The Canine Clique, LLC – Positive Dog Training and Behavior Consulting

Category Archives: Ask the Trainer

Dear TCC,

I’ve recently adopted a shelter dog. She is just over one year old. The first evening I had her she defecated in my house 3 times! Luckily, we seem to have the house training under control. At first I kept her in a crate whenever I wasn’t home. I have two mini dachshunds and they are confined to one room while I’m at work. I felt bad leaving Lucy in a crate all day, so I decided to allow her to spend the day in the room with my doxies. Nothing bad happened, I THOUGHT! Well, Lucy had chewed a hole in a quilt that I had on the love seat. I moved that quilt thinking maybe it had a dog smell on it or something. But, then she chewed a hole in the quilt that covers the love seat. Then I discovered that she chewed holes in my dogs snuggle beds that are on top of another sofa. Okay, back in the crate for Lucy. She gets up on my bed occasionally but I pull back my comforter and cover it with my sheet so she doesn’t get the comforter (which is white) dirty. I always fold my pj’s and lay them on top of the comforter and guess what? She chewed a hole in them! What should I do? Should I somehow discipline her not to be on the sofa at all? She also chews on the bedding in the crate. She’s a very sweet dog and very smart, but I’m not sure what to do about the chewing. She also likes to sit on the back of the sofa in the living room where she can look out the window. What do you suggest?

Dixie S.

Phoenix, MD

Hi Dixie!

It’s common for a dog to need some adjusting time when first entering a new home with a new family. In this period of adjustment, you can expect some nervous behaviors to occur, such as the defecation inside, which you fortunately have under control now. Focus on creating a safe place, such as a crate, for Lucy to know is hers and understand that nothing bad will happen to her there. This will help ease the transition into her new home, and you do not need to feel guilty at all for keeping her in her crate when you are not home.  In fact, I strongly recommend you keep her crated during times you cannot supervise her. Cover the crate with a blanket (not one that has stuffing in it that she can pull through the crate openings and chew apart) to make it feel cozier, and put a long-lasting, safe treat in there, such as a fun-filled Kong. Keep the crate in a place where there isn’t much foot-traffic and where the other dogs can’t come find her and taunt her.

So now moving on to the chewing problem… Lucy has given you some very important information: She likes to chew and will chew anything she can get a hold of. She may be chewing out of boredom or nervousness, but despite the reason, there are several solutions. First, it’s important to realize that she’s not being a “bad dog” on purpose and so disciplining her would not do any good nor would it teach her anything. She’s simply communicating with you that she needs something to chew on.

The first part of the solution is going to be managing the environment and the situation. Do not put any bedding in her crate that she will chew on, especially if she’s ingesting what she chews. You may want to use an indestructible crate liner, such as Kong’s Durable Crate Pad ( so that she has some cushioning. When she is in her crate, give her a safe and durable chew toy. Kong makes great fillable toys; the trick is knowing how to fill them in a way that your dog will love. I recommend putting some of her favorite hard treats in them, filling the remainder with sweet potato or chicken flavored baby food, and then sticking it in the freezer before giving it to Lucy. Make sure a couple biscuits are sticking out of the end so that she doesn’t get discouraged from the get-go. Another one of my favorite chew toys, which last seemingly forever, is the StarMark Everlasting Treat Ball ( You can put kibble or hard treats in the middle of the toy, and then it comes with two flavored edible discs that cap the ends. I’ve found these can keep dogs occupied for hours and is made from very durable materials. Do not leave her alone with any of these toys until you’ve seen that she cannot tear them apart or choke on any small pieces.

Keep her crated when you can’t supervise her, and when she is let out of the crate, give her more appropriate chew toys. Go for the toys that have a tough exterior instead of plush toys that she can easily tear apart. Put away every household item she could potentially chew on, such as blankets and pillows, and give her something else to chew instead.  If you can’t remove the blankets and pillows, close off access to those areas of the house with a gate or by shutting the door. The key is to always have something available to her that is appropriate to chew on.

Sometimes when we think our dog isn’t interested in a certain toy, it’s really just because we haven’t made it interesting for them.  Some dogs are much more interested in playing with their toys if their human is using it to play with them instead of just leaving it out for them to play on their own. So find some good tug toys and make the playing interactive. (Playing tug is also a great opportunity to teach “Drop It,” since teaching opposing cues can reinforce each other).

Aside from closing off access to household items and giving her appropriate chew toys instead, you can help alleviate her boredom by training her. Spending 10 minutes at a time positively training behaviors like “Sit” or “Target” can not only be fun for your dog, but mentally exhausting. One of the great things about positive reinforcement training is that it encourages dogs to think on their own to achieve the desired results. Play some shaping games, such as shaping her to knock over a small traffic cone, to get the gears in her head turning. This type of training can provide mental exercise for dogs which physically tires them out so that they are less likely to do other things, like chewing your blankets.

With the right chew toys and some management of the environment (i.e. closing off access to beds, putting away blankets, etc.), you can satisfy Lucy’s need to chew while keeping her safe and happy.

Happy Training!

The Canine Clique


The Canine CliqueDear TCC,

My dog won’t go to the bathroom in the rain or wind!! I can walk him for 10 minutes or an hour and he will not go to the bathroom. If I let him out in the backyard and I go outside with him, he will sit and look at me. If I let him out there without me, he will ram his head into the door until I let him in. Any suggestions on how to solve this issue?

Beth R.

Baltimore, MD

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Dear TCC,

Maggie is a very “Excited Dog” and I think she has separation anxiety. It starts when:

1. We leave the house and leave her home. She will bark & bark & bark, with some pacing in the backyard. But our neighbor says once I leave she stops barking.

2. When I  leave her at a friend’s house for the day for a “Doggie Play Date.” I see her pacing again in the back yard. When I pick her up at the end of the day she does this “Excited barking scream.”

3. If my husband or I leave the car and she stays with one of us in the car. She will do the “Barking scream” like we are killing her.

I try to be calm when I leave. I offer her treats when I leave. I suggested to my husband that we take a day and just practice leaving and coming home. She gets walked every day, sometimes twice daily. Every night we play keep away with tennis balls for 30-45 min. So she has a lot of opportunities to get her energy out. What am I missing?

Nerissa B.

Crestline, CA

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Dear TCC,

My cocker spaniel, Ginger, has LDS: Little Dog Syndrome. She gets in people’s laps without being invited, jumps on them, etc.. How do I teach her some manners?

Karen S.

Rockville, MD

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Dear TCC,

Because the dogs are so competitive with their space and their toys, if one  is on the sofa with a toy, the other one is afraid to jump up there because she will get growled at and snapped at.  So, when I am upstairs, I will hear one of them whining.  She will keep it up until I respond.  So, I peak down the stairs to see if she wants to go out.  But she is usually sitting in front of the sofa and I go down and pick her up and put her up where she wants to be.  Should I be “obeying” her or ignoring her?

Dixie S.

Phoenix, MD Continue reading

Dear TCC,

My Chow Chow, Little Bear, seems to be getting a bit food aggressive/protective. This is only toward other animals, not me or other people. I am able to take things away from her easily. I noticed it first when my brother’s dog, CoCo, came over. Little Bear nipped at her while my brother and sister in law were there, but once they left, Little Bear was fine. I was able to give food, water and treats with no problem. CoCo even found one of Little Bear’s hidden bones and Little Bear did not mind her chewing on it. Then when my brother and his wife came back, Little Bear went after CoCo again! I picked up the bone which helped, but she still nipped at her once or twice more. She isn’t full out biting, just doing that annoying “nip at your face” thing.

She has also been chasing the cats away from her food bowl. I gave her a rawhide bone last night and she seemed to chase the cats more, like she was making sure they stayed away from the bone. I was able to take it from her without a problem.

Over Thanksgiving, Little Bear also attacked Bert (my sister’s dog). I was in my bedroom with Bert and I was petting his bum and saying things to him when Little Bear went after him. It made his head bleed and he got a cut under his eye. My sister pulled them apart, getting a puncture wound in the process. I think this may have been her protecting me (thinking I was getting attacked in our bedroom) but I am not sure if it is connected somehow. There was no food involved. 

Just wanted to put these out there and see if you had any suggestions. I do not need her getting food aggressive!!!

Meghan W.

Hampden, MD


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