My Puppy Is Naughty


Rhys actually not being naughty for like a millisecond.

I have a very naughty puppy. Naughty puppies are completely normal. However, depending upon who you talk to, naughty is not nice.

Give me a naughty dog over a boring run-of-the-mill couch potato any day of the week.

Granted, I sort of have a thing for naughty. If they have a gleam in their eye and a mischievous expression, I’m in love.  That goes for men too, but I digress.

The Naughty is very strong with Rhys. Very strong. I was warned that it would be, which is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to take him home.

Apparently nearly nine years blurs and fades the memory because I’ve said for years how Youke was the best puppy ever. And he really was a good puppy, but slowly, the memories are coming back.


I was never naughty and I’m still never naughty.

For instance. Last night I was waving my index finger in Rhys’s face and telling him he was “such a naughty, naughty dog.” He sat there and looked unimpressed. All of a sudden I was seized by a flashback. I recalled Youke also sitting in front of me looking rather unimpressed as I waved my nine-years-younger index finger in front of his face and called him “such a naughty, naughty dog.”

In fact, Youke got called “such a naughty, naughty dog” so much that to this day when he hears the word naughty, he plants himself in front of me, gets all wiggly and grins. I really should’ve put the behavior on cue, but the grin is a submissive grin and the behavior is an appeasement gesture, so I felt bad about it.

I’m not getting any appeasement behavior from Rhys though.

Rhys has discovered that paper, in its various forms ranging from copy paper to cardboard and everything in between, makes for a fine meal. Because clearly I’m starving him, even though my new nickname for him is Moose.

Unless I remember to pick up the waste can in the bathroom – which is hard because I’m living with a 15-week old puppy and I’m somewhat sleep deprived, especially over this past weekend – Rhys dives into it to retrieve whatever he can find. Usually it’s a used kleenex.

As my efforts to remember to pick up the waste can and place it in the sink – out of his current level of reach – have been vaguely successful, Rhys moved on this weekend to toilet paper.

Let’s just say I did not find Rhys’s decorative and festive touch of streaming toilet paper all over my bedroom particularly decorative or festive.

But why are you even allowing these things to happen? You need to properly contain your puppy so these things can be prevented.

Fuck you.

Seriously, I’m not crating my puppy any more than is necessary and and I already feel bad that he is crated as much as he is with my current client load, or when my sanity is teetering on the edge. Plus, my philosophy is that he’s gotta learn to live in my house – a real house with tempting things, such as shoes and dirty laundry – and I deliberately chose not to spend over a week “puppy-proofing” my house. Because, bottom-line, if the Naughty is strong, there’s no such thing as “puppy-proofing.”

Therefore, and for your amusement, let’s touch upon some of the things that Naughty Rhys has done (or does):

  • Continually grabs either a slipper, a boot or a sneaker that the Human just slipped off, preferably as she’s returning into the house with mud-splattered outdoor shoes – thus lessening the chance of her immediately running to snatch away the slipper, boot or sneaker – and racing around the house with it in a sort of victory lap.
  • Tossing ceramic bowls (that I now realize I foolishly use as dog food bowls) around in the house.
  • Snatching used kleenex or discarded cardboard toilet paper or paper towel rolls from the trash.
  • Sometimes eating the above.
  • Diving into the box that contains premiums and scores from past agility trials and tearing the papers up. I guess I need to maybe stop keeping that stuff.
  • Using the toilet plunger as a chew toy.
  • Diving into the tub to retrieve the toilet plunger that was unsuccessfully hidden there to continue to use as a chew toy.
  • Running around the house with the now chewed up toilet plunger hoisted high, much as the knights of old might have held their flags into battle.
  • Diving into the tub to retrieve my fake Ugg boots that were placed there to prevent them from being carried off and mistaken for a new plush toy.
  • Discovering where the dirty laundry is kept and finding that the Human’s underpants are delightful to toss about.
  • Not backing away from the delightful used Human underpants even when Brady is guarding them because while he doesn’t toss them around, he still also finds them delightful.
  • Realizing that there is a whole world three feet above his head and that this world includes entrancing foods, a cat and possibly toys that he did not know about.
  • Using his ever-lengthening legs and body to raise his head up to this other level – which conveniently is about counter- or shelf-level high-  with the intent of grabbing any of these interesting things with his ever-growing paws.
  • Finding that climbing up onto the fax/copy machine in my office offers a whole new and interesting perspective on things.
  • Realizing that pouncing first and asking later really is the best way to grab something to eat on the Human’s plate, at least until she wised up and put him in his crate and/or started eating at the dining room table again.
  • Gnawing on wood. Sometimes that can be a stick, and sometimes that can be a chair leg, baseboard, a cupboard door, the Human’s bed. Fun fact: paper is made from wood pulp!
  • Playing the game of running into the laundry room when the unsuspecting Human’s arms are full of clean laundry and where the kitty litter box is kept and repeatedly doing this makes a super fun game, especially when the silly Human is making aggravated noises of frustration.

Let me note that I do not believe that my dogs should never hear the word “no.” In fact, I very firmly believe that they do need to hear and understand this word. What they don’t need is to repeatedly hear this word and be allowed to continue partaking in the behavior that is causing this word to be said. Rhys and I now have an understanding that the kitty litter box is off limits. However, to keep the temptation of kitty rocha at bay and to prevent the utter ridiculousness of repeating “no” and therefore making it of no value to either of us, a pet gate has been installed at the entrance to the laundry room.

The following are things that aren’t exactly naughty, but certainly point to a naughty streak:

  • Rhys lifted his leg to pee for the first time at seven weeks old. He may have actually been seven weeks and two days old. I was so gobsmacked I had to ask a person more knowledgeable than myself about this. She assured me it does happen. It is now happening approximately 50% of the time. Peeing on All the Things can only be a short time away.
  • Rhys humped my leg at eight weeks old. He may have been more like eight weeks and a  day old. I was so shocked and dismayed that I let it happen as I pondered if Brady had started his own leg humping at that age as well. I am still weighing whether to allow it as an occasional thing. Brady is allowed to do it exactly once per day, after his evening meal. However, Rhys has only done it randomly and seldomly, so I think that maybe I do not have to ponder for long.
  • Rhys is fond of asserting his independence and love of exploration by taking side jaunts into the woods while we are out on trails. All of my dogs do this and I really don’t have a problem with it as long as they maintain some semblance of proximity to me. Brady frequently pushes this boundary which is why he is often leashed in many places. Youke and Camm are completely reliable in this respect. Thus far, Rhys is following in the mold of the latter two, however, recall training – always a priority for me – took number one priority fairly early.

While naughty, Rhys also does many things that are nice:

  • Rhys has a rocking recall. While I realize this is likely to be tested, he proved a few times of late just how awesome his recall is. The first was when we were headed down a trail, not realizing there was someone with a dog further down. My four were, as usual, off leash. They rounded a curve in the trail ahead of me and I heard frantic cries for “Tater come here!” I’m guessing that Tater was not a good listener because the cries became louder and more frequent. On the other hand, I yelled, “Dogs, come! Rhys, come!” once and guess who came running back around the curve right to me? Even more impressive, Rhys was the first one back (although the other three were only a second or two behind). The recall was tested again this past weekend when Rhys saw a bunch of other dogs playing and being curious, thought he should go check it out. I hollered “Rhys, come” and he turned his head around and came running. Not too shabby.
  • Rhys has a pretty decent sit for people. Of course we went to an agility trial this past weekend and he got away with a lot of not sitting, but when asked and if insisted, he’s very good.
  • Rhys adores people. I am super impressed especially with how not shy he is with men. If anything, Rhys especially likes men.
  • Rhys is very appropriate with other dogs, in particular, adult dogs. He offers polite greeting behavior and backs off if the adult dog indicates it does not wish to be friendly. He is also nonplussed if corrected, even if the correction may have been a bit harsh. I still think he’s very bold and a bit too much with puppies of his own age, but I have no intention of making him a dog park kind of dog anyway. I like that while friendly with other dogs and wanting to greet them if given the opportunity, he doesn’t strain to meet them or obsesses about them. He was passed by many dogs this past weekend and understood that they all didn’t want or need to play with him.
  • Rhys is extremely confident and takes new experiences in stride. Rhys appears to be a bit of a thinker, but the kind that can quickly calculate a situation and strategize how to approach it. The agility trial this past weekend was held in a large arena that has metal bleachers. All of my dogs have approached those bleachers and the stairs up to them with some trepidation. I recall that Jasmine, Youke and Brady were all very fearful of the sound of them and the feel. Camm was less so, but all of them required encouragement and I rewarded small steps profusely with food treats. I was very curious about what Rhys would do. He confidently strutted into the arena portion where the trial was being held. One ring was quiet as it was being built for the next course. The other had dogs running in it. But before we could even see the rings, he had to approach the metal stairs first and then reach the bleachers which are cold, metallic, bouncy and loud. Rhys got two front paws on the metal steps and hesitated. I stood still, a couple of steps above him and waited. He stepped off, looked at the stairs again, sat down, though for a couple of seconds, and then climbed the stairs. I rewarded him with a piece of cheese. He then went up into the bleachers with me, completely unfazed by the rest of the experience or the surroundings. People walked by him, a few dogs walked by him, dogs ran in the ring off his side and some people milled about below him building a course. A few dogs even barked and he was unmoved. If anything, he was more interested in checking out more of the bleachers or trying to mooch some treats off people passing him.

Having a puppy is a lot of work at times and especially seemed so this past weekend due to helping out at an agility trial the entire weekend that was almost two hours away and that ended each day quite a bit later than I had anticipated. (Note to self: always keep expectations very low. I do in general have low expectations for most things, but foolishly allowed myself to think we’d end by a 4 pm each day at the latest. Nope.) I signed on for this though with my eyes wide open (even if at times – like today – I wanted to shut them and sleep!). While nearly nine years has dulled some of the memories of Youke as a puppy, I distinctly recall that the first year was exhausting, but also filled with fun. And as a result I have an awesome dog that I dearly adore and deeply trust.

If Rhys turns out to be even half as good as Youke, I’ll be happy.


Rhys. Late March 2017. Photo by Heidi Erland.

3 Comments on “My Puppy Is Naughty

  1. Be still my heart……I love this puppy…first born, big boy, needed a bit of help as he paved the way for his sibs…..I love this puppy and am so blessed that you love him too. Love seeing his story be told……


  2. Thanks, I have just been searching for information approximately this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now. But, what concerning the bottom line? Are you positive concerning the source?


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