Is Your Dog a Chewer?
By Fred Hassen & Toni Drugmand
Does your dog chew your favorite things? Are clothing items and shoes favorite items for your pet? Chewing on things that bear your scent can be a way for your dog to occupy his alone time with. Chewing and becoming destructive are common behavior problem for many pet owners.
Chewing is a natural behavior
Chewing is a behavior in the wild that is natural. Your dog has to be taught what to chew on. Chewing can happen for many reasons. Puppies chew when they are cutting teeth. You could have a dog that gets stressed when left alone, often called “separation anxiety” chewing or other destructive behaviors result out of anxiety and nervousness. You could have a dog that simply wasn’t taught not to chew when he was teething as a puppy. Now he has developed a habit or pattern of chewing when he is bored.
For the many reasons that your dog may chew, you want to be able to address the problem and create a new pattern of not chewing. The most important aspect to consider with the chewing dog is that your dog whether a puppy or an adult must be supervised when he has the run of your home and yard in order to teach him not to chew on inappropriate things.
Contain your Pet
If you are unable to supervise your dog, then you must have a safe secure containment or management system for your dog so that he doesn’t learn a negative pattern of chewing by the reward of doing the wrong behavior when you are not available to supervise his actions. Booby-trapping the potential chewed targets is another way to approach chewing, but this will be very difficult to set up and accomplish reliably.
Test reliability with time
Using a dog crate, dog-run or other means of containment is a helpful tool to get you past the point of having to put your dog away, but until he has proven himself worthy of not being destructive for several months consistently your dog should not have the run of the home or yard if you hope to stop the wrong behaviors.
Interrupt the behavior with the help of a training aid
There are two ways to stop chewing. One is to contain your dog as we just mentioned. The other is to interrupt his flavorful explorations during his supervised free time! When your dog is interested in trying some new and exotic yummy taste of your home, like trying out the dirt in the flowerpot, use a training aid such as a long line that can interrupt the behavior with a gentle tug. Another suggested tool is a spray bottle with water that can spritz at the time of the action, a shake can with pennies is another tool that could be effective, though some dogs are noise sensitive to this. A remote collar is another way to interrupt the pup’s behavior. When using a remote collar, it is best to contact a “Sit Means Sit” trainer to get you headed in the right direction. Our method uses the remote collar as an attention getter, a way to non-invasively interrupt a behavior and gain attention. It is not used as heavy correction. Seeking a professional is the best way to know how to train your dog for your specific needs.
Obedience Training is helpful
General obedience training can be a helpful outlet as it will relax and tire your dog, but don’t count on “heel”, “sit” and “down” exercises to completely fix the problem without addressing where the dog is left when un-supervised.
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