Raising a Puppy: The Seventh 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 seventh week—16 weeks old, 36 pounds, 17 1/2 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).
About 3 1/2 months old.
Pictures and the Cats
When I try and get Spencer's weekly picture the cats all come around trying to rub all over him. The good thing is it means Spencer's demeanor is a good one. If Spencer had any bad intentions in his head the cats would know it and would not be coming around. When Allie the Boxer was alive the cats never rubbed all over her, never lay in the same dog bed as her, yet at the same time they did attach themselves to Bruno the Boxer. The cats are a great way to tell how a dog is feeling. Even when Spence gets very excited and starts to bark at them, most of the cats just lay there relaxed. They somehow know he is not trying to hurt them.
Eating Horse Poop
What's that puppy doing now?
Busted! Spence, I just fed you lunch! You can't be hungry! "Leave it." Puppies are not supposed to eat horse poop!
Spence came over while we were eating dinner. "No." Spence walked away, went into his crate and waited. We never fed him people food and never fed him from the table, so teaching him not to beg is easy.
After we are finished dinner we feed Bruno and Spencer. Both dogs wait patiently for their food to be prepared. Bruno will often leave the room, but this time he sits down quietly. Spence does the same. Spence has learned to not whine while I prepare his food. It only took one day to teach him to wait patiently.
I was inside the house and heard the guinea fowl starting to squawk like crazy. Oh boy, Spence was outside too. I quickly went outside to find him chasing the flock around the front yard. "HEY!! Grrrrrrr, Leave it!" Spence immediately stopped and walked around the yard as if he had no intention of chasing anything. Good try little buddy, but I already saw you chasing them.
Socializing and Good Manners
We take Spencer and Bruno to the small town of Media, PA for some good old Spencer socializing and to practice good manners. We have lunch at La Belle Epoque, a French restaurant. The waiter brought the dogs a fresh bowl of water while we had lunch. Both dogs lie quietly on the sidewalk as we eat and people walk by, some stop to pet them. Spencer decided to take a nap and people pet him while he slept. We keep him well exercised, ask him to heel on a leash, go through doorways after the humans and not put his paws on any humans no matter how excitable the human becomes. In return Spencer remains calm. People often remark that he is one of the calmest puppies they have ever met and state that we are lucky. Luck actually has nothing to do with it. It's a lot of work to keep a 16-week-old puppy calm with good manners.
Spencer watches people walk by on the streets.
We stop in Bryn Mawr Running Co., a dog-friendly running store located on State Street in Media, PA. Bruno and Spencer are so tired they plop down on the floor and go to sleep. It was a hot day and it felt nice inside the store. Got to love those dog-friendly stores!
First Morning Jog
Bruno will often go for a morning jog with Amie, however Spencer has always stayed home since he was not big enough to make it the entire way. Sometimes Amie will grab Bruno's leash and take him off of the property and other days they jog off leash through the woods where it is cooler. Today was an off-leash jog through the woods and she decided to take Spencer with her to test him out. Instead of putting the pup into the house when she headed out, she walked to the gate to see if he would follow her. He did, but he paused at the gate entrance and Amie started out on her jog. Spencer watched for a few seconds and then took off after her. He stopped one more time at the bottom of a hill. Amie was very aware of where he was but kept going, knowing that Spence often will stop, but if the human keeps going he will suddenly decide to catch up. After a second or so Spence let out a yip and took off after her. He's getting fast and he caught up in no time at all. He jogged with her the rest of the way.
When they got back he drank some water and plopped down for a long nap.
At 16 weeks old Spencer is on his second collar. The first one we bought him started off on the smallest hole and moved to where we had to punch our own hole into the end just to get it to fit nicely. He now has a larger collar which is, for now, set on the smallest hole.
The little sucker walked over to my boot and took my sock, which was hanging over the boot, back to his dog bed. "Hey! Leave it!" Spence stopped playing with the sock. I put it back in my boot, turned around and he was taking it out of my boot again. Obviously some kind of game to him. This time the sock was hanging from his mouth and I made him drop it.
When he walked back to the boot a third time I was able to catch him about to take the sock a split second before he had it in his mouth. "Hey!" Spence walked away from the boot and lay down. It was not until I was able to catch him about to take it that he understood exactly what I did not want him to do.
Puppy No-No's Chewing
Spencer was lying down in the living room. I was in the chair right near him. Very casually he started to gnaw on the stereo cabinet. "Hey! Grrrr," Spencer turned and looked at me. Yep, that's the exact face he gave me. I always have my camera handy. About a minute later he casually turned and started to gnaw on it again. I gave him the same correction and he stopped and lay his head down.
I realized I should have handed him a chewy the first time he started chewing on the cabinet to show him it was not the chewing I was saying no to, but what he was chewing on. I hand Spence his bully stick and he does not try again. This pup has an urge to chew which I cannot stop. It would not be fair to ask for no chewing. So I must show him what he can chew on and what he cannot.
Kung Fu Kitty decided to tag along on this morning’s hike in the woods. In the beginning when Spencer realized there was a cat with us he chased him. I corrected him and over and over again; Spencer tried but each time tried less. After a while he understood that there was someone who was above him in this pack that did not agree with him chasing the cat. At first I had to get over to him and touch him in the neck; he was not responding to sound. He really, really wanted a good chase. After a while I was able to correct him from a distance by making a growling sound at him every time he tried. I get tired of the "No!" over and over. Grunting at him works even better and takes less effort on my part. I have to make sure my verbal corrections are at the exact moments when he is thinking about pouncing. I watch his body language. I watch his eyes, tail and overall body stance. If his tail starts to go rigid and his eyes focus on the cat I would grunt at him and he would back off. Correcting him when he was only looking at the cat and not thinking about chasing would confuse him and prevent me from communicating to him what it was I did not want him to do. In the picture above he is only looking.
Spencer is thinking about chasing Kung Fu, but looks at me and knows he is not allowed. This picture was taken after my correction when he decided to back off.
For this cat to lie down so close to the pup means the cat senses he means no real harm. Cats are not fools. They know when to stay away from a dog and when it's safe. They can feel the energy (emotions) coming from others around them; a skill animals have that most humans do not and even when they do it is only a fraction of the animal's sense. At this point Spencer had pretty much given up on chasing the cat.
Bruno was about to pee. His leg was lifted when Spence nosed his way over to smell what Bruno was about to pee on. Oh No! Bruno peed right on Spencer's head. Apparently Spencer did not enjoy having his head peed on and he tried to rub it off in the weeds. Oh Spence, I need to wash you off when we get back.
In the past Spencer would never venture into the pond more than just getting his front paws wet and didn't seem too sure about that. I had always just ignored it and figured he would get his courage up on his own time. I am not sure if it was because his head smelled like Bruno's pee, because it was so hot or because today was just the day his nerve was up, but he ventured all the way in to swim with Bruno the Boxer and Tundra and Tacoma the Great Pyrenees. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of him learning to love a good swim in the pond. Watch how he splashes himself in the face for the first time. At the end he demonstrates his good "Drop it" skills. This pond is spring fed so it is clean fresh water. Several years ago this was just a mucky, muddy area. We dug a hole and voila, we have a pond which is now full of fish and wildlife. The horses often come in to swim and get a drink.
Asking to Come Inside
I have had dogs in the past get into the habit of scratching at the door to come back inside. It's a very hard habit to break once it starts since you are never outside with the dog while they are asking to come in and therefore cannot correct the dog for the behavior at the time it is happening. It is because of this, when I heard Spence yip to come inside I immediately opened the front door to show him if he yips the door opens. A couple of days later I heard Spence jump up at the front door when he wanted to come in. It was very hot outside and my first instinct was to let the pup in. However I knew if I opened that door he would associate jumping up at the door with the door opening. As a dog lover it was hard to wait, but I did just that. I waited until he moved onto other things and walked away from the door. I didn't want to yell at him because I didn't want him to associate jumping up at the door with getting any type of attention, be it good or bad. Jumping up at the door got him nothing; the door did not open and it got no one's attention. As soon as I was sure he was not thinking about how he had jumped up at the door I let him in. Later the same day he was outside again and I heard a yip. I immediately opened the door. I have to make sure I tell every family member to never open the door when he scratches or jumps up at it, but to open the door when he yips. Preventing the bad habit of scratching the door is much easier than trying to correct it once the habit has formed.
Spencer was sniffing around the grass and I was thinking he was about to find a place to do his business, when he started nosing hard into one spot. Oh great. I know that means he just found something, most likely something I don't want him to have. Spence pulls something out of the grass. "Drop it!" ;I reach down to his mouth and he lets it go into my hand. Old smelly frog bones. Nice, Spence, and thank you, cats for providing these dead things to keep the instinct to use his nose very active. NOT. ;-)
Chasing our Small Animals
I continue to have to correct Spencer for chasing the other small animals around the farm. He has gotten a lot better about chasing the cats, most likely because half the time they will fight back. However I have caught him chasing the guinea fowl, which are birds, a good handful of times this week. Spence responds well to my corrections, however I am not always outside to catch him. He seems to know I don't want him to do it, but the temptation is too great at times and he goes for it. He is getting faster and faster as he grows so I really need to be on top of him. If I am outside with him I can keep him from chasing them using only a voice command. It's when I am not standing there that I suddenly hear the birds squawking and run out to find him in hot pursuit. He will back off as soon as he hears me give the command to "Leave it." Bruno and Spencer are allowed to chase wild animals on our hikes. Bruno has learned what he is allowed to chase and what he is not and Spencer can too, in time. It sure does provide them with a big mental challenge. When Bruno hears the guineas start to make a ruckus he runs around looking for the fox instead of chasing the birds. Now if Bruno could show this concept to Spencer... All we need is the fox to come around and have Bruno chase it in front of him to show him the ropes.