Our Bella is Five Months Old!
Posted on November 11, 2014
Our sweet Bella is now five months old! She is such a precious part of our family that it is hard to imagine that we were doing okay before she joined us. I weighed her on Saturday and she topped out at 14.6 pounds. Still has her cute teddy bear face and we are seeing a blondish tint to her facial fur but still our ginger little red head. She just had her first official junior puppy trim and it looks like we are now seeing the end of her wispy little baby fur. Bella is now fully house-trained to potty outside. Bella uses her little growl voice to let me know that she is ready to take a trip outside. When it is time for me to take a drive to a store or to do an errand run, Bella is my side-kick. She adores riding in the car. We purchased her a KONG safety harness and she gets buckled in so that she is able to ride as safe as we do.
We have been fortunate to have a perfect bonding happen with Luke, our male mini-goldendoodle, with Rusty, our senior chocolate lab and of course with both Mark and me. I think that having a solid set of acceptable behavior rules makes it easy for each dog in our family to feel safe and comfortable with each member of our family. Our Rusty is absolutely the best natured and loving mentor for both Luke and Bella. Luke has never shown the least bit of interest in retrieving our morning paper, but Bella, well that is another story. Since the death of our Aussie, Buddy, at age 12, three years ago, Rusty has stepped up to taking over the job of retrieving the morning paper.
All was going along fine and then along came Bella. For those of you who have been following Bella’s story, she was a full 6 pounds of joy when we brought her home from Heartland back in July this year. Of course we had to have that awful experience of her getting her back right tibia fractured and she was in a cast for about 5 weeks. That cast did not slow her down and we really had to make sure to help her get rest and give her leg a rest. Every morning all three dogs go out for morning potty break and Rusty would retrieve the paper. Bella saw him do this a few times and she decided that she was going to be a paper retriever dog too. Rusty is so calm it is amazing. Here is Bella out there in the driveway and she has one end of the paper and is tugging it towards the house. Rusty walked up to her and reached down with his mouth and picked up the paper and headed towards the back porch. Hanging from the end of that paper is little Bella. I am laughing so hard that there are tears in my eyes. Bella wasn’t turning loose. I ran up to the back porch door and opened it up and in went Rusty, Bella and paper. Each one, including Luke got an ice cube for a treat.
Since that time, if Bella goes out before Rusty, she brings in the paper. If Rusty is out there, he is still taller than her so he grabs it and lopes to the back porch with Bella running behind. What I thought might happen thankfully didn’t. Namely, instead of getting an intact morning newspaper I would be getting a yard full of large confetti. Rusty and Luke are trained to sit, hold and go into down stay. Bella is doing well in copying the boys but she is having a hard time recognizing that her release word is “finish”. When I release everyone by saying “finish”, both Luke and Rusty get up and come to get their treat or a pat on the head. Bella looks at them and still sometimes remains sitting until she decides that since the boys have left she can too. I know it is going to take more time for her to get respond to our release word and a lot of that has to do with the fact that she still is a puppy.
Bella has a funny quirk of always wanting to find a stick to bring back to the house when she is out for exercise and play time. With our labs and also with our mini-goldendoodles, they love having something to carry in their mouth. Tennis balls and sticks are the two favorite items. She loves playing retrieve and also has a bit of fun with keep away. It has helped me to lose a few pounds. She loves racing around the yard chasing Luke. It is like watching two long lean race cars going full throttle. Rusty and I do the walking and fetching the lost items dropped by the speeding duo. We have three fenced in acres and I am amazed at the amount of energy these dogs have. If there is not a lot of running area around for your pup, I’d suggest making sure that you and pup make sure to go for a good brisk walk every day. It is my opinion that even a short brisk walk would be better than no walk at all. My experience with the intelligence level of mini-goldendoodles makes it fun to work with them to teach them new tricks and expand their awareness of ways to be productive in our home. If I am carrying a load of clean laundry and drop a piece, it is coming via Bella’s wanting to bring it to me.
Bella is curious and she will study her surrounding areas to see if anything has changed. Luke, our male mini-goldendoodle, who is now two years old, and Rusty, will bark if they hear someone pull up in our driveway. Miss Bella is now trotting right along with them to check out the noise that caught their attention. However, she is still a “Moma’s” puppy. If the tone of Rusty and Luke’s bark changes, or the sounds are strange to her, she comes back over to my chair and puts her front feet on the arm of my chair and looks at me and in the direction of where the disturbing sounds are coming from. I will pick her up for a moment and then she is ready to go back in with Luke and Rusty. One thing that she has never displayed is a fear that would make her want to hide or cower down. I really do believe that it is because she has two good human examples of being calm and we both make sure that if we see any flicker of doubt, we are there to let her know that she is safe. We have used this same training strategy with all of our dogs and it does help them to be more relaxed with visitors and family, especially children.
For those of you who might be wondering if it is okay to relax on the training and be happy that your puppy is now housebroken, the answer is no. As with a human child, your puppy is entering into the stage of exploring anything that looks or tastes new. If you have any toxic plants or chemicals that can be taste tested by your puppy, I suggest either moving them to a safe zone or, in the case of plants, either giving them away or tossing them in the trash. Now is the time to make sure that items that can be chewed on by a strong pair of jaws and sharp teeth are safe enough to be given to your puppy. I am not trying to scare you but to make you aware that puppies will not only chew up and shred a cloth and cotton stuffed toy, but they can also swallow the contents. The fibers can cause an intestinal blockage and can result in the death of your pet. Our rule of thumb is that any toy that gets a hole and has stuffing coming out of it goes to the trash. If they can chew a hole into it, I don’t feel comfortable in letting them continue to chew on the cloth even after I have removed the stuffing. I’ll post a picture of the contents of their play basket so you can see some toys that seem to do very well in being used as tug toys and soft play toys.
Now is the time to be putting more focus on manners in your puppy’s behavior. Bella is still working on learning to not jump up for attention from those who come to visit. She is much better in public but we want her to refrain from jumping up on family members, including grandchildren. What looks to be cute and funny at 14 pounds will not be so cute when Bella is 25 pounds. In addition to our dinning room, we do also eat in the living room. Luke and Rusty know that if a tidbit is to be given, it will be after we finish eating. Bella is learning the same thing now. A good example of her intelligence is that she knows that when it is just her and me, we can share a sandwich or cookie treat. Little bits, mind you, just little bits and no chocolate. Bella, Mark and I will go to the local Dairy Queen and get soft serve ice cream. Mark and I will get a cone and Dairy Queen will give Bella a small squirt of vanilla ice cream in a bowl topped with a crunchy dog biscuit. We pay and Dairy Queen, being a doggie friendly business, gives Bella her ice cream treat free. Bella also knows that when we go by our bank, the nice lady at First Citizens Bank always gives her a doggie treat. As with all treats, moderation is the key. Too many treats will cause weight gain, both for Bella and for me. We make sure that we weigh our dogs regularly and measure the amounts that they are given to eat. Our three dogs eat Hill’s Science Diet, age appropriate dry food. Our Rusty had been getting a bit heavy and since changing to Hill’s Science Diet, we have kept his portion size the same but he has lost 11 pounds. He looks and acts as though he feels great. I know it makes it more fun for him to participate in play time with Luke and Bella.
The next few months are going to be busy for your puppy. He or she will be learning new things and exploring their play area for new treasures. Now is a time that puppies will want to explore outside of their familiar surroundings. I cannot overstate the importance of making sure that your puppy has a secure play area and that you spend time checking to make sure that they remain in that area. If you take your puppy for a car ride, please make sure that you have them secured in the car. Riding with the window down is fun for some dogs, so much fun in fact, that they have been known to go right out of the window. It is your responsibility to protect them from things like that. It is my responsibility to guide, train and protect Bella during these hectic months of growing up to be an adult dog. Children and pets have one thing in common, the more time they get to spend with you, receiving your love, guidance and proper training on how to be able to handle themselves in the world around them, the better prepared they are to be a great member of that world.
I’ll be following up in a few weeks with a progress report on our Bella. I hope that each of you who have a puppy are being daily blessed by the love that these precious pets freely give to us. Those of us who have shared long relationships with our adult dogs know that we really aren’t their “owners”. We are their family and we are honored to be part of their lives.