Dog for 10/2/19

Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers. You can reach him at dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com.

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Dog Gone Problems,

Our dog, Missy, must be interbred or something. She is about 16 months old and is on medication. She even chews the caps on the bottom side of toilet. We can't let her out of our sight. Yes, I know about crating. My husband forgets sometimes and loves her. Any advice? Thank you.

Sandra

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Hi Sandra,

It's normal for all dogs to chew. It's our responsibility to teach dogs how we want them to act in our world, especially if it's in contrast to something they do naturally. Instead of saying your dog must be inbred, you can change your problem by teaching your dog what you want her to do (or in this case, not do).

If a dog is chewing a lot, I always ask my clients if he or she is getting enough exercise. Dogs sleep an average of 17 hours a day, and when they sleep they are recharging their batteries. Chewing is often linked to humans failing to provide the dog with sufficient exercise. Make sure your dog is getting multiple exercise sessions throughout the day. This video includes tips and easy ways to exercise a dog.

Another cause of chewing in dogs is stress. This is often linked to a lack of exercise as well, but can also be caused by humans who are stressed, external stimulus like a crying baby or unknown sounds like construction, thunder, fireworks, etc. If your dog is exposed to things that stress her out, look for ways to give her a break.

Are you providing a sufficient amount of appropriate chew items? Antlers, uncooked bones, Nylabones, water buffalo horns, bully sticks and other chew items should be plentiful and easily accessed by your dog. Another good option is a snuffle mat, which is used to feed dogs in a way that is stimulating, energy draining and keeps them busy.

I'd also recommend teaching your dog the "leave it" command. This is a valuable command that allows you to verbally communicate to your dog to leave things alone. Once you have mastered this exercise, you can teach your dog to leave inappropriate things that she chews alone.

Put your dog in a room and bring out a shoe, trash can or other item your dog has chewed on in the past. When your dog moves towards this object, give the “leave it” command and then reward your dog for stopping before they start chewing. Do this with everything your dog chews. It will take some practice, but if you put in the time, your dog will learn that leaving those things alone gets her a reward.

With enough practice, leaving these things alone will become new behavior. Combined with additional exercise and appropriate chew items, you can help your dog stop chewing the things you want left alone.

Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.

David

Submit your pet questions to David Codr by emailing a photo of your dog and question to dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com. Visit doggoneproblems.com for more from David.

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