In the Doghouse

Features - November 1st, 1974

by Dr. Herb Friedman

Dogs like people, should have very good manners but very often don’t. People resent going to visit someone’s home and having the dog jump up and dirty their clothing.

If the petowner doesn’t mind having the dog jump up on the family, that is his prerogative. Guests, how­ever, shouldn’t be subjected to this against their wishes.

When puppy begins to jump on people, he should be pushed down gently and told “NO” or “DOWN” in a firm tone of voice. This must be repeated as often as necessary in order to establish a correct behavior pattern.

Puppies may learn slowly, but with patience and per­sistence on the part of the owner, they will learn. Many puppies are destructive. They chew on shoes, furni­ture, feeding dishes, leashes, etc. Most times this is the way puppy finds a bit of relief during the teething process.

I recommend giving the pup toys of his own, such as hard rubber balls, durable toys, socks (long socks knotted in the middle), old shoes and rawhide bones (no soft rubber toys that can be chewed up and eaten). The pup shouldn’t be allowed to chew on things not meant to be chewed upon.

Again, a firm “NO” ac­companied by a light tap on the behind usually acts as a deterrent to future bad behavior. The pup should be led to his own toys and encouraged to play with them. Usually, the pup out­grows his destructive instincts.

Sometimes however, these poor behavior traits become deep-rooted and form part of his adult behavior pat­tern. I have heard of and have seen adult dogs that have literally destroyed houses by chewing on doors, furniture, good clothing, etc. All the “NO” commands in the world were to no avail.

The dog was therefore exiled to the back yard where he dug tremendous holes in the lawn, ate the flowers and uprooted bushes. What can one do with such a terrible and incorrigible animal?

PUT HIM TO SLEEP! Unless you are the sort of person who can put up with this type of housewrecker, or unless the animal has unique saving graces, euthanasia is the best, most humane answer.

I always give an animal more than a reasonable chance to show me that I am wrong and that this ac­tion is unwarranted and hasty. Sometimes, there is no other recourse as the animal exceeds my limits of endurance and forgiveness. In this type of situation, keeping the animal consti­tutes cruel and unusual punishment for the petowner.

Before going on to a new subject, let me emphasize most strongly that puppies and electric cords don’t go well together. The normal pup finds the plugged-in cord a very interesting toy. He should be reprimanded very strongly for his own good. The result of such play is usually shock and severe mouth burns, or death due to electrocution, or a knocked-over lamp, none of which are any fun at all.

Therefore, I repeat most strongly, that the puppy must be prohibited from this harmful activity at the earliest possible time.

Puppies enjoy chewing on peoples’ arms, legs clothing and fingers. When they are teething, this constitutes not only a playful activity but also, relief for their sore gums. Usually, the com­mand “LICK, DON’T BITE!” gives the pup the message that his play is getting to be both painful and annoying to the owner. Don’t encourage the puppy to chew or bite on fingers or wrists because you think this is “cute.”

Maybe at that young age. it is cute – but will it still be cute when the puppy turns into an adult dog? When puppy chews or bites in a playful way, we think this is normal playful be­havior. It is a sign of a friendly, alert and happy puppy.

When however, the puppy growls or snarls and then tries to bite, we have quite a different situation to cope with. For example, if you are trying to remove the pup from a chair, bed or sofa where both you and he know he doesn’t belong; if you are trying to take things from him or out of his mouth which are not his and aren’t meant for little dogs to play with or digest.

In these cases, if he tries to bite or snap, we can be very sure that this is not being done in play and that at this time, we are not dealing with a happy puppy. In these cases, you have the ideal chance to show the pup what the future has in store.

If you choose to ignore this anti-social behavior on his part, you are telling him that you condone this behavior and that you will not impose a reasonable re­quired way of behavior upon his life style. In that case, he becomes the master and you become the dog. AND YOU DESERVE IT!

No animal should be al­lowed to impose a style of behavior against the owner’s wishes. I believe in the strongest action the very first time antisocial be­havior is exhibited by the animal. I would suggest picking up the animal by the scruff of the neck and at that time and place, I would suggest a heart to heart talk with the pup.

This talk should inform him that bad conduct such as snarling and biting will not be tolerated, neither now nor in the future. I would then ungently deposit him out in the backyard and let him sulk, IGNORED BY THE ENTIRE FAMILY, for at least an hour.

You cannot talk harshly one minute and then pick him up and love him the next, and expect him to get a coherent message. Delibe­rately test him again and again and punish him until his behavior becomes ac­ceptable.