I always like to say, “Good thing puppies are cute… it’s what keeps them alive!”  I also like to say, “If your dog does something wrong, you are probably to blame.” Dogs don’t do things to intentionally irritate us or wreck our stuff… usually. Dog do things because they can; because they haven’t been taught otherwise; and/or because they are getting some sort of reward or satisfaction out of their actions.

Shayna, my foster pup, is no exception. Just because she lives with a trainer doesn’t make her perfect. Just because I fancy myself a professional trainer doesn’t make me perfect.  And NEVER trust that innocent puppy face!

I left Shayna alone in my office for 5 minutes (maybe less) while I went downstairs to make myself a relaxing cup of white peach oolong tea with local citrus honey (doesn’t that sound yummy and relaxing?).  I thought for a brief second as I shut the door to my office about putting her in the kennel, after all, the advice I regularly share with my puppy clients is, “two eyes on the dog or put them in their kennel.” But she looked so peaceful lying there on her bed. Surely I could trust her for a minute… or five.

Upon my return I discovered that she pulled the wedge cushion off my chair, shredded the pillow case and took several good-sized chunks out of the cushion.  So much damage in so little time!  Phew! Good thing I had my relaxing tea and a sense of humor!

German Shepherd Dog with shredded PillowLook how innocent she looks! See? “Cute” does keep them alive!

Now being the behavior junkie I am I had to analyze it further… or should I say I had to analyze MY behavior further. There’s nothing to analyze about Shayna’s behavior… she was left unsupervised and she did what puppies (and human babies) do… explore their world with their mouths.

Well, we already know that I made some bad choices about leaving her alone in a big office with cool things to chew on… but here’s why…

1.      I’m lazy.  I didn’t want to go through ‘all that trouble’ of putting her in her kennel for just 5 minutes.

2.      I’m a softie (or from my days in management… I was “being a buddy, not a boss.”) It just seemed so ‘mean’ to disturb her and put her in her kennel.

German Shepherd dog lying on chewed cushion3.      I’d been reinforced for my ‘inappropriate’ behavior before. Yes, I sheepishly admit, I have run downstairs for a minute or two in the recent past and returned without damage to the office, so I was lulled into a false sense of security because I hadn’t been ‘punished’ for my past momentary abandonment behavior.

My behavior allowed Shayna to make some choices that were not to my liking.  I take full responsibility. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go roll up a newspaper and whack myself in the head.  Or perhaps I’ll just consider this a learning experience and kennel the puppy while I go make myself another cup of tea.