I recently met a family with a wonderful 7 month old Golden Retriever named Max. When I arrived I was taken on a tour of their home, well actually it was more a tour of the destruction left by Max. There was chewed up furniture and rugs, toys shredded into pieces, paint scratched off walls and a variety of other canine crimes.
The family seemed quite baffled by Maxs behavior and desperate for ways to make it stop. My first question for the family was "where were you when Max was getting into trouble?" The family replied "we don't remember, we may have been home, but no one was watching Max". My next question was "Does Max have a crate or area you confine him"? The family replied "We stopped using the crate a few months ago, we thought he no longer needed to be crated". My final question was "Can you show me some of the toys Max has to play with ." The owner showed me a box full of stuffed animals and fabric toys, most of which were torn into pieces.
If this sounds all too familiar I have some good news!! Max is a typical adolescent dog who was given too much freedom too soon. Lets take a look at ways to keep the Maxs of the world safe and out of the dog house.
Use Supervision And Management
Don't give your young untrained dog free run of your home, use a crate or gated area. If you can't give your dog 100% of your attention, they should be confined, this keeps them safe and prevents bad behavior from developing. When you need to confine your dog give them something to chew on like a frozen cheese Kong.
Provide Appropriate Chew Toys
Young dogs need to learn chewing discrimination, the difference between legal and illegal chew toys . They chew to exercise their jaws, to ease the pain of teething, to explore their environment and to relieve stress. The smart owner selects chew toys wisely, recognizing that she is laying the foundation for her dog’s lifetime chew habits. Stuffed frozen Kong toys, food dispensing toys, and other indestructible but inviting objects are better choices than items that resemble our valued human possessions. Discarded socks and old tennis shoes teach a pup to head for the closet floor and the laundry basket when the chewing urge is strong. It’s not Jaws fault that he can’t tell which socks are his and which ones you are still using!
Be sure that your dog is getting enough vigorous daily exercise. A leash walk is fine, but off leash exercise (in a safe fenced area) is a better choice. Boredom is the number one cause of destructive behavior, and lack of exercise causes boredom.
Training Is Not Just For Puppies
Training provides more than just 'good manners' it provides mental stimulation. Enroll your dog in a class, try something new like scent work or tracking. If your dog loves people consider Therapy Dog Training. K9 Home Schooling offers a variety of classes, check our website for details.