something that can relieve their gums.
Mia is picking up quickly what is off limits and what is hers to chew on. She does walk around the house testing out everything, but when we say “NO” she stops and looks at us. We then give her a toy or a bone and she happily starts to chew that instead.
Mia does puppy bite, but not as bad as Bruno did when he was a puppy. She does try and chew on hair that falls down into her face. However, she does not bite down hard, and when you tap her nose and say “no” she stops. She will also try and chew your clothes when you hold her, but stops when you tell her no. She just looks up at you with those bully eyes as if she's taking in this new rule. Even though Mia never bites down hard, it is important to teach a dog never to chew on human body parts. Not only for the obvious reason that it may hurt someone, but also because not every human appreciates being chewed on. More importantly, however, is the fact that it is disrespectful and teaching a dog respect is very important.
Drop It and Leave It Commands
Mia is learning the "drop it" and the "leave it" commands. As I was trying to clean up Bruno the Boxer's vomit, Mia ran over and took the dirty paper towel. "Drop it!" I poked her with my finger. Mia dropped it right away. Then she started to pick up another paper towel. "Leave it!" Mia backed off without me having to touch her. She walked over to the rest of the mess and smelled it. Then she headed to the dog bed and lay down for a nap. Good girl.
Good Guard Dog
I think Mia is going to be a very good guard dog, which is what we wanted. Mia heard a strange noise and she ran to the door, letting out a bark. She sounded like a big dog for a second. Finally, a dog that barks at the door. Neither Bruno nor Spencer bark at the door. Bruno will bark if I say, "Who is it?" in an excited tone. He will also bark at things far away in the distance if he is in the yard, but if someone knocks he does not bark. Spencer rarely ever barks. If I do hear Spencer bark it is always at an animal in the woods. Hopefully Mia will be an alert barker, letting us know someone is here.
Mia is such a goofy character. She discovers the toy bin then tries to steal a toy. Once she realizes she actually has one she runs and wipes out.