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    “He did what???”

    Steve-King

    Whether your dog is a puppy new to your house or an older guy, one thing they have in common is opportunism. If something looks or smells interesting to a dog, and no-one is around to stop them, they will likely help themselves: service dogs excepted.

    You’ve lived your life so far, sans dog, with everything in such and such a place for a reason. Enter new member of the family. Because of the dog’s need to sniff out the new abode, everything becomes fair game! For those who have had babies, the comparison with when a toddler first learns to walk with a dog introduced to a new home is very valid. If you haven’t dog-proofed your home, look out!

    Firstly, decide which rooms are out-of-bounds for your dog and block access to these rooms: this needs to be a family decision to avoid one member of the family giving access and another barring access. Confusion in Rover’s mind as to what is acceptable can sometimes lead down a negative path. Until Rover has shown himself to be capable of following the rules/ boundaries you’ve decided on, then no access.

    Let’s look at the rooms Rover does have access to. Dogs love to chew stuff or play tug of war: is your knitting or ball of wool within reach of those salivating jaws? Are those slippers that you were given as a birthday present sitting in a grabable location? Is last week’s copy of The Anchor sitting on the coffee table just waiting to be chewed by our furry friend? In the kitchen, are the left overs that you planned on having for supper within Rover’s reach? If we’re being honest, at some point in the past we have all wondered why Rover has lost his appetite, only to find that the cheese we had planned for lunch seems to have disappeared, only to find part of the cheese wrapper sitting under the kitchen table!

    Managing accessibility is key. Put things you don’t want chewed, licked or played with away in cupboards/ drawers or at a height that Rover cannot reach. To satisfy Rover’s urge to chew, keep some dog-friendly toys close at hand.

    Access to couches and beds is a decision that you need to make as soon as Rover arrives. My suggestion would be to only allow him the opportunity of getting comfortable on the couch if you offer it to him rather than when he decides to invite himself. By approaching it this way, it reinforces who the pack leader is (you).

    You want Rover to be part of the family but not at any price. Again, like kids, dogs need to know where there boundaries are and they will be happier once they are established (and reinforced).

    If stuff happens and things go missing, later to reappear in Rover’s crate, or worse in the garden, don’t forget: you mismanaged your living space and “opened the door” for your dog. Look in the mirror, chastise yourself not the dog, learn from your mistake and move on. Your dog is your friend but always the opportunist as well!

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