My puppy has recently taken a liking to books

This is not a good thing! My wife got me a Norwegian Elkhound for Christmas. My wife used to stay at home with her, but for the past month she hasn’t. So I’ve been leaving her at home alone. At first she was okay, but a few weeks ago in addition to the minor getting into the trash every once in a while she started chewing up my hard bound books. Well, it was time to get her spade, so i did that, hoping it would help cure her destructive tendancies, but to no avail. So last week I started crating her during the day. She does okay there, she doesn’t make a mess in her cage and lasts until I get home. Well, now during the night she’s getting destructive, last night she destroyed my puppy training manual. What’s left of my little manual suggests crating her at night, too. Is this a good solution? She doesn’t always make it through the night without urinating on one of the little mats we have for her, she does this maybe once a week. Is more crating just going to drive her crazier? I love my puppy, but lately I’ve been thinking I may have to give her away since I don’t have a nice yard to let her run around in during the day. Any advice from Dopers who’ve survived puppyhood?

Well, spaying isn’t going to have any effect on chewing, which is a normal puppy thing. Since she’s a big breed and you don’t have a yard, I have to wonder if she’s getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. Dogs are like kids; if they’re bored and restless, they WILL find something to get into trouble with, and something’s probably going to get torn up.

Do you have toys for your puppy that she CAN chew on? Have you and the puppy played with these toys, to let her know that she can chew on them?

Friends of mine have a dog that would chew on things when left alone. They found a toy called a Kong worked well. They would stuff it full of a brand of dog food they didn’t normally feed the dog (ie cheap treats) and leave it for the dog when they left the house.

I think we are in very similar boats. My puppy is 9 months old and, with any luck, reaching the end of her puppydom. Stella loves to chew also. Since I got her, she has been crated during the day with no problems. Occassionally I’ve had to crate her at night as well. Usually, this is only necessary when she hasn’t had enough playtime and won’t settle down. As you can see, I am a big proponent of crating. Not only does it keep the dog out of trouble, it gives them a place of their own. Stella will sleep in her open crate even when she could be elsewhere.

As for the chewing, it’s an ongoing battle. I kinda think at this point, she’s going to be a chewer for life. She’s maturing nicely in all of the other ways, but this behavior isn’t abating. So, I’ve tried every kind of chew toy and have found several that she really likes. The hard rubber kind like Kongs are great. She hasn’t even put a crack in any of those. However, she isn’t always interested in those. So I also keep a random collection of other toys. At this rate, her other toys have a lifespan of about a month. When they start to fall apart, I throw them out. I don’t want her thinking that utter destruction of an object is acceptable. I always have at least one chew toy available for her. If she starts chewing on something inappropriate, I scold her with a sharp “No!”, take away the object and offer her a toy.

For chewing emergencies (i.e.-when she’s after my shoes or my books and I can’t stop what I’m doing), I keep pressed rawhide bones on hand. She loves them above anything else, so they are the best distraction. But, they only last about 30 minutes. I’ve started buying them in bulk.

Oh, and whatever you do, do NOT buy toys in the shape of anything inappropriate, like shoes. Your dog may not be able to tell the difference. It will just lead to confusion and suffering for both of you.

Good luck and enjoy!

I found that scent-training the dog as to which toys were hers helped a lot.

Put a drop of lemon juice on all of her toys. When she takes something of yours correct her, and then hand her one of the scented toys. Soon, she’ll start to associate the smell of lemons with her posessions, and will start disregarding anything that doesn’t smell like that.

I have an elk-hound mix. They’re extremely intelligent dogs. Keep her mind active, teaching her new things, and giving her puzzles to solve so she doesn’t get bored.

Our dog isn’t technically a puppy anymore (she’s about 1.75 years old) but she likes to chew as well. We’ve had her for almost 2 months now.

I’ve noticed it happens when she’s bored or anxious or seeking attention. We don’t punish her for it because we figure it’s our job to help her find appropriate behaviours / substitutes.

She really loves Kleenex, Bounce sheets, napkins, and recently a deck of cards! We take it away from her without making a big deal about it and then quickly find her something else to do - either chasing her ball, or chewing on a chewtoy, or doing a quick runthrough of commands - sit, down, come, etc.

We’ve noticed even in the short time that we’ve had her, that the chewing is almost non-existent now. Sometimes she’ll stick her head into the bedroom trash can if she sees a tissue being tossed into it, but a quick “no” and a distraction work perfectly.

She’s home alone all day and doesn’t make any mess during that time- it always seems to happen when we’re right there.

Crating might help to settle her down, but lots of exercise, training (dogs love to show off how smart they are and what they’ve learned) and fun-time should also be a big part of how her “free” time is spent.


Oh, she has plenty of toys. She goes through the plush toys in about a month or so. Those are the one’s she loves, those and ropes. We have a few Kongs, but she’s only interested in those for the 15-20 minutes it takes to lick out the peanut butter inside. We actually had success giving her an old pair of shoes, she has ‘her’ shoes and leaves the others alone. I’ll give the lemon drops a try and give her some more exercise time. If only I could teach her to read the books. :slight_smile:

Destroyed the puppy training manual, eh? That’s pretty funny.

I have a Norwegian Elkhound as well. He chewed up a phone book once. He ate part of a chair. He also chewed up a bunch of shoes once (my fault, I forgot to block off the walk-in closet). And he stripped feathers off a bunch of bird Christmas ornaments on the mini-tree after the cats knocked it off the stereo cabinet.

Can you dog-proof one of your rooms, like the kitchen, and gate the dog there during the day? That’s what I did after a few months - probably when Gizmo was 5 or 6 months old - prior to that I crated when I was gone. He still spends a lot of time in his crate, but it’s all voluntary; I can’t remember the last time I closed the door.

At night, I’d suggest keeping the crate in your bedroom at night. It sounds like part of this may be separation anxiety chewing, in addition to normal teething. Dogs want to be with the pack. My dog, in ten years, has never peed in the bedroom. He’s always quiet as can be in th BR, unless he’s very sick. He knows it’s the den. Every so often he used to sneak out to the living room when I was sleeping late and pee on the Turkish carpet, so I just block him in the bedroom at night.

Elkhounds can be pretty stubborn. You might want to pick up a copy of the book “Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence” by Carol Lea Benjamin. Hopefully she won’t chew that one up. One of the thing my dog did when he was starting his bratty adolescent phase would be to occasionally pee out the side of the crate during the day. This was always after the dog-walker was there, but before I got home. He outgrew it eventually.

Good luck with your Elkhound. They are great dogs.

Our pit bull is the smartest dog I’ve ever had; it takes no time at all to teach him a new command or trick. But along with the intelligence comes a tendency to get bored when he’s alone, and when he was a puppy he was destructive as hell when he was on his own. He was a book-chewer like your elkhound, and it drove me crazy.

We’ve more or less cured him with a combination of confinement to the kitchen when we’re not home (nothing he can reach to chew on if we don’t leave something on the floor for him) and the right kind of toys. He has squeaky plush toys he loves to play with, and we also got him a Kong “treat ball”. It’s made of Kong rubber, but it is a ball with a large hollow center and slitted sides that you can fill up with treats and will keep the dog busy longer than the 15 minutes it takes him to clean out a standard Kong filled with peanur burr.

I put a smoked turkey tail or a smoked pig’s tail in there for him. It takes a while for him to extract it, and then it takes him a little longer than that to get it chomped up and et. The minimal bones inside the tails haven’t done him any harm as of yet (and they’re mostly cartilage anyway.)

As for the urinating problem: You have to remember that a puppy is a baby, and they can’t always make it all the way through the night without having to go out. When we first got our pup, I would take him out at midnight or so and make sure he peed before we came back in (as opposed to just sniffing around at all the cool nightsmells.) Then I would take him out again in the morning at five. Yeah, it can be a little rough at first, but you get used to it, and then before you know it, he doesn’t need to go out so often. Now that our dog is about 2 years old, he goes out for the last time at 10 or sometimes 11 pm, and doesn’t want to go out again until seven in the morning (on weekends, that is. On weekdays, he still goes out by 5:30 because that’s when I’m up for work anyway.)

Give your dog plenty of attention and excercise when you get home. That will help curb the destructiveness, too. Lots of games and training lessons will keep her brain active and she’ll be happier, doing stuff that she knows you get a kick out of. I trained my dog to pick up plates off the floor when he’s done eating and hand them to me. When he first got the idea through his head that “gimme that” meant “hand The Guy this thing” he was delighted, and ran around the house picking up everything on the floor he could find and brought them all to me.