Puppy Frustration

Patience wears thin when a puppy gets destructive.

By | January 27, 2010 4:46 p.m.

Puppy FrustrationDespite the multitude of frustrations involved with raising a puppy, I have been pretty proud of the patience I have found within myself over the four months since we adopted our Boxer, Beta. She’s howled the night away a time or two (or fourteen), made an art project out of our sofa, pulled on her leash, peed on the guests, on and on down the list of things that are perfectly normal for and perfectly annoying about puppies. Somehow looking at her merry little face and gait even in the wake of horrible behavior has allowed me to avoid getting angry with her. That is, until last night.

Beta is five months old now and we still struggle with housetraining. Every puppy training book I have read says that dogs naturally know not to eliminate in their beds, crates, etc. Beta never got that memo. From the beginning, she has peed in her crate, on the carpet and inexplicably, on the bed on which she has just been lounging. Messing up her crate necessitated daily baths, so on the advice of a trainer we pulled back on the crate training a little while she learned that outside is the place to go. We keep her gated in our dining room and kitchen. We take her out multiple times in the morning and have someone come around lunch to walk and entertain her. Sometimes when I get home in the evening, there’s some urine on the floor, but overall she seemed to be starting to understand the concept of holding it and going outside.
Yesterday, however, I came home to the triumvirate. Upon opening the door, I was struck with a foul odor, but all I could see were the thousands of pieces of paper all over the dining room. What is it? I thought. We already know not to leave any magazines or books within Beta’s reach on shelves, on the kitchen counters, etc. Where did she get this?

It took me a minute to notice the Boxer puppy calendar that had been hanging on the wall five feet off the ground was missing (it took me until this morning to appreciate the humor in this). Amid the debris, I also found my gym class schedule and a Christmas card, both of which had been posted near the top of my refrigerator. I immediately processed that her reach has increased since the last destructive episode and took her out for a walk. On the walk, she pulled and pulled on her leash, requiring correction about every fourth step, but I persisted in patience. Coming back into the house, I was prepared for paper cleanup, but again immediately noticed the smell. A closer examination revealed that she had loosed her bowels upon the dining room carpet and her bed too. Three steps further and I came to her crate, which featured a giant puddle of pee. Again, she is not in the crate when we’re gone, which means she made a special trip into the crate JUST TO PEE.

Oh, Beta.

For the first time, I just couldn’t get my patience and resilience activated. She had broken me. As I cleaned up the paper, she lay at the open door of her crate whining for dinner and looking at her bowl and I couldn’t drop the frustration, anger and helplessness I felt no matter how ridiculously cute she looked.

I’ve read so many books, followed the advice of trainers and for heaven’s sake I work for the preeminent pet publishing company in the world. If I’m not immune to this kind of abject disappointment and frustration, who on earth is?

Of course I know the answer to that: no one. Puppies have so much to teach us, truly. For people like me who like to keep things organized and under control and who strive for perfection so much in their daily lives and relationships, the unpredictability of a puppy is a major adjustment. Over the few hours at home with my husband and Beta last night, I relaxed and watched her play, living forever in the moment she inhabits. She had forgotten whatever whipped her into that calendar shredding frenzy and I could forget the damage (none of it permanent) too.

By the end of the evening, I was lying on the floor with her little head resting on my upper arm and I felt myself letting it all go. She’s a baby, after all. One with teeth, crazy-strong muscles and mysterious emotions I may never totally understand. Every day with her is an adventure. I can't expect perfection out of any part of the process of raising her, even myself.

So yeah, I forgave her. But please join me in keeping your fingers crossed for an intact house when I get home tonight and full housetraining in the next couple weeks!


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Leslie - 233329   Lakeside, AZ

2/22/2013 5:11:48 AM

Good article! thanks

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tamara   gainesville, VA

3/31/2012 7:54:17 AM

ibought a 10 weeks old maltese almost two weeks ago ,she is so cute and i love her to death. in the begining didnt want to put her in the crate but she made alot of mess around a house so i bought a crate and every two hour or so i take her outside and even through out the night i take at least two time and i can tell you guys in two weeks i lost three pounds :( she doesnt make a mess in her crate which is a good thing , she almost knows that inside its not a place for pee or poop but i dont take a chance , the only thing i still have problem with her biting and chewing , every time she bite i look to her eyes and change my tone and say no and if she continue i tell her bad girl and put her back to her crate and ignore her and of course she wining and begging for coming out . so im sure i have a long way to go to train her but she is worth it. you guys should see her how cute she is every time i take her to pets smart store and people coming with their dogs they complitely forget their dogs and want to paly with her .she is a true princess and the bad part of it that she knows it and take advantage of it

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Jamie   Englishtown, NJ

1/12/2012 10:54:41 AM

I have a 10/11 weeks old German shepherd girl who won't walk on the leash to get some exercise. We had to drag her to do a short walk. My family and I know she needs a lot to burn off energy. She is a good girl, but sometimes she goes crazy and running around the house like a maniac. She keeps biting me like I'm a plaything. I mean it always constant telling her "NO" in a firm voice. Its gets very tiring. My father isn't home very much which annoyed mom and I. Any tips on walking her would be great.

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Pam   Clearwater, FL

10/20/2010 7:34:25 AM

I have a Terrier puppy. He'll be 5 months tomorrow. He's real good about everything (pottys outside, walks are ok and so on) except using me as his play toy. He bites my feet and toes while barking at me. He does'nt bite hard, just constantly following me around biting and barking. I've tried waiting 3 seconds between barks and say Good boy, NO BARK. Doesn't work. Any suggestions or comments? katiekins064@hotmail.com

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