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Chewing Behavior

Digging

Separation Anxiety

Aggression

Dogs and Babies

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Chewing Behavior


Puppies don't understand the difference between new and old. Puppies chew on whatever they can get their mouths on for any number of reasons: they are bored, they have a lot of energy, they are teething, or they are just curious. Dogs learn through their mouths. It is their tool; it is how they receive a great deal of information. They are naturally inclined to use their mouths whenever they can. 

Fortunately, most destructive chewing behavior can be prevented or controlled. To prevent problem chewing and to direct your pup's natural inclination to chew toward appropriate objects, follow these simple guidelines:

Puppy-proof the confined area. Remove all items your puppy can chew on, including socks, shoes, furniture, plants, etc., from any area in which you confine your puppy. Tape over electrical outlets and make sure electrical cords are out of reach.

Confine your pup in a crate, cage, or puppy-proofed area when you are away. Because puppies learn with their mouths, giving your teething puppy free rein in the house is asking for trouble. Keep them confined; you do not want them to go to school on your expensive living room furniture.

Closely supervise your uncrated puppy. You should always be aware of where your uncrated pup is and what he is doing.

Give your puppy chew toys. The sole focus of your dog's chewing should be directed toward items you select. There are a wide range of items to choose from, including Gumabone and Nylabone-type products. There are also many safe, long-lasting chew toys that are made especially for teething puppies that will keep them occupied and content for hours. Examples would be knotted rawhide and durable rubber teething products, like Kong toys, that satisfy your puppy's need for chewing and gum stimulation. The items should not be similar to articles you do not want your puppy to chew. Your puppy can not tell the difference between your new dress shoes and an old tattered pair.

Make departures low key to avoid causing separation anxiety, which is often expressed through nonstop barking, whining, or destructive chewing. Before you leave, add your scent to your dog's toy. Rub the bone between your hands and give it to your pup as you leave.

Give your puppy plenty of exercise to relieve boredom and burn off energy - two significant factors contributing to destructive chewing.

Correct chewing of inappropriate objects. If you catch your pup in the act of chewing anything but his chew toy, remove the object and replace it with an acceptable chew toy. If your pup then chews on the toy, praise him. You always want to reinforce desired behavior with praise. If possible, treat the 'inappropriate object' with a product designed to deter chewing, such as Grannick's Bitter Apple or Drs. Foster and Smith Chew Stop that will give it a bad taste.

Teach your pup to ignore non-toy objects if he consistently chews the wrong things. Place tempting objects on the floor along with your pup's chew toy and pretend not to pay any attention to him. If (and usually when) he starts to put his mouth over one of the forbidden objects, correct with a firm 'No!' and point out his bone. Once he learns he can only have the toy when you are in the room, it is time to leave the room for short intervals. If he chews on forbidden objects after you leave the room, your quick return will catch him in the act - the only time when corrective action should be taken. Again, give him the toy, and praise if it is accepted. If he is chewing forbidden objects but you cannot catch him, he should be crated when unsupervised until he learns what is and is not acceptable to chew on. The obvious purpose of this training is to prepare your puppy for the day when he can be trusted to be alone in the house and not confined.

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Digging

 

From the dog’s view point, digging is perfectly normal to them. After all it is a natural behavior for many dogs especially Terriers and Dachshunds. Since dogs dig for many different reasons, determining the reason for your dogs digging will make the problem much easier to solve.

 

Ask yourself if your dog is: Digging to bury toys? Try tying your dogs toys with cable to a stationary object in a comfortable spot.

 

Digging to make a cool spot?  Purchase a hose mister and/or wading pool to make a new shady cool spot.  An umbrella or taupalene can also be used to create a shaded area.

 

Digging at gophers?  Call an exterminator.

 

Digging just because it's fun?  Fill all existing and new holes with your dog's solid waste and then cover with approximately 1" of dirt. Do not let her see you filling the holes. Never dig or plant in front of her. Exercise her much more than you are now. Each time you catch her digging, interrupt her with a noise that would startle her, but not frighten her. Never let her know the noise came from you or she may just continue digging when you are not around. Make sure to fortify the fence line to ensure that she can't actually escape. 

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Separation Anxiety

 

It’s not exactly known why dogs suffer from separation anxiety but cases can relate to a specific event, which disrupted the dog’s life. Thankfully there is a process, which you can do to make your dogs life more pleasant and ultimately treat its separation anxiety. 

 

Your first step should be to set up a consultation with your vet so you can gain a better insight into your dog’s case of separation anxiety. There are treatments available but provided the case isn’t too extreme, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to help the dog using natural methods. 

 

Practice leaving your dog on his own for short periods of time. Pick up your car keys, leave for a minute and then return to your dog. Repeat this and each time increase the amount of time you’re away. Doing this will help your dog in understanding that no matter how often or how long you are away, you will always come back. 

 

When saying hello or goodbye to your dog, avoid making it a big deal—be as nonchalant as you can. A simple hello/goodbye with a gentle stroke on the head is enough. 

 

Plenty of exercise is healthy for both you and your dog. Exercise will make your dog feel more comfortable in other locations and will tire him/her out too, meaning it’s more likely to sleep when arriving home, rather than worrying about where you are. 

 

Find your dog a friend or getting another dog might able to ease his angst. Having a cat can also helps reduce your dog’s anxiety and make him feel comfortable. 

 

If you do leave your dog alone at night, don’t turn the lights out. Leave one or two lights on so that the house won’t look so gloomy to him.

 

Leaving radio on is a good idea, that’s if you often listen to it while you’re home. Pick a station with soothing music or talk. Build up your dog’s confidence by continuously praising it when appropriate. 

 

If your dog hasn’t been trained, you should really look into it. Teaching your dog even the basic tricks like sit and stay will stimulate his mental skills and can only help the situation. Look into dog crate training, it’s highly recommended if your dog has separation anxiety problems. 

 

When leaving your dog alone, give it something to do until you come back. Leave a toy with it or scatter some food so your dog can go on a treasure hunt!

 

Remember - do not get mad with your dog, as it will only diminish any confidence it has. It generally is a slow process and can take a while to see major results but in the end it will be worth it.

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Aggression


Make the decision that all of the events or items in your dog's life that are necessary resources for your dog's survival or enjoyment of life are now under your control.  Establish a system that requires your dog to earn everything in his life that he wants or needs.


To implement this program, simply ask for a sit before your dog gets anything in his life that he wants. This can apply to any situation, but here are a few examples:

  • receiving breakfast or dinner
  • being allowed in or out of the house, car, garage, or back door
  • having the leash put on or taken off
  • before interacting with another dog or person
  • before a toy is thrown
  • before your dog gains your attention

The reward for correct behavior is simply getting to do whatever it is that your dog is asking for by performing the sit behavior. Give your dog one chance to respond correctly to your request to sit -- withhold the reward if your dog does not respond to your first command.

Control Mealtimes

Control your dog’s food intake by feeding in one or two meals per day. Make sure that mealtime is on your terms by limiting the period of time the food is available.

Control Playtime

Start and end playtime on your terms. Only allow access to toys when you have deemed playtime appropriate and remove toys when playtime is over.

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Dogs and Babies


Does your dog respond reliably to the basic commands sit, down, and stay?
Begin preparing for your new baby by implementing the “Nothing in Life is Free” program. This program requires your dog to earn everything in his life that he wants or needs. To implement this program, ask for a sit before your dog gets anything in his life that he wants, such as receiving breakfast or dinner, being allowed in or out of the house, having the leash put on or taken off, and most importantly, before your dog gains your attention.

Both sit and down stays can be used in many of the same circumstances, because a stay is simply an extended sit or down. In other words, you could teach your dog to perform a sit stay to greet you, family and friends, and you can use a down stay while you are eating dinner or watching TV. 

Is your dog allowed free run of the house, including furniture and beds?
Consider how your life will change after the baby arrives. For large, boisterous dogs, jumping on and off the furniture may prove to be a problem when you are attempting to quietly sit on the couch with your baby. Additionally, if you plan to have your baby sleep with you during the first few months, a dog that sleeps on the bed may pose the same problem. If the dog’s privileges will change, start early by working with the dog on these changes before the baby arrives.

Is your dog able to occupy himself?
Remember, even with the best intentions, new babies are time demanding. Your dog will need to understand that there are times when you will not be able to give them your one hundred percent attention. Your dog should be given toys that are less demanding of your active participation. For example, Kong toys stuffed with canned food, dry dog food, cheese and peanut butter are much better then a tennis ball. Also, practice spending time in the nursery while your dog is blocked out of the room with a baby gate and given a great bone to chew on. Additionally, teach your dog to “go lie down” on a bed or blanket on command. 

Is your dog prepared for the arrival of your new baby?
Before the baby is born, take your dog on a walk with an empty stroller to see how he behaves. After the baby is born, but before coming home with the baby, have someone bring a blanket home with the baby’s scent on it.