Dogs are man’s best friends. Your dog is a loyal, loving member of the family, and you couldn’t imagine your life without Fido. However, your loving companion can also be a tornado of destruction, preventing you from ever seeing your security deposit again. And with 36%* of apartments allowing dogs in the US, there is a good chance this applies to you! For all of you cat owners, check out last week’s blog. With some loving instruction and patience, you can change your dog’s behavior for the better. If your dog starts displaying any of the following behaviors addressed in this blog suddenly, or has high anxiety, I recommend talking to your vet to make sure there is no underlying health condition. Your vet can give you more personalized advice than you could find on the internet.
Anxiety can be the root cause to many behavioral problems in dogs. Dogs are social creatures and it is not natural for them to be left alone for long periods of time. An anxious dog can display any of the destructive behaviors described below, and will become very edgy and agitated when you are about to leave them. One way to help your dog overcome anxiety is to provide your dog with a fun toy or activity, like a treat stuffed toy, before you leave the house. When you come back home, remove the toy so the only time he plays with it is when you are gone. Your dog will eventually associate your leaving with a fun toy, and become less anxious when you leave.
Barking may not be destructive to your furniture, but it can be to your relationship with your neighbors. A loud, barking dog can create animosity in a heartbeat between neighbors. Dogs sometimes bark when they are confined to a particular area, say his crate or your apartment. Fortunately, there is a way to train your dog to be quieter. If he is barking while you are at home, ignore him. Any time you acknowledge his barking only reinforces his behavior. When he is barking, don’t touch, look, or talk to him. Once he quiets down, give him a treat. You have to be consistent with this and under no circumstances can you yell at him. Eventually your dog will catch on that if he is quiet, he gets a treat. You can even make a game out of it, lengthening the time between treats.
Chewing So you come home after a hard day’s work and are met with a pile of stuffing that used to be your couch. Fido is sitting in the middle of the room looking rather proud of himself. Is there any way you could have prevented this? Dogs chew for many reasons, including boredom, attention, or they are puppies and teething. Start by dog proofing your apartment. Put your vintage dog toy collection out of Fido’s reach if you don’t want him chewing on it. Then provide him with his own chew toys and make sure that he gets plenty of exercise outside of the apartment. If he still has a taste for anything but his toys, invest in some bitter tasting spray and spray it on whatever you don’t want him chewing on. If you have a puppy that is chewing on everything check out these tips for puppies.
Cleanliness Dogs can shed just as bad as cats, as you can read in our previous blog. Make sure that you brush and bathe your pooch regularly to cut down on excess pet fur around the apartment. Depending on the breed of dog you have, it would be a good idea to invest in a de-matting comb and a brush that is designed to remove the undercoat fur.
Unlike cats who use their litter boxes, Fido needs to go out for his bathroom breaks and daily walks, which can lead to a dirty dog if it isn’t dry and sunny. If Fido isn’t potty trained, you may want to consider crate training him, which will cut down on accidents. Make sure that you have a little station set up next to your door that includes towels and paw wipes to clean him off after his outdoor excursions. This will cut down on muddy paw prints on the carpet and that lovely “wet dog” smell. There is also the option of dog boots and doggy rain coats if you are the type to want to dress your dog up in outerwear.
You also need to keep an eye on your dog’s nails. Even though dogs don’t use scratching posts, they can still scratch up and ruin doors and wood flooring with their long nails. Since dogs are generally larger than cats, they can also poke holes in your furniture with their claws. I would recommend keeping your dog’s nails trimmed with a pair of clippers. Here is a great tutorial on how to properly trim Fido’s nails.
I hope this has given you some insight in how to overcome a few common dog problems. For more online resources on how to handle behavior problems, take a look at the ASPCA and the Humane Society websites. You can also read this informative article about how negotiate with a landlord to let you rent with your pet (if you are looking for a pet-friendly place, try using our cat and dog friendly apartment filters). Do you have any pet tips or stories? We’d love to hear them!
*according to the data from our PlaceofMine search engine