Howie is playing with his bean-bag chair. Ripping it apart hasn't occurred to him yet, but that's just a matter of time. He's here because I'm here, and he can't stand to be alone. It's not separation anxiety, it's the pack-animal in him. Dog's need to be part of a pack, and we're his.
The Monks of New Skete recommend tying a new puppy's leash to your belt-loops while inside, so the dog gets used to following you around. That seemed odd to me, but now I think they're probably right about that, too. "Too", because we've taken their advice about a number of things with Howie, and they've all paid off.
Something I've learned this time around is the value of socialization. We got Phyllis when I was seven months pregnant. Does that seem stupid to anyone? I swear it didn't to me at the time, but then again, I was hormonal and wanted a baby I could actually see and hold. At 7 weeks old, Phyllis fit the bill nicely. We bought an outdoor kennel for her so she'd always be able to got outside whenever she was bored. It turns out that was mistake number two.
Dogs love being outside. Howie has become a pain in the arse because he knows when I get home from work, he gets to go up to the woods for his daily run. And heaven forbit I should want to change clothes or use the bathroom or *gasp* sit down for a minute first. But that's not my point. My point is dogs love to be outside with their family. They hate to be outside by themselves. I somehow missed that with Phyllis. After a while, we started to leave her in her kennel when we were at work (if the weather wasn't too hot or cold), so she wouldn't tear the house apart. Tearing the house apart was something she tried to do at every possible opportunity. She was a puppy, a normal, chewing labrador puppy, but I was hormonal, remember. I took it personally. One day she chewed through a wall to get out of the area we tried to corral her into.
Anyway, leaving her outside seemed like a good solution. She could see what was going on in the neighbourhood so she wouldn't be bored. She had enough room to excercise a bit, she had toys, water, a shady doghouse. And after a while, she didn't seem to mind.
The Monks say not to do that. They say to keep your new puppy with you all the time. All The Time. That's what we've done with Howie. It's easier now, of course. My kids are teenagers, not newborns, and they can take on some of the responsibility. (They could take on more responsibility, but that's another blog.) As a result, Howie has been in the kennel maybe twice in the seven months he's been with us. We'll probably sell it.
Having him always underfoot can be a pain at times, but it has paid off. While Phyllis grew independent in her kennel, Howie has grown needy. I mean that in a good way. He's almost 8 months old, well into the "wandering away" stage of his development, but he doesn't wander. We can still play with him in the backyard off his leash, and he never runs away. We could never have done that with Phyllis. She would have sensed freedom and been off like a rocket. Not Howie. When we're done playing, all we have to do is go to the door, and he's there, ready to come in with us. He loves the snow, he loves to be outside, but he wants to be with us more.
And that's my best tip for someone getting a new puppy. Keep your puppy with you at all times. It'll be worth it.