Canine Behavior Concepts
by Sam Kabbel
There are many advantages to adopting an adult dog. One advantage is the fact that they are not teething so they do not chew. Right? Not necessarily. Dogs do not acquire manners through the aging process, they must be taught. We cannot expect a newly adopted greyhound to know that he is not supposed to chew the remote control, coffee table or our favorite shoes. Adult dogs chew for a variety of reasons. Before you can correct the problem, you must first know why the dog is chewing.
1) Boredom. (I’m bored to death because I have no mental stimulation.) Set aside some time to spend with your dog. Go for daily walks or spend some time playing with the dog. Good playtime and exercise will also tire him so he’ll sleep more!
2) Learned behavior. (Why can’t I chew the coffee table? I’ve been doing it for weeks!) Teach the dog that chewing is wrong and redirect him to another behavior. (See training tricks below) Be sure the dog has toys, rawhides or Kong toys filled with peanut butter, etc.
3) It’s fun because it plays back. (Chewing the pillow is fun because stuff flies all over the place, which makes it even more fun.) Follow the same advice for boredom, but remove the temptation for the dog to chew fun things. Pick up the pillows, newspapers and magazines. Dog proof your house. Think from their point of view.
4) Anxiety or tension. (These shoes smell just like mommy or daddy. I feel more secure when I chew things that smell like them, plus it relieves some tension.) Leave a TV or radio on while you are out of the house. Departures and homecomings must be calm. Get ready to walk out the door, but instead, sit in the room where the dog stays for 10 minutes. Don’t pet or talk to the dog. Don’t even look at him! Completely ignore him for that time, then quietly leave the house. When arriving home, again, completely ignore the dog for 10 minutes or until he is calm. Then quietly get down on his level and calmly pet him. If you leave the house in a frenzy, the dog will become nervous and is left in a quiet house to work out the tension! If you leave the house calm, you have set the stage for calm behavior.
(Proper use of Bitter Apple Spray)
Bitter Apple is a wonderful training tool. It is perfectly safe, but has a terrible taste. The key to success is in its introduction to the dog. Dogs can tolerate things that taste bad. After all, they would be happy to eat garbage! For Bitter Apple to be effective, dogs must associate it with a bad experience. Avoiding items sprayed with it, then becomes a learned behavior. Here’s how to do it. Thoroughly soak a tissue with Bitter Apple and pop it into your dog’s mouth. Gently hold his mouth shut for a minute or so. He is going to hate this with a passion! After he has spit it out, walk away from the dog. Do Not console the dog for the awful experience! This is part of the learning process. By this time, just the smell of it should trigger this memory and he will avoid those objects sprayed with it. (Keep in mind, Bitter Apple is not long lasting, it will need to be reapplied daily to the object.)
Kongs can be great to keep your greyhound occupied while you are gone. You can coat the inside with peanut butter, use peanut butter to “stick” small dog treats to the inside or for a longer lasting treat fill with frozen yogurt (keep in freezer & take out just before you leave.).
Please remember it is not safe to use kongs, rawhides or other treat itmes in a group without supervision.