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8 Ways to Keep Your Dog Out of Trouble When You're Not Home


Maggie Bonham, or Margaret H. Bonham, is a multiple award-winning pet author and expert. She has written more than 20 books on pets.

Think Like a Dog to Prevent Naughty Behavior

Does your dog not know his boundaries? Do you have problems keeping him out of the garden? The refrigerator? The neighbor's lawn? The chicken coop? You may be at your wit's end trying to keep your dog from getting into things he shouldn't. Luckily, there are fast and inexpensive ways to ensure your dog remains on his best behavior.

Dogs are a lot like toddlers. If you've seen a toddler, you know that they get into everything and put everything in their mouths. Puppies, and to a large extent adult dogs, are also like that. Dogs don't stay out of things unless you keep them out and train them to stay out.

Look at it from a dog's perspective. Dogs think that everything is for exploring, playing with, or eating. They don't understand that you don't want them to taste test your couch. Even if you express your displeasure, they may think you're simply displeased at something, but they often don't equate your anger with the act of chewing up the couch. Basically, your punishment doesn't fit the crime because they lack context. Unless you catch them in the act of performing the transgression, they're totally clueless.

So, what can you do? The best strategy is to prevent them from getting into trouble in the first place. If your dog acts up while you're gone, consider crate training. Crate training keeps your dog out of trouble while you're gone or while you cannot watch him. Give him a hard rubber toy filled with goodies to keep him busy. Keep your dog from getting into trouble when he is not in his crate by following the suggestions below.

8 Ways to Prevent Unwanted Dog Behavior

  1. Put up simple fencing.
  2. Clear your counters of anything enticing.
  3. Keep your trash in a hard-to-reach area.
  4. Install a refrigerator safety latch.
  5. Buy a childproof cabinet latch.
  6. Clean your cat's litter box.
  7. Consider buying a kennel for your dog.
  8. Consider fencing your yard.

1. Put Up Simple Fencing

Your dog finds your garden as interesting as you do. Whether he's into digging up the loose soil which feels good on his paws, or munching down on your tomatoes, gardens are tempting areas. Simple fencing around the garden will keep him from going where he's not supposed to. Better yet, plant a wheatgrass garden for your dog where he can munch and enjoy to his heart's content.

2. Clear Your Counters of Anything Enticing

Maybe your dog snacking on your garden isn't a problem, but rather, your dog raiding the counter is. Counter raiding is common among some breeds, and once your dog figures out there's food there, it's hard to stop. You'll need to make your counter clear of anything enticing and teach him that he can't get anything interesting. When he does try to scope it out, tell him, "No! Off!" in a stern tone. If your dog does this only while you aren't there, try balancing a pyramid of empty pop cans that will not only fall, but make a racket when your dog accidentally knocks them over, thus having your dog punish himself.

3. Keep Your Trash in a Hard-to-Reach Area

If your dog has a garbage gut, you can end his foul raids my moving your trash into a storage area, pantry, or beneath the kitchen sink. If that isn't an option, try purchasing a stout, self-closing garbage pail that can't be knocked over easily. If your dog is raiding the trash while you are gone, consider crating him.

4. Install a Refrigerator Safety Latch

A dog raiding the refrigerator might be funny on YouTube, but not so funny in real life. This is a toughie because once your dog has learned to open the refrigerator, he knows where the food is. Luckily, you can stop the raids. First, if you have any towels or other hanging things on the refrigerator door, remove them immediately. Next, install a refrigerator safety latch which is normally for parents of small children, but works well for a pet parent. The latch will keep your pup from opening the door and costs between $5 and $15. After a while (think years), you may be able to remove the latch, but don't count on it.

5. Buy a Childproof Cabinet Latch

Some cabinets are easy to open with a nudge. This isn't great if you have a nosy dog when he can quickly get into your cabinets for a snack. There are childproof cabinet latches which will keep a dog out just as well. They install easily and are easy for you to open.

6. Clean Your Cat's Litter Box

Dogs love that tasty (to them) cat poop cats leave in their litter box. Not only is it disgusting, but if you use clumping litter, it can be a health hazard and can cause a blocked intestine should your dog devour one. Try cleaning the litter box each day, having the litter box in a place only the cats can get to, or having a concealed and covered litter box.

7. Consider Buying a Kennel for Your Dog

If your dog is always chasing your hens or stealing their eggs, you need to separate your chickens from your dog. Whether that means a kennel for your dog, a swank coop for your hens, or a dividing fence between the two, your dog won't be able to harass your chicks or steal eggs, nor will you feel quite as "hen-pecked."

8. Consider Fencing Your Yard

Is your neighbor always complaining about your dog pooping in their yard? Well, your dog doesn't know yard boundaries, but you should, so consider fencing your backyard in for your dog. Can't afford it? You have two more choices: an outside kennel for your dog, or taking your dog for frequent potty breaks on a leash. You see, it's not your dog's fault he doesn't get property lines; it's your fault for letting him run loose. Even in rural areas, dogs can run into a number of hazards such as cars, wildlife, livestock, or lead poisoning.

Owning a dog means that you must not only take responsibility for your dog, but you must also outthink your dog. When you look at situations the way a dog would, it suddenly makes sense why your dog does what he does.

© 2014 MH Bonham


13 Natural Ways to Make Homemade Dog Repellent

As much as we love them, dogs can seriously harm our gardens and lawns. If your dog is digging up plants, you need a safe, dog-friendly way to keep him or her away from your flowers and vegetables. Most importantly, these methods need to be cost-effective, and safe for your pup if he were to get to the plants despite your best efforts.

Homemade repellents come in varying forms, from solutions you put in a spray bottle to ones you soak with cotton balls. Below are 13 natural tricks to keep dogs away from your plants and veggies. They won’t hurt your furry friends, and are easy to whip up at home.


How to Stop a Dog From Chewing

Is your pooch a little Chewbacca? Meaning they chew everything from your favorite pair of shoes to those beautiful throw pillows you just got at Target?

Well, worry not. There is a solution for your dog’s nasty chewing habits. Whether they confuse your sneakers for a treat, or protest by destroying your sofa, stopping a dog from chewing is easy with the right technique.

Do you ever wish you could clone yourself, leaving the other you to stay at home to prevent your dog from making confetti out of your couch cushions? Well, now you can do the next best thing, using a remote interactive camera.

But, before you learn how to stop a dog from chewing everything you own, you’ll need to start from the basics.


8 Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog From Barking

Woof woof! Your dog may bark to alert you to danger or to just say hi. But constant barking can be a problem. Here's how to keep the peace.

Dogs bark to communicate with each other and with their owners, but sometimes all that barking can get out of hand. Constant barking can fray a family’s nerves and create turmoil in a neighborhood.

But keep in mind that your dog is trying to tell you something by barking. Before you quiet him down, you will first need to figure out what he's trying to say.

What’s Behind the Barking?

These are some of the reasons dogs bark:

Tips to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking

There are a lot of stop-barking devices available on the market. The most commonly known are bark collars that deliver an electric shock, high-pitched squeal, or stinging spray of citronella mist whenever a pet dog barks. Other devices include ultrasonic emitters that are placed in a room and activated by barking and muzzles that keep the dog’s jaws held shut.

These devices may offer a short-term fix, but they do nothing to address the underlying cause of your dog’s barking. Eventually, the problem may surface through other behavioral problems, as your dog continues to try to communicate his need or problem to you. A dog prevented from barking caused by separation anxiety may instead take to destroying furniture or urinating indoors when his owner is away.

The devices also can be inhumane. Any dog’s bark can set off a bark collar or ultrasonic device, meaning your dog may end up receiving punishment for another dog’s behavior. Also, a muzzle will keep a dog from being able to eat, drink, and cool off through panting.

For these reasons, an owner frustrated by his dog’s barking is better off using some simple tricks to head off the behavior or taking the time to train the dog out of the behavior. Try these tips:

  • Offer distractions. Bored dogs will be less inclined to bark if they are given plenty of toys to play with. If your dog is barking due to outside noises, playing the TV or radio while you’re away can drown out those sounds. A TV or radio also can help soothe separation anxiety.
  • Keep your dog active. A pooped pooch is less likely to overreact with a barking fit. Take your dog on regular walks or play fitness games like fetch or Frisbee.
  • Work your dog’s brain. Obedience training, either in a class or at home, can improve your dog’s ability to discern threats. It also can lay the groundwork for other anti-barking solutions that require more intensive training.
  • Desensitize your pet. If the barking fits are being caused by an outside stimulus, you can try to desensitize your dog. For example, ask friends to walk by your house while you work with your dog inside, encouraging your pet to be quiet.
  • Teach the “quiet” command. Train your dog to respond to the word “quiet” by allowing three or four barks, then saying “quiet” in a calm, clear voice. When you say “quiet,” break the barking jag by holding his muzzle gently, dropping a loud object that distracts him or squirting him in the face with a spray bottle of water. In this instance, you could use a manually-controlled bark collar as a distraction method. Eventually your dog will learn that “quiet” means he should stop barking.
  • Change up his routine. A dog barking compulsively or out of boredom might stop if you make some changes. If he is being kept in a backyard and barking there, bring the dog indoors and place him in a crate. If the dog is barking because he’s confined in a crate, try leaving him free in one room of your house.
  • Teach her how to meet and greet. A dog that barks when greeting can be trained to meet people and other dogs more gently. Be sure to keep greetings at your front door very low-key and calm. Keep a toy near the door and encourage your dog to pick it up and hold it in his mouth before opening the door. On walks, distract your dog when passing other people or dogs by offering a tasty treat.
  • Don't reward barking. Above everything else, don’t inadvertently encourage barking through your own behavior. Don’t reward barking by giving the dog a treat after he has barked. Only treat when the dog has been quiet. Also, don’t encourage barking at outside noises by asking, “Who’s there?”

Training can be a lengthy process, but in the end you will improve your relationship with your dog and be better able to make sure his needs are met.


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