Take a moment to look at this photo. There are three long tuggie type toys, there is one squeaky plush toy with a rope handle, there is a toy that squeaks and crinkles, there is an antler, there is a Himalayan chew, there are two food dispensing toys, a tricky treat ball and a weenut and finally there is a crate with a fuzzy mat on the pan.
No, this is not a scene of a disaster. No, this is not a scene of a “problem” dog. This is the aftermath of a 1.5 hour long initial consult with a young puppy. The puppy owners called for a lesson thinking they had the next Cujo on their hands. He was a “demon puppy” that was doing serious harm with his puppy biting. He was “nothing like their last dog” of the same breed.
All of these items were brought out to entertain a puppy while those “boring” humans talked. We did this to give the puppy appropriate things to put his mouth on, instead of human skin. We were looking for what types of toys this puppy liked, not all puppies like the same toys, just like human kids. We were looking for toys where he could entertain himself, for more then 2 seconds. Being a puppy, his attention span was not long, but we worked on it.
What did we learn with this puppy? He actually would rather play with tuggie type toys then squeaky toys. More often then not, he would rather play with tuggie toys then food dispensing toys. Of the food toys, he would play with a tricky treat ball, because he liked to play with balls in general. He did not really care about the food coming out of it. (We’re working on that.) When he played, he preferred to play interacting with a person, he did not self entertain. He never laid down and chewed when he was loose, but once he was settled in the crate he would focus on chewing for short time periods.
About the crate, he was not fond of the crate without the crate mat. He was very uncomfortable with the feeling of the crate pan moving under his paws. We tested this first by taking the pan out and we were much more successful with going into the crate. Then we put the pan back in with the fuzzy mat and he was equally successful going into the crate. Then we put just the pan in again (after the good positive associations) and he would not go into the crate. What a simple solution to his crate “issues” put a fuzzy, comfy mat in there.
Did we have a future Cujo on our hands? NO! We had a puppy who prefers to play interacting with people. When he did not have that, he was teaching himself how to get what he wanted (people’s attention) by puppy biting. We had a puppy who is going to be taught the “joys” of food toys, to help buy his owners some free time.
Best of all we taught the owners that all puppies are their own beings. They are not clones of the dog they previously had, even if they are the same
breed. They learned how to play with their puppy (safely), the way their puppy would prefer to play. Finally, they learned that their puppy is normal and will not be the next Cujo.
They left loving the puppy they had and loving that he slept for 4 hours straight from all the entertainment, excitement and education.