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Puppies: What the Training Manuals Don’t Say

The author has found "Sprig," an English cocker spaniel, to be heckuva lot of work and a heckuva lot of joy.

“Is a puppy more work than you thought it’d be?” This is the most-asked question of me since “Sprig” arrived in my household one month ago.

I’d read the books on puppies and watched some videos, but in hindsight, they’re remarkably desensitized. A few examples:

The manual said: Pup may whine his first night or first few nights away from his littermates.
In reality: Bellying her size, pup will let out primordial death howls. She will not sleep, nor will you, and you’ll wonder about the sincerity of neighbors who say they “didn’t hear a thing.”

The manual said: Encourage pup to play with his own toys.
In reality: You will go to the pet store and spend $50 on toys. Pup will spend five minutes playing with each, a buck per minute per toy. Pup will find socks, stocking caps and empty yogurt containers much more to her liking. Pup will not reimburse you the $50.

The manual said: Pup may nip hands and fingers as he’s teething and learning to control the power of his jaws.
In reality: Reality bites, and there will be blood (it will not be pup’s… )

The manual said: Pup may “eliminate” on the carpet. They don’t yet have the ability to hold it.
In reality: Your carpet will be eliminated. You didn’t need that security deposit anyways, right?

So is a puppy more work than I’d originally thought? Yes.

But would I trade it for anything? No.

Previous “My First Bird Dog” posts:

Anthony’s Antics Afield is written by Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online Editor. Email Anthony at AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.

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10 Responses to “Puppies: What the Training Manuals Don’t Say”

  1. gary hauck says:

    I experienced the same thing when I first became a parent. You will be able to hunt with sprig in 6 months, I had to wait until you were ten.
    Best Regards

  2. This is funny, but the best part is the comment from your dad:)

  3. Tye Sonney says:

    Congrats! I’ve felt your pain, literally and figuratively. I thought I was lucky the first night I brought my first pup home. He didn’t whine for a few hours and I thought ,cool,this isn’t bad at all. About midnight t started and it didn’t stop until I took him out before leaving for work. I also said he wouldn’t be allowed on the furniture. The night I brought him home I was lying on the couch with him on my chest, sleping, I told myself he, technically, isn’t on the couch. That was the beginning of the end of the not on the furniture rule!

  4. @Tye – That sounds eerily similar to our first night with Sprig. Thankfully, after the first few nights she found her comfort zone…and the furniture. Thanks for sharing – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  5. @Charity – they always know best! – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor

  6. Derrek says:

    I had a similar situation when I got married. She whined and cried at first, especially at night. No matter how much I spent on stuff, she lost interest after a short while and wanted new stuff. She didn’t bite, but I still got hurt, mostly for saying I wasn’t cleaning up after the dog.

    My wife has yet to pee on the rug though.

  7. Irving C says:

    If the breeder crates trains the pups then the first night will go easy, if not good luck. Got a new one coming this spring, already preparing myself.

  8. Bruce says:

    Our 1st pup was not going to be allowed on the furniture also. Now I am considering getting the sign that reads “If you don’t want dog hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture!”

  9. Bree says:

    The reason why your bird dog is chewing furniture can easily be dealt with: positive attention,exercise. The dog burns a lot of energy chewing so they do it. Positive attention or negative from you they don’t care, its attention, as for the potty training: clicker train and treat following. Potty every 2 hours. Biting- your dog needs to be shown whose dominant. Put that pup on its back and growel, spit a little(sounds dumb, but works) your the pac leader and she needs to know that, will help a ton when more training follows. Also with the nipping and chewing your hands-put your hand in her mouth and grab the bottom jaw. Handle ofter, helps a ton especially if you plan on showing, also the vet will greatly appreciate it when you take her to the vet and they check her teeth and can do it with ease. The whining- do NOT give any attention while whining. Click and treat when silent so she knows that’s how she gets attention.Bird dogs are a lot of work and take a lot of dedication. I know I have 4 gsp’s and a litter of 9. Good luck

  10. Great comments all. @Bree, thanks for sharing what’s worked for you. – Anthony Hauck, PF Online Editor


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