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Licking Is Not Doggie Vandalism

Aug 17, 2007
Dogs love to chew. Chewing is instinctive and part of canine survival behavior. That doesn't meant that a pet who likes to chew has a habit that should be left alone. Whether the chewing habit is brought on by teething, loneliness, or boredom, the habit can be a costly and frustrating one.

You really have to take a look at the individual item that has been chewed, as well as what the dog was experiencing at the time, in order to understand why that particular incident occurred. This is because one dog may turn to chewing to deal with a variety of issues, and each one has to be considered separately.

For instance, if your dog has just demolished your favorite pair of shoes or socks, he may simply be confused. If you've given him an old shoe to play with as a toy, he may not understand that there is a difference between your holey college sneaker and your brand-new Italian pumps. Simply understanding how a dog's mind works may not only save you some valuable time trying to get him to distinguish between the two, it will save a lot of hurt feelings and even more confusion in the process.

Use your common sense when giving your dog toys to play with. Give them items that don't resemble any that might be recognized later as fair game when you're not around. If you give your dog an old shoe, they don't know it's old, they just know that your wife has a closet full of them and he just hit a doggy chew toy paradise.

If he's chewing something else, the side of the couch, for instance, there is probably something a bit more insidious at work here. Like boredom. It is not really so surprising that you've come home to find the furniture gnawed if you've left your pooch home alone all day. Since dogs can't stimulate their senses with books or video games, they have to use what they have, and one of those tools is the mouth.

If your dog doesn't have a toy box of goodies at his disposal, then shame on you. No wonder he's bored. But luckily this is an easily-remedied problem. Simply go to your local pet store and purchase a half-dozen or so toys, including sturdy ones that are made for sinking his teeth into. A braided rope "bone" is ideal for a furniture-muncher.

This is a good stop-gap for those times when your dog has to entertain himself, but he shouldn't be forced to entertain himself all the time. As his owner you should make sure he has plenty of other things to do, like time with you when you are at home, and possibly even a canine companion. Two dogs can entertain and distract each other from destructive behavior.

Though you can cure confusion and boredom, there isn't a lot you can do about canine curiosity, however. Not that you'd want to. Curiosity is a sign of a healthy mind. It does, however, have to be managed. For instance, if your dog is exceptionally curious about the taste of power cords, something will have to be done. Since training him out of it may be costly (how many stereos will he ruin before he "gets it"?) and time-consuming, you may simply have to take the bull by the horns and dog-proof your house, or at least the area he occupies. If items on the floor seem to be the enticing ones, hang power cords and scarves and whatever else you think might tempt him. If shoes are an issue, put them away.

In the big city, opportunity often makes the criminal: The same holds true for your living room. And your bed room. And your kitchen...

The long and short of it all is to simply understand why your dog engages in destructive or annoying behaviors. Without discovering the source of the issue, there's no way that you can apply corrective measures or try to help your dog have more desirable behaviors. Once you find out why your dog is chewing and have that licked, you're on your way to solving the problem.
About the Author
Jeff Clare runs Dog Training News where you can read many more articles on dog training . For more general advice on dog safety go to Dogs And Dog News.
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