I recently purchased a golden retriever puppy who will be around 13-14 weeks now. I have two children aged 9 and 4 both rambunctious boys. My problem is that the puppy is still pooping and peeing in the house and in his crate. He hates going into his crate and we have to force him. He jumps on the couch and grabs at the garbage bags. When we put him out in the back yard he does not come back in when called. On leash he is okay. I have also noticed that he has growled and almost nipped at me when I bent down to pick him up. He is also running after the children as they are running, and ripping at their clothes. I need help. I try to correct him sternly when he does these things but it does not seem to be working. -J.B.
There’s only so much of a mother left over at the end of the day and taking on a puppy at this point in your life is liking having another two year old in the house. Let me rephrase that. It’s like having a two year old on speed in the house. You’re spread too thin the way things are currently set up and so the pup is not developing normally. That’s the bad news. The good news is you can change things pretty much overnight if you’re willing to make some changes to the way you’re doing things.
Here’s the first thing. There are a bunch of parenting rules in nature. The first is, until you can outrun your mom and dad you have to listen to them. When you can out run them, they’re supposed to listen to you. Your pup, or puppy prodigy as he must be thinking of himself is behaving as I would expect in his current circumstance.
Another rule is that if you want your young to survive, you supervise them until they can out run you. You may be thinking, you are supervising but as an example, if your dog can get to your sons before you can get to your dog then it’s no different then if your sons can get to the hot stove before you get to them. There is no supervision in a meaningful way and whenever you circumvent nature’s template, there’s going to be a consequence.
I have no doubt that in its own way that dog loves you but love without respect will in the not so long run always be a fruitless relationship. You need someone to help you understand how a dog sees the world, how it makes connections between who’s the teacher and who’s the student. I can’t do that for you via a column but I assure you, it’s more then just possible and will come naturally to you with a little help. Find a really good dog trainer that understands how to balance positive reinforcement with discipline.
Until you get that trainer to show you the ins and outs of dog behaviour and specifics like crate training and house training put a leash on that dog and make him drag it around so you can get to him before he gets into anymore trouble because it’s only going to get worse. A leash and a good trainer are going to be the two best investments you could make in that dog.