Please help! Destructive chewing habit has us at our wits end!!
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Thread: Please help! Destructive chewing habit has us at our wits end!!

  1. #1
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    Please help! Destructive chewing habit has us at our wits end!!

    Hello everyone!

    I'm very new here (have never even lurked before), but I'm very glad I have found this place. I'll cut right to the chase: my husband and I adopted a rescue beagle/lab mix from our local shelter (NY, close to city, in suburbs) in April (we named her Coco). She was about 10 months old at the time. All we knew of her was that she came from a kill shelter in kentucky, but had most recently been fostered on a farm in Ohio. The foster family had said she was a sweet, shy dog who had gotten along well with other animals and children. They also mentioned she was an escape artist and would escape from every crate they tried.

    We met the dog about 1 hour after she arrived from ohio at our local shelter, and she was terrified, but awfully cute. We adopted her less than a week later. The shelter didn't know much more about her, other than the fact that she wasn't fully house broken, and that she was not yet able to walk on a leash. We were willing to work with her.

    Within the first few days, aside from the house-training issues (since dealt with, and she is trained. She only has trouble going when she is away from her "spot" at home, but it's not a big deal), we noticed that she would get overly- agitated, to the extreme, when put in a crate. She would salivate, shake, cry and howl. When we returned from work, we'd find that the crate was moved three-four feet across the hardwood floors, the pan underneath was slid completely away, and any blankets or sheets were shredded to confetti. Eventually, she bent the bars on the crate, and cut her nose on them.

    This only lasted about a week. We had no choice but to bring in a behaviorist. He video taped her while we all left for about 20 minutes. He said she did NOT have separation anxiety, because she did nothing but sit on the couch and chew on her bone. He did say that she had barrier frustration, and should not be crated, because it was cruel.

    So, we began to just leave her in our living room (we live in a an apartment- we would allow her free rein of the living room and kitchen, but the two bedroom doors, along with the bathroom door, remained closed). This worked out beautifully for a few weeks. That is, until one day, we returned home to find that our couch cushions had been torn to bits. This was eventually solved by placing the folded crate on top of the couch whenever we left the house (we got new cushions, and she hasn't gone near the couch since), since she is terrified of the crate, even in its folded form.

    In the interim, she has chewed my oriental rugs, my curtains, and some wood furniture. We now have to fully dog-proof the house before leaving for work. I no longer have area rugs. Most recently, she chewed (destroyed) the corners of my grandmother's 65 year old cedar hope chest- a $350 repair. She did this all because I wanted to take a nap, animal-free, in my bedroom for an hour, and I left the door to my bedroom closed. Just now, my husband went home on his lunch hour to check on her, and she apparently chewed MORE of the cedar chest.

    I am at my wits end. I can't continue to buy and repair new furniture or rugs because the dog chews and destroys everything. I also have to add that I am 8 months pregnant, and I am worried that when the dog can longer sleep in our bedroom at night because the baby will be in there, she will destroy the living room while we sleep. I just don't know what to do anymore. I have tried stuffed Kongs, leaving the TV on,giving her excersize, leaving treats, putting hot pepper sauce on things I don't want her to chew... and she isn't completely alone, I guess you could say, because we also have two cats (they all get along well). Also, my husband and I are both teachers, so we are home earlier than most people are.

    Does anyone have any advice? We are attached and don't have the heart to give her up, but we also don't have the extra money to replace and repair expensive items around the house.

    Thanks in advance

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Bill's Avatar
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    Your dog is full of energy and bored. He is doing nothing more than entertaining himself. The first thing is this dog needs a LOT of exercise. A walk around the block is not exercise for this dog. He needs to run and run a lot. Both of his breeds are hunting dogs and beagles specifically don't generally do well as house dogs. The dog is not doing anything to spite you. He has no concept of value. The antique trunk is no more valuable in his eyes as a limb that has fallen off a tree in the yard. He just found a toy and is playing with it.

    I would get this dog 4 toys and only 4. A Kong, a knotted rope, a squeak toy, and an appropriatey size Nylabone. You cannot teach this dog anything unless you catch him in the act. When you catch him chewing anything inappropriate, IMMEDIATELY say "No, no, no dont chew this. Here chew this" as you put an appropriate toy in his mouth. It won't take him a real long time to figure out what is ok to chew and what isn't. Don't use a harsh tone of voice. Tell him no in a normal tone.
    Bill

    http://www.skylarzack.com/rawfeeding.htm

    Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring-it was peace. - Milan Kundera

  4. #3
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    Thanks Bill!

    Yes, I know that she doesn't have concept of value and that she isn't doing it on purpose. She is most definitely bored. I realize that she needs more exercising than we are able to give her with our busy schedule. She is also still very young (about 17 months), and has a lot of pent-up energy. It is very difficult for me to exercise her sufficiently, because I am very pregnant. My husband also has a side job that often keeps him from being about to take her to the park. I realize this is unfortunate for her.

    Only 4 toys is enough? Is it ok to stuff the Kong with treats and peanut butter ect. everyday? or should I refrain from that? We almost never catch her in the act of chewing anything inappropriate because when she is with us, she is much calmer and happier. My fear is that this will get worse when the baby arrives and we inevitably pay less attention to her than we do now.

    I appreciate your advice greatly, and I hope I can catch her in the act and redirect her, so that we can begin to modify this behavior. I just don't want to have to entertain the idea of giving her away.

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  6. #4
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    Stuffing the Kong would be a very good idea, and if you are worrying about the amount given on top of her usual food allowance, then perhaps put some of her food allowance into the Kong, then freeze and give it to her frozen when you leave her. Peanut Buter is fine, unless there is a nut allergy, but obviously this can be very fattening, so use sparingly. Maybe alternate with Pate sometimes.

    The Lab part of the mix do chew, and sometimes they chew a lot. This can happen because of boredom, because it can give a feelgood factor by releasing certain chemicals in the brain, or stress.

    Something else that you could try, if you feed a complete dry food (not keen on them myself) or perhaps some biscuit or mixer that would be added to meat. Spread these around the place, all over the floor, can be done in the rooms she is allowed into, or the yard if she has access to it. This will make her work for her food, again make this part of her daily allowance, help relieve the boredom and tire her out.

    The other thing that can be done to stop her chewing, but you must provide something else to chew on, is to spray furniture etc. with anti-chew stuff, available from most pet stores. If she still tries to chew, then spray some of the anti-chew stuff onto a piece of tissue, and make her hold it in her mouth for a moment. She will hopefully decide that it tastes so disgusting that it will make her leave anything that has been sprayed on your furniture or soft furnishing alone. Also if you catch her in the act, make a loud noise like clapping your hands, and tell her to 'leave it'. Another method of teaching the 'leave' command is to hold a treat in your hand and offer it to her. As she goes to take it, tell her 'take it' and give it to her. Repeat a few times, then keep the treat in your closed fist. Hold your closed fist out to her, and as she tries to take it, Tell her 'Leave it'. She may mug your hand, but do not give her the treat until she steps back or stops trying to take it from you. As you give it to her, give her a 'take it' command. Repeat this a few times, then you can try putting a treat on the ground. Keep her on a lead, and give the 'leave it command'. If she leaves it, then pick up the treat and reward her with it. Do not let her eat it off the ground.

    I think that she doesn't understand that chewing your furniture etc is not allowed, so by showing her what is allowed to be chewed is hopefully going to help, though like anything else it takes time to do so.
    Stephanie likes this.

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