Thursday, January 31, 2013

Margot the Destroyer Strikes Again....and Again....

Why the long face, Margot?

After the incident that I wrote about last time of waking up to find that Margot had chewed up shoes, a table leg, etc., things thankfully settled down for a while, and she went back to chewing on her own toys.   She was pretty good for a couple of weeks, but then last week I woke up to find that she had chewed up my glasses case, an emery board, and even the handle of a knife that I had used the night before to slice cheese!  So, I started making sure that nothing tempting was left on the coffee table at night before we went to bed. 

Margot then discovered that if she got up on the back of the loveseat, she could reach everything that was left on the sofa table that rests against the back of the sofa.  So, I come home one day to find several piles of shredded mail, and one of my favorite bracelets that I wear to work was destroyed.  I was in a rush that day and only had time to change clothes before heading over to my photography studio, but I was at least able to clean up the mess before heading out again.  I knew Justin would be home from work in about twenty minutes, so I did not put Margot in her crate.  Well, that turned out to be a mistake, because when Justin came home from work, he found more piles of shredded mail (I had cleaned up the mess, but forgot to put up the rest of the mail that was still on the sofa table), and Margot had completely destroyed one of his favorite ball caps. 

What's left of my black flats.
So, we no longer keep anything that we don’t want destroyed on the coffee table OR sofa table, but that still hasn’t stopped Margot the Destroyer.  Tuesday morning, I woke up to find that she had completely destroyed my pair of black flats that I wear to work at least 3-4 days a week.  Luckily, I own the same exact pair of shoes in brown, so I’m wearing those today, and I plan to run up to the mall after work to buy a new pair of black shoes.  Yes, I was extremely irritated when I discovered my chewed up shoes this morning, but I have actually been wanting to buy a new pair of black flats for a while now because the lining of those had come loose and were starting to be uncomfortable to wear.  Not that this makes it “okay” for Margot to put my shoes out of their misery, I’m just saying that it wasn’t the end of the world.

The thing is, every time I’ve found a pile of something that Margot has destroyed, I’m more angry at myself than at Margot because I’m the one who should have prevented it from happening.  I know better than to leave anything of value on the coffee table at night, and yet when I see Margot sound asleep as I’m getting ready to go to bed, I think, “Oh, she’s so zonked out that she’ll probably sleep through the rest of the night.  It’ll be fine if I wait until tomorrow to put these things away.”  Wrong!  I also recently purchased a shoe organizer for my foyer so that Justin and I would stop kicking off our shoes and creating a big pile of temptation for Margot by the front door, and we’ve both been very diligent about putting our shoes into their little “lockers” every evening.  However, yesterday I was pretty worn out from a long day at work, followed by a two-hour meeting with my photography partner at the studio, and I simply forgot to put my shoes away after I kicked them off.  So, when I woke up this morning to find that my shoes had become Margot’s latest victim, I really blamed myself more than Margot.

Of course, I am obviously still holding Margot accountable for her actions, and I’m very disappointed that her destructive behavior seems to be getting worse.   I also HATE that we’re going to start crating her again, but we really have no choice at this point.  My biggest fear is that she’s going to start destroying her crate, which doesn’t even belong to us.  Justin and I borrowed it from our friend, Brett, when we first brought Margot home, and I was hoping to be able to return it to him soon.  Unfortunately, it looks like we may need to keep it for a little while longer.  Even though I’ve read some things online about this “Doberteens” phase and was sort of prepared for Margot to start misbehaving, I still can’t help but feel like we’re taking a big step back by having to crate her at night again, especially since we haven’t crated her for several months.  I guess you just do what you’ve got to do, though.  I’d rather go back to crating her at night than keep waking up to piles of carnage each morning.

While reading about what to expect during a dog’s puberty stage, I have also read a few stories from Doberman owners who said that their dogs seemed to regress with their housebreaking at this stage, as well.  Margot still has a few accidents here and there, but lately it’s always been whenever Justin and I weren’t home to let her out.  I felt that this was normal and didn’t really consider it to be “Doberteens” behavior.  A few nights ago, however, Margot was playing in the living room while Justin and I were both sitting on the sofa with our laptops.  Suddenly, I thought I heard water hitting the carpet, so I looked up and found Margot peeing right in front of us on the living room rug!  I was so shocked that I yelled, “Margot’s peeing!” which startled her and made her stop.  I immediately got up and yelled, “No!” and then lead her towards the back door while saying, “Margot, go pee!”  She was very confused by my angry tone, which she really doesn’t hear very often, so she was reluctant to follow me to the back door.  Justin, who was also using a rarely-heard angry tone, nudged her from behind until she finally went outside.  We closed the door behind her, and Justin kept an eye on her through the window while I cleaned up her mess.

She's sorry.

We were both so disappointed and also confused about why Margot hadn’t given any indication that she needed to go out before she decided to just pee on the rug, but when Justin reported that Margot had just finished doing #2 in the yard, I told him that we HAD to praise her when we let her back inside, despite how angry we were at the moment.   I wanted Margot to understand that peeing in the house resulted in an angry reaction from her parents, but using the bathroom outside makes Mom and Dad VERY happy.  So, we praised her like crazy, saying, “Good girl!  Margot go pee!  Good girl!” and even gave her a treat when she came back inside.  Even though we didn’t yell at her anymore after that for peeing on the carpet, and despite the fact that we had just praised her for using the bathroom outside, Margot seemed a little shaken up by the whole experience.  I know that sounds kind of silly, but I swear it’s true.  Usually, whenever Justin and I praise her, she gets really excited and wound up, but this time all she wanted to do was cuddle.  She even sat next to Justin on the couch, bowed her head, rested it against his, and stayed like that for a very long time.  Of course, I HAD to take a picture of this moment because it was just so pitiful.  I mean, seriously, how can you stay mad at a puppy when they’re so obviously sorry for what they’ve done?

Anyway, I plan to start doing more to help Margot release some of her crazy puppy energy, which I know will really help curb her bad behaviors.  This puppy needs EXERCISE, and, let’s be honest, so do her parents.  It’s been bitterly cold here for the last week or so, but for the past couple of mornings it has been much nicer.  So, I think I’m going to start checking the weather each night before I go to bed and try to set my alarm accordingly.  I think that a brisk, 30-minute walk each morning might help keep her calm during the day, and then hopefully another walk after I get home from work in the evening will make her sleep better through the night.  The problem is that my schedule is a little all over the place, and I almost always have a bunch of editing and photography work to do when I get home in the evenings.  So, I’m not always going to have time to walk her after work, and Justin doesn’t get home until almost 7:00 p.m. after the sun has already gone down.   This is why Justin and I are both counting down the days until daylight savings time begins again in March, because then I can start taking Margot back to the dog park after work (schedule permitting) and she’ll be able to run and play for HOURS before the sun goes down.   Oh, how we miss those days!

Margot’s aunt, Kristy, has been very anxious to make Margot her new running partner on the weekends, which I wrote about in my last blog; however, Kristy recently did some research about running with Dobermans and discovered that it’s actually not recommended until after the Doberman is around 18 months-old.  The reason is because constant running on hard surfaces, like sidewalks, at a young age could have a long-term effect on the dog’s skeletal development and cause joint problems.   Therefore, Kristy has decided that she may start taking Margot for long walks, instead, as part of Kristy’s warm-up before a long run.  Then, after Margot’s a little older and her growth plates are fully developed, they will start running together.

In the meantime, another thing I plan to do in the very near future is sign Margot up for obedience classes.  I know I’ve been saying that for a looooong time, but I haven’t had extra money lately because I’ve been purchasing things for my photography business.  Now that I’m at the point where I don’t think I need to buy much else for my business for a while, I’ve still got to wait until after I’ve shot a few photo sessions before I’ll be able to afford the obedience classes.  The classes aren’t THAT expensive, though, so I doubt I’ll have to wait much longer.  The reason why I’m so anxious for Margot to start obedience training is because it’s just as important to exercise a puppy’s mind as it is to exercise his/her body.   It’s like Cesar Millan always says, first exercise, then discipline, and THEN affection.  That is apparently the key to a happy, well-behaved pup.  We’ve definitely got the affection part down, so now we just need to work on the exercise and discipline, and then put it all in the correct order. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Caution: Now Entering "The Doberteens"

So, it appears that Margot’s now entering the wonderful world of puberty, or as I’ve seen it been called on various Doberman websites, “the dreaded Doberteens.”  This phase of development takes place around 6-7 months of age, and Margot turned 7 months-old two days ago.  Besides the fact that she is now taller than Sam, which I still can’t believe, Margot has been showing other signs of being in the Doberteens phase recently.  The following are a list of behaviors that are apparently typical of this phase:

1.       Barks a lot more – While Margot still doesn’t bark very much, she has become more vocal lately.  She will bark at other dogs outside of the house (in a playful way), but she still won’t fully bark at Sam.  I’m not sure if it’s out of respect for her elder or what, but instead of barking at Sam when they’re playing, Margot lets out these high-pitched, little sounds, almost like she’s trying to sing at times.   

Bad, Margot!
2.       More destructive – I can definitely put a checkmark beside this one!  I’ve bragged and bragged about how my puppy has only chewed through one cord and not destroyed ANYTHING else in the house, other than her own toys, for six months, and then last week I came downstairs one morning to find that she had chewed up one of Justin’s dress shoes, a glove, and a table leg sometime while we had been asleep!  Now, to be fair, she also ate a whole pack of Starbursts, which I had carelessly left out within her reach (bad owner!), so I’ve jokingly taken the blame for her actions, saying that she was probably on some kind of psychotic sugar high and went on a rampage.   That might very well be true, but I have a feeling she was just being a normal puppy and finally decided to see what shoes and table legs tasted like.  I was upset, of course, when I first found the carnage, and I thought at that moment that we had been giving her too much freedom by not putting her in her crate at night (she’s even been staying out for the majority of the day, too).  I crated her that day for a whole six hours or so (I really know how to stick to my guns), but she’s been staying outside of the crate ever since then, and so far she’s done fine.   Justin and I are definitely paying more attention to her level of energy before we need to leave her alone and trying to make better judgments about whether or not to crate her at that time.  If she’s been playing for a while and we know she’s probably getting ready to wind down, we’ll leave her out because we know she’ll just sleep the whole time we’re gone.  However, if she’s been asleep for a long time BEFORE it’s time for us to leave, or if she’s just woken up and started playing, we’re more likely to crate her.

3.       Becomes stubborn/disobedient/”forgets” all training – I can’t really say that this has been an issue with Margot thus far.  The only change in her behavior, as far as obedience and training go,  is the fact that she now jumps a little bit when greeting us, which we’ve taught her is a no-no since Day 1.  As soon as she gives a little hop, though, we tell her, “No!” and give her “the look,” at which point she immediately sits and sometimes even lies down.  I will say that she’s not very good at coming when she’s called, but that’s nothing new.   In fact, writing all of this has reminded me that I need to get Margot enrolled in obedience classes.  I’ll probably do that in the next month or so.

4.       “Gooses” guests – I’m not really sure why this behavior is related specifically to puberty in dogs, but apparently it is, and Margot definitely likes to greet people by sticking her nose right in everyone’s butts.  

Most of the other behaviors I’ve read about are related more to male dogs, like humping, aggression, and marking territory, so I’m thankful that at least I don’t have to deal with those sorts of behaviors.  Out of everything listed above, I’m the most concerned about Margot being destructive while she’s home alone and not in her crate.  I’ve considered buying another can of that Off! Spray that I used to spray on everything when she was just a baby because it really did work.   For now, though, I guess we’re just going to continue to watch her and use discretion when deciding whether or not to crate her. 

Other than the puberty stuff, though, Margot is still just as sweet and loving as ever, and still just as hyper!  Last weekend, her Aunt Kristy took Margot for her first official run to help burn off some of that energy, which is something that Kristy and Lexie used to do together all the time before Lexie started having problems with her eyes.  Kristy has been talking about wanting to take Margot for runs ever since the day we brought her home, and now Margot is finally old enough!  You can read all about Margot’s first running experience here on Kristy’s blog. 

After their four-mile run together, Margot had the BIGGEST grin on her face when she got home!  It made me so happy to see her so excited.  However, she wasn’t the least bit worn out from all that exercise.  Quite the opposite, in fact!  She literally ran about ten laps around the coffee table, then insisted I play “through the legs” with her for a while (she runs through my legs, I turn around, she runs back through my legs, I turn around again, and so on), and then she made me throw the ball for her about a million times before she FINALLY wore herself out.   I hope that running becomes a regular routine with Kristy and Margot.  Not only is it fantastic exercise and obviously makes Margot very happy, but I know that Kristy has really missed having Lexie as her running partner since she passed away, and I loved that bond that she and Lexie developed through running together.  Margot already loves her Aunty Kristy, but she’ll definitely grow more attached when she starts associating her with being able to go out for a run. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Post-Surgical Bliss

Feeling a little dopey.
My heart is bursting with how happy I am about Margot’s recent surgery and recovery.  As you may recall, I took her to the vet to be spayed first thing in the morning, the day after Christmas.   I was nervous about the surgery because of her Von Willebrand factor, but Dr. Ellis said that she “did fine” during the surgery and had no real bleeding issues.  WHEW! 

The reason I scheduled Margot’s surgery on Dec. 26th was because I was off from work that entire week, and I wanted to be able to keep an eye on her.  I was really dreading her having to wear that awful cone around her neck because I knew Margot would probably just try to take it off the whole time, but when I went to the vet to pick her up, they actually gave me an alternative to the cone.  It’s called a Medical Pet Shirt, but really it’s just a “onsie” for dogs.  Haha!  It’s brilliant, though!  It’s made out of some kind of compression-type material that gives her a gentle squeeze around her midsection, and then it closes in the back with snaps and Velcro, leaving a hole for her tail.  Her entire belly and stitches are completely covered, and the shirt’s closures are in a place that’s pretty hard for her to reach.  Honestly, though, Margot hasn’t tried to take the shirt off at all, and, in fact, I think she kind of likes wearing it. 

When I brought Margot home, she was pretty doped up and just wanted to fall asleep, but her surgical site was still fresh, and it hurt her to sit or lie down.  Therefore, she actually kept falling asleep while standing up.  It was kind of funny at first, but after about an hour of making sure she didn’t fall and hurt herself and also not being able to get her to lie down, I started feeling really sorry for Margot.  I was afraid it might hurt her to sit or lie down for several days, but thank goodness that wasn’t the case. 

First night of recovery.  FINALLY lying down.
The very next morning, Margot grabbed her Christmas rawhide (a present from her Aunt Kristy), laid on the floor without any sign of discomfort, which was a huge relief, and she chewed on her rawhide until there was nothing left.  I tried my best to keep her from jumping onto the couch, but she snuck up there a couple times when I wasn’t looking.  It didn’t seem to bother her, though, except one time when she tried to jump down, which caused her to give a little yelp.  By the third day of Margot’s recovery, she was obviously feeling a lot better and even kept bringing me the ball, but I refused to play with her.  I hated that because I could tell she was really bored and didn’t understand why I wouldn’t throw the ball or wrestle with her, but I also knew that it was for the best. 

Margot's Frankenbelly.
By the fourth day of her recovery, I had completely stopped giving Margot her pain medication because she was getting on and off the couch without any problems, and she was running around a bit, playing on her own.  So, at that point, I decided to start playing with her again.  I took it easy, only rolling the ball a few feet away so that she wouldn’t take off in a sprint to chase it, but she didn’t seem to mind.  I think she just appreciated the fact that I was no longer ignoring her when she brought me the ball.  By Day 5, Margot was completely back to her old Tasmanian Devil self, and we’ve been playing our usual games ever since.

The only time Margot ever tried to lick her stitches was the first time I took the Medical Pet Shirt off to throw it in the wash.  I immediately put a different sweater on her, hoping that it would deter from messing with the stitches, but it just wasn’t as effective.  So, while her medical shirt was in the dryer, I took Margot with me to the studio because I was supposed to meet with my new partner, Mark, and I didn’t trust her to leave her stitches alone while I was gone.  That proved to be a smart move on my part because not only was Margot distracted by exploring the studio, but Mark also took a couple of test shots of me and Margot that day, which I love! 
Impromptu modeling at my studio!
Cuddling Daddy in her Medical Shirt.
I actually really missed Margot when I went back to work this past Wednesday.  I spent most of my Christmas break sitting on the couch and working on my laptop, re-designing my photography website and preparing for the upcoming Bridal Expo.  While I was working, Margot would entertain herself by chewing on a toy or ripping apart her Wubba for a while (she’s still in Margot the Destroyer mode).  After she got tired, she’d curl up beside me on the couch and sleep for a few hours.  Sometimes, she’d get tired of me being on the computer and would try to climb into my lap, despite my laptop and the fact that she no longer actually fits in my lap, at which point I would usually put the computer a way and cuddle her for a while.  She was such great company, though, as always.  I really couldn’t have asked for a sweeter puppy.

Anyway, I’m taking Margot back to the Animal Care Clinic tomorrow morning to have her stitches removed, and, as I said before, I am just so pleased with how well she handled both the surgery and her recovery.  I give a LOT of credit to that wonderful little Medical Pet Shirt, and I HIGHLY recommend it to anyone whose pet has had or needs to have surgery.  It is a genius alternative to that awful Elizabethan collar (aka The Cone).