How to avoid your dog raiding the bins or chewing your shoes!

How to avoid your dog raiding the bins and chewing your shoes!

In some cases, dogs will use an owner’s absence as an opportunity to gain access to resources, or to engage in behaviours that are usually unavailable. Dogs are opportunists and individuals with a high scavenging or play drive, may use the owner’s absence as a cue to look for food or items to destroy.

Both behaviours are very self-rewarding and can only be reduced by removing the opportunity and providing the dogs with alternative activities.

Remove opportunity:

* Until your dog learns that there are easier, more fun ways of getting food, ensure that all food is placed out of the dog's reach and this includes the bin!

* Remove all shoes or items the dog takes a fancy to and ensure that old shoes are not given as a chew toy. Once a dog gets the taste for old smelly leather, it may be hard to convince them otherwise!

Increase appropriate mental stimulation:

* Using food out of the dog’s daily food rations (or one of my Kong Recipes), fill a Kong and give it to your dog as you leave. There is no rule to say that dogs should be fed from a bowl!

Kong Recipes

  • Grate some cheese over a handful of your dog’s normal kibble, place into a Kong then microwave for 20 seconds. Wait until cooled before serving.

  • Smear Philadelphia around the inside of the Kong then fill with your dog’s normal kibble. Seal the top with a small cheese bung and serve.

  • Cut up small pieces of ham or chicken and mix with your dog’s normal kibble. Seal the top by wedging a slightly larger doggie biscuit in the top and serve.

  • If your dog is a marmite lover, smear the inside of the Kong and serve. Alternatively use peanut butter, fish paste or you can buy Kong filler paste.

  • Make a paste out of your dog’s usual kibble and add some small pieces of ham or chicken. Fill the Kong to the top then freeze. Serve straight from the freezer.

* Scatter your dog’s usual kibble (with a few exciting surprises) around a small area of a room, or in the garden. As your dog goes to eat the food, say “Find it”. As your dog gets the idea, gradually increase the area over which the food is scattered. If they get really clever, you can then start to hide it in more and more challenging places. If your dog is more toy motivated, you can do exactly the same activity using their favourite toy. Again, start easy! If they can't find it, they may soon lose interest.

* There are lots of activity feeders on the market, including a great range by Nina Ottosson. Most dogs require a little help at first, but they soon get the idea. Some work on the basis of removing parts of the toy to find the food and others on spinning or pushing parts. Always ensure that you are not leaving your dog with something it can potentially chew and swallow!

* If you want to keep costs down, use your imagination! You could hide tiny pieces of chicken in screwed up newspaper, then stuff it all into an old cardboard box. My dog loves it, when I put small pieces of hot dog sausages into an old coke bottle! It is so important that dogs are given the opportunity to chew, tear and destroy appropriate items and so keep sewing up those old soft toys and let them keep destroying them!

As frustrating as it may be, if you find any destruction on your return, it is essential that you do not punish your dog! Dogs are unable to make the association, between the “inappropriate” behaviour they may have done hours before and the telling off they receive when you return home. They just know that sometimes you come home in a bad mood and this can really worry them!

If you are at all concerned that there is more of a problem than opportunistic destruction or stealing, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help.

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