Its lucky dogs and puppies are so cute, because they can make a mess in a hurry. Your sweet new puppy has razor sharp teeth and likes to use them to destroy things in your home, and possibly your home itself. We have heard stories of dogs eating everything from their owner’s favorite pumps to the walls and cabinets in their owner’s homes. If this is happening to you, here are a few tips to discourage this behavior.
- Try to identify what is causing the behavior. If your puppy makes a big mess when you leave home, consider if he or she is suffering from separation anxiety. It is hard for many dogs to be left alone for 8+ hours while you are at work. If you have an adopted dog that has been neglected this could be an even bigger problem (and the dog may not even tolerate short periods of alone time). Your dog may benefit from a doggie day care, or dog walker that can give you dog the attention he needs while you are at work. Before leaving your dog home for long periods, start with 15-20 minutes and work your way to longer and longer periods of time. This will help your dog realize that you will be back, so he or she doesn’t become as anxious. Crate training can also help your dog feel safe while you are out. Slowly train your dog that the kennel is his “safe space”. In the crate, he is less likely to potty, and wont have access to things he can destroy. A dog that has been left in crates for long periods of time without proper training may be very stressed by a crate, so again start slowly. Use lots of treats, and if your dog has crate anxiety, NEVER leave him in a crate alone.
- Give your dogs appropriate things to chew. Dogs are natural chewers, its important for healthy teeth and gums. You can purchase Nyla bones, and antlers for dogs that eat rawhide and natural bones too fast. Encouraging healthy chewing will discourage your dog from seeking your possessions to chew.
- Use sour apple spray to discourage chewing. This is totally safe for your pet to ingest, but it has a very unpleasant taste. Hopefully, this will keep your dog from chewing that spot on the bannister.
- Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Dogs with a lot of pent up energy can be very destructive, and may even get aggressive. Dogs that are taken for walks, and to the dog park for a good run around, have better behavior at home. You will find he acts out a lot less, and listens to you much better if he gets the exercise he needs. Check for information about the breed to find out how much exercise is recommended. Be sure that when you are walking your dog he is actively paying attention to you. These walks are exercises in self control, and help your dog understand that you are the leader of the pack. If this is difficult, you might consider enlisting a trainer to help you learn how to assert dominance.
- Catch him in the act. Yelling at your dog minutes or hours after the incident will have little effect on the behavior. Your dog won’t know why he is being scolded. To condition your dog not to chew items, you must correct the behavior while it’s happening. If you find your puppy chewing on something, say no firmly and loudly, but never yell or hit your dog with your hand. A firm no is usually enough. If its hard to catch the little monster in the act, set up an item that he will want to chew but is not allowed to, and walk by it together. If he tries to chew it he gets a firm no, if he passes it without chewing then reward him with a treat. You can also train him to “leave it” or “drop it” again rewarding him when he does it and firmly correcting him when he doesn’t.
Proper training and exercising of your dog will make your life much easier, and should eliminate most unwanted behaviors. Make sure your dog has toys and bones that he can chew and play with so that he leaves your things alone. If you are consistently having problems, consider what your dog may be trying to tell you. For extreme cases professional help may be needed to correct behavioral problems, and help establish pack order in your home. Door Monkey can be useful to keep dogs out of your bedrooms or closets so they they don’t have access to your favorite items.