The Considerate Canine: Window Lovers
The Problem: My 60 lbs Heinz 57 dog likes to 'open the blinds' himself sometimes when we're not home. Even when we leave one window open for him to look out of. What can we do to stop having to buy new blinds every month without having to open all my blinds in the house for all my neighbors to peek in? - Lacy Jane
Hi Lacy Jane,
Management, initially, is your best option. The most simple solution is to block all access to the windows. Depending on your house, you may have to be a little creative but the end result is no blinds destruction. You can use baby gates, close doors or use some type of barrier directly in front of the windows to deny him access. It is possible that the open window is encouraging him to dash about, tracking the interesting things on the outside.
Crating him in your absence is another good option. If he is crated, he can not be destructive or practice bad behaviors. If his behavior is caused by anxiety or stress, the crate can offer a safe, calm place for him to spend his time.
Make sure that he has plenty of exercise before you leave for the day. An early morning walk or game of fetch will make him tired and less likely to be destructive out of boredom.
Provide him with appropriate things to do while you are away. There are many interactive and/or food dispensing toys available. Having him spend part of his time foraging for his meals will keep his brain and body occupied.
Consider having a dog walker or friend come over to exercise him during the day. Again, a tired dog is a good dog.
When you are working with him, reward all behaviors that get him away from the windows. In other words, train an incompatible behavior. If he is rewarded for having all his paws on the floor or coming to you when called, he cannot be looking out of the window. The more rewardable moments you find, the less interest the window will have. Dogs do what works and is most rewarding to them. If his rewards are for leaving the window, then you are a step closer to having a solution.
Of course, this a simplification of the training process. There are many steps and a lot of time involved but it is possible to teach a dog to stay out of the windows.
Cindy Carter, CPDT-KA
Mindful Manners Dog Training