Forget the miraculous repellents and use canine toys and ice cream and the tricks that an expert reveals to us so that your pet moves away from the sofa.
When you return from work, you open the house door shaking and wondering what furniture your pet will have destroyed this time, do not despair. We have asked the veterinary ethologist Dani Ferreiro, how to act and, above all, what we can do to solve the unwanted nibbling of a dog in the furniture.
What the dog can bite (and whatnot)
The reason that leads your dog to bite the furniture can be very varied. The ethologist explained, it is due to a misdirected exploratory behavior. “Sometimes, we have simply forgotten to tell the animal what it can gnaw and what it can’t, so it shouldn’t surprise us that its nibbles end up on the couch,” says Ferreiro, a member of the College of Veterinarians of Seville.
In other words: biting and using the mouth to know the world is a natural behavior in dogs, intrinsic to the species. Therefore, we must strive to teach a dog that the sofa or the sideboard is not the most appropriate objects to drive teeth. It implies, of course, giving alternatives and nibbling accessories that are appropriate for this purpose.
Tell me what your dog eats, and I’ll tell you what it bites.
Just take a look at your best friend’s food bowl to find the first culprit in his behavior: those feed pellets are not an opportunity to satisfy the bite. And it is that the size of the feed is so small that the dog can ingest it without biting and, therefore, without hardly using the teeth.
Although the veterinarian does not advise changing his menu, he does explain that there are other complementary foods that, unlike feed. Remember to include quality and safe biting foods in a dog’s diet, such as deer antlers.
The power of toys
Let’s take a look now at your pet’s belongings. The most common is to have a bed, straps, and harnesses for the walk, food and water bowls, and some toys. But if we stop at this last element, we may discover another reason that leads the dog to nibble on your favorite sofa. “The normal thing is to find toys like balls and accessories with strong ropes to practice the tug of war, but I rarely find appropriate biting toys at home,” Ferreiro laments.
Among the toys that every dog needs, there is one that can not be missing if you want to stop biting the furniture: the kong. This resistant rubber accessory and different sizes are used to introduce food inside. One trick: fill it with wet food or crush cooked boneless chicken or a can of sardines in olive oil with no additives. The mystery of this toy is that it invites the dog to nibble and use the tongue to extract the food. Thus, your friend will be entertained for hours and most importantly: he will have satisfied his natural need to bite, so you take away the danger of taking it with the sofa.
Puppies: same as human babies
The young age of your pet only accentuates the spontaneous biting behavior. “Puppies have exploratory behavior even more potentiated because they are discovering the world,” says the ethologist.
Also experimenting around the house and inspecting every inch of the new environment with the help of his nose and mouth, there is an addition: the little dog suffers pain during teething and will try to relieve the discomfort by biting whatever is within his reach.
Therefore, if you adopt a puppy, in addition to hiding the cables and other dangers to protect the newcomer to the family, you will need to devote some time to their education.
“Just as we would not leave a five-month-old baby alone at home, we should not neglect a puppy and leave him at home with all the furniture and hazards at his disposal without supervision,” he warns. So it’s time to organize a suitable room, with its bed, water, food, and all its appropriate biting toys. In this way, your furry friend will be more clear about what can bite and what not.
Forget miraculous repellents
Neither Vicks Vaporub, nor scrub a lemon, nor other repellents that miraculously promise to take your pet away from the couch. Ferreiro advises forgetting these products that, instead, can have an adverse effect. “The dog will learn that when it smells such a product, it is better not to approach the furniture, but the aroma will evaporate and disappear and, then, your pet will be willing to return to the furniture to bite it, ” he warns.
In ethology this behavior is known as controlled behavior under signal: the dog does not learn that furniture is not an appropriate object to gnaw, but discriminates when it smells bad (and should not bite it) and at a time when it recovers its natural aroma, it can re-engage the tooth.
The alternative is to use positive education and show the dog what toys he can bite with complete peace of mind.
The ice cream trick
Ice cream is a dog pleasure ( and also a cat ). It is so refreshing for the summer, according to Ferreiro, it helps your pet forget to bite the furniture.
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Soak your feed balls well with chicken broth – without onion or garlic or other dangerous foods for your pet – and, when soft, crush the whole mixture and put it in a taper. Before closing the lid, add some more balls to make them crispy. Put it in the freezer, wait a couple of hours, and you have ready a doggy ice cream that your friend can nibble on for hours! Who would nibble on the couch, instead of enjoying delicious ice cream?