For the past two weeks I’ve wavered on the dog. A little part of me would like to send her back or go back in time and tell three-weeks-ago-me that a puppy is the last thing I want. A larger part has been looking forward to when she stops acting like such a terror and is fun to be around. One of my best friends, Ashley, has a four-month old puppy that she got when he was 8-weeks old, and our neighbors also have a four-month old that they got when she was 13-weeks old and they love their puppies. They are attached and in love and would be devastated if anything happened to them.
Honestly, I haven’t felt like that. Obviously I would be sad if something serious happened to her (serious disease, death, etc.), but I would have felt relieved that we didn’t have to go through puppy-hood again. I would probably never get another dog, truth be told.
The problem is that we’ve been getting so many conflicting points of view and, as new puppy parents, we are pretty much clueless. As a result, we’ve been doing a lot of things wrong. Like keeping her kennel downstairs instead of upstairs where we sleep. Every night for the past two weeks has been full of barking, crying, yelping and cleaning up pee. Every day has been a struggle to get through after getting such a horrible night’s sleep. And Wes and I weren’t the only ones feeling it. Tsunami wasn’t sleeping well either. She cried herself to sleep and would wake up frequently and when she was out of the kennel for the day she would sleep constantly. And then we would repeat.
I’ve been thinking that it’s separation anxiety and started putting her in the kennel when we were around so that she could see us and feel safe. During the day she was fine while in the kennel. She would sleep for 3 hours at a time and, though she cried a little, she never barked. In the advice of a hunting dog trainer, we took out all absorbent materials from her kennel so that if she did pee, she would have to sit in it, which dogs don’t like at all. The only thing that succeeded in doing was getting her to pee in their and then bark wildly until we came down to get her.
I’m not sure why we didn’t think of it sooner, but yesterday (after a particularly bad night’s sleep in which she peed in her kennel three times in as many hours) I was at my rope’s end. I looked around everywhere for some advice on housebreaking and crate training. And the one thing that kept coming up was this: put the kennel in your bedroom. So last night, we moved the kennel from downstairs to upstairs, next to our bed. We put the blankets and towels back in and draped the kennel with a sheet to make it more den-like. We put a kong full of peanut butter in their with her as a treat.
And she cried. Of course she did. After a week of sleeping in a crate with no blankets, underneath an open window who wouldn’t cry a little bit? So we left the light on and spoke quietly about our day, to let her know that we were there. And then we turned the light off and continued talking. And then we stopped talking and went to sleep. And so did Tsunami. She didn’t bark or cry or whine at all last night. She slept for 2 – 2 1/2 hours at a time and even stayed in the kennel until 6:30 this morning, when she let us know that it was time to wake up.
Today she has been a completely different puppy than the one that we’ve seen for the past two weeks. She doesn’t go straight from the kennel to the mat to get some well-needed rest. She plays with us and listens better. She doesn’t get crazy with energy and start running in circles.
And I finally get what all these dog owners are raving about. Dogs are awesome. And even when she’s not, I know she’ll get better.