After months of researching breeds, interviewing breeders and preparing the house, we recently added a Whippet puppy, Rosie "Run Her Up" Alperin, to our family.
As I was waiting to bring Rosie home, I read several books, watched hours of Animal Planet and interviewed other dog owners. I took notes. I made lists. I created spreadsheets. I bought a lot of really cute dog toys.
I thought I was prepared. I thought I had planned for everything. I thought I was an expert and surely Animal Planet was going to give me a TV show - before I even had my own puppy! I was so very wrong.
All of the books I read and shows I watched addressed normal puppy problems. They promised that their methods corrected all typical puppy bad behaviors.
However, my husband and I quickly discovered our Rosie is not be a typical, normal puppy. No, we are quite certain that she suffers from puppy Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Syndrome.
Rosie fluctuates between her sweet, snugly, intelligent Rosie-self and a deranged whirling ball of teeth and claws. Some days she remembers commands and instructions. On other days, she cocks her little whippet head at me and chews the ottoman.
While I am not a licensed dog psychologist, I have read and/or skimmed a lot of books on puppy rearing and behavior, so I feel confident in my diagnosis. It should also be noted that I owned over 50 Pound Puppy stuffed dogs as a child, and they were healthy, well-adjusted and behaved.
I do love my puppy enough to help her through this difficult illness.
But it doesn't help that my vet won't even take Rosie's problem seriously. Last week when I mentioned Rosie's probable diagnosis, my vet laughed so hard that tears trickled from her eyes. She recommended that I take Rosie to Puppy Kindergarten. Apparently that is where other dogs with Rosie's affliction congregate.
I left the office and registered Rosie for school. Images of Rosie-The-Demon-Dog tearing up her Kindergarten classroom filled my imagination. What if Rosie fails Puppy Kindergarten? What if my dog is so bad that instead of just repeating the class, she is banned from the facility?
Rosie needs some additional training ASAP. So, I gathered my three weeks of actual puppy experience and designed my own training program!
Train Your Puppy with Five Easy Steps
1. Stop buying food from the grocery store and buy the entire family's food at the pet store.
Fill your puppy's food bowl with all of the items that you do not want her to eat: legos, bunny poop, mulch, shoes, credit cards, etc.
Serve your family a tasty meal of dog kibble. Puppy will avoid everything in her own food bowl and beg for the dog food you and the kids are eating. Feed her your leftover kibble.
She will eventually learn to love her dog food and you can slowly sneak real food into your house again.
Bonus: You will save money by avoiding the grocery store and lose weight because dog food is disgusting.
2. Don't ever let your puppy sleep through the night.
Even if she doesn't wake up to go potty in the middle of the night, wake her up anyway.
Let's face it: Having a puppy is exhausting. You will be exhausted. If you can disrupt the puppy's sleep as much as possible, this will keep her in a constant state of exhaustion, too. She will be too tired to chew the furniture, leap on house guests, chase the cats, etc. And who doesn't love a sleepy, snugly puppy?
Bonus: You and your puppy can take naps on the couch and bond.
3. Buy an enormous crate - big enough for you and puppy.
Crate training is difficult. Who wants to hear a lonely, sad puppy whine, howl and cry all night?
Instead, place comfortable pillows and blankets in the gigantic crate and sleep with your puppy. The crate is warm, dark and comfortable, kinda like a womb. Leave the door to the crate open. If puppy decides to leave, let her. Enjoy the extra space and stretch out.
Bonus: You might actually discover a place to finally relax and sleep without worrying about a "Honey, are you awake?" poke in the middle of the night.
4. Put all of your nice furniture in storage ... for the next 2 years.
Look around your house and assess your furniture. If it is new, expensive or holds any kind of sentimental meaning for you, rent a storage unit and immediately remove it from the house for a minimum of 2 years.
You should only keep furniture that is old, stained or from your spouse's old apartment. Instead of crying as puppy gnaws on your ridiculously expensive leather sectional, you can celebrate the demise of your husband's beer-can table!
Bonus: When puppy is fully-trained and delightful at 2 (I hope), you can finally redecorate.
5. Consider selling puppy time-shares.
Make a list of every person who compliments your puppy or expresses a desire to buy a puppy.
Send out a group email announcing an exciting new opportunity! Sell blocks of time with your puppy to friends and family but only if they act fast and send you a deposit before the once in a lifetime opportunity disappears!
Puppy will get plenty of socialization and an opportunity to bond with all of your friends and family.
Bonus: You earn money while other people train your puppy!
Well, I clearly need some puppy training tips from real owners with real experience. Please send me your helpful training tips, funny anecdotes or sympathetic comments!