Stopping a Bulldog from Chewing Furniture, Kids Toys and the Back Deck

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 14, 2016

george-bulldog

This handsome devil is George, a one-year-old, Old English Bulldog who lives in Northwest Omaha. His guardians reached out to set up a dog obedience training session with him to stop a few unwanted behaviors; not listening to his guardians, chewing on baby toys, the back deck and furniture as well as refusing to go down the stairs to do his business in the back yard unless accompanies by one of his guardians.

George was excited to meet me when I arrived for the session; getting right up and personal. At first, the scent on my shoes of the other dogs I have worked with was a strong attractor of his attention. But as soon as he finished giving me a sniff-over, he attempted to do something inappropriate.

After showing his guardians my preferred method of disagreeing with the jumping up behavior, we all took a seat in the living room to discuss how I could best help them.

Due to his chewing issue, I asked to take a look at his chew toys. I frequently find people are not providing the appropriate toys to meet the dog’s chewing needs. Chewing is a soothing activity for dogs, so providing adults, and especially puppies, good chewing options goes a long way towards eliminating destructive chewing.

In this case, the humans had a good assortment of toys. I suggested a few additions, but more importantly I recommended that they leave some sticks in the back yard as well as a water buffalo horn or bone.

Its a safe bet that George was chewing on the deck out of boredom. Giving him a few sticks and appropriate chew options will give him options and should stop his chewing of the wooden deck.

I also recommended that the guardians all carry a Nylabone or antler with them when around George. Any time he gets mouthy, with them, they can pull out the bone and tease George with it for a few seconds to get him interested, then let him win in taking it from the humans. As soon as they give him the bone, the person needs to remember to pick up another one so they have one with them at all times.

Another great way to disagree with dogs who mouth and nip you is to yelp out as if you are in pain the instant the dog’s teeth touch your skin. Even if the dog nip was unintentional. By yelping loudly and then freezing in place or moving away, the humans can communicate that the consequence of any teeth to skin interaction results in the immediate stoppage of play.

Being a puppy, George needs a good amount of daily exercise. While the guardians were providing it to him most days, they were doing it at the end of the work day. This means George is in the kennel with a good amount of pent up energy.

Because old man winter is around the corner, I showed the family an inside exercise option that seemed to deplete George’s excess energy in short order. I recommended that they continue with this exercise and journal the number of repetitions along with a grade for the day.

Journaling your dog or puppy’s exercise can help you find the right combination of exercise that will result in a dog with an appropriate amount of energy. George’s guardians will need to play around with various amounts of this exercise, including a few different repetitions throughout the day, to find the right combination.

Adding the time and quantity of any exercise along with any behavior problems and the times that they occur can go a long ways towards identifying if we need to up the exercise or make other corrections.

In the future, when George gets mouthy or nips, his guardians should immediately take him to the indoor exercise that I demonstrated earlier in the session for some “maintenance” exercise. After doing so, it he is mouthy in the window afterwords, the person should pull out their nylabone or antler from their pocket and tap George on his side a few times then when he goes for it, play a little tug of war before letting him win and pull the item away. This usually results in a dog laying down and chewing on the item instead of the human.

Next I went over my petting with a purpose method and a few ways of disagreeing with unwanted behaviors. At first we applies them to George when he tried to invade his family member’s personal space. It took a number of repetitions, but eventually George got it.

Bulldogs are very determined so I made sure to point out how important it will be for his guardians to consistently outlast him for the next few weeks. George is going to continue to try to get his way. But by consistently disagreeing with good timing (within 3 seconds) and recreating any situations where George gets into trouble, his family will be able to teach him to stop spazzing out and jumping up, leaning on or pawing for attention.

Towards the end of the session, I went out back to show the guardians how to get George to go down the stairs to the back yard without them being present. Because it was dark when I worked with George on the stairs, I am sharing a video from another session with a dog who had the same problem.

ROADMAP to SUCCESS

  • Up George’s exercise via the inside stairs
  • Start a journal of exercise and then grade the rest of the day to find a good workout regimen
  • Provide sticks and appropriate chew items outside to stop chewing of the deck
  • Establish clear rules and boundaries
  • Practice enforcing the new rules and boundaries when human can give their full attention
  • Disagree before George invades any human’s personal space
  • Pet George with a purpose
  • Yelp loudly and freeze when nipped or mouthed
  • Carry chew toys and offer when George gets mouthy (tease a bit before letting him take it)
  • Use non verbal communication cues to disagree
  • Practice Focus exercise (each human practices 1 x day, min) for 2 weeks. Always end on a good repetition
  • Leave treats on the stairs to the back yard with a small handful at the bottom
  • Create situations and scenarios where George gets into trouble to practice disagreeing before he can do the wrong thing
  • Eat before giving George permission to eat food that is waiting in his bowl.
  • Pull any remaining food after George moves away from bowl (But replace empty bowl to floor)
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