I’ll start with my disclaimer: I am not a professional pet trainer!  These are tips, tricks, and tools I have used and still use to assist me in helping the dog become the best canine citizen possible.  The only backing I have behind me is training my own pups, plus the 100+ labradors I have fostered over the years.  Oh yes, I now have the honor of ensuring all of your pups are safe too.  🙂

  1. First and foremost item I love to use for training is the crate!  I personally prefer the collapsible wire crates.  They are easier to transport than the vari-kennels (plastic crates the airlines require).  I know many people who view the crate as a cage and think it’s cruel.  It’s not!!!  If used correctly, the dog views the crate as it’s safe haven.  It’s a place to crawl into and sleep.  It’s a happy place where they get fed and sleep with their favorite toys.  It’s their cave!!!  They are safest there and it’s a great place for a “time-out” for a puppy who’s just about driven you to wits end.
    –placement of the crate: Well, my crates are always placed in our bedroom.  We sleep there, so why shouldn’t the dogs?  They want to be around their people and this is the best way to do so, while keeping them out of your bed!!!  Got a new one getting used to the crate and is being vocal?  I’ve found a very loud bark from the human “PUPPY HUSH” fits the bill.  Heck, I don’t even have to get out of bed to do this.
    –what to put in a crate?  If you have a chewer, then nothing more than a chew proof toy or two.  No towels or beds should ever be placed in the sleeping area with a chewer.  If you do so, you risk those soft items being ingested and you forking over hundreds of dollars to have a vet fish it out.  No one wants this…not you or the dog.  So until they’ve gone through their chewing phase, let’s just keep these items out of there.  Also, check around the area of the crate to see what might be accessible by venturing mouths through the wires.  Move those to keep the pups safe.  This is the intent of the crate….KEEPS THEM SAFE!  Okay, enough about crates.
  2. “Yes, I’m one of those people that deems the crate a prison, but my pup is chew happy.  What do I do about creating a safe environment?”
    Okay, I understand your reasoning.  Not really, but I can certainly work with it.  My only answer is to block them off in a confined area.  This doesn’t mean behind a shut bathroom door.  It means buy some baby gates or buy one of those nifty gated play areas sold at pet stores.  Too much room for them, in my opinion, but I digress.  Again, I wouldn’t put anything plush in the area with them (see above re: vet bills), but just a couple of chew proof toys and a chew proof pet bed.  Check the area you want to place them and secure any cabinets with baby locks, found at Target or any baby store.  If you don’t want to use these type of locks on your cabinets, then clean out anything that’s poison and put them out of reach.  Dogs are very similar to babies, in my opinion and should be treated as such until they can be trusted to KEEP THEMSELVES SAFE!
  3. Chew proof toys:
    This is a misnomer, because there is no such thing.  There are toys, which can withstand more aggressive chewers though.  My faves thus far are:

    KONG http://www.kongcompany.com/worlds_best.html LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this toy!  It’s so versatile.  You can put peanut butter in it for some long-lasting canine lapping (freezing it is awesome…makes the peanut butter last much longer).  Cream cheese, even though messier, works just as well.  My personal favorite is taking an apple (or whatever favorite veggie/fruit), cut it up, and stuff the insides full of it.  Pup has to work to get it out.  This is two-fold, because the pup has to use it’s brain, so he/she is mentally exhausting him/herself to work through this puzzle to get the reward….FOOOOOOD!!!!  All my pups have collapsed into blissful dreams after completing this game.

    BUSTER CUBE http://www.bustercube.com/ Another favorite of mine.  Although they say put treats in there, I’ve always taken it one step further and put the pup’s entire meal inside of it…dry kibble only, of course.  🙂  Again, they have to work through the puzzle to get to the meal…piece by piece.  The only drawback I have with this toy is I have wood floors.  My husband always went berserk as the the dog was rolling it around to get the pieces of kibble to fall out.

    TUFFIE TOYS http://www.tuffietoys.com/ If you want a soft toy that’s pretty indestructible, then look no further than Tuffie Toys.  Most have a squeaker in them too.  Ooooohhhh…double the fun!  You want to make sure you select the correct Tuffie toy to your pup’s chewing level.  They come in numbered levels with 10 being the toughest.

    ORBEE http://www.planetdog.com/ I’ve seen these around and somehow one of these toys ended up in my toybox at home.  Can’t say that I nor my pups have been disappointed.  The added bonus is Orbee toys are made in the good ol’ USA.  Now that’s a tough one to come by these days.

    I have several more, so this will be an “added to” list.

  4. Chew proof beds http://kuranda.com/
    I only have only one in this category, tried and tested at my home by numerous chewing labs of various ages.  I still have the original bed purchased over 10 years ago with minimal scratches to it and purchased a second one a few years later.  No one can go wrong with purchasing this bed, or more if you have more than one dog.  My labs have shared the beds, used them to play on, hide things underneath, tried to chew on it, you name it.  This bed is INDESTRUCTIBLE and well worth the money!  I always recommend this bed to clients with chewing dogs.  They now sell bed pads, etc, but if you have a chewer then don’t buy this.  Wait until the pup is out of the chewing stage first.  The frame and tarp of the bed will withstand any chewer, but do be selective about the frame.  Voracious chewers should only receive all aluminum frames.  There’s a variety to choose from with all aluminum frames or aluminum sides with pvc legs to the frame being all pvc pipe.    The tarp fabric is your choice with some being tougher than others, but I haven’t noticed any difference in durability.  The nice thing about these beds is you can buy replacement parts WITHOUT purchasing another new bed.  Now that’s cool!!!  Double cool is the fact these beds are made in the USA.  🙂  Triply cool is this company gives sooo much to the animal rescue and animal shelter community.  They’re certainly worth my dollar!

    Please note:  You cannot purchase this bed at any retail store.  The company only allows a few online retailers to sell this bed, plus their own sales.  I have a personal favorite of an online retailer, but their shipment isn’t speedy.  For fastest shipment, purchase direct from Kuranda.  Side note to this is you will find several knock-offs trying to emulate this bed.  I have not tested these beds, but it is my understanding from friends they don’t hold up at all.  I’m sticking with the proof of my original Kuranda still looking in perfect condition 10+ years later as money well-spent.

Whew!  It’s late and I’m rambling.  This post may be a work in progress to be continued at a later time….such as tomorrow.  Please feel free to post any comments and I will answer.  🙂

Night everyone!

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