Do you have a paper shredder at home?
No, not the electric plug-in-the-wall type shredder, but the four-legged furry sort that steals mail as it plops onto the mat. Transforming junk mail into a soggy pile of pulp isn't so much of an issue, but the trouble is that the dog can't distinguish between rubbish and that six-figure lottery winner's check that you're expecting.
Letters, newspapers, invoices, money, books...heck if you have a paper-chewing pooch then nothing in the house is safe. But no matter how unfortunate his habit, your dog is only doing what Mother Nature programmed him to do. Tearing, ripping, and shredding are all deeply ingrained behaviors from the days when dogs hunted for their supper and had to render a carcass in order to eat.
However, a combination of planning and training can teach your dog to lick this habit, and here's how to go about it.
Teaching a dog not to eat paper is one of those situations that is best avoided in the first place. If you're in the happy position of having a new puppy, then be careful about what you give him to play with, as he'll add this to his mental, "OK to chew" list. For example, letting him gnaw a newspaper or chew on a cardboard roll will encourage him to seek out other objects with the same texture.
However, once the habit has happened, help the dog to turn over a new leaf by reducing temptation (tidying up!), providing alternatives to chew, and training him to drop those things he's not meant to have.
This takes time, consistency, and patience from everyone in the household, but happily, it isn't an impossible task so stick with it and you will get there.
To successfully train your dog not to chew, you'll need:
Mister will knock over bathroom trash cans and/or bedroom cans (small) and shred any paper like toilet paper or paper towels. Sometimes it's "used" but doesnt have to be. It seems to be a behavior mainly displayed if we leave to go somewhere without him.
Hello Liz, there are a few things that you can do to stop Mister's paper eating habit. The first thing that you need to do is to remove the temptation. Look into purchasing trashcans with lids. You can get small, bathroom sized trashcans that look like the covered kitchen trashcans. Mister has learned that it is fun to shred paper and has likely developed a habit of doing so. In order to break the habit, the fun reward of shredding the paper needs to be removed. Once the temptation is removed, then I would work on teaching Mister the "Leave it" and "Drop it" commands. Once Mister knows those you can practice having Mister leave the paper alone while you are with him. This will help Mister to learn that he is not supposed to touch the paper in general. Having Mister know the drop it command also can prevent you from having to chase Mister in order to get the paper back from him. Not chasing him is important because some dogs view the chase as a fun game, and the chase could actually encourage him to keep stealing the paper in hopes of another chase game. After you have taught Mister to leave the trash alone and you have removed the temptation, you can booby trap the cans if he is especially persistent. To do this, you can spray the paper at the top of the trash with something very unpleasant tasting, such as bitter apple spray. You can also place something unpleasant on the outside of the trashcan that will surprise Mister if he tries to get the lid off. Be sure that however you booby trap the can, that it will not physically harm Mister, but will simply surprise him or make the trashcan unpleasant for him. Lastly, be sure to leave Mister with fun and interesting chew-toys while you are away, so that he has less reason to look for something naughty to do because of boredom. A Kong or other hollow and safe chew-toy, stuffed with moistened kibble and then frozen, can be a wonderful, time released source of entertainment.
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They chew up paper from the coffee table when we are out, but we don’t want to use their crates again, and scolding them doesn’t seem to work
Hello Elle, First you will need to booby trap the paper to teach them to avoid it when you are at home in another part of your house. There are many booby traps designed to deter dog's from stealing food and jumping on counters on the market, some of these can be used for paper too. I suggest finding a fake mouse trap booby trap and putting it underneath some paper that you have laid out as bait. The mouse traps that are designed for dog training should not actually close and hurt them, but they will pop up under the paper and startle them when they try to grab the paper. Be at home so that you can rush into the room after they set off a trap and escort the dogs out of the room firmly for what they did. If the paper is always in one particular spot, then you can teach the dogs to avoid that particular spot as well. You would also do this by booby trapping the area or using deterring collars. I suggest starting with something gentler at first, like a collar that is manually controlled and sprays unscented air, vibrates, or gives a mild electrical stimulation. Set up a camera, leave the paper out as bait, and go outside where your dogs cannot see you, then watch them on the camera and push the correction button on your remove when the dogs try to contact the paper or table. Avoid scented spray collars. The correction can last for hours in some case because the strong scent that is sprayed lingers, and a dog's nose is extremely sensitive, so a strong lingering, corrective smell can continue to correct a dog long past when the incident happens; making that device confusing and cruel, despite the fact that it appears more gentle. Consistency will be very important for this. You need to keep all paper cleaned up whenever your booby trap or camera and correcting collar are not set up, until the dogs learn to leave the paper alone long-term. You want to convince the dogs that the correction or surprise will always happen whenever they try to get the paper, regardless of whether you are there or not. Do not strongly booby trap an area or object that you want the dogs to sometimes go near or interact with. For example, you would never booby trap a tennis ball that your dog also plays with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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