How's that puppy working out for you? They are so stinking cute at two or three months, but that time races by quickly. Now you are at pre-adolescence, a time of needing to explore a little more but with zero sense of what is expected of them.
Your puppy is now in a new awkward stage where they are growing bigger by the hour, with much more control over their limbs. Now they are at a place where they can reach up to the counter and stretch to snag that loaf of bread or the box of doughnuts you had intended to save for brunch. The puppy can now reach further than he could a few days ago, and it's driving you bananas.
Maybe your shoes or hats or favorite books have been added to the puppy smorgasbord. Maybe it's your mail or some photographs you had planned to frame. If it's important to you then there is a good chance that the puppy will chew it.
First, make sure that the puppy has toys of his own that belong to him. If he's already shredding some of the stuffed animal type toys or squeaky toys, get rid of them. Don't get any more of these. Puppies can swallow both the fillings and the actual squeakers causing serious intestinal issues such as blockages. Instead, look for more durable toys made from tough substances. If the puppy teeth are gone, then Kongs work well.
Next, be realistic. Put your shoes in a closet and keep other chewable items out of reach. If you catch the puppy in the act of chewing, make sure you give him a strong, "No!" When he backs away from the item, praise him.
High Energy Pups
For the high energy breeds, you might find that your sweet puppy no longer ambles around the yard, occasionally adorably tripping over his feet. Now he can actually run at a high speed as he plows through your garden.
Your new dog is learning that he has deep reservoirs of energy. This is an excellent time to work on walking at heal and loose-leash walking for a few long stretches.
Make sure that your puppy is getting plenty of exercise every day. They are not old sofa dogs who can sleep away the morning. If dog parks are not an option for you, then find some trails where you can walk your pup.
If you haven't yet begun crate training, it is not too late. The long term results make the initial part of the training completely worth it.
A crate gives the puppy a safe space - a spot where he can sleep or chew and not cause a ruckus.
It is important that the crate be big enough for your dog. He should be able to stretch out and stand up comfortably. For me, this became a challenge as my puppy Rufus kept outgrowing his crates. Fortunately I was able to use social media to find appropriately-sized crates for him as well as find new homes for the other crates he had outgrown.
The first two weeks of crate training will try your patience. There will be barking and whining and crying. It's not unlike having a very strong toddler. But just as you shouldn't give in to a toddler's tantrum, you have to hold strong during this crate training phase.
- Make sure that there is either a dog bed that fits or use towels and blankets. A bed might be less chewable but if this is a huge problem, you can use newspapers.
- Begin with short periods of time. Start with fifteen minutes. Then later in the day go to twenty minutes. When he is quiet in the crate be sure to praise him.
- Keep the crate in a fairly well-traveled place in the house. Don't stick the crate in the garage and expect him to be calm.
- Put some blankets or towels over the crate to give it the sense that it is a room. This can provide some comfort and ease anxiety.
Final note: At first my pup Rufus would break out of his crate, wanting to play with his big sister or just bug me when I was in the shower. A friend recommended using a carabiner clip to keep the door safely closed, and that has worked well to this day.
When I saw that Rufus would voluntarily walk into his crate and just hang out there on his own, I saw that he finally saw his crate as a positive place. Now as a four-year-old dog, he actually goes in there when he thinks I'm bugging him.
It's important to remember that this time of your pupper's life is a phase. It can be a pain-in-the-rear but it's really just a short amount of time in the many years that you will have your dog. Puppies are wonderful at first, then maniacs for a little bit, but once they become grown up doggos you'll be very glad that you put in the effort into their early training.