13th November 2011, 03:54 PM
Bully Stick - goes crazy?!
We had given our little girl (~15 weeks) a Chew n' Clean Dental Duo a couple of days ago as a chew toy, and she really liked it. She would settle down for 5-10 minutes at a time and just chew. We thought this was great! We'd been teaching her to sit, come, down, etc.. with kibble and that was going great as well.. that is, until we went to the vet! The vet gave us a bully stick for her, and when we got home we tried it out.
She went into crack-addict mode. She loved this thing so much, she completely ignored us. She wouldn't repeat her previously learned training, she wouldn't come, sit or do anything for kibble. I took the bully stick away, and she didn't like that at all.. she wouldn't touch her chew n clean toy, and for even an hour or so later, she was still hyper, sniffing around for the bully stick. We gave her a frozen rag at that point, and that seemed to settle her a bit, but even now, a day later, I feel like she still hunts for that bully stick. I should mention this was after her first vet visit, and within about 3-4 hours of bed time (I heard something about puppies and pre-bed-time craziness...)
I'm not sure what to do here.. It really scared me that she loved that thing so much she just completely ignored us. The repeated sniffing after it also confuses us, as that's normal behavior for when she needs to go outside..
What should we do? I was thinking we could give her the bully stick, and just leave her for an hour or two.. maybe she'll get over how new and exciting it is, and once she realizes we won't take it away, she'll calm down? Is it possible this is just something she likes too much, and we need to hold off on it until her training is more ingrained into her behavior / personality?
Thanks, as new puppy owners we're at a bit of a loss as how to proceed with the bully stick!
13th November 2011, 06:33 PM
Hi and welcome.
Context is all here! Perhaps the best comparison to make is with a 2 year old child. If you gave a really exciting toy to a two year old just learning a few words, would you be surprised if she paid little attention to you? Puppies learn quickly but are not adult dogs -- have the memory and attention span of a little toddler. And... even if you train her perfectly by age 4-5 months, she is going to half-forget most of it and lose attention span again when she gets around 6 months plus as these are the equivalent of teen years -- with the same reasons this happens with teens -- hormones, interest in everything else. That's why positive, fun, consistent training is needed as she grows, and daily practice so she doesn't forget (just as we tend to forget how to do, say, quadratic equations after high school...as we no longer practice them ).
Treats like bully sticks are a great way to keep your pup from chewing your hands, shoes and spectacles -- but need to be monitored and a very small pup should not be eating a whole one in a session anyway (hard on sensitive baby tummies!). Even when she is an adult it can be hard to force a dog to drop such a hgh value treat and do something as dull as sit, down, stay... ... imagine someone coming and making you do your tax returns right in the middle of your very favourite TV programme or film! Most dogs adore bully sticks and they are along with dried tripe, the king of treats with my adult dogs.
In short -- one of the things we need to learn as puppy/dog owners is to modify expectations. Puppies LOVE tolearn with positive training and gentle encouragement but this is not an obedience competition adult collie -- just a little baby -- and at this age, casual 'starter' obedience is a fun way to lay groundwork for adult training -- not the final result (eg expecting a toddler to do college entrance exams! ). Excellent adult obedience comes from regular, fun practice without punishment.
A great start for every dog owner (and download both -- they are free and there's lots to learn from the 'before' book as well!) are Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy, by Dr Ian Dunbar, who pioneered puppy training in the 80s. Both are at:
and there are plenty of trainer columns, videos blogs etc too!
Be sure to get your pup some safe non-food chew toys too -- she will need them especially as she hits teething phase.
In memory: Lucy
13th November 2011, 06:46 PM
Ps puppies are indeed generally at their most active in the morning and at dusk/early evening (as are dogs, left to their own body clocks, but they generally adjust to ours...). So that would add to why she was snuffling around -- but again -- imagine taking a fabulous toy from a small child -- they'd be hunting for and asking for it too! Just ignore pestering -- responding to it, even with a 'no', rewards a dog/pup with your attention (just like a pestering child). She will settle and put her mind to something else. Try playing with her!
Also kibble pieces are extremely low value rewards -- (be sure to subtract from her daily food allowance though as with all treats). So trying to lure a dog that 'only' got kibble, from a tasty item like a bully stick also is likey to get a 'huh? you must be joking!' from a pup... It really isn't too big a deal, she is learning all about the big world and will gradually learn training, toys, chew, playing and your daily routine etc.
In memory: Lucy
13th November 2011, 06:51 PM
I guess my biggest concern was that the introduction (and subsequent removal) of the bully stick seemed to drive her crazy (we'd never see her so crazy, but this is only day #4 with us having her!). I guess it'd be worth it to try it again next time we have an opportunity to reward her for something and see how it goes!