You guys asked for it so here it is. The first and only article written by the Boyfriend.
When we got Sticky we underestimated the amount of work and dedication we would need to put in. I had a dog growing up and taking care of her was literally a “walk in the park”. But, after just a few weeks with Sticky I realized it’s one thing to train and take care of a pup when there are 4 people splitting the chores in a house with a garden and it’s another thing doing the same thing in an apartment with half the people.:)
Don’t get me wrong… Sticky is an amazing dog and we love her to pieces. It’s basically impossible not to give in to her puppy eyes!! ☺
These 2 pictures have been taken by the breeder (le Moulin de Majurie) where we got Sticky. She’s the one on the left. :)
This article is called “being trained by a dog” because ultimately we had to make more changes in our lifestyle than Sticky had to. She’s almost seven months old now and we still haven’t gotten into the swing of things.
Having said that, we have learned loads from this experience and since you asked, here are some pointers on living a happy life with your pup.
If there’s one essential skill you will need in order to happily coexist with your hairy 4 legged friend it’s Anger Management. Frustration, despair and downright nose blaring, jaw locking anger can easily become part of your daily life if you don’t accept the fact that raising a puppy takes time and self-control. Having someone else to help you is great because it allows you to separate yourself from your pup when you need to relax and/or blow some steam off.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give you it would definitely be: laugh instead of crying. Sure you’ll look like a crazy person but hey if it keeps you from living a few miserable months why not give it a go. Try to find the humor in each situation… the way she looks at you when she’s pooping in your living room or how happy she is after she just destroyed your shoes laces.
What I personally found the most challenging is the biting and potty training.
Biting is a phase (it lasted for 4 months in our case) and we’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve heard of owners that get their hands munched on well beyond the first year of the puppy’s life. Be firm, reinforce the behavior you like and sometimes pretend like your puppy really hurt you (whine like a dog)… again people might think you’re mad but who cares if it gets results!!
Potty training is a whole different ball game. People will tell you that once you understand your dog’s potty habits you’re good to go… to some extent it does help (after a meal, after she wakes up…) but the reality is that you’d better get that rug off the floor and have toilet paper and white vinegar ready to go at all times (don’t use bleach because dogs find the smell similar to that of urine and don’t clean in from of your dogs.. it could become a game for them). We used to not get upset and not yell at her the first few months but now that she knows where she can and can’t do her business she faces the consequences of her actions… ‘nough said.
Obviously it’s not always Sticky’s fault… which leads me to my second point.
Set yourself and your pup up for success
I won’t spend a lot of time on this point because there are a lot more qualified people out there that can tell you everything you need to know about positive reinforcement training. What I can tell you is this: the easier you make it for your dog to understand the quicker it will learn.
The catch is that this might mean taking your puppy out every 1-2 hours when it’s young so that there are less chances of it going potty in the house…
The second rule of positive reinforcement is to… guess what… REINFORCE ☺. Treats, petting or play time anytime your puppy does what you like!
If you want to learn more about this stuff have a look at this YouTube channel.
I’ve spent countless hours going through all the videos.
If you have a dog like Sticky, chances are you had to deal with hyperactivity… this usually leads to your cute little puppy transforming into a creature from hell. Destruction, barking, biting and running around are just some of the symptoms of what I call the PUPPY CRAZIES.
While I haven’t found a fool proof solution to deal with this we have found some ways to reduce these symptoms.
- A tired dog is a happy dog. Walk, run, play with your pup until it can’t take it anymore
- Nap time. Help your dog rest by confining it in an area where it feels comfortable. A quick tip:if your dog has a hard time calming down you can tie her to something heavy next to her bed. Sticky didn’t like it at first but it did force her to relax…
- If all this doesn’t work… GIVE YOUR PUPPY SOEMTHING TO DESTROY
We’ve given Sticky cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, wrapping paper and anything else that is going into the garbage and makes a relatively easy mess to clean. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a dog happy ☺.
A quick tip: the less stuff you leave around the less chances you have of finding coming back home to this… :)
If you want to buy toys make sure that your dog can’t swallow them and that they don’t make too much noise… it will drive you insane… :)
Tools of the trade
Actually a dog does cost a lot of money but it’s up to you to spend it for the right reasons. Fancy toys and training gadgets are, in many cases, a waste of time and money. Having said this here is a list of things that I think are worth investing in:
Leashes: we have 3 a short one, a flexi 5 meters leash and “THE BEAST”… a 10 meters flexi leash. It might seem like a lot but we use all of them depending on the context.
The short leash is great if you want to tie your pup somewhere and is good for leash training.
The 5 meter Flexi is great for walks around the block as it allows you the right level of flexibility and control for day to day activities.
“THE BEAST” is my favorite leash. It’s by far the toughest and it just feels good in the hand (the 5 meter leash feels a bit flimsy). It’s great for walks in the park or for places where you can give your puppy more freedom but still need to be able to control her/him.
A whistle: training Sticky to come back when we blow a whistle was really easy and soooooo gratifying. It’s hands down my favorite tool.
To train your puppy blow the whistle and give her a treat. Repeat and increase the distance. DONE! (yes it’s that easy).
If you don’t want to invest money in a dog whistle (they’re not expensive) you can obviously work on your recall without it. The trick is to WALK AWAY FROM YOUR DOG and make loud and happy sounds! Chasing your dog will only create the opposite effect of what you want as she/he will see it as a game. Try it in a your house or in an enclosed area the first times until you get the hang of it.
A crate: we initially bought Sticky’s crate when I needed to take her for a 9 hour drive. She was 3 months old and I needed to be able to focus on the road versus having to constantly check on her. It soon became one of our most used items. You can use the crate to calm your dog down, separate you while you need to do chores around the house, potty train… the list is endless.
Here’s the catch… All of this will work only if your puppy LOVES it’s crate. There are loads of video on Youtube on crate training
BONUS CRATE TIP: you can use the crate as a fence between 2 rooms in your house. Sometimes you just need to separate your puppy from you but still want to keep an eye on what he/she is doing and want to give her a bit more freedom.
The Kong: we work during the week and seeing us leave in the morning is hard on Sticky. To make things a little bit less stressful for her we give her a food stuffed Kong. It’s great because it keeps her busy while we slip out the door and, since she doesn’t see us leave, she doesn’t start crying as soon as we’re gone.
Living with Sticky has been an amazing experience so far. Sure it’s been tough at times and it requires a lot of self-discipline but the bond you will build with your dogs will be worth it. Sticky has made us more sociable (it’s amazing how much people are willing to talk to you when you have a dog) and has changed the way we live our life for the better.
The only thing I can tell you is this: be sure you’re willing to change the way you live when you get a dog. Be sure you’re willing to change your priorities and dedicate yourself to raising a dog. If you do this then you will have no regrets and you’ll be the happiest dog owner in the world. Sticky is full of life, energy and gives us unconditional love every day… it’s her way of saying thank you for all our hard work :)
I love these 2 pictures above taken by Maïa.
Hey, Aurélie speaking again. The Boyfriend is not a dog expert but he loves them and is very passionate about dog education so I hope it helped you in some way. Of course he didn’t talk about everything so if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments, he will be more than happy to answer them. :)
The Boyfriend and his favorite tie from Hackett