Puppy Puberty

You laugh, but I think it’s a real thing.
Reddick is approaching his second birthday and I think something has gotten into him. In the past few weeks he’s managed to destroy four remote controls and chew up all of my patience. He barks when he’s bored, angry, lonely, irritated or just when he’s sitting. He always wants to be chased and even after a two hour run at the dog park, still yearns for more. I love him, but we’ve hit a bump in the road.
Right now though, as I’m writing this post, he looks like a little angel.
We love Reddick more than anything and we like to think that we did a good job in raising him, but clearly some things have failed. Here is a list of things that I think we did right and wrong when raising our little guy.
What we did wrong:
  • We should have done more brain exercising than physical exercising. We are very dedicated to making sure that Reddick gets enough exercise to keep him healthy and lean but to also release his bundled up energy. We should have spent an equal amount of time working his brain. Dogs get really worn out doing mental exercises, just like they do with physical exercise. I want to take 15-20 minutes a few times a week to work with Reddick on learning new commands and working that brain of his.
  • We should have taught him “heal” right off the bat. Here is a blonde-moment, I never understood what it even meant until a few months ago. Too many times did we go out and let Reddick take us for a walk than the other way around. Now he’s gotten used to walking side by side with us, but for awhile he was dragging us along for most of our walks. He loves walking and running and now it’s a little more comfortable for both of us.
  • We should have designated a place for him on the couch. (Although, I’m almost positive this would never work.) We all love to snuggle, but it’s a little frustrating to have company over and Reddick immediately wants to sit on their lap.
  • We should have done more barking training. His barking is really his biggest flaw. He mostly only does it when it is just me and him and he’s bored. He hates when I just sit on the couch to work on my computer or watch tv. As soon as I do, he stands right in front of me and barks until I get up. What I need to do is ignore him and let him forget about how much it annoys him, but living in a condo and having neighbors all around me make it a little hard. I’ve thought about a barking collar again (a spray one) or breaking out the spray bottle again. He grew out of it before, so let’s hope that this is part of his maturing and he also grows out of this stage.
What we did right:
  • Teaching him to play fetch. He loves tennis balls and will do almost anything to get a hold of one. If there is ever a day that we don’t want to go running or go to the dog park, all we have to do is take him out back and play fetch with him. It is such a great way for him to exercise for a few minutes or even a few hours. Some of his proudest moments are when he’s playing fetch with me or a complete stranger.
  • We kept his crate. He is crate trained and hasn’t spent that much time in his crate, but it’s a great thing to have around. I think he thinks of it as his bedroom. Sometimes he just goes and sits in there for hours, like it’s his little corner of our condo. If something comes up (like him chewing remotes) we have the crate to put him in if we need to step out for a few hours. Slowly, he’ll gain the right to be out on his own again when we are gone.
  • We keep a lot of toys on hand. Dogs need a variety of toys. Sometimes we put some away so he forgets about them and when it comes back out, it’s like a new toy again. His favorites are his bones and the Kong. Having a toy that hides treats is the best thing ever. It keeps him busy for a long time.
  • We taught him to run with us. For the days that we do want to get out and run, it’s a great thing to have a dog that will run alongside you. Reddick is fast and when he gets going, he doesn’t like to stop, so it’s great for the both of us.
  • We socialized him very early. We try to take Reddick to the dog park at least three times a week. He is one of the most friendly dogs you will ever meet. It was important to socialize him with dogs of all sizes. He prefers dogs that are smaller than him but is still really good around bigger dogs, too. The important thing is to let the dogs do their thing. They are going to jump on each other and growl, but that is their way of playing. They need to get it out of their system.
  • We keep human food out of his reach. He’s curious when we are eating, but doesn’t really “beg”. It’s not perfect, but its better than having a dog bark and whine while we eat. We do give him some human food, but it’s not an every day thing and it’s not like we are feeding him Big Macs. He loves carrots and apples. He’s even eaten some of my leftover salad.
  • We drove around with him. Reddick was going to work with me until I went to school, so that means that he was commuting with me to work everyday, too. Now he is pretty stress-free in the car and sleeps most of the time.
I’m sure I could go on forever on the do’s and don’ts of raising a puppy, but given the recent craziness at our house, these are a few that seem to stick out. On top of the fact that he’s almost two, there have been a lot of changes in our house recently that I’m sure has gotten him worked up. MJW has been traveling a lot, my hours are wacky and Reddick is used to a certain schedule. Regardless, Reddick is still our responsibility and we owe it to him to make sure that he is raised correctly. We are all going to work really hard to overcome his flaws and make sure he lives the most perfect puppy life ever.