Is my puppy happy?

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by Paula Maguire, Sep 28, 2020.

  1. Paula Maguire

    Paula Maguire Registered Users

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    Hi everyone, I am new to the forum and have a lovely little lab puppy, Molly, who is 14 weeks old. This is our first puppy and family pet. My family had labradors (male) growing up but I don't really remember the puppy stage at all so my reference is for grown up labs. Molly is doing really well settling into a routine and we are trying to train her with the basics, she has been very nippy and bitey the last few weeks, which has been quite stressful at home with the kids and trying to manage how to deal with that. I think she is getting a bit better now and I know better when it might be likely to happen. I am just thinking if she is happy and relaxed and how do I know that. Would you say you could see that your 14 week old was happy out or am I overthinking here? She is sometimes reluctant to put on the harness in the morning to go for a walk but then when we get out there she seems to enjoy it. Maybe I just feel a bit like i have to manage her a lot to make sure she is not biting the kids and am missing seeing a happy playful puppy around the house... Any advice would be welcome and if i am overthinking please tell me! Thanks so much, Paula
     
  2. sarah@forumHQ

    sarah@forumHQ Moderator

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    Hi Paula, welcome to the forum :)

    It sounds like all her needs are being met, so I imagine she's happy! Happy puppies explore their environment, are curious, and approach their new families for affection or to try and play. If she's doing these things it means she feels confident and safe with you :)

    The harness will be completely new to her, and it's a normal survival instinct to be wary of unfamiliar things. You can teach her to love the harness by giving her lots of treats at every stage of putting it on.

    As for managing the biting... I think social media (and regular media) give us unrealistic expectations of what having a puppy around is like. They airbrush out the difficult bits, and just show the cuddles and the cute capers. But actually a puppy who has access to large areas of the house, each with different rules, quickly gets stressed by not understanding all the different expectations in each place. Whereas keeping them confined to one puppy safe area, and patiently reinforcing desirable behavior imbues them with confidence that they know the 'right way' to behave, and get positive attention and rewards from you. Your world does become quite small for a while, but it doesn't last long :)

    I could go on a bit in this vein, but hopefully that's reassured you a bit!
     
  3. Leomag

    Leomag Registered Users

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    Hi Paula. Welcome to the forum. I would not worry about her happiness. Labradors are pretty happy in general so it would take quite a bit to make her unhappy and it sounds like that's not the case. What you're describing sounds pretty familiar. After having our puppy about a week or two we actually put the brakes big time on interactions between the puppy and the kids ( and they are 15 and 16!) and have slowly reintroduced them to each other at around 4/5 months under very close surveillance and training of the kids on how to direct the puppy so they don't unintentionally give confusing instructions to the pup which is apparently often the case and that's why children end up getting nipped more often than adults but you want to avoid that to reduce frustration from all parts. The other thing is (I'm not sure how you're managing her environment) I agree with Sarah is it's practically an absolute necessity to limit the pups access to one room at the start and ideally introduce a crate. As Sarah said, your world does get quite narrow for a while but that's really important. One person should be in the room with the pup at all times so they never have a chance to engage in undesirable behaviors and you get a chance to promote and reward desirable ones. I hope that helps. You're doing great!
    PS: looking at her position when she sleeps might give cues to how comfortable s the is feeling. A sleeping position that exposes her abdomen and is not quick to get up from would mean a very trustfull and happy pup!
     
  4. Paula Maguire

    Paula Maguire Registered Users

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    Thanks so much for your replies Sarah and Leomag, I know its probably all normal and hopefully she is happy enough. After a week or two of manic stress trying to manage her in lounge/dining room and kitchen, then we moved her and her crate into the kitchen and she has been much more settled there. She's doing really well with the crate and routine for sleeping and goes in voluntarily now for a nap after kids go to school and again after lunch for a while. So she has the kitchen and back garden to be in during the day. We go for a walk in the morning - short in distance but takes about 25-30 mins, slow walk, sniff, sometimes a bit of run on long line, meet some dogs also in the park. Then she has a short walk in the evening around 7pm ish just down the road in the neighbourhood. We do some fetch games, training during the day too. She has had a couple of UTI's already and when she was feeling unwell - you could tell she wasn't happy. So now I think I'm just always watching to see her happy and relaxed and i'm sure just overthinking everything. She does sleep well and is in not going mad to get out of the crate in the morning, so that might be a positive sign. Thanks a mill again for your advice, there really is a lot to think about!!
     

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