A recent customer of our dog training DVD programs has asked us the following question:
We have had our new family member only about 3 weeks. He is an 8 month old Shih Tzu. When we got him we had no problems with going potty in the house. He was not chewing everything up. He was really pretty good. Then about a week ago we had him neutered. It seems like a lot has changed. He potties in the house sometimes, not a lot. But the past couple of days he has been chewing and tearing everything up; shoes, his toys, etc. He has literally torn up all of his toys. He has gotten the squeaker out of toys and chewed it up as well. Even hard plastic dog bones chewed up. etc. Why the big change?
The truth is that it is very likely your puppy already had some of these issues. I find it to be the case that many dogs don’t feel comfortable in their new home until they’ve been there a few weeks. It’s common that you don’t see behavior problems pop up until the dog settles in. In fact, many of our dog training clients call us about 2-4 weeks into owning a dog with similar complaints that their dog started off great but has since deteriorated in their training.
The first thing I’d recommend is to keep a leash on your dog. Keeping a leash on the dog will accomplish two main things:
- Make sure the dog doesn’t sneak away. Every time your dog sneaks away and chews, pees, or poops he’s essentially being rewarded for bad behavior. You’ve got to prevent your puppy from sneaking off.
- With your puppy on a leash you can better train for obedience. Obedience training is critical for a puppy like this. Obedience teaches your dog to respect you and respect your house rules.
As you continue focusing on obedience training and manners you’ll find a new-found respect from your puppy and you’ll be in a great position to get rid of all these behavior problems. I often feel like a broken record when I tell my clients that it all starts with obedience training, obedience training, obedience training. It never ceases to be true, though, that training has a ‘collateral effect’. The more structured and obedient the dog the more you see problem behavior melt away. Good luck and happy training.