Q: My dog is always digging holes and destroys my back yard, how do I cure it?
A: As with chewing, many dogs, particularly young ones, like to dig for a variety of reasons: Stimulating exercise; boredom; to escape - if digging is near the gate or fence; to bury or recover objects such as bones, etc. A quick solution is to build your dog a run, one with a cement base, and this is where he goes when he can't be supervised. Access to the back yard is restricted to those periods when you can watch him and interrupt his hole digging hobby.
Q: My neighbors are complaining because my dog is always barking?
A: Probably the single biggest cause of complaints to police and animal control agencies is that of nuisance barking. To give you a quick answer to a very thorny problem, determine when and what causes the barking. If it occurs mostly at night, bring the dog indoors. If it happens during the day when you are away, likewise, it may be necessary to keep the dog inside, if needs be in a crate. For nuisance barking in your presence, correct forcefully. The problem has become so acute that several police departments now rent electronic bark collars to owners of barking dogs. These collars can be very effective when used correctly on suitable candidates. However, I recommend professional advice on their suitability for use with certain dogs and in particular barking situations.
Q: My dog has been housetrained but he still messes indoors.
A: Chances are that your dog has not been fully housetrained. My advice is to go back to basics, treat you dog as a puppy and start all over. If, however, you are convinced that your dog is already housetrained, the breakdown in your dog's elimination habits may be due to a number of different reasons. These reasons could include:
- Territory marking
- Submissive urination
- Excitable urination
- Fearful urination
- Separation anxiety and stress related urination or defecation.
- Disease and health related urination or defecation.
- Try and pinpoint the exact cause of the breakdown in you dog's household etiquette. This way you can focus on removing the source of the problem without the need of restricting the dog unnecessarily.
Q: My dog is always escaping, how can I stop him?
A: Locate his escape hatch and fix it. If the fence needs to be raised or mended, do it. Check to see if he is using a table or bench by the gate or fence to assist his assent. Investigate your dog's reason for wanting to constantly escape. If it's boredom, some walks and obedience training will help; also, try bringing him into the house more often, the company of his pack may work in your favor. If he's chasing female dogs in heat, consider neutering. If, for whatever reason, all of the above have been tried, but to no avail, build him a secure, covered run if you want, or need, to keep him outside -- of course, bringing him inside will also solve the problem. If he's got good house manners, he can have limited access to the house. If he's a young dog, or one that, as yet, cannot be trusted to have the liberty of any part of the house, then it may be necessary to confine him to a crate in your absence. Once conditioned properly to the crate, most dogs can happily be confined to it for up to eight hours, if necessary. Make sure the dog has had plenty of exercise beforehand, and his feeding and watering schedule is consistent with his new routine.
Q: My dog chews on everything inside and outside the house, what can I do?
A: Dogs, especially young ones, are virtual chewing machines. Chewing is a normal, healthy activity for all dogs. Give your dog suitable chew items and put all else out of reach. When he can't be supervised, do not leave him unattended, put him in his crate, on a short tether, or in an outside run. When he can be monitored, guide him to his own chew items and suitably correct for chewing on anything else. With time and consistency, he'll learn.