Ferris is becoming a teenager. He is going on 6 months old, and acting like a typical adolescent puppy…pestering the older dogs to distraction, forgetting all of his training (including house training), destroying everything in sight, barking for no reason, being generally stubborn, and trying new and interesting things like counter-surfing.
He also keeps busy attempting to be helpful, by doing things like recycling paper, and doing his own version of a prewash on the dishes.
Fortunately, when adolescence hits, I have a few secret weapons up my sleeve. Like several other dogs to play with, and a fenced yard to run in. Then there are the older dogs, who help discipline him when he gets out of line. Believe me, they accomplish the job much more effectively than I can. Rex is the master at putting young rowdy pups in their place. He takes just so much, and then puts the hammer down! It looks and sounds scary if you don’t know what’s going on, but he is simply making it VERY clear that whatever the pup is doing is NOT okay. He never hurts them or traumatizes them; he is the epitome of a benevolent leader.
This morning while I was eating my leftover pasta with alfredo sauce for breakfast (yes, I’m one of those people), suddenly I heard the television go on in the family room. When I checked, there was Ferris chewing on the remote! Luckily I got it in time – before he ruined it, or worse got the batteries out and ate them. I had put it on top of a table that I thought would be out of his reach, but I was wrong. Now it’s up on a shelf. At this age, often puppies are big enough to get into serious trouble, and young enough not to know any better.
This is when I enlist my last secret weapon…a dog crate. My dogs learn from day one that a crate is a nice cozy place to spend time. They are given treats every time they get into a crate when asked, and most of them are fed in crates as well. The result is that I have dogs who like being in their crates. Note – I do not leave my dogs locked up in crates for hours on end. When used responsibly crates can be a huge help. In fact, I leave the doors of the crates open, and quite often the dogs seek them out as a nice little hide-a-way if they want privacy to take a nap, or chew a nylabone. These days, I have my freezer full of Kong toys, and Tux toys stuffed with food or peanut butter ready and waiting for whenever I need a break from my crazy teenager. Ferris gladly goes into his crate when he sees me pull something out of the freezer for him. It’s kind of like telling him to go in the other room and play video games for awhile.
I’ve been through this enough times to know that this is only a phase. This is the age when pups try out new things, push the envelope a bit, and see what they can and can’t get away with (kind of like your teenager borrowing the car without permission, or staying out past curfew). They’re growing up, and just like human teenagers, they need us to be patient, and provide guidance to help them make better choices. This is another reason I use crates during the teenage phase. I’d rather have my dog in a safe place when I can’t watch him, (instead of finding out too late that he ate batteries out of the remote). For those of you who may think that using dog crates is “mean” – here a just a few of many photos I have to prove otherwise. Sometimes they even share crates or squeeze into one that is too small just because it makes a cozy bed!