All About Marie

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Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Puppy is Chewing EVERYTHING!


Dear Marie,
My daughter brought home a puppy about 6 months ago. He’s a little terrier mix and is 8 months old now. He’s been through obedience training but he is a terror in the house. He chews everything and shows no sign of improving. My furniture has been chewed. My pillows. My clothes. My Rugs. My shoes. Even the patio furniture in the back yard had to be replaced. Nothing is safe. I hate to say this, but if we can’t get him to stop, we’re going to have to find him another home. He should be old enough to know better
by now. He’s not a puppy anymore. Thanks for you help.
Donna,

Dear Donna,
Puppies require a never ending supply of patience and a lot of work, which is why I usually recommend to people who don’t necessarily have a lot of experience with dogs that they adopt older pets. Even though a dog may obtain full size before it’s first birthday and is capable of reproducing, it is still a puppy until it is two to three years old and it will occupy most of its waking hours in puppy behaviors throughout this phase of
its life.

Teaching a dog what is and is not acceptable involves repetition and lots of it. There are no shortcuts in dog training. Some dogs do seem to pick things up quicker than others. Nevertheless, you should plan on a certain amount of misbehaving from all puppies until they obtain their adult psyche.

In the meantime, you can reduce the amount of damage to your home and belongings by supervising your young dog at all times. This means using a dog-crate when you are busy. I am not advocating leaving your dog in a confined space whenever it is convenient for you. Only use the crate if you truly cannot keep a watchful eye on your pet.

Further, young dogs need to chew on things. Make sure your dog has plenty of chew toys. Your local pet supply store should have a wide variety available with flavors, textures, and fun shapes. Just refrain from buying a chew toy that resembles anything you don’t want chewed – like shoes, feet, etc. I never could understand why pet toy manufacturers thought those were good ideas!

Additionally, your young dog needs lots of playtime. (Bored pups will almost always develop inappropriate chewing behavior.) Take him outside in your back yard and throw a ball for him. Go on long walks. Practice everything he learned in obedience classes. Wear him out as much as possible so that when he is in the house, he’ll want nothing more than to cuddle up and go to sleep.

There are also sprays that you can use to discourage your dog from chewing. They tend to have a bitter taste and work fairly well on hard surfaces. You should invest in a few bottles and spray all surfaces of your dog’s favorite chew-targets. This is not a guaranteed method for stopping all chewing – so you will still need to observe your dog’s behavior at all times.

Puppy proofing a house is also an essential task. Be certain to put important items away. Close doors to rooms where there are computer cables and other expensive electronic wires. This is both for your dog’s safety as well as for keeping your electronic gear in good working order. You should consider investing in toddler door gates that restrict where your dog can go. Until your dog becomes more trustworthy, you may want to limit his space to one or two completely puppy proofed rooms.

Finally, remember that puppies, just like human babies, need time to grow and mature into perfectly, well behaved adults. There will come a day, somewhere between his second and third birthday when you look at him and realize what a fabulous dog he is and visitors will begin complimenting him on his good manners. But that day won’t come if you give up on him. The good dog that you envision for your home is the one you have right now. It’s up to you to continue showing him how to be that dog and know that he
wants nothing more than to make you happy.

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