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Puppy needs crating, class in obedience

Dear Carolyn: My fiance and I have a 9-month-old puppy. He is housebroken but is chewing everything in sight, including expensive electronics, carpeting and work-related documents that would be very embarrassing to replace. "Yes, Client, the dog literally ate my homework."

We have spent lots of money fixing the dog's damage (while also trying to save for a wedding) and rearranging our house to deal with him. Most of this behavior is simply puppy stuff, but I would be lying if I said I walked him a mile every night.

I suppose we could give the dog more exercise, but it's tough. It really is. We both work full time, and frankly, I got amnesia about how hard raising a puppy is. And my fiance was ill-prepared (by me) for the normal puppy frustrations.

Fiance has had it up to here. He doesn't want to be the bad guy in asking me to give the dog away. I don't want to be the bad guy in asking him to put up with the dog. Any suggestions? No judgment please; we've really tried our best.

-- The bad guy?

A: Why is the puppy on the loose enough to chew things?

You may have tried your best, but you haven't tried the obvious -- crate training.

You need a puppy obedience class, badly, and your puppy does, too. And that's not just a har-har; your amnesia extends not just to the difficulty but also the basics of dog-rearing. "Most of this behavior" is boredom, not "puppy stuff." You need to tire him out, physically and mentally, and confine him humanely.

So, tap local dogsters (at your vet's office, dog parks, doggie day care and boarding facilities, etc.) for names of good puppy trainers/classes and dog-walkers. The money you blow on replacement electronics just gives Pac-Dog new things to chew in fits of boredom-related anxiety; investing in a trainer, a walker and a crate will keep you from having to replace your electronics. He won't always be a puppy; think of this as the high-maintenance push to the other side.

I realize you hoped for, "It's OK, bring Pac-Dog to the shelter so he can find a better home." But you're not getting that answer because: (1) Shelters are packed; (2) You haven't tried "everything" until you've tried crating and obedience (by the book; don't wing it); and (3) You made a commitment to this living creature, and you're his best chance.

Speaking of which, if there are human puppies in your future, then please, both of you, make peace with the idea of being the bad guy sometimes. Your throw-up-your-hands dog-rearing is your problem, but that kind of child-rearing tends to become our problem, too.

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