Inappropriate chewing - 7 1/2 month old suddenly chewing everything!
My Rottweiler Freyja (7.5 months old) has been chewing on items that she has been trained to know are expressly forbidden, the latest victim being my girlfriends laptop charger cord (thank goodness it wasn't plugged it at the time).
he has an embarrassment of riches of chew toys, I make sure she gets plenty of exercise and playtime, and up til recently she has been very good about not being destructive since we layed the groundwork on what she could chew and what she couldn't. A few people that I know that have had Rottweilers have said she is doing it as challenge/button-pushing thing to see if she can get away with it, but that sort of behaviour has never shown itself before in her personality.
I guess my questions are why is she acting like this now after not doing it since being trained not to, and how can I nip this in the bud? I already explained to my girlfriend that she shouldn't leave things that she doesn't want destroyed unattended (I learned that myself from having kids :P), but I obviously don't want to spend all my time with my dog policing her every move and making her feel tense. Any suggestion?
It sounds as though you've done everything right so far and your Rottie has been well trained in this respect.
In this situation I think your friends have hit the nail on the head! Your pup is an adolescent, closing in on sexual maturity and during this stage (which can last until 18 months or older) most puppies become more challenging and often regress in certain behaviors.
As you've got children, if they have been through the teenage years you will be able to relate to her behavior. If your human kids are still pre-teens, you're getting a taste of what's to come!
Normal adolescent behavior involves a fair amount of pushing boundaries, testing limits and a search for independence and the exerting of the teens will over the parents. It's challenging in both human and canine children, but luckily it does pass eventually :)
The key is to maintain firm, fair and loving discipline and to stick to the rules, boundaries and expectations that you have for your 'child'. Don't respond with frustration or anger as that will only escalate the situation. Any teenager feels more secure and confident when they know that their behavior has limits and that their parents are 'in control' (even though they wouldn't admit it, or sometimes even recognize it!).
For now you'll need to backtrack a bit in terms of training, with the chewing you will need to revert to 'puppy proofing' your home as much as possible, containing her in a crate if you're not able to be supervising her, and using consistent corrections.
Lots of exercise and sturdy chew toys are very important, but don't overdo the toys. Sometimes having too many toys (at one time) can actually encourage a pup to chew on forbidden stuff - strange but true! Obviously puppies get bored with their toys just the way children do, so I'd recommend swapping out the selection she gets to play with every other day. This keeps them 'fresh' from her perspective and therefore more interesting. Adding a new one to the group every now and then also helps, just don't give them to her all at once.
If you're short on ideas for new (and long-lasting toys) check out my Tough Dog Toys page.
This stage can be trying, but it IS just a stage and if you continue to shape her behavior the way you have up until now, she will grow out of it and her more appropriate behavior will return as she gets closer to adulthood.
Hope this helps, best of luck with your Rottie.