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Puppy Update

4 weeks ago today, Sadie and I drove down to the Seattle airport to pick up the newest member of our family, Ginger.

While visiting our cabin this summer, our good friend and talented photographer Axel took some beautiful photos of her, and I thought I would share those with you today as well as give you an update on how things have been going! 

So just to review, Ginger is a Pudelpointer which is a German breed that was established back in the 1800’s by crossing a Poodle with several different breeds of pointers. This breed was created to be the ideal hunting companion, which is what sold Steve, who is a duck hunter and has always wanted a sporting dog.

Somehow Lucy just isn’t all that interested in hunting, lol, but she still holds a strong place in Steve’s heart…the canoodling that those two get up to …honestly

So here’s some things we have learned about Ginger…

1.She loves to chew anything and everything!

I know is typical of most puppies. But given a pile of fancy puppy toys, she still somehow knows what you don’t want her to have and goes for it with great enthusiasm! Like this rope for example…mmmmm

Or the hammocks, now those are great fun!

If you have watched my instagram stories at all, you will know that her favourite toy by far is a plastic plant pot – she chewed it into a flat mangled frisbee type thing, and loves to run around the yard with it. So funny!

2. She LOVES to drink from the hose

This is one of her favourite ways to stay hydrated. She doesn’t seem to mind that her whole head gets soaked in the process…I guess she is a water dog afterall!

3. She REALLY likes Lucy and wants to play with her all.the.time.

Fun fact, Ginger’s mom is also called Lucy! It’s just been in the last week that we have started seeing these two playing together. For the most part lucy just ignored her or told her off when she was trying to play. Then we took them out in a field where they had tons of space and Lucy actually started chasing and wrestling with Ginger. It was a pretty big moment and Ginger was just beside herself with excitement! The best thing about them running and playing together was that it really tired Ginger out like nothing else. Thank you Lucy!

I am sure they are going to be thick as theives in no time and I can’t wait to find them snuggling together one day!

4.Ginger takes a lot of naps…thank goodness!

She is so busy and we have to be on top of her at all times when she is awake, so her naps in her crate are the only way I can get anything done.

Even though I know we shouldn’t do it, a few times we have held her while she sleeps…it’s just too hard to resist, and when she was a few weeks old, it was the only way to get in some good snuggles with her.

Can you even with these two?

This past week she has been having more calm awake moments where she is seeking us out for some snuggle time, and that is just the best!

5. Teaching puppies to walk on a leash is a process!

Ginger is really funny about walks. One minute she is pulling…

and the next she flops down and refuses to move…

I know we will get there…we have registered in puppy kindergarten in the fall and hopefully they will have some helpful tips. Ginger is already so heavy and when she decides to pull me, it feels like a battle! My arms are going to be in good shape in no time, which is a small consolation for the fact that I haven’t been able to make it to a work out class since we got her.

6. She is a #plantlady

This is a weird one, but she absolutely loves plants, bushes and tall grasses…she throws herself into any of the above and has a good roll around. Lately she is obsessed with my hydrangea bush in our back yard and keeps pulling flowers off and then wrestling with them in the yard. I’m not a huge fan of this, but she looks so dang pleased with herself!

7. She is wicked Smaaart (name that movie)

I have to take a proud mom moment and brag about how very clever this little lady is. It’s not really a surprise because she was bread to be a sporting dog, but I can’t believe how many commands she knows already. By her second day with us, Steve had already taught her “sit” and “down” which I thought was pretty amazing.

We practice a bunch of commands with her every day and we use her meals for the training. We make her “earn” her kibble and it really helps that she is very food motivated.

The challenging Parts of Bringing Ginger into our family

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns over here though, and in the interest of keepin it real, we have had some major challenges with this little lady. I know it’s hard to imagine when you look at this sweet little face!

The biggest thing is that Ginger came down with a UTI and is now thankfully on antibiotics. We were really struggling with some aggressive biting and a complete regression with the crate training so I had a dog trainer come over to help us out. She noticed that Ginger was peeing alot…like when she would go pee, she would let a little out, walk a few feet and pee some more, and this would go on and on. I thought it was weird but assumed it was a puppy thing, I had no idea dogs could get a UTI! Thank goodness the trainer noticed it and told me to have it checked out. It took 4 days to get the lab results back, which was a bummer, because it was pretty obvious that she wasn’t feeling well, and I became convinced that the infection was partly responsible for her more challenging behaviours.  It reminded me of when the kids were little and couldn’t tell me they weren’t feeling well, and then I would discover they had an ear infection or something.

Puppy shark

Ginger is feeling much better, but we are still working on some naughty behaviours that are totally normal for puppies. The first is the biting and nipping. Anyone who has had a puppy knows what I am talking about, it’s a phase that every dog goes through. But it can be a really hard thing to deal with. Ginger has given everyone in our family a painful nip or two and she has also ruined several pieces of clothing. We have not so lovingly given her the nickname of puppy shark and we sing the baby shark song to her  “puppy shark do do do do do”. As with most challenging situations, it helps if you can have a laugh about it.

We got advice from the trainer about what to do, but we also did some reading on the subject and watched some you tube videos. It helps to remember that your puppy is not trying to hurt you, they are just used to interacting with their littermates by biting and wrestling. Just like a human baby, they are exploring the world at this stage with their mouths and they are also teething and so their mouths just really hurt!

Here are the strategies that we have been using

  1. when she goes to nip you, distract her if you can

  2. if she still persists with trying to bite you, get your hand over her muzzle, point her nose down if you can and say “no bite”! There are several approaches to this including yelping, but “no bite” in a very low tone -think of how her mother would growl – is what we are doing

  3. if she keeps trying to bite, put her in a time out in her kennel – honestly, when Ginger is ready for one of her many naps, and when she was sick especially, I could tell she needed a nap when she got really bitey. If she isn’t ready for a nap, she can come out and try again

  4. What not to do – make the biting into a game. We noticed sometimes that when she would persist with biting and we would grab her muzzle and say no bite, sometimes she would make a game of it, and would try to bite you again while moving out of your reach…when we realized she was starting to see this correction we were doing as a game, we had to re-think our strategy a little. So when she bites us, we still correct it with the “no bite thing” but then we also immediately try and distract her with something else and usually she moves on

Crate Training

When we first got Ginger she was really happy sleeping in this puppy play pen thing. It worked for about two weeks, but when she started feeling unwell, she really started resisting being in her crate sometimes. Now I totally get it, she was feeling so crummy and couldn’t tell us. We had to switch to a bigger and more stable wire crate because Ginger would flip the playpen on itside and walk around like a hamster in one of those hamster balls!

As I mentioned, we saw a real regression with her crate training, she started out doing great and sleeping for really long stretches at night, and things were getting worse and worse as she probably became more unwell with the UTI. We had some awful moments of having to let her cry it out – just like sleep training a baby! Her barking/howling was so loud I was really worried about our neighbors complaining. I am happy to report that she is now doing much better with sleeping through the night in her crate.

Part of the Family

It’s only been a month, but Ginger now feels like part of the family and it’s hard to picture life without her. Sometimes, like when she wakes up at 5:30 in the morning, I have no problem picturing life without her, lol, but you know what I mean. We are really enjoying her and watching her grow and learn. There is never a dull moment with her and we have many adventures with her ahead of us!

We love you Ginger!


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