Raising a Puppy: The 14th Week in his New Home—Spencer the Blue-Nose Brindle Pit Bull
A day in the life with Spencer the American Pit Bull Terrier puppy. Spencer's 14th week—23 weeks old, 54 pounds, 19 7/8 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).
5 months old.
Check out the size of those paws! Spencer's mother is 60 pounds, short, wide and stocky at a few years old, and his father is 115 pounds, tall and wide in the chest at 18 months old. The father is most likely still filling out. Therefore it is very hard to tell just how big this pup is going to be. So far he is a bit shorter than his brother Bruno at the same age so it looks like Spencer will be in between his mother and father in the height department. Spencer’s weight seems to be keeping up with what Bruno’s was at the same age.
This silly puppy likes to walk on curbs. Good balance, Spencer!
I walked Spencer through the chicken yard. Spence was carrying his bone in his mouth. I noticed the pup avoided any close chickens and walked around them. I saw no signs of the "hunt" in his eyes.
Spencer shows off his tricks: sit, paw, down, dead dog, leave it and get it.
The Big Brother
Bruno, we all love you. Everyone loves you. But man, are we glad your kid brother does not drool and slobber. Anyone want to pop his bubble?
Listening to Commands
To get Spencer to listen to a command I often find I have to say it like I mean it. Calmly, but in a very firm way. For example trying to get him to come; if just saying "come" does not work I put a little growl in my voice and walk toward him. As soon as he starts to come I back off to let him know that's what I wanted; for him to come to me. I am careful not to correct him, or be frustrated or angry when he gets to me, no matter what he was just doing because I do not want to teach him that coming is a bad thing. Whatever he is doing at the moment is what he thinks I am talking about or angry at. Therefore if he is eating horse poop, which he loves to try and do, and I tell him to come to me, I have to make sure I am not frustrated or he will feel it coming from me and it will confuse him. He will think coming to me causes me an unstable frustration. What he does understand is someone who is calm but has a demeanor of a mamma bear. They are not angry, they just mean what they say and one little pup had better just listen.
Well, he definitely knows what "Leave it" means. I had just come up from the chicken coop and was carrying three eggs. The pup started to nose at my hand. In a completely normal, calm voice I said, "Leave it" and he immediately stopped. He still followed me, however he had just stopped nosing at the eggs. This shows my correction was just enough since he stopped, but not too much since he kept following me. I am mamma bear with him so much that I believe it rubs off even when I am monotone. Makes for a good understanding between the two of us.
Poor pup, the grass is taller than you are!
I have been noticing the pup will randomly reach out and bite some plants off as he walks and eat them. I am trying to break him of this. Eating some kinds of plants in the woods can't be good. I am not exactly sure why he does it, whether it is just out of playfulness or there is another reason he is eating them.
Carrying Things Around
This silly puppy likes to carry things around in his mouth. If a human wants it he will let you take it from him. If Bruno wants it Spence will run and Bruno will chase him. It turns into a game where they go back and forth between which dog is running with the object. Bruno has always been faster than Spencer, but the pup is catching up and I believe he will soon be faster than big brother Bruno.
We were on our way for a walk in the woods. Spencer brings his bone. At the gate I have learned to take the bone from him and not allow him to bring it into the woods because he will only carry it for half the walk. He eventually will drop it to sniff something and forget to take it. I leave it at the gate and he picks it back up when we return.
Spencer will often pick up one of his bones and walk to the door wanting to go outside to chew it, or just carry it around. Notice Kung Fu watching Spence from the porch. Spencer will still playfully bark at the cats on the porch, but the cats rarely run from him. They just lie there looking at him like he's a strange creature who is not worth wasting any energy on.
Walking with the Pack
Now listen up, pup. I realize just how tempting it is to want to smell and lick up the doggie friend walking beside you, but that's just not the way the pack rolls. You gotta resist the urge to pull toward the dog next to you to smell and lick at it and just keep walking. Got it? We'll keep working on this, pup. You are already getting better.
Spencer Chases Oreo the Cat
Oreo the cat tended to respond to Spencer by running. The cat would trigger Spencer's drive to chase and as a result every time Spencer would see the cat he would take off after her. It got to the point where Oreo would disappear from the normal hangout on the porch and we would have to go and find her. This time I happened to have the camera on. After the cat jumps from Sara's hands she runs. Even at 12 years old Sara shows the pup enough leadership in her daily day-to-day interactions that he responds to her correction to leave the cat alone. Watch how after Sara calmly corrects Spencer he not only stops the chase but backs off and follows her with his head low. She was able to successfully communicate with the dog that we did not agree with his habit of chasing the cat.
Spencer Goes to Knoebels
We take Spencer to one of my favorite places, Knoebels Grove, a free-admission amusement park in Elysburg, PA. Knoebels is the only amusement park that I know of that still allows you to walk your dog through the resort.
Thanks to owners being responsible with their pets and only bringing in reasonably behaved dogs, the park is able to continue the tradition.
The park was a great opportunity to practice good doggie manners.
I work on teaching Spencer to drink from a water bottle. I do carry a bowl in my backpack but you never know when you will be out without a bowl and a thirsty dog. I squirt a little under his lip and the pup starts to get the idea and begins to lick the bottle.
Bruno is an old pro at drinking from a water bottle.
Spencer practices being able to walk by people, including small children, without reacting.
Spencer sits and watches the rollercoaster zoom by and listens to the screaming people.
Spence watches a dog pass by in the distance.
He peers around the trash can and spots a dog. He quietly but very curiously sits and watches it.
We sit and wait for the kids to exit the log flume ride. Spencer watches a dog pass. Oh man is he curious, but he does not react. Good boy, Spence!
He watches the mechanical horses with great interest; so many new things to see, smell and hear.
The fact that both dogs heel makes it that much easier to control and keep them calm. The dogs are followers instead of leaders and therefore are looking to the humans for direction rather than trying to give direction.
As we sit on a bench a family with small children sits next to us. We have both dogs lie down and keep the dogs in that position as the little one pets them.
Bruno and Spencer pass a German Shepherd dog and Amie and Sara do the right thing by calmly continuing to walk when the other dog barked. Bruno has little reaction but the pup is startled. When you keep moving it is teaching the pup how to ignore, move on and keep going.
Bruno and Spencer watch the baseball toss. The little yawns the pup lets out indicate that he is a little unsure about what is happening around him. At one point he spots a wheelchair rolling by and tries to pull over to it. Sara does a great job at correcting the pup. She directs him away from the wheelchair and matches his own intensity without going over or not being assertive enough. Had the pup been more intense about it Sara would have had to match that in order for him to respond to her. Exposing Spence to all sorts of different noises and activity and teaching him not to respond to it is important to help him grow up to be a well-adjusted dog.
Spencer and Bruno watch singers perform. It's a big mental challenge to ask Spencer, at only 5 months old, to ignore the other dogs around him. Even big brother Bruno the Boxer is challenged to sit quietly as other dogs that are not so quiet pass by. At the end of the clip you can see Bruno shake a bit as he is asked to stay, because his brain really wants to go.
Spencer starts getting tired and lies down on the ground. Amie pulls him up on her lap for some cuddle time. The pup is relaxed and very trusting. Time to take the pup back to the RV and let him get a good nap in. All of these mental challenges and activities have totally worn the pup out.
Spence and Bruno get a nap in the camper. It's just too much for the pup to go all day long without one.
You silly puppy, you are getting all dirty!
Talk about a love bug. This pup loves being loved on. I have seen a lot of dogs that enjoy being loved on, but there is something about a dog that enjoys it with a calm demeanor.