Thursday, May 10, 2012

Does Your Dog Chew?!

A guest written blog from two of our Mostly Mutts experts!  

Chewing is a perfectly acceptable and natural behavior for dogs. The problem arises when they chew on inappropriate, dangerous or expensive items.
Just like babies putting everything in their mouth, puppies and young adults will chew on anything.  Your job is to teach them what is appropriate to chew on and what is not.  This is an important job for you to curb your frustrations, the safety of the dog and to prevent a dog from losing their home

Reasons dogs chew: Boredom and frustration, Teething, Attention, Anticipation (some dogs chew just before their owner is due to arrive home), Separation anxiety (occurs if you work long hours)

Make Prevention the Priority:
Temptation: Puppy proof your home.  Pick up the remote controls, your shoes, and hide rechargers and computer wires.

Toy box: Fill a toy box with a variety of toys such as a stuffed animal, a tennis ball, a squeaky toy, a Nylabone, etc.  When you purchase a new toy, instead of giving it directly to the dog, place it in the toy box first.  

Chew toys: Replace an inappropriate item with a dog toy.  Provide your dog with a few tasty chew toys. Make it perfectly clear to your dog that if he/she needs to chew, it must be on the chew toys. It's a good idea to toss a dog toy stuffed with some tasty treats as you leave for work each morning.
Keep your dog in a safe and confined area while you are away from home. This could be a dog crate, kennel run or any secure room in your house. Of course you should provide a few chew toys in this area and ensure that there are no dangerous objects present.

Increase exercise:  For aggressive chewers, increase the amount of exercise (physical and mental), especially prior to your leaving.

Deterents:  Use a foul tasting substance (non toxic) such as bitter apple, cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce.
Put some tasty treats in the area, the chewing behavior will hopefully shift straight over to these.

Corrections: When you catch your dog in the act of chewing, give a firm "No!" and replace the inappropriate chewing object with a tasty chew toy. Give your dog praise when he starts chewing the toy. Never ever reprimand your dog if you don't actually catch him in the act of chewing.

TWO SECOND RULE:  You wouldn't reward a dog a minute after he/she did something good, so don't correct your dog if you missed your opportunity.  In dog training, you have two seconds to reward or correct a dog.  Supervise the dog better if you keep missing his/her bad behaviors. Leash a dog to you indoors if they 'sneak off to chew'.
Emily Shervin, CPDT
The Gratefull Dog

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