Podcast: Put A Stop To Destruction: Chewing, Digging, and More
Here is a recording of a recent tele-seminar where I outlined my popular ‘Destruction Formula’ for putting a stop to chewing, digging, and other destructive behavior.
Ty: Hello, this Ty Brown with dogbehavioronline.com. Thank you and welcome
see that we’ve got listeners coming from around the country, so that is
really cool. Thanks for being here.The topic that we’re going to get into today is about destruction. Most of
what I’m talking about here is going to be digging, chewing, destruction of
that nature. What I’m going to do here is I’m going to give an outline of
what I do with my clients to help them get over destruction, and then we’ve
had a few people e-mail in their questions, and after going through here
we’re going to go ahead and answers those questions that have come through.Thank you everyone who is on the call. I’ve got you muted right now, so you
won’t be able to talk, but let me just go through and answer these
questions and get to it, and then we’ll see what we can do.In order to face destruction, there’s a very formulaic way of achieving
that. In fact there’s a very formulaic way of achieving anything, whether
we want to house train a dog, get them over destruction, get them over
aggression, etc.Let me go over the key components here. I’m going to be talking mostly
about five key components. If you’re taking notes, it wouldn’t be a bad
idea to grab a pen and paper here and take down these components as I’m
talking about them.Number one is prevention. It especially happens with young dogs, I see it a
lot, but with old dogs as well, a lot of dogs are given so much freedom too
quickly that they don’t know the rules. In fact I was just at a client’s
home the other day, and they had a 6 month old dog, and they were already
starting to leave it outside of the crate while they were gone at work. The
dog, while they were home, was chewing stuff. Not a lot, but the dog would
pick up the shoes and chew it, would pick up socks and chew them, pick up
little things here and there and chew them. That was while they were home,
so imagine what the dog is going to start doing while they’re gone. The dog
needed to earn the freedom, and the only way the dog can earn freedom is by
learning what the rules are going to be.That’s where I say, in the beginning stages of getting a dog over
destruction, whether we’re talking an 8 week old dog or an 8 year old dog
for that matter, is to prevent them from being able to be destructive in
the first place. What this typically means is two main things. Number one
is while you’re home, and number two is while you’re gone. While you’re
gone, of course I always recommend some kind of confinement, whether that’s
a crate, a kennel run, some dogs we can put them in a bathroom or a laundry
closet or something like that. There’s a variety of ways that we can
prevent them from being destructive when you’re gone.I know a lot of people are going to say, “Well I’ve got this wonderful
backyard. I want the dog to be loose in the yard and have fun all day.”
That’s fine, but we’ve got to work towards that. You can’t typically start
there. With most dogs, if you start by leaving them loose in the house,
loose in the yard, what have you, we’re going to start to see some big time
issues come up. Then I get people who say, “Oh, we’ve got a dog door. We’re
fine, right? The dog can go out to go to the bathroom outside, so we’re
fine.” Just because the dog can get out to go to the bathroom doesn’t mean
the dog is understanding what rules are in relation to destruction and
digging and things like that.
Whenever I’m recommending to somebody, hey, let’s use a crate, let’s use a
kennel run, something of that nature, the idea is that we use it for the
next month, three months, six months, year, whatever, depending on the dog.
We use it for the next little while, and then as the dog improves we
gradually get rid of that confinement so that the dog can be loose in the
yard or can be loose in the house.
If you’re conservative here, for my clients, for my own dogs, if we use the
crate really well for the first year of the dog’s life, typically that gets
us to the point where the crate becomes non-important. My dogs haven’t
needed a crate since they were about a year, year and a half old, and we’ve
never had anything destroyed ever. You can do that too. It’s going to
require some supervision/prevention.
Prevention takes on that form when you’re gone. When you’re home, you also
need to be in prevention mode. I meet a lot of dogs, they sneak off and
grab the shoe, they sneak off and chew up the couch. I was with a client
the other day, and I was saying, “Okay. The dog is destructive when you’re
home or when you’re gone?” They’re like, “He’ll chew right in front of us.
He’ll look at us and grab something and start chewing.” For dogs that are
destructive when you’re home, what we need to do is keep them with you.
Normally I do that in two different ways. Number one, I’ll keep them on a
leash so that they’re not sneaking around. Number two, while I’ve got the
dog on the leash I’m teaching them obedience, and once the dog is obedient,
then I’ll just tell them to be with me.
I’ll give you an example here. With my company, we do a lot of what we call
boot camps. That’s where we have people from Utah and from other states
around here, they send us their dogs and we do the training. I’ve probably
had 150 dogs come through my home over the past x amount of years, you know
five, six years, and I’ve never had anything destroyed because I always
follow this formula.
In the very beginning I’m religious. That dog is on a leash, I’m teaching
the dog obedience, and once the dog is obedient, then I don’t use the leash
anymore, but I keep him with me. If I watch TV, he lies down, for 10
minutes or an hour, whatever. I’m going to go make a sandwich, “Come on.” I
have him follow me. “Sit.” I have him sit in the kitchen while I make a
sandwich. “Come on.” We go back to the family room. “Lie down.” He lies
down. We’re going to go to the bedroom. “Go to your bed.” The dog is always
with me and I’m supervising him essentially verbally, meaning I’m just
having him follow me around and stay close to me.
The main key here is he can’t sneak off. That’s where the leash prevents
him from sneaking off in the beginning, but once he’s obedient, then the
obedience prevents him from sneaking off because I can just simply tell him
to stay with me. It requires kind of a different plane of thinking. You’ve
got to be aware of your dog, and that’s where a lot of people run into
destruction, they’re just not aware. They’ve got so much stuff going on
that they don’t think about the dog. You’ve got to change that, at least
for the next little bit until we can get the dog down a new behavior path.
For me it’s the easiest, really just a couple commands. “Come on,” so he
follows me. “Come here,” so he comes when I ask him to. “Down,” so he lies
down. Or “Place,” so he goes to a bed. If the dog does those few things,
and do them well, it’s so easy to supervise them and prevent keep from
sneaking off. Right there, the supervision when you’re home and the
confinement when you’re gone puts an immediate stop to all destruction.
That’s what we need to do.
I’ve had people question me on this and say, “Well, the dog is not chewing,
but he’s not chewing just because he can’t. He’d still like to chew.” I
say, “Yes, you’re right,” but that’s where dogs are creatures of habit and
they’re creatures of conditioning. What we need to do is in the short run
completely block the dog’s ability to chew or dig or whatever, and then
gradually again the dog gets more and more freedom. What we’ve got to do is
have a pattern interrupt to begin with, and that’s where supervision and
prevention come in.
Next part of destruction is mental stimulation. Outside of prevention,
mental stimulation is probably one of the best things that we can do. Maybe
you already know this, but a lot of reasons why dogs chew, typically
they’re telling you something. “Hey, I need more attention, I need more
mental stimulation, I need more exercise, I need more something.” That’s
typically what I see. In the act of not getting the mental stimulation, a
lot of dogs look for mental stimulation, and they look for it in the form
of “I’m going to dig up the yard and chew up your stuff.”
There’s a handful of ways that I find to be the most effective for getting
mental stimulation. Number one, just training, training throughout the day.
One thing I teach my clients is something that I call integration training.
You walk out the door, you take five seconds and the dog sits or waits. You
watch TV, the dog lies down for an hour. You go around the house, the dog
follows you. You go on a walk, the dog walks properly. You go out in the
backyard to go to the bathroom, you call the dog and work on coming when
called. Just throughout the day the dog is getting mental stimulation. The
dog is being asked to do things. Cumulatively what happens, because he’s
getting this mental stimulation, there’s less need for chewing in many
The biggest things I’ve found is what I’ve called focused walking. One of
the first things I do with my clients when the dog is being destructive is
we start getting the dog to walk properly by the owner’s side. In fact I
can think of a couple very specific instances where all the client did, in
fact this is one I tell all the time, it was a few years ago, a client of
mine, the dog was very destructive.
They couldn’t leave the dog in the crate because the dog was breaking the
crate. They didn’t have a backyard to leave the dog in, so it was just the
dog in the apartment all day everyday. He was eating couches, TV remotes,
self, anything he could get his hands on that was expensive. He wouldn’t
touch cheap stuff. He wouldn’t go after the toilet paper or anything like
that, or cardboard, he would only chew the high-end stuff.
I gave them a big list of things to do, exactly the list that I’m giving
you guys today. I said, “Okay, we need to get the dog on a focused walk
every day,” we need to this, this, and this, the things I’m about to share
with you, we need to do all of these things.
What happened was I came back a few weeks later to check in, see how things
are going. I said, “How’d you do with this list?” They said, “We didn’t do
very good at all.” And I said, “I would have thought you guys would have
been motivated. This dog is eating you out of house and home.” And their
response was, “Well we actually just started taking him on a walk everyday
like you showed us,” the focused walk.
They had been taking him on a walk previously, but he was walking and
pulling and going all over the place, but with the focused walk the dog was
no longer chewing. That was all the mental stimulation he needed. He needed
to get that 45 minutes to an hour where his brain was working, his body was
working, and as a result he got completely over his destruction issue just
from that one piece.
When it comes down to it, like I said I’m going to present to you today
five main steps. They’re all important. Which one your dog is going to
respond to, which two or three or four or five your dog is going to respond
to depends on the dog. It depends on a lot of different things. I recommend
that you don’t just do one of them like these guys did. Like I said, in
their case they did one of these things and it was focused walking and that
was it, and the dog was over his destruction.
Give the dog training, give the dog walks. Activities aren’t going to hurt
by any means. Agility or playing fetch, teaching the dog certain activities
that uses his mind, these are all good things.
Step one: supervision/prevention; step two: mental stimulation; step three
is the other side of that, physical stimulation. The dog needs exercise.
The best exercise is focused walking because it uses both the body and the
mind. For my clients that have dogs with destruction I’m saying let’s get
out there 45 minutes, an hour, every day let’s walk the dog in a focused
way where he’s right by your side, he’s not going off sniffing, he’s not
pulling, he’s right with you the whole time. In the act of doing that,
physical and mental stimulation happen.
As far as physical stimulation goes, agility, playing fetch, these are also
good ways to wear out the dog’s energy. What happens with something
physical is something chemical. A lot of dogs chew, because when dogs chew
there’s a chemical actually that’s released into the bloodstream that helps
them be calm and happy and adjusted. That’s why a lot of dogs will chew
your shoes, because it makes them feel really close to you by chewing
something that smells like you, or your socks or your underwear, things
like that. It makes them feel really close to you. There’s actually a
chemical reaction that occurs that calms the dog down.
A very similar reaction occurs though through physical exercise. The dog
gets exercise and chemicals are released in the bloodstream that help the
dog be calm, and so that’s obviously a big positive. With people they call
it runner’s high when you run a lot, when the endorphins or what have you
really enter your bloodstream and you feel really good. We can not exercise
the dog and allow them to feel really good by chewing our stuff, or we can
exercise them and have them feel really good through exercise. Exercise,
both physical and mental, is very important.
Next thing I want to talk about is toys. We want to give our dog an outlet
for his need to chew. Some dogs have less of a need, other dogs have a
bigger need, but most dogs are going to have a need, and so we want to
provide an outlet for that. We don’t want to just do any toys though.
There’s a couple things that I like to do with toys that can be helpful.
Number one, I like to have two sets of toys. Dogs, it’s very easy. People
put the toys out in the yard or in the house and it’s like, “Hey, here’s
your toys. You love them,” but the dog gets bored of them, and so he goes
looking for other things that are interesting, and that often happens to be
expensive stuff. What I recommend, whatever toys you have, put them all in
the one bucket, cut that bucket in half and put one set away and the other
set is out for the dog.
Two days later, four days later, a week later, whatever, when the dog is
getting bored of them, switch it out. Pick up all these toys, put down
other ones. A week later you switch them out again. Just kind of be
rotating the toys here and there, every now and then a new one enters the
gang, and we’re just keeping toys that are keeping him interested.
Secondly, I like to create what I call interesting toys, things that are
going to keep the dog occupied. For a lot of my clients that’s peanut
butter in a Kong and we freeze it, or you can get these toys at the pet
store where you put the treats in there and the dog has to move it around
and then the treats fall out. Things like that. Those are good for a couple
reasons. Number one, it’s mental stimulation. The dog has to think to try
to figure out how to get the food or whatever out of the toy. Number two,
any time spent doing that is time spent not chewing your couch and not
chewing your shoes. It’s kind of a win-win when we give the dog interesting
For dogs that are a little bit nervous and anxious when you’re gone, what
I’ll often do is I’ll create a surrogate toy. What a surrogate toy is, you
want to get like a Kong toy or a big bone or something porous that’s going
to hold your scent, and what you want to do, this is going to sound silly,
but what you want to do is you want to sleep with it for a couple days, put
it in your shoe, put it in your underwear drawer, things like that. You
really want it to smell like you.
I mentioned this a just a minute ago that a lot of dogs are destructive
towards your things because it really reminds them of you, and when they’re
chewing something that kind of reminds them of you, it makes them feel
better about you being gone. When you can provide a toy that really reminds
them of you, your chances are better that the dog goes after that. It
doesn’t work every time, but this is a simple thing to do, so you might as
well do it.
Like I say, sleep with the toy, make it really smell like you before you
ever give it to the dog. Take a few days just making it smell like you, and
then what you want to do is just take five minutes a day and rough house
with the dog and play with him, and it’s all about that toy, then the toy
goes up. So the dog doesn’t get access to that toy unless you’re gone.
You play with the toy, “Oh, what a good boy,” and you’re rolling around
having a good time, okay, that’s enough, and the toy goes up, so the dog is
kind of wanting more, but he can’t have it, and so the idea is when you’re
gone he wants that toy so bad that it acts as a surrogate you. It’s you
when you can’t be there. When it comes to toys, have interesting toys, two
sets of toys, surrogate you toys, and this often will help a lot.
Just as a quick review, component number one: supervision/prevention, both
when you’re home and when you’re gone; component number two: mental
stimulation; component number three: physical stimulation; component number
four: the right toys; and the last component here is something that I call
canine entrapment. That sounds illegal, but it’s fairly legal. What it
really is it’s just encouraging your dog to be destructive, but to do it at
times when you can actually catch the dog in the act.
I’ve done this a variety of ways over my career. Years ago, I started
training about 17 years ago when I first started working for this dog
trainer, and what we would do is, let’s say the dog is prone to chewing
shoes, we would leave the shoes on the table, we’d walk out front, and we’d
peer through the window and just wait for the dog to chew the shoes, and
when he did we’d spring out like “Ah, don’t chew the shoes,” spring in
through the front door, and the dog would be like, “Oh my gosh, where’d you
Nowadays what I’ll often do is we use an e-collar, electric collar. We use
it humanely, so we don’t use it on high levels, but use it on a level
that’s just enough to grab the dog’s attention. We leave the shoe in the
front room, you go out front, you peer through the window, the dog shoes on
the shoe, and you correct them with the e-collar, not saying a word.
What you can also do here to make canine entrapment even that much more
meaningful, this might sound a little bit mean, but it works, I’ll put
peanut butter on the shoe. I’ll put peanut butter on the couch, I’ll put
peanut butter somewhere. The idea is that I want my dog to chew within the
next five minutes so I can correct him. I don’t want to sit there watching
through the window for the next two hours until he finally decides to chew
on the shoe. I want to set it up, but also I want to help the dog realize I
don’t care if my shoes just sprouted peanut butter, you’re not allowed to
Peanut butter goes on the shoe, I go outside, the dog starts chewing, I
correct with the e-collar, and the dog is, I call it the omnipotent
principle, because the dog doesn’t see me. He’s like, “Oh my gosh. There’s
an omnipotent something somewhere that’s watching me. I better leave these
What I’ve actually been doing lately with some new technology, and this is
really cool, I haven’t actually heard of anyone else doing this, so maybe
I’ll be in a book someday as a pioneer, but I call it Skype training. What
I’ll do, for those of you who are familiar with Skype, and Apple has
FaceTime, these are different programs for video conferencing, so
essentially what I’ll do is I’ll set up a laptop with the video camera
pointed at the shoe, for example. Then I’ll go outside with the iPhone or
the android phone that’s also hooked up to Skype, and so I can actually see
what’s going on.
I’ll walk down the street, and the dog starts chewing on something because
he’s like, “Oh, he’s really gone. I heard him leave,” or “The car started
and went down the street, so he must be gone,” so now the dog starts
chewing. What I’ll do at that point, because I can see it, I’ll use the e-
collar and I’ll correct from a distance. That’s a really clever way, and
with most dogs, you do that a couple times and they’re like, “Whew, I don’t
know what’s wrong with these shoes, but every time I go for them, it
As far as digging, I’ll do a different type of correction. What I do for
digging is either the poop or the balloon trick. Some of you might have
heard of this. What I’ll do for digging is you take the dog’s hole, where
he’s already dug, you put in some of his poop, and you cover it back up. Or
you put in a balloon that you’ve blown up with air, and you cover it back
up with an inch or two of dirt. The idea is dogs being creatures of habit,
they tend to go back to their holes, they start digging, and they one of
two things. They find poop, which is kind of disgusting to a lot of dogs,
and they’re like “Oh, gross.” Or they find a balloon that pops right in
their face, and they’re like “Oh my gosh, this hole just exploded.”
For some dogs, one time can be enough. I’ve had that happen a lot of times
in my career, where one time they do that, and the dog’s like “I’m not
going to be destructive again. That just was not worth it.” That will
happen, but what will also happen is the dog will just go dig a new hole.
You’ve got to commit to the method here, and so you’ve got to do it again,
and do it again, and do it again. Most dogs, I’d say probably 80% of dogs,
you do this four, five, six times, and they just stop.
Some dogs are such heavy diggers that what I’ll then do is go into a
different form of canine entrapment, and this involves the e-collar again,
where I’ll put a hot dog in the hole. I’ll cover it up with an inch of
dirt, I’ll sprinkle a couple of hot dogs on top, and then I go wait
somewhere whether it’s with Skype or watching from a window or something.
Then what happens is we send the dog out into the yard, he finds the hot
dogs which are right there, he eats those. That’s okay. Those are on top,
but then he realizes by smelling there’s more down below, and he starts
digging to get to them, and that’s when I correct the dog and help him
realize, no, no, no, I don’t care if we’re sitting on a farm of hot dogs
underneath this soil. They’re not yours. You don’t get to get them through
Going through the steps here again, we’ve got supervision/prevention,
mental stimulation, physical stimulation, toys, canine entrapment, and by
combining those things, like I say, some people really have to get deeply
involved in all five aspects. Like I’ve mentioned, I’ve had other clients
that do one and they get their dogs over the destruction. You don’t know
who your dog is at first. You don’t know what your dog is going to respond
to, so I would obviously recommend that you do each part of this so you can
find out which is going to work best for the dog.
I’m hoping that makes sense. What we’re going to do here is, I see a
handful of people on the line, I don’t know if you’ve got questions or not,
but what I’m going to do is un-mute the call, and let’s open it up for if
there are any questions. If there’s a question just shout it out, and if
people shout over each other, we’ll just work it out at that point. Who’s
got a question out there?
Carol: Hi, my name is Carol. I just called you Ty, and I was able to send
my e-mail to you. I spoke to you about my 4 year old dog, 2 years living
with us, he came from a shelter when he was approximately 2 years old.
He is very gentle, and my e-mail says very gentle and obedient dog. We walk
every day very many miles, 4 to 6 miles per day, so he’s getting that
physical activity on a daily basis. I even think he’s being mentally
stimulated as we’re walking the path. He does not take to toys. The Kong I
have tried repeatedly, and some other stimulating toys. I haven’t tried the
surrogate toy though. He doesn’t respond to those kinds of things.
My e-mail does say that he has been declared with separation anxiety by two
separate vets. He’s now on a medication, 75 milligrams per day, for this
separation anxiety. It seems to have helped him; however, we are not over
the hurdle. The destruction happens less frequently, and most recently,
seven days ago, we left him in a very cool area of the car, where we left
him to go to Mass, and he barked. My husband told him to stop barking, and
he stopped. We came back and the door panel was ripped up.
Again, my e-mail says this is not the first time, that we’ve had situations
like this before. It happens less frequently. When we do leave, with bated
breath we leave him behind. We have tried the Thundershirt, that was to no
avail. We are now working with the citronella spray bark collar, again he’s
not a barker, more of a moaner and a whiner. It seems, I think that it
works. It helps to calm him down.
That last incident that we had a week or so ago, he was not wearing the
collar. We did have to leave him abruptly in the car. He is a dog that
requires a lot of structure in his life, and because we’re retired we’re
able to provide that, but unfortunately my life cannot be that structured
all the time.
Ty: Sure. Have you done any crate training? I mean, is that an option?
Carol: Crate training is not an option. As I said, we got him from the
shelter. I tried crating him when we first got him. He was wild. He even
escaped out of crate many, many, many times. We find him at the front door
waiting for us. That didn’t work. I’ve spoken to other people from New
York, where I’m from, other behaviorists, and they have said perhaps he
will hurt himself more than it will be, in other words it will be
detrimental because he’ll hurt himself, rather than to continue to try with
Ty: When you leave, where is he?
Carol: When we leave, he is in the house, and he does have free reign, as
he does when I’m home. He has no destruction. I’d even gotten to the point
sometimes that I’ve hired somebody to sit at my house, because we moved to
our new summer place, I felt he wasn’t comfortable yet to be left alone.
I’m paying for dog sitters to sit at the house.
Ty: You’re doing a great job. You’ve done a lot of work. You obviously put
in a lot of time, effort, money, and just effort into getting this guy over
it. I would definitely recommend the surrogate toy, because it does sounds
like your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. That is a distinction
I’d like to make because a lot of dogs are destructive, some dogs have
Separation anxiety is an actual chemical unbalance that the dog has that
doesn’t allow him to process stress the same way another dog could. I’m
always very cautious when a vet says, “Oh, the dog has separation anxiety,”
because often times it’s a dog that just is destructive and hasn’t been
From the way you’re describing it, it sounds like separation anxiety
though, and separation anxiety is best dealt with through a combination of
training plus medication. I’m not big on medication. I don’t recommend it
to too many of my clients. It seems like a handful a year I’ll recommend
it, because if the dog doesn’t have a chemical unbalance, it’s not going to
help him, but the fact that you’ve seen progress shows you that we probably
got a chemical unbalance and so it’s helping him, so I would use a
surrogate toy. Another thing you may or may not be doing, but I would . . .
Carol: Just one second. Hold on. A surrogate toy I understand is a porous
toy. Can you give me a suggestion of what you mean?
Ty: Yeah, just something that’s going to hold your scent, like a really
thick bone, and this might not work for him because you mentioned he’s not
a big toy guy.
Carol: No, he’s not.
Ty: Maybe one of these bones that has a filling in it, you can get it at a
pet store. You might try that. The other thing I would try, maybe you’ve
done it, but I call desensitize your exit triggers. A lot of dogs with
separation anxiety, when you leave, it stresses them out, so have you ever
tried grabbing keys and putting on your shoes and then not leaving?
Carol: I have to say I’ve tried it. Was I really committed? I have to say
no. I was not committed to that, so I will try that again.
Ty: The other thing, some dogs, if they have too much open space, they get
paranoid and really nervous, and they’d do better if they were put into a
bedroom or bathroom. Is that an option?
Carol: An option meaning that, I’m afraid to put him in that, that I’m
going to come back and find my bathroom torn apart.
Ty: Right. It could go either way. I’ve seen some dogs where it completely
helps them, and I’ve seen other dogs where, you’re right, they just get
very destructive. It could go either way, and so if you had like a bathroom
or something that you could experiment with, or a laundry room that didn’t
have a lot of stuff in it.
The other thing would be that Skype training where you could catch them in
the act. A lot of dogs with separation anxiety, if you can take away their
ability to manifest their anxiety, in his case it’s barking and chewing, if
you can take away his ability to do that, often times the anxiety goes with
I’ve seen a lot of dogs where they bark like crazy when the owner’s gone,
which is kind of corrected a couple times, and then we see the dog’s energy
level really just start to taper off and get more calm, more relaxed,
because it’s like they get themselves into this fit where they’re just
barking or chewing, and so if we can just block that, often times the
stress goes with it. That would be something that I would definitely
consider doing as well.
Carol: In my e-mail I didn’t mention what I feel is somewhat successful, is
that citronella spray bark collar, even though I don’t call my dog a
barker. He really isn’t a barker. He never barks, I should say, but I feel
that once he moans or he whines that activates the spray, and that seems to
do exactly what you said. It seems to make him stop for the moment, and
I’ve got to find another way to calm down.
Ty: Yeah, so they adapt and they learn other ways to calm down, and ideally
the way to calm down is just hang out, just be. Not everyone’s super
thrilled about e-collars. I love them because of the way that we use them.
We use them on low levels and it’s a teaching tool. With a low level we can
help him take away some of that stress by saying, “Okay, you can’t chew on
this, and you can’t bark. What are you going to do? Well, why don’t you
just relax?” It leaves the default behavior of just relaxing.
Good luck. I’m going to read your e-mail. I want to see if there’s any
other questions out there from some of the other people on the call. I’ll
read your e-mail and get back to you, but hopefully there’s a couple little
strategies here that you can try that can start to help him out.
Carol: Yes. I appreciate the time that you’ve given me, and I would
appreciate an e-mail return. Thank you very much.
Ty: Yeah, absolutely. I see there’s still a good number of people on the
call. Just listeners, or does anyone have a question?
Audrey: I have a question. My name is Audrey.
Audrey: Can you clarify a little bit more about what you say focused
Ty: Sure. When I say focused walking, well, I’ll go even a little bit
further back. With my clients I teach a method I call crazy man method, and
what that is we start walking, the dog goes ahead, a lot of my clients,
their dogs are pullers, they pull on the leash, or even if they don’t pull,
they’re not right next to the owner’s side, and so as the dog gets away
from the owner’s side we’ll do a directional change. Do a 90 degree turn,
give a quick little correction on the leash, and we go a new direction.
Then the dog goes ahead again, we do a 180 and give a quick little
correction, and so I call it the crazy man method because the dog starts to
realize, “Hey, every time when I go this way, my owner’s going that way,
and when I go left, he goes right. This guy’s crazy. I’ve got to watch out
So what happens is the dog starts to walk right by the owner’s side because
the dog realizes, “Hey, you know, this is where I can pay attention to my
owner.” In the act of paying attention, I can’t overstate just how powerful
this is, it sounds like something small, but it’s maybe one of the most
powerful things when it comes to fixing destruction, aggression, etc. is
getting the dog to focus on you rather than everything else.
I’ve had clients whose dogs, like really unbelievably energetic dogs, the
Heeler or the Lab, where they cannot exhaust the dog even with 2 hours of
exercise or something, but we get the dog walking in a focused way right
next to their side and that 30 minutes of focused walking is like the
equivalent of 2 hours of running around playing fetch or something like
That’s kind of a long answer to a short question, but essentially what I
mean is focused walking is right next to your side, paying attention, I
mean if the dog has to go to the bathroom, allow him to go to the bathroom,
but not veering off to sniff every bush and flower and tree, but really
just paying attention to you. Does that make sense?
Audrey: Yes. Thank you very much. That’s real clear. I’ll try that.
Ty: Good, okay. It tends to help quite a bit with destruction. More
listeners, or we got questions out there? Okay. If there’s no other
questions, we had a handful of questions come in, but let me get to one of
the first ones here, and it uses somebody’s name. I’m going to omit the
name, just in case because there’s some anger in this.
It says, “One question just to find out if I’m being reasonable or not.
From day one I have trained my puppy not to jump, nip, and chew on things
using advice I’ve seen on your website along with many others, plus
watching about 10 hours of YouTube videos to boot before I brought her
home. My fiancé absolutely refuses to do anything but the opposite of what
I’m doing to try and train her. If my dog nips, my fiancé shoves her away
and slaps at her over and over until I come take her away. If my dog jumps,
my fiancé shoves her and screams over and over, and never once tells her to
sit or praises her when she does. She insists on throwing her shoes and
clothes on the floor and just lets the dog chew on them when she gets them,
instead of just picking her stuff up off the floor so there’s nothing to
chew on, and giving her a toy when she does. My question, is my fiancé’s
insistence on not doing what I ask because I’m not going to tell her what
to do contributing to my dog’s lack of obedience when it comes to jumping,
nipping, and chewing?”
The short answer is yes. The long answer is, there’s a lot of people out
there that confuses anger with training, so your fiancé is not the only one
that does this that I’ve met. The dog does something, and they’re very
reactive. The dog jumps or the dog chews, and the owner just gets mad at
that, and so instead of being proactive, they’re reactive. Obviously that’s
not a good stance to take.
That’s a problem with a lot of dogs. They’re reactive with their
environment instead of thinking ahead and being proactive. It’s something
we train dogs to do. I’m not comparing your fiancé to a dog, but we can
definitely train your fiancé to do better. Really what it is we’ve got to
be calm. I always tell people emotion does not belong in correcting a dog,
but it does belong in praising a dog. It sounds like your fiancé is being
very emotional, like angry, like no, no, no, and swatting the dog. All
you’re going to do in doing this is create fear, anxiety, and anxiety
again, anything anxious needs to have an outlet, and so that could very
well make the dog chew more. Like I mentioned earlier, anxiety can often be
relieved through chewing.
In any case, it’s likely that she’s making the issue worse. You are being
reasonable. Your fiancé should not be shoving, screaming, slapping, your
fiancé should be puppy-proofing, and your fiancé should be patient with the
dog, recognize that it’s a baby, just a little puppy, and train that way. I
hope that answers your question.
Okay. We’ve got a couple more people I believe, but there’s still a couple
people on. If there’s any more questions, I’d be happy to take them.
Sandy: This is Sandy, I do have a quick question. I think I wrote you, but
I have a dog, he’s a 220 pound English Mastiff and he’s 3 and half years
old, and he’s been doing this behavior for 3 years, so it’s pretty
ingrained. If he sees another dog, he lunges to go meet the other dog,
never to attack, he’s always very friendly, but I can’t stop him. He walks
perfect any other time, but if he sees another dog he’s going to meet them
and their owner.
Ty: That’s where I do what I call that crazy man method, and so I would
definitely have the dog on a training collar, especially because we’re
talking a Mastiff here, and so as I’m walking along and he sees…Pardon?
Sandy: I do have him on a pronged collar, and I did just buy the e-collar,
and I got your DVD set too.
Ty: Oh, cool. Okay. If the dog decides to lunge, I do a complete 180. The
key here is I’m not going to drag the dog away from the distraction other
dog, and so I’m walking along, here comes another dog, he’s lunging forward
to go say hi, I do a 180, and it’s several quick tugs. It’s got to be a tug
and release. Dogs have what’s called opposition reflex, so if I start
pulling the Mastiff away from the distraction, he’s going to want to get
there even more. It’s got to be a quick little pop, pop, pop, each time
going in the opposite direction.
Then what I’ll do is I’ll re-approach, if it’s appropriate, maybe the other
person is scared by this point, but if it’s appropriate I go right back to
the dog, and he lunges again, I go the other way. Right up to the dog,
other way. What I’ll often do with a dog like yours, I’ll go find a dog
behind a fence, and we’ll spend 5 minutes, and we’ll just go back and forth
and back and forth. With most dogs, you give it a few days of doing this,
and it’s literally a complete turnaround, the dog is realizing.
I was at a client’s house the other day, and the dog lunged like crazy to
get into the vehicle. They open the door, and she could not get the dog to
not lunge into the vehicle, so I did the exact same thing. Open the door,
and I did a 180, open the door, I did a 180. I did this seven times, eight
times, and then we opened the door and the dog didn’t try to lunge in.
Whether it’s aggression or not aggression, lunging can be solved through
this crazy man method of going the opposite direction. That make sense?
Sandy: No one ever told me to stay there and keep trying it. Every time
I’ve done it, he’s stronger than I am, I’ve walked away from the situation
instead of staying there and following through with. Yeah, that’s a better
Ty: Like I said, it might not be appropriate to do that every time. Like
say there’s someone in your neighborhood and they’re walking a 10 pound
Yorkie, and your dog’s lunging, it might not be a good idea to be like,
“Hey, wait right there. I’m coming right back,” but a dog behind a fence
that’s unattended, I use those all the time because it give me the
opportunity to spend 5 minutes and conquer that dog. Then I might go find
another dog behind a fence.
It might take 5, 10, 15 dogs before I’ve conquered the problem, but if I’ve
got a captive audience of a dog barking at me from behind a fence, I’ll use
it. Or if it’s someone in the neighborhood that you know and say “Hey, I’m
just working with my dog. Don’t worry. I’m going to be doing some circles
here.” But like I say, if it’s some little kid that’s terrified because the
dog’s lunging, maybe you do go on, but definitely try to work the dog
Sandy: Thank you. Thanks a lot. I am going to try it. It’s a little
different approach. Thanks.
Ty: Yeah, excellent. Okay. Any other questions?
Carol: Wait, Ty. Sorry, one more question.
Ty: What’s that? Sure.
Carol: One more question. This is Carol again, the first call. You talked
about an e-collar. Can you tell me, e means electronic, in other words I
would give him a jolt?
Ty: I mean that sounds a little bit worse than it actually is, but yes.
It’s an electric collar and it does have a stimulation that is attached to
it. It’s an electric stimulation. Like I say, when it’s used properly it’s
actually a very humane way to train because it’s just a tiny little tickle.
I’m not going to lie, it’s not like the dog’s like “Oh, thank you. That’s
wonderful,” but it’s just an annoying sensation.
It’s a completely different type of correction, but as far as impact on the
dog, when you do it right it’s not much different from the citronella
collar. The citronella collar’s going to spray right in the dog’s face. An
e-collar’s going to give a quick little reminder tap correction. Done
right, it’s actually a very humane way to train.
Audrey: Do you have a special e-collar that you like?
Ty: I do. I like, Dogtra is the brand. We’re going to get them on the
website here soon. I don’t have them currently on the website, but D-O-G-T-
R-A. It’s a really well built brand, doesn’t fall apart like the pet store
brands do. It’s right around the same price as most of the lower quality
collars, but it’s a much more quality brand, so Dogtra, D-O-G-T-R-A. Any of
their collars are really great quality.
Audrey: Thank you.
Sandy: [This is Sandy]. May I interject something about here about the
Sandy: Okay. I have it. This lady is worried about the shock part of it,
but mine also does just vibration. My dog responds really good just to the
vibration mode. There’s no shock at all, so she can start with vibration,
and then the low levels, you don’t even feel it on yourself. I put it on
myself before I ever put it on him. It’s not like you get a horrible bad
shock. It’s nothing like you think it is.
Ty: You’re right. I always have my clients feel it before we use it with
their dogs, and everyone is always very surprised. They’re like, “Really?
That’s it?” You’re right. That is another reason that I like Dogtra as
well, is because it has the vibration feature. It’s not going to work for
every dog, but there are plenty of dogs to where the vibration is just
enough to grab their attention, like “What was that?” So for you Carol,
your dog is alone and he’s chewing something, the vibration might grab his
Carol: How do I go about finding and reading up on this product?
Ty: Just Google Dogtra, D-O-G-T-R-A, just Google Dogtra collar. I’ve got a
lot of resources on my website about training with e-collars, so surf
around dogbehavioronline.com and you’ll find some good stuff there. Like I
say, if you Google search, you’re going to find tons of stuff saying it’s
the worst thing you could ever do, and you’re going to find tons of stuff
saying it’s the best thing you could ever do, and so my opinion and my
experience tells me that when it’s done right it’s a great way to train.
It’s easier on the dog, and it’s easier on the owner, especially
considering what could be the long term benefit to your dog of teaching him
how to be calm. To me, that’s worth a handful of corrections that aren’t
pleasant but can potentially open up 8 more years of calmness for this dog,
whereas without it you might be struggling for the next year or so. That’s
where I try to weigh the advantages against the downfalls, and that’s why I
Carol: How much does something like that cost?
Ty: Their lowest end model is like $180, so it’s an investment, but it’s
not huge. Years ago they were like $1,000, but the technology has gotten
Audrey: Did you say you’re dogobedience.com, Ty?
Audrey: Did you say your website was called dogobedience.com? Is that what
Ty: It’s dogbehavioronline.com.
Audrey: Dogbehavioronline. Thank you.