Terrible Twos

It appears that Pupzilla has hit the Terrible Twos–two weeks that is. As we enter our second week of Bella-in-residence, she’s become a total terror. Just look what she did to her teddy:

torn teddy

Torn Teddy


Teddy has gotten worse since then: he’s currently headless and bleeding stuffing from the underarm, as well. But that’s OK, really since Teddy was bought to be chewed.

Unfortunately, her bed wasn’t and Bella has decided the surprisingly easy-to-shred dog bed needs to be destroyed. I’ve had to take it away from her and she’s quite upset by that.

I don’t know why she suddenly feels the need to chew on cloth, but she’s been demonstrating her desire, by nibbling at my pants legs and shirt sleeves. Yesterday she grabbed a hold of my t-shirt collar as I bent down and didn’t want to let go. While sitting on my lap, she got her teeth around the collar button on my flannel and–because her head is so heavy–nearly choked me as she fell asleep with it clutched in her mouth.

She’s also decided she likes the leg of the recliner and the wheels of the office chairs as chew toys. I’ll obviously need a lot of Bitter Apple to stop this, since I can’t watch her every second.

Alas, she also has become unpredictable in her bathroom habits and I’m spending a lot of time with towels and bottles of Nature’s Miracle. I may have to replace the rugs. She refused to “go” while we were out last night–and we walked for 90 minutes waiting for her to do her business. I was so tired I was stumbling, but Bella wouldn’t go. This morning she still hadn’t made a solid mess, but she’d made two wet ones–on the rugs.

When we got back to the boat last night, she went on a rampage, running at full speed from front to back and then stopping once to growl at me. It sounded like playful growling, but it was loud, her posture was aggressive, and she had blocked me in the bathroom and Mr. Kat had to grab her and move her out of the way. It was after 1 in the morning.

We finally thought she’d calmed down a little, and we tried to go to bed. She then attacked her dog bed and started destroying it. She nipped me by accident a couple of times while I was trying to get her to let go of the bed.

Finally we had to take the bed away and hide it in the midships cabin. Eventually she calmed down and we gave her the bed back. She curled up and went to sleep right away.

I didn’t. I woke up several times thinking she was ripping up something else, but it was just the snoring.

This morning we took a long walk and she dragged me up the stairs to the dog park. There were no other dogs around, so we went in, but she was so busy sniffing the new place that we didn’t really get any playtime in and we had to go when another dog arrived, since I don’t think I have enough control of her yet, to just let her run loose with an unknown dog (a real beauty of a young Boxer female). The other owner was very nice about holding his dog so I could remove Bella without causing a ruckus. Bella and the other dog obviously wanted to have a romp, but… not knowing how the romp would evolve and what I would do if Bella were too rough with the slightly smaller dog, I thought it better to go.

So, not enough wind-down time there. I settled for a longer walk, so we walked on back to the marina. I was so tired I missed her “I need to go” cues and nearly dragged her onward instead of letting her do the business. But Bella still had a ton of energy, so we kept on going, past our dock and all the way to the end of A dock, then back… but once we were inside the boat, the zooming around and attacking objects started again. I was a little desperate myself–dog-mommies have to “go” sometimes too–so I risked the destruction of the boat by closing myself in the head for a few minutes.

Miraculously, the zooming stopped after one more pass, since I wasn’t there to see it. She was still too wound up when I came out and we had a disagreement over the dog bed–which had to be taken away from her again.

I can tell she knows which objects are toys that are OK to play with and which are not, but she’s insisting on pushing it to see what I’ll do or let her get away with. But the boat and I won’t stand up to too much abuse, so I can’t let her “get away” with anything. I tried playing with her with the right toys to distract her from destruction, but she wouldn’t keep her limits to the toys until I removed the bed and everything else I didn’t want her to chew. Eventually I had to walk away from her and refuse to play at all, shoving her off my back as she kept trying to jump up.

She’s finally calmed down now that I’m in my office and ignoring her, but it took a bit of “leave it” and removing things before she got quiet enough for me to leave her alone.

And yet, she’s still such a sweet dog at other times, I can’t help but want to love and cuddle her when she’s not destroying things. She even lets Mr. Kat pick her up like a giant baby, she rolls over and shows her tummy, she acts like such a sweetheart… when she’s not being Pupzilla.

I’m not sure Bella needs training as much as I need dog-mommy classes.

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About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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11 Responses to Terrible Twos

  1. Been there. Our labs ate the kitchen (moulding around the cabinets, pulled up chunks of floor, tore a hole through the wall). Place had been through several earthquakes, and couldn’t survive two lab puppies. Nothing worked. Bitter Apple might as well have been sugar water.

    Eventually, they calmed down. But it took a while.

  2. When we had the ferrets, we had to throw out the Bitter Apple after a few months. It got warm and apparently breaks down into something sweet if it’s too hot for too long. We had to switch to hot pepper oil. Which we also used on the shingles at the side of the house to discourage Butch–the dog at the time–from eating the building.

    I’m thinking we might have to go back to the chili oil if Bella can’t be discouraged from gnawing on furniture.

  3. SH says:

    Oh dear…Pupzilla really is a handful, isn’t she? So much for my “Who’s a good doggie?” tweet.
    I am glad you posted the photo of teddy.

  4. Cat G. says:

    There’s a lot of variables involved, but remember that sometimes you have to be the bad mommy. Not often, but enough to firmly establish where you are in Pupzilla’s mind… ie, ranking higher in the family pack. Then again, I could be wrong, but it seemed to work reasonably well with my puppy. And the chewing should mellow out as she gets older. In theory.

  5. Cyndy Otty says:

    I was actually going to suggest puppy class because it’s as much about training you (as the owner) on how to handle a dog as it is basic obedience for the dog.

    The hyper inside stuff is sometimes really difficult to deal with. My only real suggestion is to be as calm as you possibly can when she’s acting bananas and don’t reinforce it by getting as crazy yourself. When she is calm, just gently stroke her and calmly praise her up. Some dogs are just excitable, but even so house manners need to be learned. I have this exact issue with my current guide dog; she is so easy to wind up but you wouldn’t know it walking into the house because she knows to sit (or go lay on her bed) until she’s told she can come over and greet the person.

  6. Carolyn says:

    Have you ever watched the national geographic show The Dog Whisperer? It’s been super helpful for me with my schnauzer and pitbull.

  7. thanks for all the helpful tips and suggestions. I really appreciate them.

    Alas, although we did but a TV recently, we don’t actually “have” TV, in that we have no cable or dish or other connection. We watch DVDs, Netflix stream, or Hulu and that’s about it. So I haven’t seen Dog Whisperer yet. I’ll give it a try though, if I can get it.

  8. KateH says:

    Since you have a wonderful dog training place – the Ahimsa Training Center – in Seattle, I really would recommend their real person interaction with you and your dog, over trying to figure out the ‘energy’ philosophy all by yourself from a highly edited and less than well-explained tv show. The issues you’re having with Bella won’t go away without better communication between the species, and will be the reason you give up on her. I’m not trying to be mean, but she’s a dog – not a mind reader – and you’re a human who can’t ‘talk’ to her without understanding what motivates her. She really is from a different culture, and she’s got the mental equivalency of a 5 yr old, so she needs you to arrange and take the two (three) of you to classes.

  9. Kate: I do intend and always have to get in-person training for me and Bella–and Mr. Kat too. TV shows don’t solve problems, they just give ideas.

    BUT I have no intention of giving up on my dog and I DON’T think I can just “talk” to her. I’m well aware that she’s not a human in dog fur–I’m not one of those people who gets an animal as a substitute child. That’s not how my brain is bent. I mean… yeah, I’m bent, but not THAT way. 😉

  10. KateH says:

    I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to make you angry. I’ve worked with animals for 30+ years, and I’ve seen so many people who think their pet (most often a dog) will either ‘grow up’ or ‘understand that they’re doing wrong’ without any help other than time. When that doesn’t happen, one of three things happens. The pet is given up or otherwise dumped. A short course of training is ‘tried’ and half of those people don’t even finish at Petsmart or whatever place is cheapest, and then they give the pet up 4-6 months later. A small minority of owners search out a good trainer to help them, and read as much as they can on their own so they can figure out how to get the participants reading from the same book and working as a team, so they can live together in harmony. Your posts just sound more on the ‘aarrrggghh’ side than the ‘hhmmm’ side of the possibilities.

  11. Let me see… how to put this…. I’m annoyed by the tone and attitude of your replies. These posts are my way of venting about a situation that is frustrating and strange to me and asking for some constructive feedback. Your reply was critical of the previous poster and of me without reasonable cause and what could have been constructive in your replies came off as snarky and unpleasant instead. I’m unlikely to respond positively to such comments.

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