"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Girls will be Girls

– Posted in: Columns

Dog and SockHi John,

I have a labradoodle named Isabelle, she is just over a year old. She is a great family dog, amazing with my three little girls ages 4 – 8 years. The main problem is that Isabelle loves to chew. Her favorite thing is chewing socks, and she has actually hacked one up which is very scary. She also loves chewing on the children’s toys. We have tried to remind the girls the if its left on the floor Isabelle will chew it. But them being typical children, they don’t always remember until after the toy has been chewed apart. I have bought Isabelle chew toys to which she destroys usually on the first or second day. I have even tried the toys they say are indestructible.
   
I am a first time dog owner, so I am sort of clueless on all this dog training stuff. And I think I could benefit with a bit of help.
 
Sincerely,
 
Jennifer

Hi Jennifer,

I think you counted wrong. You haven’t 3 little girls, you have 4 and one is being given freedom she’s not mature enough to enjoy. I use the following example with my clients all the time; “If your child can get to the stove before you can get to your child then there are going to be consequences. If your dog can get to the socks and children’s toys before you can get to your dog; as you’ve found there are going to be consequences. You’re not supervising in accordance with your dog’s maturity and/or life skill development.

It’s a common mistake new dog owners make. Here’s a rule of thumb; on average a dog is not an adult until it’s 18 months to 2 years of age and until then, no matter how gifted you think your “child” is you should know where it is and what it’s doing and be in a position to do something meaningful about it at all times.

You manage this well enough with the rest of the girls, but the playing field is too uneven with this one. This particular girl can get to the stove before mom can get to her no matter how much caffeine is coursing through mom’s arteries. The easiest way to stay on top is by having her drag a leash around the house so you can step on it when she decides to go off on a sock hunt or grab an errant toy. If she puts the leash in her mouth use a chain leash. It takes 2 or 3 days for the dog to learn to stick close by and you’ll find you’re not stepping on the leash to stop her near as often. For when the leash isn’t enough, put her in a nearby crate. She likes to chew, so have a special “crate-only” chew item.

I’ve heard a lot of people advise about this sort of thing, particularly with labs, “Don’t worry, mine did that too and eventually she grew out of it.”  True, some, even many dogs do, but my sons would have eventually grown out of hitting each other with shovels too. The fact is, we all would have eventually outgrown a lot of things but one of the reasons we have parents is to make growing up a little less painful and risky. Positive reinforcement isn’t the only thing kids whether two or four legged need, supervision and discipline are important too.

Paws-itively yours,

John Wade
www.dogtrainingwithjohnwade.com

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