Bull Terriers are notoriously tough to train, and I can testify to this stark reality, having owned two of them. I have had many days with Pot Roast where I have sobbed in frustration, more so in his puppy days. I talked to anyone who would listen about the maniacal puppy I seemed to have acquired. Why is he like this? Does your puppy try to bite you all day long? When will he stop? He destroyed everything in his wake, would stir from sleep and tear anything nearby to shreds, and seemed to think my toes were those little cocktail wieners at parties. But the kind folks at Amherst Veterinary Hospital assured me his behaviour was nothing short of typical annoying puppyness, which did nothing to assuage the insanity that seemed rampant in our house.

I work from home, so like a new mother, Joe would come home from work to find me clutching the puppy in exasperation to keep him from biting/crying/peeing/attacking/licking. Roast proved an endless stream of naughtiness that was driving me nuts.

So like many new dog owners, we enrolled in puppy class. “He’s horrible!” I declared, presenting Pot Roast’s wiggly, ten-pound body to the trainer. He licked her hand sweetly and pleasantly visited with a nearby German Pointer. “He’s interacting well,” she said, raising an eyebrow.

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Tiny Roastie

Throughout the rest of the training weeks, Pot Roast seemed intent to prove he was as angelic as he looked; his little belly a round swell of cuteness. People oohed and ahhed at his antics and he took to commands of sit, stay and down like an absolute champ. “He’s very, very intelligent,” said the trainer while Pot Roast “left” a treat until our eyes locked and I permitted him the snack. But once home, he flew into the crazy monster I’d come to call my dog. Nipping, terrorizing and naughtiness reigned supreme. I approached the trainer the next session nearly in tears. “I don’t know what to do,” I said, crying but snuggling Roast. He secretly bit the tip of my nose. “You know, I think he senses your nervousness with him. Try relaxing a little and take command.”

In the following weeks, I learned to appreciate puppy antics for what they were: a period of time that passes. Sure puppies nip, destroy and wreak havoc, but they also snuggle and snore and roll around and make owners laugh. Once I gave into that puppy breath and Pot Roast learned I wasn’t a chew toy, we embraced each other as family, and I finally regained some sanity.

It was a long, long road. But listen here, new puppy owners: It gets better.

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