Your dog has a number of instinctive behaviors that are not conducive to modern domestic living. Chewing and roaming are two examples of such behaviors that are appropriate and natural for wild dogs but damaging and potentially dangerous at home. Fortunately, you don’t need to pay for a behaviorist or trainer to fix these problems; you can tackle both issues using do-it-yourself preventive methods.
Do-It-Yourself Prevention for Chewing
Walk your dog regularly. According to veterinarian Dr. Kristy Conn, a tired dog is a good dog. Boredom is a common cause of unwanted behavior, especially chewing. By tiring your dog out, he’ll simply have less energy to devote to destructive behaviors like chewing.
Reduce your dog’s opportunities for inappropriate chewing. Get into the habit of putting “chewables” out of reach, especially shoes, bags, TV remote controls and plants. If necessary, shut your dog in an empty room when you’re not able to supervise him.
Encourage and reward appropriate chewing. Provide a variety of tough chew toys. It’s unrealistic to expect your dog never to have the urge to chew, so be prepared by giving him an appropriate outlet. Put the toys down where he can find them and give him verbal praise when he takes them to his mouth. Include the toys in play sessions. Eventually, your dog will learn that chewing the toys provided has a positive outcome.
Distract your dog when he attempts to engage in inappropriate chewing. Call his name, clap your hands or stamp your feet. The aim is to disrupt the behavior pattern. Once he directs his attention to you, verbally reward him.
Do-It-Yourself Prevention for Escaping
Walk your dog regularly and give him lots of stimulating play. According to the Humane Society, boredom and lack of stimulation are common causes of dogs wanting to escape.
Restrict access to his escape point and create an imaginary “exclusion zone” that he is not allowed to enter. If there’s a gate or scalable part of a fence, block it off from view using anything you have, such as large plants, garden furniture or even trash cans. Dogs are impulsive, so by hiding the temptation, you reduce your dog's desire to escape.
Leash the dog and walk him in the yard. Let him wander around, but as soon as he goes within 10 feet of the “exclusion zone,” gently tug the leash to distract him, then walk him back inside. Eventually he’ll learn that when he goes into the exclusion zone, walk time ends. With sufficient repetition, you’ll create a mental aversion to that part of the yard.
Teach the sit command. Hold a treat above his head, say “sit” and release it when he sits to get a better sniff. Sufficiently repeated, your dog will learn this action by rote. Once you’re confident he’s got it, you can lose the leash and use the sit to distract him if he goes too close to the exclusion zone when in the yard.