Destroying the House

by Melissa

From Melissa... My dog is one year old and he has been living in the county. He just moved to the city, and we are finding that he is good when me and my husband are with him.

I really need help with him when he is by himself, as he destroys the house. Also, if someone walks by he barks at them. I really don't know what to - do I am hoping for your help!

Shannon Says...

Hi Melissa,

Thanks for your question! The easiest and safest way to deter this problem of destroying the house is to crate train your dog.

Done properly, he will learn to love his crate and see it as his safe place.

Crate Training Solution

When crate training your dog, there are a couple of rules to keep in mind. The more time you take on each step, the better:

1. Never use as punishment - he will hate the crate if used for this purpose.

2. Always take him out to pee before you put him in the crate, and always take him out to pee when he is let out of the crate.

3. Never leave him in the crate longer than 8 hours, and ALWAYS remove his collar when crated.

4. Put the crate in a central area of the home, not in a "scary" corner of the basement.

5. Especially in his case, take him for a good walk or run before crating him for longer than an hour - a tired dog is a good dog.

I recommend a plastic Vari-Kennel with a squeeze lock (not a dial) over the popular wire crates. Dogs see their crates as a "den", and most find the plastic ones more comforting. It should only be large enough for him to sit, lie down, and turn around. Any larger and he will pee in one corner and sleep in the other!

Start by simply tossing a treat in to the crate while you say "crate" or "bed" and letting him get the treat and come back out. Do it again, this time closing the door for a few seconds before letting him out.

Continue doing this, slowing increasing the amount of time he spends in the crate by 5 minute increments.

You can give him a favorite chew toy or a Kong with some peanut butter inside to keep him busy. Do not let him out for barking or whining. Also, do not immediately put him in the crate all day - you need to gradually increase the time he spends in the crate.

As he also shows separation anxiety, I would have him spend time in his crate while you are home as well (especially at first), so that he doesn't associate the crate with you always leaving.

You can have a special toy or bone that he only gets when he is in the crate - this will make the crate even more enjoyable for him.

When he is not in his crate, leave the door open and have his bed inside - this way he can come and go as he pleases.

Barking - Solutions

As for the barking, when he is on leash, give the leash a fast, firm pop, and SAY NOTHING. If he barks again, repeat, and praise him immediately when he stops. If he is not on a leash, you can say "Eh!" very sharply.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

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