Tiny and Cute, but Possessing Very Sharp Teeth

Posted: February 28, 2012 in dog breed differences, new puppy
Tags: , , , ,

I say this with love, but in his first couple of weeks with us, Jagger was an unholy terror.

BC puppy or demon spawn

He is the destroyer of worlds.

I hadn’t appreciated it at the time, but Copper had the classic Labrador “soft mouth” even as a puppy, so although he mouthed me all the time he never bit down. Jagger bit us so much I was able to develop several categories for his biting that ranged from normal puppy biting of everything in sight, to herding behaviors, to what a friend affectionately dubs the “puppy red zone” of over-excited, frantic, biting mayhem.  Ouch.

I knew how to deal with normal puppy biting.  Herding behavior was all right. After a few false starts, I realized I just needed to stop moving and eventually the 7-lb furball would detach itself from my pants leg and I could resume walking.  Attention-seeking biting was new for me.  Jagger would waltz right up to me, attempt the border collie mind-control stare, and when that didn’t immediately work he’d chomp the nearest available body part.  He got me right on the lower lip once.  I had to keep all sharp kitchen utensils out of my immediate reach for a while (just kidding… maybe) but Jagger did manage to survive long enough to learn other, more suitable, behaviors that would get my attention.  Trick training was fantastic for this!  So, I had a plan.  Except for the puppy red zone.

Jag contemplates chewing toy vs my foot

Chew the rope toy and not your foot, you say? I dunno...

As background, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually caught Jagger sleeping.  This puppy does. not. stop.  Copper would eventually tucker out and just flop down asleep after a few hours.  Jagger gets wild like one of those toddlers who get extremely hyper and crabby right before bed time, then he’s out like a light as soon as you put him in his crate.  He’s significantly better now that he’s older, but the first few weeks weren’t pretty.

Xmas naptime

Sleeping in my lap. Probably just a fluke.

The puppy red zone would rear it’s ugly head most often when Jagger was over-tired or frustrated.  If there was any possibility of activity happening, he just wasn’t going to settle down and rest, and I simply hadn’t expected that.  At one point I sent a somewhat desperate text to an experienced BC-owning friend to ask how I should detach the puppy from my arm long enough to get him in his crate to calm down.  I polled a few more friends for tips on the best grip to use on Gumby-puppy to keep him from continuing to bite me on the way to the crate.  I swear BC puppies have better reach than a Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab (For you folks raised inland, there is exactly one spot where you can hold those things and they can’t pinch you).

Eventually I learned to give him a rest period when I thought he needed it rather than waiting for him to get physically tired.  Physically tired doesn’t seem to happen, which is a little bit scary I have to admit!  I have a shot at mentally tired, and Jagger has been working for almost every piece of kibble from day one.  Here are a few of the early tricks I taught him:

We’ve been making steady progress on his frustration tolerance, and I certainly owe thanks to Izzy for teaching him some manners.  She wanted nothing to do with him for about a week and a half.  But, once she warmed up to him, I noticed that Jagger spent about 95% of his initial time playing with her on his back.  No yike-ing, though, and I only had to intervene once or twice for her being too rough.  Despite her many issues, Izzy actually does have very good skills with puppies and is fair in her corrections.  I noticed a big improvement in Jagger’s bite inhibition once Izzy started playing with him.  I can’t overstate the value of having a mature, yet fair dog around who doesn’t take any nonsense when you’re raising a puppy.  Copper is entirely too tolerant, and I routinely had to rescue him from the rambunctious puppy.

No one believes me about these things when I try to tell them, however.  This is because Jagger will love on anyone.  Profusely.  He does this adorable little snuggle where he’ll stick his head under the chin of a perfect stranger.  I guess he saves all the mayhem for his mother.

  1. judy says:

    This is too funny. I have a friend with a new BC puppy and we were just chatting about biting tonight. Sent her this blog 🙂

  2. KLN says:

    Thank you so much for posting!! I have a new puppy and I kid you not, this is EXACTLY how I describe him! He gets to the “overly tired” point and the devil comes out and he bites all of us! Good to know he’s just being a puppy…

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