14 Days of Puppy Paws (and puppy jaws)…
Hello Paws-Here readers,
If anyone is out there, let us know if you have found any articles useful or if you have some topics you would like to see covered in future, we’re all ears!
After the build-up of excitement and the unrestricted utterances of ‘Awww’s’ while photo-gazing waiting for Leia to arrive, where the heck has two weeks gone?
We’re here to tell you all about where those hours were whittled away.
Don’t plan on getting a puppy if you think you already have chronic fatigue! It’s an exhausting exercise in the beginning not unlike a new mother with a baby. Well, for us pet folk anyway.
And having a puppy is some tough going at the start, whereas having a new kitten is not nearly as energy-sapping.
Cat people - 1, Dog people - 0
The learning curve was short and steep. Like some furry fiend with a possible bipolar disorder, Leia soon schooled us in the complex art of ‘needing an inordinate amount of sleep’ mixed with ‘needing an inordinate amount of extensive exercise’.
Failure to get enough sleep resulted in some nippy behaviours, but puppies will do that. They’re used to rough-housing with their littermates, so your hands and arms (any limb really) become the next best thing. It’s warm and alive, providing a moving target like their mate's tails were before they moved into their forever home.
Speaking of moving targets, motion of any sort provides a distraction. Chiefly sparrows, maybe a flower waving gently in a gust of wind. A gust of wind itself. Her own tail. The possibilities are endless on this front.
The training part has been really enjoyable when said distractions aren’t taking over the moment, but it’s been wonderful to see Leia ‘get it’. Just wonderful, even if an hour later she totally looks like it’s an entirely new process she has never witnessed. But she shows that she is eager to please and keeps trying, and in time it will become second nature.
We joined a few Facebook groups for German Shepherds and they have been a godsend for puppy training and reinforcing that the joys and pitfalls are not unique to us!
Strangely we found that food wasn’t high up the list on Leia’s agenda — that is until we perfected her preferred recipe. After we nailed that it soon became an increasingly high-ranking priority in her day.
This isn’t to say that food outranks toys and all manner of other things to chew. These are also V.I.P.’s to her Highness.
Basically, any stray item that Leia can reach is fair game and can qualify as a toy. This is completely irrespective of the actual toys provided that now litter the house as an incentive to ‘pick me’ instead!
A small box proved to be a ton of fun which you may have seen on our Instagram post on @pawshereclub recently (if not, do check it out)!
Then there was the small matter of a pair of slippers, which only took a week for Leia to fully take over forcing our hand into buying a new pair that will not see the floor unless on actual foot. Lesson learned!
Other fun objects to mouth around with include plant pots, a shell, stones, mats, wellies, boots, an entire basket of laundry. Oh, and if it’s higher in value, it gets even more lavish attention.
While losing her milk teeth and breaking in her new grown-up, razor-sharp, shredding machines won’t happen for a few weeks yet, she has thoroughly enjoyed practising.
All that eating and chewing means something has to come out somewhere. And picking up after puppy poops hasn’t been as bad as expected. Not at all, once you adjust to the unnerving sensation of willingly holding a warm plastic bag in your bare hands, knowing full well what those contents are.
And since poop seems to be attractive for some dogs to taste test, our top tip recommended by our vet is a tablespoon of pineapple juice a day. It seems to make it unpalatable.
The rest of our time is spent on ‘Wee Watch’. In addition to regular outings on a schedule, one thing we learned about the puppy bladder is that it’s more unpredictable than knowing the precise trajectory of a tornado.
Learning Leia’s body language and ‘toilet speak’ is a work in progress, but accidents will happen less (we hope) as we get better at clocking her crossing her paws. Puppies have wee bladders that hold wee, you see, and therefore wee an awful lot.
As they grow they get stronger and less likely to have mishaps. We’ve already had a few nights where Leia was able to hold it through the night. We’ll just gloss over the fact that we retired to bed at midnight and were up at 5am, it’s a triumph!
In all cases, it’s positive reinforcement that works accompanied by a healthy dose of patience and humour. The Canine Behaviour Diploma we took was a huge help giving us insight into behaviour patterns and communication, so we can highly recommend doing one even out of interest as dogs are fascinating creatures.
The best part though is the bond that we have made with her so quickly. Hearing her little self snore as she sleeps soundly on her special tweed bed makes it all worth it. The wet kisses and liquid brown eyes make us putty in her paws.
And when her head rests on our knees, she’s coming for the affection and attention she now craves from us, her very own human family, who always oblige.
With an intergalactic Princess as inspiration for her name, long may she rule!