Raising a Puppy: The Fifth 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 fifth week—14 weeks old, 30 pounds, 15 7/8 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).
About 3 months old.
Spence, what do you have under that trampoline? "Drop it!" Spence dropped it and I crawled under the tramp to see what it was and get rid of it—a dead mouse with maggots coming out of it. Spence, you are going to give yourself worms! YUCK!
Trip to the Mountains
We take Spence on a trip to the mountains. We hiked in the woods, checked out the fish in the pond and went for a Gator ride.
Spence can only walk so long before he is just too tired to go any further. I try and stop him before he drops of exhaustion, as I have a feeling this pup would follow us until he made himself sick. We only walk for so long and then take the John Deere Gator and the horse. Spence watches Zoey the horse curiously as she yawns.
Spencer goes for a ride on the John Deere Gator. He was too tired to run like Bruno. Amie follows on her horse. Spence has no problem adjusting to riding in the back even though it was very bumpy. We ride for about an hour, stopping at various spots to pick berries and check out other interesting things. Spence gets to explore with Bruno.
After a while he is so tired that when we stop he just lies down…
…and goes to sleep. Mr. Frog Legs is exhausted!
Oh great, Spence pooped and we spotted tapeworms in it. They were alive and moving. I should not be surprised with all of the dead things he sniffs out and tries to eat. Good thing we already have a vet appointment today for shots.
In fact, this morning I was walking all of the dogs in the woods. Spence was off leash and following behind. I turned around to find him happily and proudly walking with a dried-up dead animal hanging from his mouth. I could hear him crunching the bones as he walked. "Drop it!" I tossed it off the trail into the woods. Spence sniffed around the ground trying to find it. "Leave it." That pup has one good nose on him and he is attracted to the grossest things.
Using the Stairs
Spence is not allowed upstairs at home and therefore he has not had a lot of practice with long flights of stairs. He is pretty good at going up short steps; it's coming down steps that he is not so sure about. We took Spence on a trip to a house in the mountains. There were stairs leading to the main floor. When Spence was smaller there was no way he would have been able to do the steps on his own, however he is a little bigger now and does have the capability. He just needs the confidence. I was not going to be able to carry him up and down steps forever. This pup needed to learn he could do it.
I was careful not to sweet-talk him in a way that would show him affection as he was very unsure of himself. I didn't want to tell him I was happy with him being unsure. Instead I talked to him with a bit of authority, yet nicely at the same time. Calling him down the stairs from the very top with treats was not going to work. There were just too many stairs overwhelming him. I picked him up and placed him seven steps from the bottom and told him to "Come." Spence looked very unsure and worried. I helped him along a bit by showing him how to move his front feet forward and let his back feet catch up. I did that twice, and then let him try on his own. "Come!" Spence moved one of his front paws forward, and the second front paw, then moved his back legs. I think he was rather surprised at himself. His tail went from unsure to more relaxed. He did it again and went down one more step. Now his tail started to wag slightly from side to side. He cautiously went down one more step and his tail moved faster. Another step, the tail went even faster! Spence was very pleased with himself. He made it to the bottom and the tail was going good. I told him "Good boy" and took him outside for some play.
I'll have to have him practice more when we are around more steps. I cannot do it at home since I do not want him upstairs. It would be confusing for me to practice on the steps at home and then tell him not to use them.
Using the Stairs: Couple of Days Later
I let Spencer check out the RV. Spence didn't want to climb up the steps, so rather than just place him inside I gave him a boost by placing his front paws up on the first step and supporting his back legs. It worked; Spence climbed the last two steps on his own. There is a third step below what this picture shows.
Now it was time to come out of the camper. There were only three steps and they were very wide, making it easy for him. However Spence would not even try. He looked down and backed up. I thought about helping him along by placing his front legs down the first step, but I had another idea I wanted to try first.
I told Bruno to get into the camper. Then I called him out of the camper. Spence watched Bruno very closely…
…and mimicked him. Spence went out of the camper on his own! Good boy, Bruno! Good boy, Spence! Spencer tends to copy Bruno in a lot of aspects, including how they lie on the dog beds. We often notice that Spencer will lie in the same position as Bruno. If Bruno's head is hanging off the bed, Spence's head is hanging off. If Bruno is curled into a ball, Spence is curled into a ball. Bruno waits at the door, Spence waits at the door. Bruno stays out of the family room, Spence stays out of the family room, and so on. Bruno, it's a good thing you are a good boy most of the time. Just PLEASE, PLEASE do not teach this pup to climb up on the table on the porch and eat the cat food!
Just like all of the other dogs we have ever had, Spencer has boundaries he is not allowed to cross when inside the house. Even the dogs we owned 20 years ago had rules such as these to follow. When the kids were small our dogs were not allowed in their bedrooms, playrooms and never allowed on the furniture. Spencer and Bruno are not allowed up the steps to the second floor of the house and they are not allowed in the family room, which is on the main floor. The kids ended up teaching Spence he was not allowed in the family room within the first couple of days Spence came to live with us. There are two doors leading to that room, one from the kitchen and another from the living room. The kids watch TV in the family room. I myself have not gotten a chance to tell the pup "No" because he just does not even try anymore. Bruno does not go in there and Spence picked up very quickly that he is not allowed either. It is a natural instinct for dogs to have structure, limits and boundaries when living in their packs. Consistently providing these for him actually makes him happier. Dogs want to know the rules, and they want structure. If you do not provide that for them, they will try and give YOU structure and you will find yourself dealing with behavior issues you may not have counted on.
I am used to Bruno leaving houseguests alone and minding his manners, but I was very pleased to see Spencer doing the same. We have painters working in the living room, which is the main living space for the dogs. The temperature is going up to 102 degrees today, too hot to keep the dogs outside. I moved Spencer's dog bed next to me and told him to lie down. Spence was chewing his bone. At one point he got up and started to walk toward the paint. "Hey, get over here." Spence came back to me. "Down." I gave him a hand signal to lie on his bed. Spence lay back down in his bed. The painter was very surprised and I have to admit I was a tad bit, too. I knew I could keep him out of the paint, but the level of his response to me was more than I had thought it would be.
He not only, on his own gave the painter space, but I was able to quickly teach him to stay off of the painting blankets that were on the floor; skills I would have expected from my adult dogs I was getting from my 14-week-old puppy. I can't wait to see how he is when he is an adult.
Spencer watching the painter paint the wall.
I tip over Spencer’s basket of dog bones to give him something to do.
Spence has always been good about being held. From the day we got him when he was picked up he would go limp in the person's arms. This time, however I picked Spence up and held him on his back and he started to squirm. He wanted down, but it was not his decision to make. I corrected him. "At, at, at!!!" Spence relaxed in my arms. Gotta keep this pup mellow.
At the Vet
At the vet Spencer didn't even flinch when he received his three shots. He was also given medicine for his tapeworms. In the waiting room before his turn, two very hyper Golden Retrievers entered the office. It was obvious they were under-exercised. The owner of the retrievers mentioned that one of her dogs was OK with other dogs, but the other one was not. That was a clear indication that the dog is not getting something he needs in his life, something that is throwing him off balance. Could be something as simple as lack of exercise. Spence started to get very excited and pulled toward them. I gave him a tug on the leash, but that was not enough to get Spence's attention. I poked him in the neck and made a corrective sound at him, "Attt!" Spence looked up at me and I gave him a hand signal to calm down. Spencer sat down. He tried a couple more times to stand up and walk toward the other dogs, and I gave him a tug and a hand signal. Spencer sat down and relaxed, and just watched the dogs. An equally hyper Bichon passed by the Golden Retrievers and there was a lot of excitement going on between the three of them. Spence looked up at me and I gave him the hand signal again that meant sit and relax. He did just that. On the way out we encountered another very under-exercised black Labrador Retriever along with the two active Golden Retrievers. All of the other dogs were so hyper they could not stand still for a second. Spence started to react when I gave him my “calm down” hand signal again and Spencer lay down on the floor while I paid my bill. We walked out of the vet’s office with the pup heeling beside me. Those other dogs needed a serious pack walk.
Spencer and the Chickens
I took Spencer down to the chicken coop. So far, Spencer shows less interest in them than Bruno did as a puppy. Spencer does not even want to walk into the door. He looks at the birds with caution. Spence, your brother Bruno has killed more than one of our chickens. Let’s not take after him in this regard. Please!
Darn! I had gone out for a half-hour and the kids were watching the puppy. When I got back there was pee on the rug in front of the door. I cleaned it really well with a deodorizer pet cleaner.
Spence, dude...the grass, the grass. You gotta start pooping in the grass. Not the porch. I'm going to walk out the front door and step in your poop some day and it won't be funny.
Spencer woke up at 1:00 a.m. and yipped inside his crate. I got up and walked him outside to pee. I point to the grass, he pees and turns back to the house. After we come back inside I know I want to fix his crate blanket before he goes back into his crate, so I don't ask him to go to his crate right away. After fixing the blanket I find him sleeping in the living room next to Bruno on the dog beds. I walk to him, "cage." Spencer immediately gets up and goes to his cage in the kitchen. Wow, the pup is so responsive he never stops amazing me.
This time I was standing right next to him at the door, getting ready to go outside. The pup obviously had no clue the rug was off-limits for peeing. I caught him in mid-pee and he didn't have a chance to finish, "Hey!" I touched him in the side to really get his attention and took him outside to finish. I am hoping he got the message; inside is not the place to go.
I put a bully stick chewy in Spencer's crate for him at night. Last night I noticed instead of sleeping he was in there chewing it. Only he was in a sitting position. I thought that was odd so I kept watching him with the video baby monitor I bought so I would know when he had to pee at night. When I saw him start to gag I sprang out of bed and ran down to his crate. I opened his mouth and felt the hard end of the chewy in his mouth. I pulled it and to my surprise the other end of the stick was way down in his throat, chewed up and soft, but stuck. Spencer had been sitting up, trying to swallow the rest of the stick. He was unable to and it was stuck. Spence, I do believe you are now too big for these small chewy sticks. Time to find larger ones.
From now on I am only going to put one of the real bones in his crate, which are larger and hard enough that he cannot actually eat them.
Puppy Love Gone Bad
Spence was outside. I walked out and called him to me. "Here puppy, puppy, puppy, puppy!" He came trotting over, happy as can be. I bent down to get some puppy love. He licked my chin and arm all up and I gave him a bear hug. Spence, what's that smudge on my arm? Hey what's that foul smell??!! Oh, YUCK it's poop!! That was just wrong! You are too cute to smell like a toilet! Now I need a shower!!
Eating Dead Animals
I looked outside to see what Spence was up to. I saw him lying outside in the grass. He was chewing something. Great, not again. I started walking over to him and as soon as he saw me he laid his head down as if to say, "hey, nope, not me, I'm not chewing anything mom." Oh yuck! Another dead animal. Spencer, I don't remember your brother Bruno eating as many dead things as you do. You must have one good nose on you to find all these things, or the cats have become better hunters and are leaving more dead animals around.
I was walking with Spencer through the grass when suddenly he stopped and started nosing the ground. He uncovered this dead frog. The frog had been covered in grass and was pretty camouflaged with the ground. I never would have seen it. I think I am going to start calling you “Noser”! Give me that frog! You can't eat it! Oh man, that thing stinks!
I let Spencer out the front door. The guineas were out there and they immediately caught his eye. The birds rounded the corner out of sight and Spence followed.
As Spence rounded the corner, his pace picked up and he started to run toward them. "Hey! Rrrrrrr, Rrrrrrr!!" I growled at him. Spencer bee-lined away from them and walked as if he had not even tried.
Later I walked outside and Spencer was sniffing around the ground again while the birds were squawking near him. Spence was ignoring them. I am not convinced this is it; it's very tempting for a dog to chase a bird. However Bruno did eventually learn so it can be done. So far, so good.
Eating Cat Puke
"Spence, drop it!" Oh yuck. Puppies are not supposed to eat cat puke.
Spence, you are so handsome even when you just got corrected for eating something disgusting. Just don't lick me for a while!
Chewing his Dog Bed
Spence was on the dog bed playing with Bruno. I looked over and the little sucker was playing tug-of-war with the bottom of his dog bed. "Hey!!!!" Spence spun around in a complete circle before he plopped his butt on the bed and stared at me. These are the days when I keep my camera with me at all times. That's the face he gave me..."What? You talking to me?"
Do I spy a hole in your dog bed? Yes, yes I do!
No sooner did I start to walk away did that pup go at it again. This is him right after I gave him another, "Hey NO!" He did another spin and lay down. This pic is blurry because he was moving so fast, but can you spot the hole?
Time for some puppy distractions. Spence, here take this bone. Good boy.
I looked over and Spence was chewing on the leg of the computer chair. "Hey!" Spence stops immediately. I give him a bone instead. This pup has to learn what things are OK to chew on and what things are not.