No, DD hasn’t suddenly aged 2 years overnight. Nor do we have a distant adolescent relative unexpectedly staying with us. What we do have is an 8 month old puppy in an (almost) adult-sized body.
We are the owners of a canine teenager. I’d forgotten how challenging this stage is.
The Puppy is into everything and his favourite thing to chew right now is velcro. He’s already destroyed one of DD3′s trainers by separating it from its velcro strap, as well as the velcro straps attached to a swimming float that he found in our garden. This week he has also destroyed a bucket, eaten the handle off the kids’ seesaw and I’ve caught him eyeing up our new hammock, no doubt as a kind of dental floss.
His teeth are not his only feature that should be registered as a weapon of mass destruction; he has also dug massive craters in our lawn- in the above photo he has mud on his nose from one of his excavations.
Having a Teenage Puppy is a bit like having a human toddler again; if The Puppy is quiet, he’s probably doing something he shouldn’t.
The Puppy has no idea about personal space and one of his favourite tricks is just strolling up to someone with food and just helping himself. I am very careful not to let him get close enough to my plate, but other members of our family aren’t as vigilant, and have lost their dinner to his incredible extending tongue on several occasions.
And walks are a bit of a nightmare. He’s developed cloth ears and the likelihood of him coming back when called is inversely proportional to the proximity of something more exciting. And when we are out and about, and he’s off lead, it seems that everything is more exciting. Joggers, cyclists, other dogs, birds, plastic bags and other walkers.
He chases anything that moves away from him and greets anything approaching him with great enthusiasm. Sometimes we do meet people who are quite happy to have a German Shepherd sized missile planting his grubby paws on their chest and thrusting his tongue into their faces, but it doesn’t happen often.
As a result, I spend our walks frantically scanning the horizon for impending targets and getting him to sit and be fed treats while they pass safely. Most of the time this works well but every now and again a jogger will run up silently behind me, or a family of small children will appear through a gap on the fence.
Hurrah! thinks the Puppy as he gallops off to cause mayhem. Oh Sh*t! I think as I frantically wave treats in his direction and call his name loudly.
The best case scenario is that his victim has been a dog owner himself and understands that The Puppy is just young, not aggressive. These people stop and talk calmly to The Puppy and after a couple of sniffs and licks, he loses interest and runs off after The Lurcher instead.
The worst case could involve small children screaming and running in different direction while The Puppy tries to decide whether he wants to chase them or round them up.
Obviously if we are in areas with a lot of people around, I keep The Puppy on his lead, but he really needs at least half an hour of free running every day to tire him out enough that he’s not a complete nuisance in the house when we get home.
And I know I’ve done a good job if the dogs come home and do this for the rest of the day.