Karolis Grigaliūnas, the trainer of the SmartDog training school, shares golden tips on the main problems of puppies at home:
- dog destroys furniture
- separation anxiety
- marking at home
- climbing on furniture
The dog destroys the furniture and has separation anxiety
The most common damage caused by pets at home: torn socks, destroying furniture, shoes, books, wires, scratching walls and doors, urinating at home. Furniture usually suffers when a puppy changes teeth. The puppy is irritated, feels discomfort due to changing teeth: itches, hurts. Therefore, the puppy wants to engage in activities to divert attention and scratch his teeth and gums. Sometimes puppies are no longer interested in gnawing on rodents, and they resort to furniture and active activities.
Upholstered furniture is probably more enjoyable for dogs to destroy, because it is soft, make sounds, and it is fun to pull out stuff.
Why do they do this?
Well, mostly, according to coach Karolis, puppies behave like this when they are left unattended, or they are activated by separation anxiety. Anxiety and frustration must be spilled out somewhere: some puppies howl more often, others bark, defecate or gnaw. The dog gnaws and has to do something non-stop. That’s fun and it keeps them busy.
Just as humans may bite their nails when they are nervous, puppies choose to gnaw on furniture. Karolis remembers how he left his puppy Bobuk at home more often when he was three months old, because he did not have the opportunity to spend more time with his dog. It was a familiar phase of life when you have to go to work and leave your puppy at home. And the idea of a cage or other private space for the dog did not come to his mind yet, so Bobuk lived in his owner’s bedroom. The entire bedroom belonged only to Bobuk when the master left for work. The dog was clearly protesting against the master’s rhythm of life and was simply destroying the master’s bed. After starting the destruction process, the puppy felt much better, now he had an activity that took his mind off the stress.
If a dog is experiencing separation anxiety, it builds up adrenaline that needs to be released. So very often puppies calm themselves by gnawing. Chewing acts as a pacifier for a small dog.
First of all, you should take care of reducing anxiety while you are still at home. Occupy puppies with various gnawing things: toys with treats, horns, cheese… This way you will protect your puppy from getting hurt by gnawing on the furniture, teach him to be less stressed and feel calm even when he is alone. Activities, discipline, physical and mental exertion, compliance with rules – all these are activities for the puppy that will use the energy. The more energy is expended, the calmer the puppy feels and the happier it is.
Coach Karolis recommends taking care of the appropriate physical and mental load of more active and anxious puppies, teaching them to stay alone at home. In addition, the trainer recommends teaching your puppy to feel good when left in its cage or house. The puppy will be much safer in the cage. Because when he gets anxious, he won’t reach for gnawing on the furniture, he won’t choke on fluff, he won’t get injured while gnawing, he will feel safer and calmer. And the owner will be calm, because he will know that the dog is in a safe place. It is very important to take care of the safety of the puppy.
Sometimes there are cases when food does not calm puppies. In this case the stress level should be reduced, the causes of the dog’s anxiety should be found and eliminated.
Dogs marking at home
Dogs that begin to mark in their home environment may be responding to stress or anxiety. Hormonal influences and sexual arousal, especially in intact male dogs, may also lead to an increase in marking behavior.
SmartDog trainer Karolis notices that smaller breed puppies tend to do this more often. He suggests studying the reasons why this might happen. One of the reasons is that small puppies are too rarely taken outside or even encouraged to exercise at home. A trainer often hears the question of how to get an adult puppy to stop peeing on the peeing piles at home. In this case, Karolis’s first question to the owners is why was he trained to do potty at home at all? After all, puppies who have stayed at home for too long can also destroy the house in this way, not necessarily just by chewing.
If potting at home is about marking, then we have a different question.
Leaving a scent mark with urine is a normal dog communicative behavior. Marking is most likely to occur on or near new or novel odors, especially the urine left by other dogs. The volume of urine used for marking is usually small. The problem is much more common in intact males, but many neutered males and spayed females also mark their territory. If your dog marks where other dogs have urinated, when exposed to new odors, or when entering a strange environment, it may be a form of territorial marking. This may be more likely to occur if you visit or move into a new home or if you redecorate or get new furniture. Supervising introductions or accessibility until your dog gets used to the new smells may be all that is required in these cases.
Neutering will reduce male marking behavior in more than 80% of male dogs but will only eliminate it in about 40% of dogs. Neutering is also recommended for female dogs that mark during estrus. Remember that virtually any vertical object that your dog might sniff and investigate could be a target for marking. Therefore, while the urine and sexual odors of dogs and other animals might be the strongest stimuli for marking, your dog might be attracted to any new or novel odor that it detects along the way.
If your dog marks in your home, you will need to determine the cause of the marking to determine if it is a temporary or isolated event (such as the visit of another dog or bringing a new item into the home), or whether there might be underlying anxiety. If there is an underlying anxiety, you will need to find and resolve the cause. When bringing new upright objects (plants) or furniture into the home or when moving into a new home, supervise your dog, on leash if necessary, as it explores the new objects or new home. As the dog gets accustomed to the new surroundings, you can begin to allow it some freedom.
Treatment for specific anxieties will vary with the cause. Ensure that all training is reward based and that your dog has a regular and stimulating routine of exercise and play. At times when you are not playing, training, exercising, or supervising, your dog should learn to settle down (preferably in its bed or confinement area) either to take a nap or play with its own toys. If the problem is related to fear or anxiety toward another dog in the home, then separation, gradual supervised reintroduction and a program of desensitization and counter-conditioning may need to be implemented. If the pet is marking due to anxiety about noises or being separated from the owner then these problems will need to be addressed.
When you are available to supervise, you should be playing, training or exercising your dog, or ensuring that it is sufficiently occupied and relaxed that there is no attempt or desire to mark. Should your pet begin to wander away or head toward objects that have been previously marked, you can prevent problems by interrupting your dog with a verbal command or leash, and giving him an activity to keep him occupied. By keeping a leash (with or without a head halter) on your dog you will be able to prevent your dog from wandering off and marking and can inhibit your dog should pre-marking signs begin. When you cannot supervise, confine your dog to an area where marking is unlikely to occur (his bedroom, eating room or crate) or place him in an area such as an outdoor run where marking would be acceptable. If you know the specific stimuli for marking then you might be able to keep your dog away from the windows, doors, plants or furniture where he might mark by confinement or by using booby traps in the area. Booby traps can also be used to prevent access to specific areas. If there is urine residue from other dogs on your property, use an odor neutralizer to remove the smell. When taking your dog outdoors, you should give rewards to reinforce marking at sites where marking is permitted, and you should not permit marking anywhere else.
Can puppies be trained not to climb on furniture?
First of all, the trainer notices that it is ideal if, as soon as you bring a new pet home, you immediately teach it not to climb on the furniture. It is very important to follow the established rules at all times, without reservations, so that the puppy is clear about what is allowed and what is not. If you decide that the puppy is not allowed to climb on soft furniture, then do not allow it. No matter how cute the puppy looks, or whether you feel down or more sensitive after a romantic movie, remember the rules of the house and always follow them yourself first. Karolis the trainer wants to say that once the puppy has felt that goodness, being with you together on your sofa, he will always seek to repeat it. And you, if you change your mind, will have to constantly monitor the puppy to make sure he doesn’t get on the bed, control the puppy and get angry at the constant request not to get on or off the bed.
If the puppy is already used to climbing on your upholstered furniture, and you wish to teach him otherwise, first of all – do not give him the opportunity to climb on it. It is best when the dog sleeps in its bed, house or cage. Without the physical opportunity to climb on your upholstered furniture, the puppy will gradually get used to sleeping in his place and will gradually start to feel comfortable there. You just need to consistently follow the rules of your house and not give in to the beautiful holes with which our pets like to terrorize and manipulate us.
It is always better to learn good behavior right away than to correct them. For example, if the puppy is immediately taught not to climb on the furniture, he does not feel any discomfort, does not know the feeling of being on the furniture and does not feel that he has lost anything. If the puppy has already tried being on the furniture and he likes it there, conflicts may arise when the owners think of changing the house rules. There are cases when a dog begins to protect its territory, which is the furniture on which it comfortably sleeps. Even worse, there are dogs that dominate the owners’ furniture and no one can climb on them anymore, only them. Because the protection of resources is activated and the dog starts to defend its territory. There may be problems when children want to sit next to you or when guests visit. Such an innocent thing, permission to climb on the furniture, can lead to such conflicts with the pet.
If even training does not help the puppy or it is difficult for the puppy to learn discipline, we suggest you take a look at the Japanese Altavidapet supplements, which calm reactive pets (these supplements are also suitable for sad, passive pets, giving the opposite effect).
One way to ask dog to get off in this situation is to throw a treat on the floor and make physical obstacles to get back on. Use the “climb down” command and throw a treat towards the dog’s place or toys to divert attention from the bed or couch. If the dog is dominant, then telling him to get off the furniture without treats will create a conflict, because the dog will see it as encroaching on his territory, and will encourage him to protect resources. As a last resort, Karolis suggests warning the puppy if he doesn’t listen and doesn’t get off the furniture even with treats.
However, coach Karolis says that it is possible to allow climbing on the bed or sofa, but in moderation and following precise, consistent rules. Let’s say climbing on the bed is allowed with a certain command. If the dog is not used to being on your furniture, it may not even be very comfortable for him to be there when you invite him. The puppy is used to being in his bed or cage, where his environment and toys are, and he has never or rarely been on the furniture, he will feel less comfortable, he may start to stress, run or get off as soon as possible. You can only be glad that the puppy is not very comfortable being on your furniture. You are lucky.