The Old Trainer: Puppy’s instinct is to chew

12/06/2013 8:00 PM

12/06/2013 8:13 PM

DEAR OLD TRAINER: We have a sweet little Corgi, Lizzie, who is 3 months old. She is a wonderful puppy, but she chews up anything she finds. We come home from work and find something new chewed up every day. What do we do?


Santa Cruz

DEAR JANICE: Not much you can do. Lizzie is just being a puppy.

Mark Twain wrote, “to a man who has a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” To a puppy, everything looks like it should be chewed.

All you can do is make sure you don’t leave anything on the floor for Lizzie to find and provide her with plenty of chew toys.

Scold her if you catch her chewing an item that is not hers, but never scold her unless you catch her in the act. Pet her and praise her when she chews a chew toy.

Don’t expect miracles. Her genes tell her to chew everything in her path and that won’t change until she is at least a year old.

Your story is a good lesson for all readers — if everyone in the house is working or at school during the day, don’t get a puppy. Adopt an older dog that has passed the chewing stage.

DEAR OLD TRAINER: My girlfriend is a senior in high school, and I want to surprise her with a puppy for Christmas. I think it is a great idea, but my mother says it is a dumb idea and that you wrote about it and said it was a dumb idea, too. I told her I would ask you before I did it. Please don’t use my name so it will still be a surprise to my girlfriend.

Name withheld,


DEAR NAME WITHHELD: It is never a good idea to surprise another person with a dog. A lot of dogs wind up in the shelter because they are given to people who don’t want a dog.

The fact your girlfriend is a senior in high school makes it an even worse idea. For one thing, a high school senior lives with her parents so you would be inflicting a dog on them, as well.

What do they think of the idea? Do they want a dog? Remember, your girlfriend will soon be moving out either to go to college or get a job and who will take care of the dog then?

For another, does she want the responsibility of taking care of a dog for the next 15 years? Does she know how to train and exercise and care for a dog?

All these questions need to be answered before you surprise her with a dog.

Your heart is in the right place so here is my advice. Buy your girlfriend a gift certificate for a dog at your local shelter. That way she can decide if she wants a dog and, if she does, what kind she wants. You can go with her to pick one out.

If she decides she doesn’t want one at this time, the two of you can give the gift certificate to a family that wants a dog but can’t afford one. You will save a dog and make a family happy.

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