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Dog's destructive chewing

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Dog's destructive chewing
  • I've got a one year old English Toy Spaniel that is just terrific except for his chewing problem. Anytime we leave the house he seems to go out of his way to find something to destroy, so much so that it seems spiteful on his part. We give him plenty of chewing toys yet he seems to get bored with those and he goes on to be destructive. In particular he loves to destroy books and shoes. We have to be very careful never to leave a book that is within his reach or the minute we walk out the door that book is destroyed. That includes big coffee table books that we still wonder how he managed to get off the table. [8|]
     
    The behavior alteration problem is tough because we can never catch him in the act. This destruction happens only when we leave the house, so altering his behavior right as it occurs is impossible.
     
    Anyone have any ideas?
  • Yes, you need to train him to be confined to a space you can truly reliably dog-proof. You're absolutely correct that if you aren't home, there's no way to correct immediately, and if you aren't there to provide guidance, it's all chew toys to him. A remote control is just as good as a nylabone as far as a dog is concerned. There's plenty of options as far as confinement: crates, a spare room you can clear of tempting stuff and close off, a mudroom with a baby-gate.... I've got a little storage room in my finished basement that I use for Marlowe's room when we're not home. It's got a window and carpeting and is perfect for him to hang out in during the day with his bed and his toys (and ONLY  his toys). My other dog is crate-trained.

    Aside from the obvious destruction of your stuff, there is also a health and safety issue. One live electircal cord chewed, one medicine bottle left out by someone by accident, one wrong thing not just chewed up but ingested and we're talking a serious risk to the health of your dog.
  • Do you walk your dog before you leave? if you dont exercise your dog he will have pent up energy and he will find a way to get rid of it, some other dogs are just bored, to release the frustration of the pent up energy or boredoom some dogs bark nonstop, some others chew because at least thats entertaining or is a way to release the frustration they have for lack of exercise
     
    If you have a frustrated dog (because of boredoom or pent up energy) and you confine that dog into a create without do anything first then the frustration will become bigger and could lead to aggression
     
    Walk your dog every morning at least 20 to30 min, that way once you leave the dog will stay at home in "resting mode"  
  • You are right, spece, I always sort of take it as a given that people know that, but you're right, they often don't.

    But just exercise often does not solve chewing issues because to dogs, chewing is not just a way to relieve stress or pent up energy (though it is that), it's FUN. I don't know about your dog, but my dogs will still engage in something they find really fun and awesome even if they're exercised beforehand.
  • ORIGINAL: houndlove

    You are right, spece, I always sort of take it as a given that people know that, but you're right, they often don't.

    But just exercise often does not solve chewing issues because to dogs, chewing is not just a way to relieve stress or pent up energy (though it is that), it's FUN. I don't know about your dog, but my dogs will still engage in something they find really fun and awesome even if they're exercised beforehand.

     
    I agree and i thought about it a few minutes after i posted, is very important to let know the dog which items are "out of bounds" in the house, people sometimes just have dogs and think they will figure out the rules in the house by themselves
     
    Dogs dont know the difference beween a chewing toy and a book
     
    So to rule out every possibility i think the OP should walk the dog before leaving the house AND start setting rules boundries and limitations so the dog realizes which items can be for chewing and which ones cant 
  • Wow, it sounds like you have a great dog, a one year old whom you can trust with free reign of the house.  To accomplish that you must have covered the bases with respect to exercise and training.   If you can identify the items he chooses to destroy and you don't give the dog the opportunity to get at those items and the problem disappears then that is your solution.  If you think the dog is going to destroy new items, then I would confine or baby gate within a room, making the room dog proof with respect to what the dog can chew.  Eventually the dog will learn to sleep while you are away and then once again have the whole house available to him. 
  • All good advice. No doubt a tired dog is a well behaved dog. The baby gate should work and while in confinement provide lots of sanctioned chew items. The Kong toy stuffed with treats is a good distraction too. Some dogs really love to chew.
  • do you have his toys and chewies scattered far and wide in the house? if so, there really is no way for him to figure out the difference between "acceptable chew" and "shoes".  It's a lot easier for dogs to learn the rules if you make it clear to him that you only do your chewing in one particular place in the house on only items that are present in that location. Which is a behavior you can teach while you are present, and once the behavior is a habit it carries over to when you are not present. Thus keeping all of your possessions safe once you decide it's ok to let the dog have free run of the house again.
    Dogs love to destroy things, and all of mine seem to get a big kick out of shredding paper. You can try to satisfy that urge by playing controlled "shred it" games. Outside only, to help clarify in the dog's mind that books inside are not fair game. Empty paper bags, wave it around, command the dog to shred it.  
  • Wow, a lot of great replies and good ideas. Some additional info..
     
    1) He does have the run of the house except we keep the bedrooms and bathrooms closed when we aren't there. And if we are diligent, we don't normally leave books and shoes out where he can get them. But with a librarian in the house, you can imagine how many books we have and they are all targets. The good news is that if a book is on a bookshelf  he wont go after it. If not, the book is toast.
     
    2) Walking in the morning is hard for us because of our schedules. With two school age kids and two working parents, we are barely able to get ourselves sorted out, much less the dog. We are pretty good about exercising him in the evening though
     
    3) interestingly enough mudpuppy, our dog by himself has decided to only chew in one place. Go figure! [:D]
     
    4) we have tried Kong's for the longest time, and he's just not interested. To chew on we give him these beef tendons and most of the time that will keep him busy for an hour or so, but some days he just doesn't like them
     
    5) DPU we did hire a personal trainer to help us train our dog, and that helped a great deal. I hadn't had a dog since 1975, so I didn't think I knew what to do to train him. so it was money well spent.
     
    6) Does anyone think it might be a good idea to set a trap for him? Meaning, leave a book out while we are home and catch him in the act so we can correct his behavior?
     
     
     
    And once I get a handle on this, I'll need help on getting him to walk on a leash! Toy Spaniels evidently have a hard time with walking nicely on a leash, and boy is that true. But that's for another thread...[;)]
     
  • We are having the same problem with Max.  We've had him since the end of March and he is now 18 months old. 

    Most days, he'll be good.  But once or twice a week, he does something so unbelievably stupid that it doesn't seem like the same dog!  Today we got home to find that he has eaten ALL of my scrapbooks.  6 years of photo albums, chewed up and ruined.  Many of the photos can't be replaced.

    He gets a 30-45 minute walk every day before we leave for work.  He has chew toys.  In fact, we just gave him a brand new chew toy this morning.  It was laying next to the pile of ruined books when we got home. 

    We tried leaving him outside all day, since he can't behave inside.  It's hot (it's AZ), but he has shade and water.  He chewed up the screen door.

    We have a crate, supposedly he's crate trained - but we leave for work at 6:30 and get home at 4:45.  I think that's just too long to keep him crated.  And besides, where would we keep him?  Inside the house, he'd pee all over the walls.  Outside, it's too hot to be crated all day.

    My husband is so angry that he picked the dog up and threw him outside by the scruff of his neck.  The dog was shaking when I got to him.  Seriously, my husband is ready to give up on this dog because it is simply ridiculous.  I personally have had a more destructive dog, but it does make me sad to see him behave this way.

    As far as not knowing that he's being bad - he knows.  The minute we unlock the door we can tell if he's been bad.  If he hasn't, he'll run to greet us wagging his tail.  But if he has, he cowers in a corner because he knows what's coming. 
  • [linkhttp://www.bcrescue.org/chewing2.html]Dogs Who Chew When Left Alone[/link]

    Personally, I think a comfortable crate is much preferable than Arizona in the summer for the time you're out of the house.

    Additionally, dogs do NOT feel "guilt" or "know they were bad". What the dog is doing with that appeasement behavior is cueing off your body language when you see what he's done and begin to react to it and is saying with his body language "Please do not hurt me! You are angry and scary, I am small and innocent!"  Many experiments have been done on this point. Those of us with two dogs can tell you that if one dog misbehaves and you come home and look angry, both dogs will begin to look "guilty". It's because both dogs are taking the cues from your body language to try to head off your anger at the pass.
  • He knows when he's been bad.  There is no angry body language to see.  We open the garage door, we open the door to the house and either he'll be right there happy and full of energy...or sulking and cringing.  We haven't shown any angry body language at all at that point, since we haven't even come inside the house to see that he's been bad OR good.  We always come home happy and excited to see him - but the minute we see the way he's behaving, we know that when we enter the house (as opposed to just the long entryway) we will see some sort of destruction. 

    So if the dog is reading our body language, someone in the family must be psychic enough to see ahead whether or not he'll have done something! [;)]
  • ORIGINAL: KHenry14

    And once I get a handle on this, I'll need help on getting him to walk on a leash! Toy Spaniels evidently have a hard time with walking nicely on a leash, and boy is that true. But that's for another thread...[;)]



    I have a video about that:

    [link>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpi8707WItc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpi8707WItc
  • I agree with what you're saying.  I really do wonder about how some dogs really do know they've been bad (although people say dogs don't think). As soon as I would open the door they run down to greet me & either it's with a tail wagging happy (great you're home) or with ears back & tail between the legs wagging (like oh boy, wait till she comes upstairs & sees what I have done!)

    My female boxer insisted on ripping apart plants (non-poisonous of course) & scented pinecones, along with pulling up the carpet. She finally grew out of that. Now my young male shepherd also tries to rip up the carpet & has a favorite chair seat cushion that he just keeps wanting to destroy.  I tried a suggestion that I found on the web - put tin foil in the area that you don't want them to chew because they said that dogs do not like the sound of the crunching foil & it will scare them . Well, when I came home there was tin foil everywhere !!! The shepherd is crate trained but I thought that it would be nice for a change to leave him out once in a while while I'm gone. So my next try is the nasty tasting stuff that they sell in the stores that you spray on things that you don't want them to touch. He'll probably like that too.................................

  • You say your dog seems to be getting "bored" with his chewie toys? What about taking them all away and storing them way up high *except* for when you leave the house? And/or rotating them? That way they become more novel and exciting if he doesn't get to play with them just any old time.