riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.

Puppy Issues


Ruby at the cafe

Ruby at the cafe

My baby girl is 10 months old now. I can hardly believe it! Seems like just yesterday she was this little pip-squeak. Soon it will be her 1 year birthday (July 7) and I’m already thinking of what to do for her. Before then, however, I need to deal with some of her new behaviors.

Issue #1 – She barks at people.

I know dogs bark and don’t expect my dog to be mute. But I’ve noticed that she’s barking more often lately in inappropriate situations. The other night I took her to a friend’s party and she barked at other guests entering the host’s house. She also barked at a guest walking out of the bathroom because he startled her. Last night she barked at a neighbor who wanted to take the elevator with us, then at a homeless man walking behind us on our evening walk (he wasn’t doing anything suspicious).

I always tell her “No” or “It’s okay, sshh,” then I tell the person, “She’s actually really friendly,” and they look at me like I’m nuts. Folks are already scared of her because she’s a pitbull. When she’s barking at them with the hair raised all along her back it’s hard to see the friendly side. To her credit, I’ve never seen her growl or bare her teeth at a person. Her barking doesn’t sound like “I’m going to kill you!” It sounds like “Stay away!”

What’s strange is that in other contexts, for instance when I take her to the cafe in the morning, she sits there like a little lady. She does the same thing at street lights or whenever I tell her to Sit. She also never barks at other dogs even if they’re barking at her. People are always saying how well-behaved and sweet she is.

I go out of my way to be friendly to people on our walks. In fact, I’m probably much more outgoing with her than without her because I know she picks up on my tone. Yet in certain situations, even when I’m being friendly, she starts barking at the person.

Is part of the issue that we live alone? She doesn’t get to interact with other people like she does with me. She’s also extremely attached to me and still follows me from room to room. My gut tells me it’s a combination of protectiveness, testing her assertiveness, shyness and/or a general wariness of strangers, especially men. But how does a puppy learn who is a creep and who isn’t? I suppose I have to bring her around people more, which means being less of a hermit (sigh).

Issue #2 – She has bursts of uncontrollable energy while on the leash.

For the most part, she walks/heels very well. She will walk right beside me without pulling for 75% of the average walk. She gets compliments on this too because people can’t believe a dog that young can walk that well.

However, if she sees a squirrel, bird, stick, small dog or any other interesting creature, all bets are off. She will either lurch forward with all her strength or jump in the air and twist her body around with excitement. If I don’t anticipate it, she could yank my arm out. When she does this around small dogs, albeit because she wants to play with them, it totally freaks them out – and who can blame them?! I haven’t been too strict about it because I figure she’s a puppy, that’s what puppies do. But as a friend recently pointed out, if I don’t curb it now soon she’ll be full-grown and going berzerk. Then what?

We’ve slacked off from puppy class the last few weeks, but this Saturday we’re going back to discuss these issues with her teacher.

Has your dog ever had these issues? If so, how did you deal with it?

Author: nivaladiva

Freelance writer and independent filmmaker.

5 thoughts on “Puppy Issues

  1. JuneBug was the same way. In fact she didn’t bark at people but she did go straight up to them and at times jumped up on them out of excitement. And if we weren’t prepared it was very embarrassing as folks would freak out as she was so big. She also runs after birds and squirrls and still does but she has considerably calmed down. She simply is older and calmer. But trust me – we were very worried with her friendliness to everyone – she wasn’t portraying the bad ass we wanted her to be. Now she is and doesn’t approach everyone. She’s too interested in other dogs and their assbook posts : )

    • Yeah, I remember when JuneBug was younger and more frenetic. It’s hard for me to imagine Ruby being calmer but then again it used to be hard to imagine her barking at people. I don’t think anything is a serious issue. She’s still growing up. I just want her to be cool. Bark at bad guys. Don’t bark at friends and neighbors. Give JuneBug a hug for me!!

  2. Since we were so isolated for so long, its taken some work to get Irish to not pull and act like an idiot whenever we encounter another dog; whether its on a leash or behind a fence. Everyday she’s calmer. On yesterday’s walk she was so good, she is beginning to “get it”, I think.

    Ruby is pushing her limits, seeing where they are, I would imagine. Excellent time to get her back for some refresher courses too. You’re a good Pack Leader 😉 (as Cesar Millan would say)

  3. Pingback: Random Tying of Virtual Loose Ends | Riding Bitch

  4. Pingback: Love = Responsibility | Riding Bitch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s