Dear Marzipan,

Puppies are gross and sharp and annoying and they never leave me alone.  Why is there a new one in my house and how can I get rid of it?

— Concerned

Dear Concerned,

Puppies are stupid.  I totally agree.  They don’t know how to use their mouths right, and never seem to stop moving!  They’ll disturb your nap time by jumping on your head, and will shred all the toys you were saving for a rainy day of hedonistic abandon.

Here’s the thing. While sometimes you may get a vote, for the most part you don’t get to pick who you live with.  I know you think of it as your house (let me guess — you’re barking at dogs as they pass by outside, right?), but you’re going to need to be flexible.  If your human takes in visitors, you may have to share space for a while with all sorts of uncivilized bags of fur.  If your human is the sort with no impulse control, you may from time to time just acquire a new permanent housemate, and lots of those start out as puppies (ick)!  Perhaps this is what happened to you.

Remember, you can’t control your circumstances. You can only control yourself (well, unless you are a Labrador). If you are a normal dog like me, I’ve found it’s best if you follow a few guidelines:

1. Yell at the new puppy often, as dramatically as possible. One day they might be bigger than you and they should have a clear sense of your power and that certain items do not belong to them.  Make liberal use of bitch face.  The tongue out is optional.

The author as an icky puppy herself, learning the meaning of “bitch face.”

2. Establish a “no jumping on dogs in beds” rule.  I personally prefer ducking into my cave bed as a clearer signal, but you can remain uncovered if you’re the hairy sort. Adults like us need Zones of Retreat, where no biting happens.  Until this rule is learned, see number 1.

3. If the puppy is the sort not to be deterred (perhaps she is a terrier?), look imploringly at your human.  Once you’ve said your clear “no,” it’s your human’s turn now.  The puppy is their problem, after all. You did not sign up to be anyone’s teacher, as it cuts seriously into your nap time.

4. Cultivate a habit of self-care. Puppies are stupid, but temporary. Soon they will smell like adults, and will be less sharp.  You just need to make it through this time, and sticking to a routine will keep you from gnawing your feet off.  Tell your human to beef up the quality bonding time, just you two. You can go on walks together, take up a new hobby (I recommend nose work — it’s the “moving meditation” of our world), and since the puppy stays at home, they learn they don’t get to horn in on everything.  Feel free to show off how nicely you walk on leash as you waltz out the door on your adventure.

5. Lastly, realize that your human will feel guilty for not spending enough time with you now, and so you should make the most of it.  Practice looking pathetic and forgotten during the puppy’s turn at training, and show off everything you remember when it’s your turn.  If nothing else, you’ll get cookies for effort, and they taste just as good.

Mostly, remember that your life is good.  You get to do stuff off leash, you can roam about the house on your own while the puppy is stuck in a pen, and you can look forward to the day when the puppy is a mannerly friend you can share sun spots with.  But if not, always remember your bitch face.