Friday, March 17, 2006

Don't Let Your Dog Chew Your House Down!

Today, let's talk about a common dog behavioral issue.

Most people have a friend who has a dog that just will not stop chewing things.
A friend of mine had to buy a new couch and a new comforter for her bed because of the actions of her dog.

Furthermore, the dog would only bite and chew things while she (the owner) was away. Because of this, she could never catch her dog, Simon, in the act of destroying furniture. If she could not catch Simon in the act of biting and chewing, she knew she could not correct the behavior by scolding or disciplining.

Ceila told me her problem and I told her that I would do some reading and get back to her.
One technique I found interesting was based on the idea that the dog was only acting up because of separation anxiety.

I knew there was a good chance this was true because Simon would never bark when people he knew were around, but when he was alone, a neighbor complained that he barked from time to time and would sometimes even wake him up.

So, I suggested trying the technique I read about. I told her to do her best not to pay any attention to the dog in the five or ten minutes before she left and in the five or ten minutes after she returned home. Celia knew it would be difficult to ignore her sweet little doggy, but she agreed to give it a shot because she did not want to have to pay for new furniture.

After following the rules of this technique for only about a week, Celia noticed that her dog would no longer chew on things. The premise of the technique is that by being around the owner but being ignored, the dog's separation anxiety is lessened. It is like a stepping stone to being all alone in the home and it makes the dog's transition a little bit easier.

As encouraging as Celia's story is, it would be even better to flat out prevent the destructive chewing that forced Celia to buy new furniture.

That is why, when I first got my Maltiese, Tymmie, as a puppy, I knew I wanted to make sure that he did not chew on things, or at least not on my brand new shoes!!!

It is natural for dogs to chew on things and it would be very difficult to teach them to do otherwise. But, there are some steps you can take to stop them from chewing on everything.

· First, I made sure there were some things around the house that Tymmie could safely chew on.

· I gave him his choice of a fake bone (not raw hide, as this can be bad for the dog), of a tennis ball, a racquetball, and some toys I purchased for just that reason.

· When I saw him playing with and chewing on these items, I would praise him tremendously so that he knew he was doing the right thing.

· If I saw Tymmie starting to chew on something that he should not be chewing on, I would give him one of the items that he was supposed to chew on, and then I would praise him when he made the switch and began to chew on the tennis ball or the toy.

These simple steps caused Tymmie to grow into a dog that never chews on anything except his toys. I still have the same tennis ball and it is pretty gross from the slobber but if I throw it out, Tymmie gets very upset. So I deal with the stinky ball; it is better than destroyed furniture!

Protect your furnitures by training your dogs the correct chewing habit when they are still puppies.
Unless you enjoy refurnishing your house every now and then. :o)

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