5-month-old Sprocker brothers Ollie and Benjie live in the kitchen, along with 10-year-old Springer Flossie.
The room was crowded with a large table, a small sofa and two crates, three young children, the couple and their adult son.
Spending hours on end in their crates
Because of the family’s work schedules, the young dogs spend hours each day in their crates. They have already been shut in crates for about nine hours at night.
The family member who had joint responsibility, who had initiated getting the two youngsters, had left without warning.
Sometimes a problem can be so overwhelming it’s hard to know where to start. It’s impossible for the puppies not to be unruly when they get some freedom.
Things were understandably a bit more chaotic than usual because of my arrival. It also was nearly bedtime for the three young children which was noisy. I saw the young dogs at their worst and most unruly which is probably a good thing.
When they are let out of their crates the unruly puppies are completely out of control. They leap all over people, up at the table and sides. They nick anything they can reach and toilet anywhere. This is due both to excitement and the fact nobody thinks to put them outside regularly enough.
For this reason, even when the family is in the kitchen, the young dogs are crated or outside.
Unruly because their needs are not met
The people don’t let them out of their crates separately, feeling it’s unfair. However, I found having them out together impossible so we shut one away at a time. I lent the crated one my Stagbar to chew which he loved.
Then, while we talked and after the children had gone to bed, I worked on the other dog. I showed the people how their own reactions to the jumping up is giving the dogs the only real attention they get. I showed them how we could give the pups even better attention when they were behaving well.
We worked mostly on their jumping at the table and sides.
This will be a big challenge, taking time, patience and consistency from the three adults. These puppies need a lot more time spent on them.
In the short time I was there I had taught both dogs to sit and one of them to lie down upon request. I used rewards, something they are not used to.
Ollie was doing all he could to be good. He was like a sponge. Sitting deliberately instead of jumping up. Bless him. He managed to sit still for long enough for me to take a photo of him (above).
From now on the dogs should be earning some of their food – being rewarded all the time they behave well. This will be very difficult in the bustle and noise when young children are about, but one dog at a time can be free. The other given something satisfying to do or to chew in the crate.
Because of the unruly situation, unsurprisingly the two dogs sometimes fight. Unchecked, this will probably get worse as they get older. Poor older Flossie is terrorised.
The pups fly all over children on the sofa and I am concerned a child may get hurt unless just one is out at a time.
The dogs have just one short outing each day – you can’t really call it a walk. The front door is opened and the unruly puppies simply fly out to the adjacent park, off lead, doing their own thing. They are puppies but already barking at people and other dogs.
There was one surprisingly good thing – showing what these dogs are capable of when given time and trouble. I watched the adult son preparing their food. They sat calmly and waited!
Is this the right home for them?
This is not a situation the family had envisaged when they got the puppies. If they can’t find a lot more quality time for their dogs then they would be better with just one pup – or maybe even re-homing them both.
This would both give the dogs the lives they deserve and it would give the family their lives back.