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Thread: Destructive Behavior, help!

  1. #1

    Destructive Behavior, help!

    We have an English Pointer mix that is a little over a year old and a Belgian Shepherd mix that is about six months old. We originally kept them in crates when we are not at home, but back at the end of the summer, we started trying to leave them out. We started with short trips to the store and then going to dinner and there were no problems. So, we started leaving them out while we were at work and coming home for lunch. Again, no problem.

    Recently, we came home to find that they'd torn up a pillow on the couch. There had been a big thunderstorm so we thought that maybe that ahd something to do with it. But, it keeps happening. Maybe 1 out of every 4 or 5 times we leave them alone, they tear something up. We have tried removing stuff from the room, but they just find something else. We've been hesitant to go back to the crates because it feels like taking a step backwards. They did so well for months and only recently started this, out of no where.

    Tonight we came home to a lot of destruction and we've decided that we're going to have to go back to the crates. I'm just at a loss for why this is happening all of a sudden. We don't know if it is one or the other or both of them, but I came home one day and caught the Belgian Shepherd in the act, so I know it's AT LEAST him sometimes. He is not neutered (although he is getting neutered next week), could that have anything to do with it? Other ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Northern California
    Firstly, welcome!

    Secondly, hehe, Bryan, your dogs are just being puppies. Consider yourself VERY lucky. Destruction 1 out of 4/5 times is a very very very impressive rate. Your 6-month-old puppy has amazing self control. Heck, I can't even take a nap without crating Ivy. That's how she destroyed my glasses, my iPod, various books, various handbags/backpacks, several shoes, socks, etc.

    Until your dogs are aged and wise, keep them in the crate. Otherwise, you've got a really really greyt puppy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    North East Ohio
    Speaking from experience.... keep them in their crates!!!

    I have 2 German Shepherds, both are 6 years old. I feel brave time to time and leave them loose in the house and, just like you, once in a while there is destruction when I come home. Mine like to rearrange my living room furniture!! Yeah, my 95 pound male will latch onto my recliner and/or a couch and will DRAG it into the middle of the room!!
    He's also jumped through a window and sliced his foot open that resulted in stitches.

    Now that every piece of my living room furniture is destroyed, I've learned not to feel guilty about putting them in their crates. I do it for their safety.
    ~Angie, Sierra & Buddy
    **Don't breed or buy while shelter dogs die!**

    I suffer from multiple Shepherd syndrome

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    NC, USA
    Dogs chew to relieve anxiety, frustration and boredom. Each time a dog is allowed to carry out destructive chewing in this manner to make himself feel better, he is EXPONENTIALLY more likely to do it again.

    You MUST stop the behavior. USE the crates. STOP trying to let your dogs be free in the house while you are gone.

    ELIMINATE the chances for the dogs to do the wrong thing.

    INCREASE the exercise levels.

    INCREASE the training time. If you are not in formal class, get to it. Dogs need brain exercise as much as they need physical exercise.

    Here is a short article that I wrote about how to teach your pup NOT to chew destructively in your home. And DO NOT RUSH to get the dogs out of their crates when you are gone. I start with freedom during the night with the dog gated in the room with me, and work up gradually from there.

    Why your puppy needs a TOY BOX


    If you have a new puppy, you know already that they like to chew. Not only do puppies LIKE to chew, they really NEED to chew. Chewing is more than entertainment for puppies. It helps them teeth, and it relaxes them. They are able to relieve themselves of frustration and anxiety by chewing.

    Destructive chewing usually begins quite innocently for the puppy, but it can rapidly escalate into a serious problem if the puppy is not supervised and directed properly.

    Here is a typical scenario:

    Owner has new puppy. Owner leaves new puppy unsupervised. Puppy gets anxious, and looks for something to soothe itself with. It comes across a shoe. (or anything else that smells like the owner) Immediately the puppy is comforted by the scent of the owner. Then it will begin to chew the object that smells like the owner to relieve it's frustration and anxiety. As the puppy chews, he feels much better. The amount of reinforcement a puppy gets from this activity cannot be over emphasized. The liklihood of a puppy expressly seeking out your personal items goes up exponentially after even only ONE incident where he's allowed to relieve his anxiety in this manner. This is why careful confinement and supervision is SO IMPORTANT. You can never remove that reinforcement the puppy got while he was chewing the object that smells like you.

    So what do we do? We confine and supervise the puppy very carefully, and we make sure she has a GREAT toybox with a variety of very interesting chew items. You can use a box or basket of any type as long as the puppy can easily get to it to take out chew items. Some things that can go in the box are kong toys, nyla bones, real bones.....use your imagination and keep it interesting and varied. For the first week or so, put a tiny smear of peanut butter or cheez whiz on each toy once a day.

    So now you have your toy box set up, and your pup is out playing. Of course the pup will choose a toy from the box to start. But eventually the pup will decide to investigate something that's not his business. This is why you MUST watch a puppy EVERY SECOND he is loose in your house in the beginning. You don't want to miss an opportunity to TEACH. So, when the puppy focuses on something he should not have (this means LOOKING AT, SNIFFING, or PUTTING HIS MOUTH on any object you don't want him to chew) immediately interrupt him. I usually say AH AH, as I move towards the puppy. Once you have his attention, rush him happily and cheerfully to the toy box, and help him find a cool toy to play with and chew. Encourage him with a little tug game, or a few tosses.

    Do this each time your puppy focuses on something he should not have. I also interrupt and redirect in this manner each time the puppy looks up at tabletops, countertops, stovetops, trash can, etc.

    If you are consistent, and if you supervise CAREFULLY, in several weeks you will have a puppy who will consistently choose articles from the toy box to play with and chew.

    Keep the box in one place, and never miss an opportunity to encourage the puppy towards the toy box when he wants something to play with.

    Champion and Obedience titled Rottweilers

    ALWAYS owner handled and trained.
    All remarks are my opinion only.

    No part of this post may be copied, pasted, or forwarded without my express permission.
    Property of the original poster only.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Southern California
    In addition to what people have said above, it's important to know that your pups are in the teething stage. The older one is nearing the end of the stage, and the younger one is just starting. My dogs are never left alone in the house until teething is over: for a large male, up until 2 years old sometimes. Follow all of the ideas above for chew toys for the teething and keep them confined when you aren't home. If you eliminate the chance for mistakes, then your dogs will be good most of the time. Good luck!
    Jan and 7 yo collie Bailey, CGC,TDIAOV

    How to Love Your Dog

    Therapy Dogs.Net

    Bailey at Dog of the Day
    Cody at Dog of the Day

  6. #6
    first of all welcome!

    you need to keep them in their crates until they get older when you're not able to watch them. I have been very lucky with my dogs having free roam of the house and they have never destroyed things. crating is a good tool but do NOT punish them when they do things wrong. they don't know what they do wrong. make the crating expierience a positive thing, not a negative thing. put a kong/favorite toy in with them when you leave and they shouldn't want to destroy things if they are occupied in their crates. maybe they do it because they are bored so enroll them into obdience classes or something and keep them active and wear them out.
    Krista- owned by Rudy, Dixie, Miagi & Angel

    Rocky, Jenny, Ginger Buster & Tiger .. forever loved & always in my heart..

  7. #7
    As most advice states, I would keep them in the crate. Even when they get older, they might have days that they feel like tearing up the house. You never know what you can come home too. I have a 13 year old Lhasa and she to this day will chew on the corner of a pillow, clothing(if on the floor), bedding whatever she feels like at that time and day. It is so random with her, I do wish I had just kept her crate that I got rid of at about 3 years of age. I sometimes give her a treat that I think will tire out her jaw and that seems to work for long days gone, that and not letting her into the bedrooms and not leaving pillows on the couch. So you see she has us trained!

    The 8 mth old mix we are fostering is for sure using the crate with great success!!

    Good luck!

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