What a Puppy!
Dog Chewing and Digging Problems
We got a dog who has turned out to be more than we bargained. He is a great dog but with lots of energy and he is pretty big. We have a nice size back yard that he runs around in with toys and he sleeps inside at night in a crate (which he loves). The problem is that he is tearing up and digging up everything in sight. He is even starting to chew on the fence. I would like to keep him but find some way to manage the problem. I am afraid that if I don't figure something out quick my husband will get rid of him before he destroys everything. We have thought about getting one of those big kennels and making a digging area in it for him. Does anyone have any ideas?
Sprinkle with Cheyenne Pepper
Try sprinkling Cheyenne pepper where he is digging and/or chewing. Worked for mine.
No Dog Digging Where It Stinks
We had the same problem with our Dobie. I found this solution in a magazine article. Bury the dog's waste around the fence line or anywhere you don't want him to dig. He'll soon get the idea. Oh, by the way, I think most dog owners will agree that any dog is more than they bargained for.
Dogs Dig From Boredom
Frankly, your dog is bored. Dogs in the wild live in packs, so it naturally goes that a domesticated dog craves attention and the company of his "pack" or the humans he lives with. A bored dog is a destructive dog. Our family dog was a chewer, digger and destroyer. I honestly didn't think she'd be a member of our family for long after she chewed 3 large holes in my new sofa. I started walking her twice a day and had the family vigorously play with her after dinner. Not only did I see the results of our daily walks in me (I lost 4 pounds), but a lot of her energy was funneled into more positive activity. The nighttime play helped her to bond with all of our family members.
Let the Dog Chew Bones and Old Rugs Until He Grows Up
Our puppy, now 10 months old, almost chewed our house down. She even ate completely through molding around the back door, to what looked to be the insulation. We started giving her tons of things to chew on, like those enormous cooked natural bones that you can get at some supermarkets, as well as most pet stores. She loved them and kept to them as long as we frequently gave her fresh ones. We also tried rawhide, but that gave her gas. She also like to shred things, like fabric. I gave her old throw rugs and she enjoyed that too. Remember that they really do outgrow the excessive chewing usually by the time they are 18 months old.
Dogs Need Instruction and Attention
You don't say how old the dog is, but it sounds like your dog could be teething or showing normal signs of anxiety, boredom, or lack of exercise. We need to remember that dogs are not born knowing what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the eyes of human beings. They only know how to be dogs. Chewing and digging are normal dogs' activities and provide outlets for anxiety, boredom, and excess energy.
For a person, digging and preparing a garden bed can be great exercise and also provides stress relief. The same goes for dogs. Digging is fantastic exercise! It is up to the humans in the equation to teach the dog what are appropriate objects to use for outlets for their energy. Chewing the fence is probably not one of them, however chewing a bone is. Also remember that just because there is a large backyard, this does not mean the dog is going to use it to exercise. My dogs can spend the whole day outside sunning themselves. They don't normally run around and exercise back there (except for the occasional run to the fence to bark at passersby). I have to work at making sure they get enough exercise.
We take a half-hour to an hour walk 4-5 times a week and then I provide physical and mental stimulation through obedience and agility training. That is what works for us. I ould start by taking the dog to an 8-week obedience class. The dog may simply need a little structure in its life. Spend 10-15 minutes (literally, that's all it takes) per day working on the exercises taught in class and you will see a remarkable difference in your dog! Obedience classes tend to have a calming effect on out of control dogs. Then work the exercises into your everyday life with your dog. Have the dog sit before it gets its food, shake hands for a treat, etc.
If the dogs spends its day in the yard (or in the house for that matter), I would also rotate the toys that the dog has everyday. That way he won't get bored with the same toys all the time. I would also suggest stuffing sterilized bones (real beef bones with a hole in the center that can be gotten at Kmart and other pet stores) and other similar toys (Kong's, Buster Cube, etc.) with things like cheese, peanut butter, carrots, anything the dog likes. These can keep a dog occupied for hours.
If the dog still needs more exercise, attention, and mental stimulation you could try one of the many dog sports out there. Obedience competition, agility, flyball, Frisbee, and the list goes on. These can be great fun for both owner and dog. A tired dog is a happy dog (and one that's too tired to get into trouble). Contrary to what many people think, you can participate in the above-mentioned activities whether your dog is AKC registered with a pedigree or an All-American with no pedigree! Check out your local dog clubs for more information.
Good luck with your dog. You should be commended for wanting to take the time to work through the problems with your dog. Take your dog for a walk, involve him in your life, and enjoy the time that you have with him. One of the most special times of the day that I spend with my dogs is when we are out walking, enjoying and exploring the world around us.
Dogs Need Companionship
Having worked with dogs for over 10 years and currently having 16 rescues of our own; I would like to respond to your question about your dog troubles. There are several things I see going on. First and foremost, dogs are social animals - they need to be a member of a pack. Probably one of the reasons he is being so destructive is that it sounds like he is outdoors all day by himself. (You indicated that he loves coming in at night.) Dogs need to be a part of the family (or as they see it - a pack). They tend to feel very isolated when left by themselves for long periods of time and turn to destructive habits out of frustration.
Also, you did not mention if your dog has been neutered or not. If he is not neutered, male dogs will tend to try and roam more and if there is a female in heat anywhere in the vicinity, they will try to find it. Also, breed can determine habits - for instance labs are known diggers, German shepherds are known escape artists, etc.
My suggestions would be:
- Get your dog fixed if he is not already. This has many benefits.
- Bring your dog inside (with toys and chews) to be with the family. If he is an adult and housebroken, he should be able to be in the house 8-9 hours without a bathroom break.
- You can buy a baby gate and gate him into a certain area of the house if you don't want him all over the home. However, do not put him in a room with a closed door for long periods - this also causes isolation and they tend to destroy the door trying to get out.
- Go to the library and read about dogs so that you will learn more about their actions, behaviors, etc. You don't have to be an expert but it helps to know more about them. They are actually very much like furry children.
Millions of dogs are euthanized in animal shelters each year - a lot of them simply because the owners did not understand how to deal with them and because there are not enough homes for all these wayward dogs.
I have bred large dogs (labs) for years and have a few tips:
- The destructive stage last about a year, then they calm down. Try to make it that long.
- To minimize destruction, a good yard kennel is handy. If your dog is not a howler you can even keep them in there on short weekend trips thus minimizing boarding costs to offset the price of the kennel. And there is no need to give them a digging area. Shelter and an attached dog house and lots of chew toys will suffice.
- If digging under the fence is a problem then you can attach and bury chicken wire to the bottom (coming out from the fence into the yard about a foot). They can't dig through the wire. If there are no children in the house you can also run a hot wire around the perimeter of the yard for awhile. Most farm/feed supply stores and some pet stores carry kits and instructions. It gives the dog a mild shock if they get near the fence.
- My other favorite "trick" is a soda can or bottle filled with pennies thrown next to the dog not at the dog. Kind of like the water gun with the cat method. Dogs hate that noise. It scares them. Catch them in the act enough times with this trick and it will break a bad habit fast.
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