The Puppy at Six Months (and the simple piece of equipment that saved my sanity)
On Boxing Day our fox-red labrador, PuppyFace*, will be six months old. (Read What to Expect When You’re Expecting an Eight-Week-Old Puppy).
Good grief it’s been challenging.
From early morning barking (anything from 4am) as she needed the toilet - she stopped going inside on those special mats very early on - to eating stuff she shouldn’t - she has been completely different to DogFace** our placid 5 year old yellow labrador.
For those of you with a sensitive disposition I’d stop reading now because I’m going to talk about the things she got up to.
I don’t remember DogFace having as many accidents inside the house as PuppyFace does. I don’t know if DogFace had a stronger bladder at that age or it is PuppyFace who’s just so excited by everything she just can’t contain herself. The worst thing she did was using my longer, shagpile rug. I didn’t know she was using it as her toilet until I saw her do it. Waltzing in next to me and squatting down as though it’s the most natural thing to do. I lifted up the rug which was on a wooden floor and there were about six or seven dark spots. I was so cross. With myself for not being aware she was doing it. And with her, obviously.
For the toilet training she is always praised when she does one outside and that is the method we have used. Until I saw her do it on my rug. Then, as I said, I was so cross with her. Needless to say she hasn’t done it again. At least not on that rug. If she does do it inside now it’s always an accidental one.
(Another warning here about disgusting dog things…it’s going to get worse!)
When we first brought her home PuppyFace was, and still is, in the utility room at night. If she did a number two in the night I’d come down and find some of it had been eaten. Repulsive. I googled it. Apparently a puppy can do this if her mother has done it. And her mother will do it to keep the area clean. Okay, so she’ll stop doing it after a while…or so I thought.
She’s always seen the chicken and duck poop as a feast just for her. But we have been incredibly strict on that and I think we’ve stopped her. At least, we’ve stopped her from doing it when we’re looking.
When the cat was ill and had a cat tray the contents of that would also mysteriously disappear. Apparently, this too, is common in dogs. Argh. PuppyFace! (I’ve since heard of worse tales from other dog owners that I won’t repeat here. Needless to say PuppyFace is not the only one.)
But the worst thing was - her own faeces. The final straw was when she came back inside and threw up on the shagpile rug. Guess what her vomit consisted of?
I was so upset. And yes I threatened her with eBay and Gumtree. Because not only was she doing this but she was never calm, always in DogFace’s face, always unsettled; wanting to be doing something. And by something I mean eating. She was constantly looking for food.
Help! I said to my friend, a long time labrador owner. Is this normal?
My friend told me that fox red labradors are very intelligent. They need stimulation. We already walk her every day, she goes around the field, too, and has a kong and various other toys. That can’t be it, I said.
So my friend did a bit more research.
Does she gulp her food down? she asked. Yep - hoovers it down, I replied.
The thing is, by eating so quickly she wasn’t actually digesting the food. Which meant a) she was always hungry and b) when it came out the other end it still smelled and looked like fresh food. So it was attractive to her.
That made so much sense.
And apparently you can get bowls that slow down their eating. I purchased this H&S Slow Feeder Dog Bowl from Amazon immediately. It was coming via Prime so it wouldn’t take long to get here but in the meantime I placed two tennis balls in her usual bowl. Yes, they did end up coming out onto the floor but it did the trick and slowed her down a little.
Then when the bowl arrived the result was instantaneous.
It took her three or four times longer to eat. She was calmer within a day. She is no longer interested in eating her own poop (and I’ve looked at it. It looks like poop now and not food).
She sleeps during the day and has quiet time (in fact she’s quiet right now - it’s glorious). She’ll sit and chew a toy for ages without getting bored. She is more responsive.
She’s not perfect. She is still a puppy after all. But she’s content. And that makes me more content.
*name has been changed to protect puppy from embarrassment when she’s older ;)
**not her real name - just her online name!
Below is the puppy with her slow feeder dog bowl (excuse the quality of the photograph). You can get other bowls which make it even harder to eat from. She might progress to that next.