Thursday, January 3, 2019

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Dog Gone Problems: How can we get our bulldog to behave so we don’t have to keep him in the kitchen?


Dog Gone Problems is a weekly advice column by David Codr, a dog behaviorist in Omaha. David answers dog behavior questions sent in by our readers.

This is Boomer, our 1-year-old English bulldog. He is a very hyper and needy little guy. He is in the gated kitchen a lot of the time due to our other dog. She is a 13-year-old black lab and small for her breed. They get along outside because there is room to run from him.

Our problem is he hasn't had enough time and experience in the living room and rest of the house with us. So whenever we let him venture around, he doesn’t behave well, running and jumping on furniture and us or the other dog, and he never ever sits or lounges for more than a few seconds like he does in the kitchen. Also, when we go in the kitchen, he is constantly under our feet or licking us every second.

He's very bored in there and chews the chairs and his kennel no matter how many toys or bones he has; he still eventually chews destructively. We really wish he would behave for us so he can be with the family and be more happy. Can you help?

Thank you,

Stephanie

***

Hello Stephanie,

The average dog needs one hour of exercise every day. Puppies and high-energy breeds often need more than that. Your pup’s problems could be due to insufficient exercise and stimulation.

If your puppy isn’t getting at least an hour of exercise every day, I would suggest adding it in. A walk is great for stimulation but it’s not the most efficient form of exercise. A game of fetch, tossing treats down the stairs, chasing the laser or scent games are wonderful ways to provide your dog with exercise and mental challenges/stimulation. Click here to watch a video with some creative ways to exercise your dog.

I’m also concerned about how much time your puppy spends in the kitchen. While setting up a long-term confinement area can be helpful, you should work on transitioning your puppy out of it. One of the worst punishments for a dog is to be excluded from the group. It sounds like you have resorted to keeping Boomer in the kitchen quite a bit, and when he gets access to the living room, he overindulges.

You can set him up for success by giving him time in the living room after exercising him. As a dog behaviorist, I try to help dogs practice behaviors in the desired state of mind. If I have a dog fearful of his kennel, I identify why he's fearful and then remove those factors so he can practice being inside the kennel in a calm and balanced state of mind.

By exercising Boomer first and then allowing him to recover and sleep it off in your living room, he can practice behaving in a more desirable fashion. Keep it short at first. After five to 15 minutes, you can put him back in the kitchen. But your goal should be to eliminate the need to sequester him.

You can use a leash in the living room to slow Boomer down a bit. Try to avoid pulling on the leash as much as possible, but it can help prevent him from getting to the furniture, etc.

If having the other dog in the room prevents Boomer from staying calm, I would remove the other dog initially. Remember the whole goal is to help Boomer practice being in the living room without jumping up on you, your furniture or chewing inappropriate objects. With some practice, you should be able to start bringing the other dog into the room, but at first only do this after Boomer has been exercised.

Make sure you have a plethora of appropriate chew items. Dog should have access to at least 20 appropriate chew items at all times. When dogs are stressed, they often chew to relieve their anxiety. I'd suggest you get a couple of antlers, a water buffalo horn, some Nylabones of various shapes, sizes and flavors and give him an occasional bully stick, cow knee cap, bones, etc.

When you give him a bully stick, cow knee or other high-value toy item, it should be when he is in the living room. This will provide a nice distraction and allow him to practice being calm in the living room chewing on appropriate items.

I'd also recommend you start practicing petting with a purpose. You can get more details on that dog behavior tip here.

Good luck and remember — everything you do trains your dog. Only sometimes you mean it.

David

Submit your pet questions to David Codr by emailing a photo of your dog and question to dogbehaviorquestions@gmail.com. Visit doggoneproblems.com for more from David.


David Codr is an Omaha dog behaviorist. You can reach him at his website, doggoneproblems.com.