This morning I reached down to pet Rosie and realized that her collar has grown tight. Oh, Lord, that means she's growing.
Loosening the collar was an ordeal of several long minutes; she didn't go into full Wolverine Mode, but she did thrash, bite, and leap. This change in her from sweet to willful happened in puppy class on Tuesday night at about 7:20 p.m. and has stuck. Since then she has been more difficult, more growly, more bitey.
I am concerned about the biting. I've never had a puppy who bit like this before, and so I don't know quite what to do; everyone offers different advice. Soothing hold! Spray bottle! Spray bottle with lemon juice! Loud squeak and turn away! Crate her! Blah blah blah. At the moment that she is biting and thrashing and snarling, I do what I can do. I can't squeak and turn away when her fangs are deep in my sleeve. I can't spray her if the bottle is in the other room, and I can't walk around with a spray bottle and a bag of treats attached to me constantly.
Mostly we have been putting her on her back and holding her down. She hates this, but it's easier to control her in that position than in the soothing hold, and eventually she calms down. But does she associate it with the biting? Does she know that's why she's being rolled onto her back? I don't think so.
It took a long time to adjust her collar, because I had to let her off her back and she was fine until I started fiddling with the collar and then it started all over again.
Finally it occurred to me that she is pretty good at obeying the word "wait," because I make her wait before setting her food down every morning and evening, so I said "wait," and she waited. Not long enough to get the collar completely adjusted, but long enough to get it well under way.
Are all puppies this much trouble? Were the others? It's been 17 years since Boscoe was a puppy, and so I remember his puppyhood through a misty haze of nostalgia. He was perfect, wasn't he? He'd escape from the yard and trot around to the front of the house and sit there and wait for us to find him.
He'd use his powerful border-collie stare to trap Toby at the top of the stairs. But he never bit us, and he didn't defy us--at least, not that I can remember. It has been, as I said, 17 years.
And it's been 22 years since Toby was a pup, and while I remember quite clearly my complete ineptitude and bafflement as what to do--how to get him to quit peeing in the house, how to get him to quit destroying couch cushions, how to get him to quit eating my boyfriend's hats--I don't remember him being willful and difficult the way Rosie is.
I do remember him growling at me once--or maybe that was Boscoe!--and I got so furious I chased him through the house and trapped him a corner of the basement and that was enough; he never ever growled at me again. (Whichever one of them it was.)
Riley, of course, came already housebroken and very good about sitting for his food (usually in a timid way, in another room) but with his own distinct and complicated set of problems.
And then I think, well. All of these puppies were quite different from one another and they all turned into great dogs. I think if I feed Rosie, and keep training her, and love her, and play with her, and keep her well socialized, she will, too.