Terrible “Twos”

puppy chewing

Jerry Seinfeld jokes that “having a 2-yr-old is like having a blender without a lid!” I laughed out loud when I heard that one, but I have to admit I was mostly laughing because I immediately applied the thought to the doggie world. (Yes, almost everything I see or hear goes through that filter.) Just think about it — replace “2-yr-old” with “puppy” and those of us who’ve raised a young canine know that makes the joke even funnier!

Both first-time “puppy parents” and those who’ve just adopted a new puppy after years with an adult dog often marvel at how those little critters get into EVERYTHING!  In class the other day, a client told how she likes to fold laundry on the floor.  She thought she’d be fine since the puppy was napping, but as soon as the piles were starting to get neat, the puppy woke up!  Puppy saw Disneyland spread out before her.  She dashed through, delighting in causing chaos and stealing socks.  I imagine it looked very much as though the clothes had been through a blender after the lid came off!

That’s hilarious — if you’re not the one dealing with the mess!  I laughed, but tried to do so kindly.  However, I wonder why folks don’t think that sort of thing will happen?  It’s a puppy.  They see everything in the world in one of three ways:  Can I sleep on it?  Can I eat/chew it?  Can I play with it?  And sometimes objects and/or people fit in more than one category!  Simultaneously!

Folks have called me a “half-empty glass” sort of thinker all my life, because I usually look ahead and try to anticipate what could go wrong.  I call it being practical!  But you’d be surprised how many people don’t even think about “puppy-proofing” their house.  If I bring it up in class, I usually get a lot of startled looks, sheepish grins and remarks like, “Sort of…”

Here I go again on one of my favorite sayings, but “Management is easier than Training!”  There’s only so much you can instantly teach a little fur-ball.  Teaching requires TIME.  Even if you had the time for training non-stop in the first 24 hours after adopting a puppy, it’s STILL easier to put the shoes in a closet than try to convince a baby (that NEEDS to chew) to leave them alone.  Of all the tempting items in the house, those that smell and taste like YOU – shoes and underwear — will always be favorite chew items.  It’s a compliment, really, but one we can do without!

Even before bringing puppy home, it’s best to lie face down on the floor and look around.  Any fabric dangling within reach?  Any cords that are just asking to be chewed or get tangled up in? Any paper items temptingly close to the edge of a coffee table?  How about wastebaskets?  Whether it’s paper, crinkly plastic, or actual wonderfully-enticingly-smelly garbage, no puppy can resist!  What about shoes, purses, socks, remote controls, books, tablets, DVD cases…The likelihood of you training a young puppy to leave any of those things alone is approximately nil!

Another thing that many folks don’t consider is that the puppy ISN’T housetrained.  “What?” you say!  “How can folks forget THAT?”  It’s not so much that they forget the fact as forget what it MEANS.  It means that the puppy is likely to lose bladder control at unpredictable intervals!  So, giving puppy full run of the entire house is not the best plan.  But you’d be surprised how many people don’t think of restricting their new addition’s access around the house until after there’s been lot of “accidents!”  If the puppy is sneaking off to a corner of the hallway or a bedroom to do its business, she’s trying to do the right thing – in dog terms.  It’s up to us to teach her the human terms – that the whole house is off-limits – by limiting the possibilities for her to make a mistake until she learns the difference between inside and outside.

Obviously, there’s a lot of things to be considered when adopting any new dog, but especially when that dog is just a baby.  It’s not the puppy’s fault that she does what comes naturally.  If we haven’t “done our homework” – part of which includes getting the house ready to receive the new “bundle of joy” — we can’t expect everything to be joyful all the time!  Don’t just bring the little blender home and hope for the best!  Put a lid on it!

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