Calming A Wild Puppy

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I have rescued several dogs over the years but the most recent addition to the family, Ms. Skeeter, a two-pound Chihuahua/Terrier mix, is the wildest little dog I have ever met. She is a ball of non-stop energy. When I first saw her at the shelter she was timid, curled in a little ball and she whimpered when I picked her up.
Then we brought her home and she became Super-Dog! She chased our eleven-year-old poodle around the house so much that he would bite her to try to get her to stop. She was unafraid and relentless so I knew we had to find a solution because telling her to STOP was just not working. I didn’t want her to get hurt and since the poodle was much older, she was wearing him out.
I don’t like crates and have never used one when training a puppy so I came up with my own solution. If it sounds cruel, remember it was much kinder than crating her and it was a fast way to slow her down gently.
I found a big box and put her favorite blanket and toys inside. When the poodle had had enough of the rough housing, I would tell Ms. Skeeter, “Time Out.”
That meant nothing at all to her, but then I would place her in the open box for several minutes and repeat “Time Out.”
I stood beside the box where she could see me and she was in the box for a very short time, usually several minutes. It only took a few days for her to learn what “Time Out” meant and she was quite happy to see the box get folded and put away.
Now if I say “Time Out,” she stops and looks at me to see if I mean it. When I repeat it firmly, she comes over to me and lies down beside me for a little while.
I have also learned that sometimes all she wants is love and attention, so the other calm down method I use is to pick her up and speaking softly, I pet her for a few minutes.
My groomer taught me to use the softer voice because my calmness actually calms her rather than agitating her and it is true, yelling at her to STOP just made her more excited because she interprets STOP as GO!
The last part of my calm down process involves daily walks, at least one, usually after supper. We walk at a fast pace for about fifteen minutes and the structured exercise goes a long way toward settling her down for the evening. It took several weeks to teach her to walk on the leash because she wanted to run free outside and she didn’t understand her limits. I kept the leash short and taught her to walk beside me instead of in front of me and as she learned to obey, I let more and more of the leash out, giving her more freedom. Our walks have become fun instead of madcap adventures and the exercise is good for me.
Ms. Skeeter is an adorable, loveable little dog and she makes me laugh everyday as I watch her play with the poodle, who weighs almost eighteen pounds. She dances in front of him, barking at him to get up to play with her and they are so cute together. They run, wrestle, play tug of war with the toys, fake bite each other and just have a blast. Her enthusiasm for life has the poodle acting like a puppy again and he loves running around the house with her.
However, teaching her to take a “Time Out,” is what made their friendship possible and it is the reason she has become a much-loved addition to our family.

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