Dear Lisa: We own two Newfoundlands. Love them dearly, but they have shredded our carpet and even though we have a wonderful vacuum, animal hair is always problem. What would you suggest as the best replacement for carpet? Would a specific type of carpet be better? Hardwood floors would remedy the problem, but we try to be very careful because we don’t want them to slip or injure themselves. – Carpet Capers
Dear Carpet: Home flooring has always been a challenge dog owners whether keeping carpets free of hair, as was recently addressed in my January column, or keeping your dogs safe from slipping. Wood floors are the best solution, however, how do you ensure the safety and long-term health of the dog while traveling across potentially slippery surfaces?
Whether it’s walking, running or jumping, dogs sustain fewer injuries and have less wear and tear on joints with proper footing. Have you ever noticed that at Agility competitions indoor surfaces are usually rubber and outdoor ones tend to be dirt or grass? This is for better gripping during canine athletics and the same should apply in your home.
But at home, having a rubber flooring throughout isn’t the best decorating tip. Any smooth surface, such as wood floors, tile or especially linoleum, needs a secure covering. Throw rugs work great, but only if you secure them with a rubber under matting so they will stick to the smooth surface. Slipping on an area rug can be even more dangerous than just a slippery floor.
My favorites are simple rectangular bathroom rugs with rubber backing. Placing rugs in strategic spots like high traffic areas, around corners between rooms, and at the base of furniture, will give dogs’ pads a place to “stick” while in the home. In my home, my pack runs quickly around the corner heading downstairs for dinner time, so don’t forget to use stair runners or rubber mats there as well.
As an added benefit, these rugs can be tossed in the wash to help rid your home of some of that doggie hair. But if you must have wall-to-wall carpets I’ve found that the less plush the carpet, berber for example, the easier the clean up.
Dear Lisa: Do you have any suggestions for training a Labrador Retriever to not chew, especially electronics. I've lost a lamp, phone, printer and laptop so far. These items were placed out of reach, so I thought, from the dog but he got to them. He's a smart one. To get to the laptop he had to roll a chair over to the table to get to it. He has plenty of toys he's allowed to chew on, both soft and hard,and new ones are brought in regularly. – Computer Chew Toy
Dear Computer: Labrador Retrievers are bred to pick up things in their mouth and bring them back to you. They can be high energy and also use chewing as a means to expel that energy as well as reduce stress or exhibit contentment while at home. I’m intrigued by your dog’s choice of “chew toys.” It appears as if he has targeted items that you have handled repeatedly and left your scent on them. A quick fix would be to place a baby gate at the door of the electronics room until he is older. He also may be getting into all sorts of things because as you say, he’s a smart one. He may be telling you that he needs more mental stimulation or challenge than he’s currently getting.
Beyond getting him a Kong, stuffing it with frozen vegetables or peanut butter and letting him work on that for a while, I’d also take away all his toys and only bring out one or two at a time. He may be experiencing “toy overload” with too many toys all available at once might bore him. Try introducing only one new toy at a time and not too often. Keeping his toys rotated will increase the surprise and interest factor.
Ideally, getting him involved in Obedience, Agility, even field work may be what he needs to keep him engaged and interested rather than looking for your latest password on the laptop. To find a training club near you, click here.
Lisa Peterson, a long-time owner/breeder/handler of Norwegian Elkhounds, is the AKC Director of Club Communications. If you have a question, send it to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org and she may select it for a future column. Due to the high volume of questions we cannot offer individual responses. Read previous columns here.
© 2008 The American Kennel Club, Inc.