Question: I have two year old Yorkiepoo, and she tears up anything left on floor. I have keep all the doors in my house shut because if she finds a garbage can she will get out paper and tear it into very pieces, I just need some suggestions. – Judy
The solution to your problem, Judy, really involves a few components. So let’s get started.
I do not wish to sound flip or insulting; I realize that this is an aspect of dog ownership which really takes some getting used to for many people. The reality is that no matter how much training you do, or of what type, your dog is not going to behave perfectly 100% of the time, just as no child ever will. It is not fair or realistic to expect your dog to consistently ignore her greatest temptations when they’re all over her environment. It is therefore incumbent upon you to ensure that your dog’s environment supports your training efforts by making it as easy as possible for your dog to abide by the rules of the house. You would not disallow your child junk food, yet leave forbidden sugary treats in the cabinets and expect your child not to partake. Bear this idea in mind and, to the greatest extent possible, don’t leave shred-able things on the floor; having to keep all your doors closed is a bit extreme, but perhaps you could keep the smaller garbage cans, like the one in the bathroom, under the sink, and buy others for around the house that your dog can’t get into.
There is some more targeted training you can do to help combat this problem. You have several options, really. However, none of them are going to be of all that much help when you’re not around. So again, when your dog is able to run around the house unsupervised, management is key. From the way it sounds, the best bet for you is probably simply to teach your dog that it pays off to listen to you when you tell her she’s not allowed to have something. When your dog has something she’s not supposed to have, use a ‘no reward marker’ like “eh-eh” or “oops!” Then bring a really good treat over to her and entice her to relinquish her prize. When she does so, use your ‘reward marker’ (most dog trainers use “yes!” and give her the reward. Once you’ve done this a few times and she begins to understand and drop what’s in her mouth more readily, you can name this behavior. Begin asking her to “drop it”; then using your reward marker and rewarding her for doing so. The most effective way to do this is going to be to start when she’s gotten a hold of something not so valuable to her. Work with her at that level until she’s readily willing to relinquish her prize, and then gradually move up her prize value hierarchy. At each step, her reward should be of higher value than whatever she has to drop to get it.
Ever heard the expression, “a tired dog is a good dog”? Truer words have never been spoken. You’ve got a young dog of high-energy breeds. That means that lots (probably more than you think) of energy-burning activities are in order. Physical activity is great, but burning mental energy can wear a dog a out as well. So when there’s not enough time in your day to take your dog out for playtime, help her get some mental stimulation at home. You can get her some interactive puzzle toys or feed her out of a treat-dispensing toy rather than making things so easy on her by feeding her out of a bowl. Training is great mental stimulation as well. If you think your dog is feeling a touch of cabin fever, teach her a new trick! Many dogs, when their energy needs are met, simply don’t have enough left over to get into trouble (or at least so much trouble).
Guest Contributor–Danielle Grand has spent the last decade working to parlay her affinity for animals into a dog training career. While earning her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she was involved in an experimental study on canine cognition. She has also obtained her dog training certification from Animal Behavior College and attended numerous dog training seminars conducted by respected behaviorists. At home in New York’s capital region, she works closely with colleagues and mentors to expand her expertise; she hopes to help forge strong, happy relationships between many dogs and their humans.