Summer is Officially Over; We lost One Cell Phone, a PSP and a Couple Pairs of Shoes May They R.I.P.
It’s true and I suppose I should be ashamed or sorry; but in some ways I am not.
Summers are different at my house, especially this year; we went from not having children (throughout the school year last year) to having kids here all summer long.
My husband gets summers with his kids, and with that comes a sincere change in the dynamics of my furry pack!
I am thrilled with how well all the dogs acclimated to and loved the kids, but there were a few moments of naughty behavior.
But ultimately who was at fault?
Let me explain…
I had a 15 month old puppy (he is a couple months older now!). And in all truthfulness the only reason he had managed to make his way off of his “puppyhood tie down” was because I added another puppy when he was about 12 months old.
I swear this particular dog is almost more “puppy like” than my 5 month old puppy; his affinity for chewing, shredding, destroying things and chasing the cat still rear their ugly heads.
But I have excellent hearing. My mom always said it was a bit creepy when I was a kid, but I can hear just about anyone’s conversation and the infinitesimal sounds that most people miss. She use to say I should be a spy… my dogs probably wish I had because then I wouldn’t have time to be a dog trainer!
So, I usually hear the moment something “naughty” or inappropriate is grabbed and the chewing begins. Let’s call it my gift! And because of that and my extremely tight control of my animals, I rarely suffer from having my own things chewed.
However, when you add the “noise” and fighting and the normalcy of childhood to my home, my “spidy sense” of hearing goes out the window and needs to be ignored if I expect to survive and not need a trip to the Looney Bin.
And therefore this year was the perfect time for “Mr. Naugthy” to sink his teeth into a few extremely satisfying electronics.
The kids are 9, 14, and 17 and I am of the opinion that they are old enough to take responsibility for their things. I in fact have to take more
precautions of my things while they are here too!
So even though I warned them when they came home; my warnings went unheeded until it was tragically too late a few times!
This is Where My Husband and I; and Other People Tend to Disagree…
Was it the dog’s fault for chewing the items; or was it the kids’ fault for leaving them out?
In my opinion, it was the kids fault. They are the “thinking” creatures and know the difference between right and wrong. They also should have some skills for cleaning up after themselves. And, I have a desire for them to learn responsibility.
Which does not mean that they “got in trouble” for leaving their stuff out; I figured that the loss of their things might have been “punishment” enough. Although they were quickly replaced by their father, the phone then went swimming in a pair of pants and this was the 3rd PSP so I am not sure how much responsibility was actually learned…
I actually think that he (the dog) missed the kids (the first few months of his life were spent with them in his life) and I think that the things he chose; shoes, phone, and PSP were all very “stinky” with their scent. I think it was his way of getting a little closer to them.
But, probably because they are his children (admittedly I don’t have the 2 legged kind of my own), my husband thinks it is the dog’s fault!
A Little More History…
A little more history, if you will… My husband is someone who; if he takes his shirt or shoes off in the living room they often get shoved into or under the sofa for later canine discovery.
I often think of my mother smacking us and saying “I am not your maid”.
It seems I am his maid. But we have only been married for a year and a half so there isn’t much “smacking” going on in our relationship yet!
But, having been smacked… I have grown up knowing responsibility and having not only the knowledge but also the desire to clean up after myself!
So Maybe it’s My Fault…
Maybe, just maybe it is my fault for not following him around every moment of the day like I normally do.
But, he wanted to hang out in the other room with the kids when they were here, and I was proud of him that he was being social (he is not always known for his sociability).
But the kids would often watch him shred things even when he was in the room with them.
So he was not learning not to do so in their presence (he is always crated when we are gone).
What it Comes Down to:
What it comes down to, is that ultimately I don’t feel like it was his fault. When puppies are young, they are often… PUPPIES and with that they have some very naughty behaviors.
These behaviors often end up with the innocent dog on death row at the local shelters, because their person somehow believes that a dog about this age should be done with these behaviors.
Let’s face it… dogs aren’t as “cute” at 15 months as they are at 10 weeks, and therefore we are less apt to put up with these behaviors.
However, ultimately it is still the fault of the human.
Almost all Dogs Grow Out of It
Once they have learned what is appropriate and inappropriate to chew on, they usually stop showing the negative behaviors. For some it takes a year or two until they are fully mature but most will mature out of the regular “chewing” behaviors if they are taught not to do so.
If you allow them to chew things or leave things out all of the time, they are less likely to stop!
How Do You Avoid This Dilema?
- Teach your kids (and your significant other) responsibility and how to clean up after themselves. If they love it; they should take care of it and put it up!
- Keep an eye on a young dog. If you can’t see them… there is a very high likelihood that they are getting into trouble!
- Give him a variety of toys and treats to chew on as an option. If he doesn’t have his own stuff to play with… how can you expect him to stay away from your things?
- Utilize crates and baby gates to limit their access to parts of the home where they are more likely to make a mistake!
- Always, always, always crate your dog when you leave if he is likely to chew!
- Exercise!!! If you are meeting his exercise needs and requirements he should be too tired to chew!
- Mental stimulation is also a requirement to keep your dog out of trouble! Work on obedience training with him a few times a day to keep him tired and well stimulated.
If You Find a Chewed Item?
What do you do when you find the shattered phone in pieces?
Nothing, except clean it up.
Unless you catch him grabbing it or actively chewing it, chastising him will do you no good.
Dogs live in the moment, they don’t remember having chewed up a phone 2 hours ago and they don’t realize why that was such a problem but chewing on a bone isn’t. Dog's don't feel guilt for more on that click here.
If you have to place blame; put it on the human and vow to put expensive and sentimental things out of reach until he is old and mature enough that it is not a problem!
What do you think?
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.