Shayne on You: When Fido misbehaves

Dear Maggie,

I recently brought home a puppy, and he’s been just a joy to my entire family. We’ve had him three months, and he’s nearly housebroken, but we’re still having two consistent problems that are dampening a lot of the joy my family has in him. Neither my wife, nor I, can be home with him at all times, and any time we leave him unattended in the house, he chews something up. Its seems like it’s always something my wife adores. Her favorite shoes, her best throw pillows, the cord to her computer. He’s destroyed several of my things too, but mostly he seems to focus on hers. He’s also demolished a pile of the kids’ toys, and it’s heartbreaking. They loved him so much at first, but it’s fading fast. A lesser problem, but still a problem, is that we can’t get him to walk along willingly on his leash. He pulls and tugs and fights us, gets the leash in his teeth and chews on it, and so on.

My wife is at the end of her rope. She says if we can’t get this dog under control, he has to go. It would break my heart, but I can’t even blame her. Last night, while we were out to dinner, he chewed the upholstery on her brand new sofa. What can we do?


In the Doghouse

Dear In the Doghouse,

It must be contagious. Two of my daughters recently got puppies, and a few days ago, I adopted one too. So the timing of your question couldn’t be better, as this is a subject I’ve been researching. Friends keep telling me to watch “The Dog Whisperer,” but I haven’t had a chance to do that yet. However, from the sounds of it, it’s a good idea for both of us.

I do have some suggestions for you in the meantime, though. I’ve surveyed dozens of my online friends and readers, and the consensus about leash training among them is overwhelmingly unanimous. They all love the “Sporn” and the “Gentle Leader” brand harnesses. One friend had a fully grown golden retriever who still hadn’t given up tugging her arms out of their sockets while walking. She says the “Sporn” made a new dog of him. I’ve had countless reports like that, about both those systems, so that might solve your walking problem. (They don’t hurt the dog, either, which is a top priority for me and most dog lovers.)

The solution for when you have to leave your pup home alone is a little harder, if you’re soft hearted. Get a crate. I got a big one, because my pup’s going to grow very large. (English mastiff.) They are roomy and safe, and if you put a nice big doggy pillow inside, they’re comfy. Just put the pup in there with a few toys when you have to go away, and close the door. He’s not going to like it at first, and walking away while he’s whining like he’s going to die won’t be easy. But he’ll learn to love it. Dogs are den animals. They have an instinctive urge to curl up someplace small and cozy because it feels secure. If you shut him up in his “den” when you have to leave, he won’t be able to chew anything while you’re gone, and it won’t do the pup any harm at all. An added bonus is that most dogs won’t urinate or defacate in their den, so he’ll wait to be let out. Use common sense, of course, about how long he’s left in there. He’ll need a supply of food and water if it’s going to be more than a couple of hours, though I wouldn’t recommend leaving him too long until he’s a bit older. Talk to your vet, too.

Good luck! Give your puppy a kiss for me.


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