Chewing and Stealing. Help!!!!!!!!

Posted by jwoods
May 31, 2008
I purchased your class and it has been wonderful. Around Christmas we'd adopted a 2-year old Boxer mix from our local animal shelter. She is the sweetest, most well-behaved dog and we really lucked out with her. We felt like she was lonely when we were at work, so we recently decided to get her a friend. We got an 8-month-old American Bulldog from a couple who couldn't take care of him any more. We got him about 3 weeks ago. He's extremely sweet and he's taking on to the training very well. They both sit and stay at the door before we go outside until we tell them it's ok to go. They wait after we put their food down until we tell them to go ahead and eat. We atually really struggled with walks with them b/c they are both so strong and would freak out any time they saw another dog, but that GentleLeader head collar was the best thing I ever did for them (thanks for the tip) and now I can even let them off lead and they will stay with me and make friends w/ the other dogs out on the walk. There are only 2 issues I'm still dealing with the male. One is that he always steals the female's toys. I'll get them each out a toy (exactly the same thing) and he will take hers and so I'll give her the other one and he'll come take that too. I'm really trying not to mess with their social order, but I don't know what to do b/c she can't have anything. He won't be interested in a toy until she has it and then he'll come take it. He tried that with my parent's German Shephard and he quickly showed my dog who's boss, but my female just lets him take her stuff and then lays there looking sad. It breaks my heart!
The other thing I'm dealing with is that he has destroyed our couches. I exercise them every morning and most evenings as well and give them fun things to chew on, but he will not stop chewing the couches. He does it when we're not there, so I'm really not able to catch him doing it. I really don't want to have to crate him but I'm afraid I'm going to have to... Any advice for me? Thanks!
Posted by Todd
Jun 16, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the question.

Sorry for the delay in replying. It is great to hear some success stories and congratulations on all the good work you have achieved with both dogs.

So now to the issues.
The first issue. This is a tough one. This is just like with humans you see something someone else has and is having fun with that and you want it. The difference is your boy knows he can get it. We can try to fix this but be careful you don't create a change in the balance of the dogs and make things worse.

There are a few ways to do this. One way is to give your girl a toy while your boy sits and waits. He must sit and behave while she plays. This will help reinforce that she is allowed her own toys.

The other idea is to tell him off the second he starts to go for her toy. Use a very loud GRRRR or AHHHH and make a sudden movement towards him. Then give him his toy. If he plays with it praise him with attention and petting to reinforce the correct response. The second he goes back for the toy tell him off again. he does it again he gets taken out of the room and is given a 10 min rest period. You need to be very consistent and need to sit there and watch them for a long period of time. A weekend is probably the best time to work on this.

Now to the destruction. Do you have any idea when it happens? Will he do it whether you are gone for 2 hours or 2 minutes?
Does he follow you around, whine or get agitated before you leave? Does he get overexcited and stick to you when you come back? He could be having a little separation anxiety.

Give me some more info and ill try help. But in general well done with the toys and exercise as this is the usual starting point. There are a few things you can try - try letting him outside if you have a yard during the day.

You can try some bitter something on the couch eg cayenne pepper or a bitter apple spray.

If he does have some anxiety reply and i will help

Good luck

Posted by jwoods
Jun 16, 2008
Thanks so much for getting back to me. I'll try that stuff with his stealing.
As for the chewing, it's interesting b/c the first few days we'd gotten him he didn't do that. But then he started and it's gotten worse and worse. And, yeah, I can be gone all day at work or just have run to the grocery store and he'll have torn the couch to pieces. He really doesn't destroy anything else. One time I even had gone work and my husband had gotten in the shower and he'd chewed in that short time... One time he had even pushed one of the couches in front of the front door somehow and it was tough for me to even get in! He really always follows me around. He is very excited when I get home. I've currently been crating him while I'm gone so there's been no more chewing but then I'd left him out the other day to go to the store and he'd chewed again. I live in a condo so I don't have a yard, unfortunately... I can continue to crate him if I have to, but I'd really rather not...
We're also having some trouble house breaking him. When I'd left him out of the crate, he would go all day long w/o going in the house and then he'd go when I was about to take him out. He also will go all night but then randomly during the day he'll have an accident. When we catch him, we tell him no and take him out and praise him for going outside, but he doesn't seem to be getting it...
Thanks again for the advice!
Posted by jwoods
Jul 8, 2008
do you think that sounds like separation anxiety? is there anything i can do about that?