CONTROLLING CHEWING HABITS
OUR GOAL: Teaching your dog to chew on his toys while giving him a negative association with putting his mouth on ANYTHING else.
DEVELOPING CONSISTENCY/CONTROLLING THE ENVIRONMENT
Teaching right from wrong can only be done in the present. Therefore, you must be present to teach the dog right from wrong during initial training stages. Your dog needs to be on a program called watch and confinement.
WATCH - Your dog is on leash, in hand or tied nearby, and you are closely monitoring his behavior.
CONFINEMENT - If you cannot watch your dog, he must be confined in an area which he does not display destructive behavior.
CREATING NEW HABITS
By controlling the environment, you are successfully creating new habits by giving your dog no options. If you see your dog pick up or play with a toy, stop what you are doing and praise and play with him for a few minutes. If he drops the toy, stop praising. If you see your dog picking up something that is not a toy, give him a firm verbal correction (NO!) and take it away from him. Catching your dog after he has been chewing on an object for a while is not nearly as effective as catching him before he has a chance to have fun with it.
It is important not to let your dog chew on anything that remotely resembles anything on which he is not allowed to chew. This includes, but is not limited to: shoes, socks, clothes, towels, tennis balls, rawhide, plastic bottles, rope toys, stuffed animals etc.
In initial training, give your dog only:
-- HARD RUBBER TOYS (Kongs etc.)
-- SPANISH LATEX OR VINYL SQUEAKY TOYS
-- NATURAL OR STERILIZED BONES
Your dog should have at least two toys in his crate at all times. Fill a couple of hollow toys with food for your dog daily. These can be put in the crate or given to your dog while on watch.
By reducing stress levels, you lessen your dog's drive to chew. You can reduce the stress in your dog's life by addressing these topics.
EXERCISE - Make sure your dog gets enough exercise. If your dog tends to run laps around the house, odds are he is not getting enough exercise.
PACK STRUCTURE - Does your dog respect you as Top Dog? If not, he probably gets very frustrated when you leave or ignore him.
OVEREMOTIONAL HELLO / GOOD-BYE SCENES - If you make a big deal out of coming and going, so will your dog. Keep them calm.
PROPER DIET - If you dog is always hungry, he is bound to chew more.
OVER / UNDER STIMULATION - Do you give your dog too much affection? Too little? If you neglect or spoil your dog, you are bound to have chewing problems.
CREATING PROPER HABITS / INITIAL LEARNING
Dogs learn through consistent repetition of immediate positive or negative consequences
Repetition - Doing something over and over
Consistency - Doing the same thing exactly the same way each time
IN THE ACT VS. AFTER THE FACT
The simple fact is that after the fact corrections and reinforcements do not work. You cannot give a dog an aversion to a behavior unless he is corrected for displaying that behavior CONSISTENTLY. You cannot associate a correction with evidence, you must associate it with the behavior. Dogs do not understand the concept of evidence. They understand immediate feedback for behavior.
WATCH OR CONFINE
When no one is able to watch the dog, the dog should be confined. This is the only way that you can maintain consistency.
A crate is a good way to confine a dog because it is less likely that they will defecate in a small area in which they eat and sleep. Your dog should sleep and eat is his crate. A Plastic crate is best.
A firm verbal correction and / or leash correction should be all that is needed to successfully housebreak the dog if you are being consistent. Owners who try to justify firmer methods are often trying to counteract their inconsistencies. If a firm correction is called for, your trainer will explain one.
REINFORCE APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR
Take your dog to the designated potty area every couple of hours and bring some treats. Every time he potties there, reinforce immediately with several treats and lots of praise.
DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PEOPLE AND ANIMALS IN ITS ENVIRONMENT
As all animals develop there are many sounds, smells, sights and events that, when unknown, can lead to fear and anxiety. Dogs get used to these with repeated exposure and stop reacting to new things, provided that there are no unpleasant consequences.
EXPOSURE AND HANDLING
To reduce the possibility of fearful reactions as a puppy grows and matures, it is very important to expose young puppies to many different things (people, places). Early handling and events that occur during the first 2 to 4 months of life are critical factors in the social development of the dog. Dogs that receive insufficient exposure to people, other animals and new environments during this time may develop irreversible fears, leading to shyness or aggression. There should be little problem with a puppy that is less than 12 weeks of age developing healthy and lasting attachments to the people, sights and sounds in its new home. Your puppy is most likely to become fearful of things that are not found in its day-to-day routine. Try to recognize those people and situations to which the puppy is not regularly exposed. For example, if there are no children in the home, you might arrange regular play sessions with children. Introduce your puppy to as many new people and situations as possible, within its first three months of development. People in uniforms, babies, toddlers, the elderly, the physically challenged are just a few examples of people your puppy may learn to fear without sufficient early exposure. Car rides, elevators, stairs, and the noises of cars, trains, and airplanes are some examples of events and experiences to which the puppy should be socialized.
The critical socialization period for puppies begins at 3 weeks of age and is diminishing by 12 weeks. Peak sensitivity is at 6 to 8 weeks. Beyond 12 weeks there is a tendency to act fearfully towards new people, animals and situations. Many young dogs will regress or become fearful again if they do not receive continued social interaction as they grow and develop. The 6-8 month period is another important time for socialization. Even the most social and playful of puppies may become fearful and aggressive as they develop. Puppies under three months are still developing their social skills. By recognizing the critical time frame in which canine socialization develops, you can help to ensure a healthy social attachment to people and other animals, including other dogs.
One way to help the introduction of your puppy to new situations and people is to provide a reward such as a favorite toy or biscuit each time it is exposed to new things. Having a stranger offer a biscuit to the puppy will teach it to look forward to meeting people and discourage hand-shyness since the puppy will learn to associate new friends and an outstretched hand with something positive. Once the puppy has learned to sit on command, have each new friend ask it to sit before giving the biscuit. This teaches a proper greeting and will make the puppy less likely to jump up on people. Be certain that the puppy has the opportunity to meet and receive treats from a wide variety of people of all ages, races, appearance and both sexes during the early months. There will of course, be times when your puppy is in a new situation and you do not have treats. Be sure then to use a happy tone of voice and encourage your puppy. If your puppy seems to panic, back off a little and try again later, rather than aggravating the fear. Never reassure the fearful dog as this might serve to reward the fearful behavior.
Benefits gained from early socialization outings can be enormous and without them the risk of the puppy developing permanent fears or anxiety is a serious concern.
Scotland Yard Kennels • Oak Harbor, Ohio • 734-848-2882