Lessons from a Boxer Puppy

I’m fighting the urge to scream when a 4-month-old puppy chomps down on my socked foot for the sixth time. Instead of hurling every blood-curdling curse word I can dream of at the wrinkly pup, I say no, once again, and redirect her (for the umpteenth time) to one of her countless toys.

In her defense, it is summer and I very infrequently wear socks in the house. I understand that my foot could be mistaken for a chew toy. Six times in a row. But when I bend over to remove the socks and a mouth full of horrifically pointy teeth chomps down on my ponytail and starts a raucous game of tug-of-war, I have to close my eyes and go to my happy place.


We adopted a puppy.


I know. I know. What were we thinking? I’ll tell you what:

  • Babe could use a playmate.
  • The house seems empty with just one dog.
  • We love boxers.
  • If we don’t adopt her, someone might try to breed her or worse.
  • A puppy isn’t that hard. We raised one not that long ago.

And, truly, the house is fuller and Babe enjoys rumpus time with her new pal. But that last bit about us having recent experience raising a puppy. Oh, that was not so accurate.

A couple days after bringing Banjo home, we realized to our dismay that puppies are indeed very hard to train. And that puppy we raised? That was almost 15 years ago. And in that decade and a half, we forgot everything.


Puppy Teething


I’m looking forward to evolution just removing the puppy teeth phase of the canine life cycle. I mean, what purpose do they serve except to puncture everything the wee puppy piranhas happen to bite (which, spoiler alert, is everything).

So far, Banjo has shredded a corner of baseboard, chewed up a dining room chair leg and exfoliated a corner of our cedar chest.

Of course I appreciate that is a very small amount of damage compared to some puppy horror stories I’ve heard. But the damage isn’t terribly concerning. Really, if we wanted nice things, we wouldn’t have pets.

The worst part of teething, by far, is the shattering realization that after thirty-odd years of being exposed to the earth’s elements, my skin is still woefully delicate and yields easily to the nipping of a 30-pound boxer puppy.

Her bites hurt!


The solution? Provide the puppy with everything she could possibly want to chew on:

  • Like tons and tons of toys – plush, unstuffed, nylon, rubber, rope, corduroy, etc.
  • Give her a peanut butter-stuffed Kong
  • Give her whole frozen carrots
  • Fasten a wooden dowel rod so that it sticks inside her crate (hours of chewing fun!)

Okay, I admit, these aren’t actually solutions. They’re just diversions to hopefully occupy the little biting rocket until she falls asleep or finally outgrows her chewing stage.


Potty Training


Ugh. I really, emphatically hate potty training.

Banjo is the third dog we’ve had to train. The catch is that this time we live on the third floor of a walk-up. That means:

  • We walk up and down two flights of stairs 6 to 8 time per day
  • If Banjo starts peeing, we can’t scoop her up and put her outside
  • Without a yard, we are teaching Banjo to pee on the sidewalk (not great for when we move out of the city)

First we bought puppy pads and potty training liquid drops – just add a few droplets on a pad to encourage elimination! Both were a colossal waste of money. Banjo was just as happy peeing on her bed as she was on the pads. In fact, I’d say she preferred her bed since she peed on it 3 times and only once on the pads.

Happily, one month after introducing young Banjo to her new home, she seems to be catching on. As soon as she steps outside, she squats to tinkle – always amusing when people are just passing by and have to skip over the stream of wiz.

How did we manage almost completely training Banjo to go outside? Honestly, however monotonous it may sound, lots and lots of patience.

We rolled up all of our rugs and were thoroughly grateful for all linoleum floors (despite their heinous similarities to asylum-grade flooring) since that meant easier clean up. We regulated when and how much water she had and stuck to a strict schedule.


The Infinite Energy of a Puppy


On to the next hurdle. And no matter how big that hurdle is, Banjo will jump over it. And then keep running. And jumping.

Seriously, this dog could power a rocket ship with her energy. Unfortunately, that energy is unharnessed and just gets expressed as: RUN RUN RUN JUMP!


Most puppies come with an unspeakable amount of get-up-and-go, but certain breeds have a little more energy than others. Boxers certainly fall into that high speed category.

Since we’re in the city, we can’t exactly let her run laps in our backyard. That energy needs released, though, so we come up with other ideas:

  • Running. I’ve been taking Banjo for short morning runs with me. She’s catching on to the idea. Sort of.
  • Dog park playtime. We’re limited with work schedules, but try to get her to the dog park twice a week to romp with the other dogs. She already has a handful of best canine friends.
  • Indoor fetch. Off-leash time is limited, living in a city. But we still manage to play fetch with a tennis ball in our apartment.
  • Pass her off to Babe. I know, it’s a lousy tactic. And if Babe is clearly not in the mood to play, we make sure Banjo leaves her alone. But if Babe is in the mood to wrestle, then we are all for a few minutes of peace. And afterward, the wee crazy puppy is often tuckered out.


After just one month of dealing with a puppy, what did I learn? Banjo is crazy. Cleaning supplies are glorious. Puppies are cute to look at, but a real pain in the butt to train. However, we’re sure this one is going to make a wonderful lifelong companion for our whole family. Especially once she grows up. Until then…

Everything is replaceable except my sanity.


5 responses to “Lessons from a Boxer Puppy”

  1. Our boxer is 2 years old and still a puppy! They never grow up. I am glad he outgrew his “snappy alligator” phase of biting everything (and everyone) though. We are thinking of getting a second boxer and your post reminded me of how much fun training is (seriously! I love the challenge). Our little guy is awesomely obedient but it was quite a journey to get him there.

    • Yes, training them can be tough, but you’re right, the payoff is totally worth it! Boxers are such a loyal and great breed; I completely understand why you’d want another. (Plus they can keep each other entertained for hours!)

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