Nightmare dog

I have a 7-month-old German shepherd that won’t stop chewing. I get her things like pigs ears but instead she’d rather chews my girlfriends things, these range from her clothes to 8 pairs of her shoes. It’s getting to the stage where she’s saying the dog has to go.

Now I love the dog to bits and it would break my heart to see her go. I’ve tried closing all the doors, but she’s learnt to open them. We’ve put things in cupboards but she opens them.

She never chews anything when we’re there, only when no one is in the house.

I really need to stop this before my girlfriend demands she goes.

So what do you all suggest? I’ve though of putting her outside all the time we’re not there but even though she has a fur coat I think it’s cruel. I’ve also though of getting a muzzle but I think this is cruel as well. I do tell her off for the things she chews and she knows she’s done wrong as she walks away with her head down and her ears back.

Please help it’s doing my head in.

Have you thought of a crate? While humans think of crates as cages, dogs seem to think of them as cool dog dens, little caves where they can hang out. And it will control the chewing when you’re not home. Put your dog in the crate with kongs, and chew toys, and pig ears when you’re not home.
For how long do you leave your dog alone?

The most time the dog will stay on it’s own is about 4 hours. That’s the max ever. A cage was suggested to me when she was much younger. Maybe it would be a good idea now. But in the end it doesn’t really solve the problem. I want her to stop chewing things when she’s on her own. She’s very obedient and I have a certificate from the UK kennel club from a 6-week course I took her on.

I’d rather solve the problem without locking her in a cage. I understand the dog might not mind. But in her mind whenever I put her in there and leave her alone she’s still thinking about chewing things. I want to get the chewing thought out of her mind. Not just lock her away so she can’t do it.

I don’t think you can completely erase the urge to chew. Some dogs chew when they’re alone because they’re lonely, or angry for being alone, or bored, or for no identifyable reason. I think a crate is a wonderful idea, because it eliminates the temptation for her to chew things. I also don’t think she would be thinking about chewing in a crate if you left her some toys.
She isn’t going to just “learn” to not chew things. That’s like leaving a steak on the floor and expecting her not to touch it just because you said so. Dogs are dogs. They do dog things. I vote for the crate.

Being in a crate is just like being in the house alone. I’ll look into it.

Thanks for the help.

Future Kid - your dog, bless her heart, is just a puppy. 8 months is still pretty young. Puppies chew things. Girlfriends get mad. Crates solve problems such as this.

As Alias points out, dogs will chew - that’s part of what they do. I have 3 dogs. I love them all, although they will still chew the hard to replace UltimateTV-Sony remote. (and hairbrushes and disposable razors and toothbrushes…)

I think pet stores sell a bitter tasting spray; you spray this unpleasant stuff on items which you know the dog likes to chew, and it immediately equates chewing with yucky taste.

Use baby locks or rubber bands around the handles of two cabinet doors to keep her from opening them. To keep her from opening regular doors, you might want to get a “Screamer” which shrieks whenever a doorknob is jingled. (They sell them to be used in hotels if you’re afraid of someone coming into your room.)

It does no good whatsoever to correct a dog after the fact. She has no idea what you’re talking about when you say, “Bad dog!” and point to something she chewed on an hour ago. Dog’s minds don’t work that way–they have very limited reach when it comes to cause and effect. The punishment must be IMMEDIATE. If you’re correcting her even a few minutes later, she sees you holding the shoe and yelling, but doesn’t understand anything except that you’re mad.

Try to keep up everything the dog can chew on. I know how difficult this may be. For objects that can’t be kept up, I suggest using mousetraps. Show the dog the trap, and snap it shut a few times. Sort of frighten her with its suddeness and loud noise. When you’re sure she’s leery of it, place an unarmed trap in front of the objects you want her to avoid. (We did this with my grandmother’s dog, and it worked amazingly well.) You could also use the “Better Mouse Trap” which is a plastic contraption which snaps, but doesn’t hurt. It will startle her away from your things.

Keeping her occupied is another idea. If she disdains the pig’s ears, you may want to try to find something she will play with for a long period of time, such as a Kong (which looks like a big, hollow turd) stuffed with penut butter and treats and then frozen overnight.

Make sure you NEVER give her anything to play with that you wouldn’t want her to fixate on, such as a sock, or old shoe. To her, any shoe is now a toy. She doensn’t necessarily understand the concept of “property” as of yet.

Crates are an excellent tool to have. If every person who bought a puppy bought a crate at the same time, I would say it would reduce the amount of dogs brought into the shelter I work for by at least half. Dogs do not mind being in a crate! I have sled dogs, but they are indoor dogs. Each one of them has their own crate, when they are tired they usually go and sleep in them (with the door open).
Puppies chew, that’s life. A muzzle is a bad idea, I’ve seen dogs whose owners have tried that to stop chewing, the dogs were neurotic messes who had to be put to sleep.

IMHO, there’s a clue. Puppies do need to chew, but isn’t it funny that she’s not doing when you’re home with her?

Have you considered that your puppy is suffering from separation anxiety?

The linked article gives an introduction, but if you type “canine separation anxiety” into any search engine you’ll find tons of stuff.

Your vet can help you out with it if it turns out to be the case. And while a crate won’t solve the disorder, it will save your possessions, and buy you some time to figure out what to do. Many dogs seem to feel more secure in a crate, expert opinion is mixed on exactly why, but if it works, it works.

Good luck.

I agree with the separation anxiety opinions - most dogs suffer this, especially when they’re puppies.

My dog was a chewer from day one. And I addressed it from day one. I didn’t want him to develop bad habits.

One thing I found helped tremendously in my dog’s overall demeanour was to take him to obedience school. Even after the first lesson, he was much calmer all round.

Another thing I did to help him was to actively encourage chewing on appropriate items (plush dog toys, kong toys, rubber bones etc). I’d make a game out of it, so he’d associate chewing the toys with having a good time.

On top of that, if I ever found him chewing something inappropriate, I’d simply take it from him and replace it with an appropriate toy. He got the message pretty quickly without any negative reinforcement.

Any time he was left alone, I made sure he had all his toys available for chewing. It never became a problem.

I know your dog is a bit older, but as another poster pointed out, she really is still a puppy (and will still be growing until she’s around two years old). Now is the time to teach her right from wrong. Give her treats when she’s good, play with her, take her to obedience school. All these things will help her become a happy dog!

Max :slight_smile:

Before we got a dog I used to deride people who had them as little jail cells. Then we got a puppy and all the books said to get a crate. They are wonderful. The dogs like them, and will purposely go there when upset or scared. If they are being bad the command “crate” will stop the behavior and they will go inside. Your puppy will probably stop the chewing behavior before too long. Just be sure to always correct the behavior when you see them doing it, or even better, when you can tell they are thinking about it. The bitter apple stuff didn’t work for us, the dog seemed to actually like the taste.

I had exactly the same problem with my dog. She ruined several pairs of shoes, chewed the remote control into itty bitty pieces of plastic, and even took a chunk out of my couch :eek:

Then I got her some of those rawhide chew bones, and she never chewed anything after that (except for a few times when she managed to get into the trash).

Train the puppy - an eight month old puppy is a great chewer. Rather than repeat some of the excellent advice here, or explain with my limited knowledge of the English language, here are some links which I have found useful information to prepare me for my furture dog…

Wonderpuppy - Can we help you to keep your pet?

Dr P’s dog training and general issues

Hope this helps! Oh yeah, in the meanwhile you are reading those useful articles, get a chew-bone for your pup and praise it to the seventh heaven when it chews it instead of your socks.

First, this is in no a flame, so don’t get mad at any errors.

Now. I’ll venture to say this is your first dog. I’m 30 and have owned Pugs since I was 5, you could say I have some experience in raising dogs.

The one thing you haven’t been asked is, how often and how long do you give intense excercise for your puppy? Large sporting dogs (Shepherds, Labs, etc) require at least 2 hours of continuous, high-level excercise. If you live in an apartment and can only walk, you’re looking at 3 hours min. this is the number one reason for dogs turned into shelters, owners don’t research the time commitment in raising a healthy dog. Often, chewing is frustration caused by unused energy. Wear the dog out and it will gladly sleep for those 4 hours.

Sheps are my 2nd favorite dogs (behind Pugs), but I won’t own one till my wife and I have a larger FENCED yard for proper run time, we simply don’t have enough time to drive to the outskirts of town every day for proper excercise. Our fenced yard gives plenty of room for the Pugs to romp, plus they’re small enough to get a good workout inside the house without crashing everything.

And last, the notion of a dog year equalling 7 years human is false. At 8 months a puppy is about the same maturity as a 16 year old (based in part on sexual maturity) ALL dogs are like this. I guarantee even without training that at age 2 and being “fixed” will give you a welcome family member.

Your dog may grow out of her chewing phase. all dogs go through it when they are young.

Just chiming in–I’m another supporter of:
-crate training
-lots of exercise
-obedience school (and socializatio)
-using designated chew toys (“kongs” are great, they’re a hard rubber, practically indestructable chew toy that has a hole you can put treats in. The dog becomes preoccupied trying to get the treat out)
Also, I agree with Triss, sounds like a touch of separation anxiety. Sheperds are great dogs, but they tend to be a bit neurotic and prone to this condition, which will sometimes manifest itself into destructive behavior. If none of the above works, they actually make medications thay may (or may not) help with neuroses (e.g. clomipramine, amitryptilline)

People! Please!

Anxiety is a human emotion, animals lesser than us do not have a concept of it. I know the concern of an animal going “bonkers” whenthe master is gone, I see it when my wife leaves for the grocery store, but only in the puppy. The Adult Pugs are fine on their own. Please do not drug your dog. She will grow out of it in a short while. Meanwhile, just trust me and spend 2 weeks giving extensive excercise and let us know what happens. As far as crating, I can only say I would never confine a dog like that. Pets are like kids, do not get one unless you have a LOT of patience.

Sorry friend, but have to disagree here. Some dogs do not grow out of this condition–have seen it countless times in vet medicine. And while I agree that medicating the pooch is not ideal, sometimes there is no alternative. Better to medicate than suffer the alternatives, like putting him or her outside, or getting rid of them. “Separation Anxiety” is a clinical term used to describe a condition, and while the word ‘anxiety’ can be semantically debated, then you might as well do the same with phrases like “My dog is ‘happy’ to see me”. Anxiety exists. I applaud you for loving your dog enough to feel that crate training is cruel confinement, but evidence suggests otherwise. Dogs have been videotaped during their alone-time, and guess what they do? They sleep. What’s the difference in sleeping on the rug by the front door while you’re gone or sleeping on a rug in an appropriately large crate ? You are absolutely correct with the following statement though: “Pets are like kids, do not get one unless you have a LOT of patience.” I agree 100%.

Is the dog only chewing on your girlfriend’s clothes and shoes? Maybe she just likes the smell of your girlfriend.

Is it really that hard for your girlfriend to put her shoes and clothes where the dog can’t get them? Take away the things the dog wants to chew on and give her plenty of toys that she can chew on. Puppy’s want to chew.

Get her other toys besides the pig ears.