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Raising a Puppy: The 12th Week in his New Home—Spencer the Blue-Nose Brindle Pit Bull

A day in the life with Spencer the American Pit Bull Terrier puppy. Spencer's 12th week—21 weeks old, 49 pounds, 19 1/4 inches from the ground to the highest point of the shoulders (the withers).

About 4 1/2 months.

A Mellow Puppy

Spencer was sleeping on the dog bed. Amie decides she wants to hold him and pulls him up to her. Spence does not squirm or try and get away.

She pulls him up a little more and he decides to just go back to sleep. What a mellow, trusting pup.

Walks

Rain or shine, the pup must go for his walks. When he misses them he becomes a spaz. When he is walked he is a calm, relaxed puppy. I'd much rather have the mellow side of him. It was raining; the humans had umbrellas and the dogs had rain coats.

Amie takes Spencer and Bruno jogging almost every day when school is not in session.

When we are not passing another dog or person, Spencer walks like a pro.

Passing from a distance is not a problem. The pup will look but generally not react.

A quick pass on a bike and the pup tries to react a little, but is easily corrected and controlled. Notice Bruno. No reaction at all. He's the model big brother.

Passing a dog that does not react to Spence is also easy. This old retriever ignored our dogs. Spence could use one correction right about now; a simple "Hey!" or "Leave it!" or a tug to remind him to just keep going.

But even without the reminder he does relatively well. He's no Bruno yet, but he will be.

Now Spencer spots a little dog pulling toward him. Spence could really use a reminder right about now to ignore the dog.

With the other dog excited and no reminder to Spencer to ignore the other dog before he reacts...

…Spence pulls toward the little dog. At this point it is very hard to calm him down. The only real solution is to keep on walking. Once a dog gets to that level of excitement it is difficult to completely calm it. The correction needs to be done before it escalates that high. This behavior from the pup is totally unacceptable. He needs to ignore other dogs, even if the other dog is not ignoring him. Time to walk the loop again and hope to pass this same dog to try again.

The Second Pass...

Here comes that little dog again. Spence is corrected with a tug before he reacts. The tug was pulled toward the back, but ideally should have been up and to the side to throw him off balance and then immediately give the lead slack. Putting tension on the leash creates more tension. Pulling back instinctually makes a dog want to pull forward.

Even so, the correction makes an impression on Spence. He was told to ignore the little dog when he was only thinking about reacting, preventing him from getting way over-excited.

The little dog was getting closer. The pup needed another correction before he reacted since he was staring at the other dog intensely. Sara gave him another tug along with a body block and Spence got the message and lowered his tail.

Sara is able to walk by the little dog without him all-out pulling her. This is good, but not good enough. Spence needs to walk by more like his big brother Bruno. Yeah Spence, you have a lot to live up to. We decide to pass again and hope the owner with the little dog does the loop at least one more time.

The Third Pass...

I decide to take Spencer this time.

Notice the difference in Spencer's tail position between above, before he sees the little dog, and below when he first spots it. As soon as he sees the little dog the tail goes up, indicating excitement.

Thankfully the little dog is still on the track. We get to try again with Spencer. This time I give a correction the second I see him show signs of getting excited over the passing dog. I give a tug on the lead, up and toward me to throw him off balance and then immediately put slack back on the lead. This way it is a ”correction” with the loose leash being his ”reward” for listening. When you just pull on the lead without giving slack back to the dog you create tension rather than stop it.

As the dog approaches closer Spence gives the dog a stare-down. I give Spence one of my short growls, a noise that I found works really well for the pup. I lower my voice deep, but keep it on the quiet side. "Grrrrrr, leave it!" and give another short tug up and to the side, giving him slack back on the leash right away.

Spence responds to me. He is looking now but that is all he is doing. He is allowed to look. He is just not allowed to react.

That's more like it. Spence even lowers his tail, a sign that his excitement has lessened. With me able to control Spence the little dog reacts less as well. When two dogs react they often feed off of one another. When one is able to be controlled the reaction between both dogs is often less. At no time, however did Spencer's tail go all the way up and stiffen, which would have indicated aggression. Spencer was excited and had we allowed him to go and see the passing dog he would have licked the dog up in a very excited manner; harmless but rude in the dog world. Heck, that's even rude in the human world from one human to another. The other dog may have decided to tell him it didn't agree with this rudeness by growling and maybe snapping. If it were human-to-human, one human may have gotten socked in the nose!

Dog-Friendly Stores

We seek out dog-friendly stores to help socialize the pup. All of the new sights, sounds and smells help Spencer to become well rounded. Bruno walks around like an old pro. Nothing seems to bother that big boy.

The Goats

Spencer has no desire to challenge the goats. The pup needs to learn to keep his distance because while the goats are friendly, they like to keep dogs in their places: below them. Very below them. That means if a dog comes too close they may decide to remind them that they are boss with a buck.

Um Spence, seems you’re cornered by a goat. I'll help you out, buddy. "Mary-Sue, get away from my puppy. Don't you even think about bucking him! Git!"

"Sweet Pea, that goes for you too! Back!"

Worms Again

Spencer pooped and I was about to pick it up with the bag when I saw tapeworms...again. I should not be so surprised. Every time I turn around the pup is finding, chewing on and sometimes eating dead animals that he sniffs out with his nose. Time to pick up some meds at the vet.

Camping Trip

Spencer went on his first camping trip to the mountains. Hiking, swimming in the stream, 4-wheeling in the truck, playing with the kids, hunting around the woods...it was a big weekend and the pup did great.

Spencer got along with everyone, loving all of the people who came on the trip. Notice how he walks with his head low, a sign of submission. He is not trying to be anyone's boss, and does not jump on anyone. He is just happy following his extended pack.

At night he curled up by the fire with Bruno, too tired to keep going and going.

Puppy No-No's

I don't know if this pup ever has any intention of chewing up the shoes and socks he carries to his bed. Perhaps we just catch him before he does. The thing I do know for sure is he keeps taking them to his bed and I will often find him sleeping with them. Spence, that is NOT a toy. It is a sneaker. Give me that.

I looked out into the yard and saw Spencer tossing something up in the air; the object would fly and he'd pounce on it, pick it up and do it all over again. Spence, what do you have now? Oh no, puppies should not play with dead birds. Drop it!

You darn pup. That box is not your chew toy! Don't give me that face! We took Spence on a trip in the RV and were transporting a box with us. Took a while for us to notice the pup had stopped chewing his bully stick and was now chewing the box!

Raising a Puppy: Spencer the Pit Bull