the bluebonnet norfolk terrier club
Your Dog Does What???
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Tips from a Certified Animal Behavior Counselor
QUESTION: "Toby has a new problem and that is chewing on wires. I keep the electric cords well protected but he has chewed speaker wires and the cable tonight so I need to find a way to break him of that. Any suggestions? Wires are a serious threat to little Toby so this is my top priority. For now I will keep him totally away from them but I hope to find a solution as wires are such a common thing."
ANSWER: You are so right that this is a serious threat. My understanding is Toby is 7-months-old or so. Some pups are still settling in molars at that age and want to get items way back in their jaws to gnaw on them. Wires can fit that bill nicely. Here are my suggestions: 1) Close supervision. Out of sight is into trouble. So use shut doors, baby gates, expens or a leash to keep him in the room with you. 2) Crate when you cannot supervise him. Habits not started don’t have to be “broken” later. Prevention is ideal. 3) Coat the wires he can reach with a no-chew gel or cream made for the purpose. (Amazon has a few options.) When you get it, squirt some on a q-tip and put it into his mouth until he spits it out. Do this neutrally. Do this once. This will leave a bad taste in his mouth - literally - and make him more avoidant of that taste in the future. 4) Provide plenty of appropriate items he can get back into his jaw to chew. Bully sticks and rolled rawhide can be ideal. Only give such items when you can supervise him; not alone in the crate. Throw them away when they get almost small enough to swallow. 5) Quick interruption with redirection. You see him nosing a wire? Make a sudden noise (flat hand a tabletop, for example) then send him excitedly toward a toy or chewy. Whomp/startle - “Toby, where’s your chewy? Good boy - get your chewy...” and encourage him to get it. Say nothing when you make the startling sound (otherwise he’ll likely learn to avoid wires only in your presence.) Our goal: Wires = startling sounds. Chewies are good. This should stop the problem. Unsupervised time when you are home with him can start after a year of age for most terriers - but can be longer. He’ll set that pace. Home alone time uncrated? Often at least 1.5 years old, depending on the dog. Going slow in these areas is the fastest way to create a well-mannered dog in your home for a decade+ to come.
Email your question to Animal Behavior Counselor Sarah Wilson. Learn more about Sarah and how she helps you help your dog here. Visit Sarah's website at for additional tips.
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