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It Requires Persistence to Nip Pup's Chewing

November 02, 1989|DR. GLENN ERICSON | Ericson, a practicing Orange County veterinarian, is immediate past president of the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn

Q: We have a 5-month-old female Lhaso that is a joy to have around, except that she chews on anything in sight. We have tried to keep things out of her reach, but she finds something else to get a hold of. She seems to like shoes, socks, paper and small cardboard boxes. We have given her Milk Bones, which she gobbles up, but then she comes back for more. We don't want to lock her up, but she is beginning to chew on pillows from the couch. Do you have any suggestions?

Shari Behrens

Mission Viejo

A: Chewing, especially by puppies, is a natural behavior that can become destructive if left unchecked. Unfortunately, most owners cannot be around all the time to keep a young dog from finding things to chew. Chewing can also be a sign of boredom by a dog that is left alone for long periods of time.

First, you should supply your dog with a variety of chew toys, chew bones and chew snacks that will keep her interest and allow her to play with different objects that will keep her away from your shoes. Do not give her old slippers or old socks, since she can't tell the difference between these objects and your new expensive evening shoes. You may have to confine her to a smaller section of the house to keep her from getting into things, making sure she has plenty of fresh water and food. It may do some good to leave a radio on because it may comfort very young dogs while they are alone.

Do not scold her for something that she did hours before you came home. She won't know why you are correcting her, and it may confuse her. However, do scold her immediately when she does chew on the wrong things. Be very firm, remove the object, and tell her no. You may have to repeat this several times before she starts to get the message. Do not hit her or throw the chewed object at her. This will only make her afraid of you. Just be patient and be firm. She should grow out of this stage.

Q: One of my three cats uses the area surrounding the litter box instead of going inside. I am quite sure that I know which one it is. They are indoor/outdoor cats and otherwise they are very good. The male Siamese sprays in the house sometimes, but that is another story.

Eugenia Gelman

Fountain Valley

A: There are many reasons why a cat will not use the litter box, so it may take some trial and effort on your part to stop this cat from using the surrounding area instead. With more than one cat using the litter box, you need to keep the box very clean and may even need to get a second box. Some cats will refuse to use one type of litter and prefer another. Also the use of deodorizers may be objectionable to one or more of your cats. It may help to change the location of the litter box. You may have to try several of these suggestions to see what works in your case.

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