Help - Door chewing is now BAD

Posted by DavidG
Jan 15, 2008
I posted a note on the behaviour problem site and will now try the same query here. My dog has developled a problem with chewing the doors into the house if she is shut out. NIkita is now over fuor years old and this is something new. The chewing can take place in our absence but it appears far worse when we are at home. Our house is rather large and it can be some time before we hear her doing her thing on the doors resulting in some really ugly damage.

Nikita has a pal at home as well in the form of a three year old Doberman Tikka. They are pals in the best of ways and everything they do (barring the door chewing) is a team effort, at times this can be the total demolition of their bed or any box from the garage that looks like it and its contents need spreading over the lawn and driveway....generally just dog fun when they may just be bored but acknowledged as not the thing to do as soon as either my wife or I appear on the scene.

Both have been for basic dog training and are fine with the day to day commands even without any from of reward other than verbal praise.

Nikita is devoted to me and is most often my shadow when I am home. She is fine when she is indoors and she quietly lies down in her space in the passage way of the house. It is the insecurity that has developed that has me puzzled. She will whine at the windows, run from door to door and then chew the door. It has got to the stage where we are bringing her into the scullery area to sleep at night as she goes beside herself if left out. She ignores the presence of Tikka who is perfectly happy outside and still sleeps without her pal in the garage where she can go out into the garden at night if she wishes and she does not show any anxiety.

My wife and I travel away quite a lot and at no time are the dogs left without company. We have the services of two different house sitters both of whom love animals and both of our two greet them with great affection when they arrive.

I have now repaired the doors (as best I can - for the umteenth time) and before going away I have painted over the varnish with Citronella Oil. I am really worried about this new trait as I feel some kind of separation anxiety has set in. I have travelled constantly over the last four years so my absence is not something new.

Nikita is a wolf hybrid and shows none of the aggressive traits bestowed upon these dogs. She is as loving as any gentle dog could be, whether to people or other dogs. Everyone is, in her mind, her pal. I have attached a photo of the two, with Kora the Dashound in the background.

Any HELP out there or suggestions?

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 16, 2008
Hi DavidG:

I read your posting a few days ago and I was waiting somebody responds to it but since nobody has I am going to make some suggestions.

I had a German shorthair pointer named Max that also chewed up our dutch door and make a huge holes in two other doors. He died last June at the age of 15 and 4 mos.

He was such a sweet dog but sometimes his behaviors really puzzled us, like chewing doors, etc.

As I read your posting, Nikita does not show any anxiety and behaves well when she is inside and she chews door when she was left outside, correct?

It seems as though she feels insecure being outside and come inside close to you. Therefore, why don't you have her spend most of the day inside until she gradually feels more comfortable being outside? You might have not noticed but there might have been something scary to her, such as lightnings, fireworks, etc. I think it is best to have her rebuild self-confidence and start desensitizing her once she settles down.

I assume she is just fine when you are outside with her. Spend a lot of time outside with her and leave her out for a little bit at the beginning and make it longer as she shows no anxiety.

Hope this will help. Good luck
Posted by DavidG
Jan 17, 2008
Thanks for the reply. I think you are correct in saying there could have been something that has shaken Nikita. Our house sitters are very good about letting the dogs in as well but there are times they come in late and possibly this rattles Nikita.

When I am there I do try to spend a lot of time with her and she now spends the best part of the day indoors and as said she nows spends her nights in the scullery area of our kitchen.......I think she is a lot wiser then all of us and she us just telling us, "If you do not let me into the comfort zone then I will find my own way in!"

But!!! A more loving dog (I do not think of her as a hybrid) we could not ask for.

We are looking at organising to take her with us as we have a home closer to our farm (600 kilometers away....lots of dog breath for a long time!!) and then hopefully she will be happier. Just hope we do not exacerbate what I fear could be a build up of separation anxiety.

Thanks again
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 17, 2008
Hi DavidG!

I am glad to hear that you will try to take Nikita along on your trips.

Sometimes, getting rid of the situation itself can solve the problem. If you don't leave her, she won't have separation anxiety... It's just so easy!!

As she gets to spend more time with you (her most favorite person) she will rebuild her confidence and eventually she will be just fine.

I was thinking about Nikita even after I posted my response last night and I got another idea - did you leave Nikita out when you set off on your trips? In other words, did you kind of sneak out because you didn't want her to notice that you were leaving? If you did, she might have connected the two things together - being left outside = you will be gone for a long time.

I just got the idea out of blue so maybe I am wrong.

For my dog's case, Holly had a separation anxiety problem when we first rescued her. We were told she was between 1 and 2 years old and was a stray and she was starving (she only weighed 35 pounds, now 45). She used to steal any kind of food that she could reach when we left her along with another dog of ours (not by herself). As she settled and learned that we will come home to her if she waits here, she stopped doing that. Now she is just fine (except for when we brings out our suitcases). She loves to go on a drive but she loves to come home as much.

When I leave home for work every morning, I always kiss her goodbye and tell her to take a good care of the house and her brother (another dog). I never sneak out. People tell you to make a low profile when you leave and it is true for the dogs with a separation anxiety problem but once they grow out of it, I think it will be appropriate to greet them when leaving and when coming home. They are part of your family, they should know when you are leaving and I think it is fair for the dogs too.

Well, sorry I got off the track quite a bit but what I wanted to say is a strong bond between you and your dog will help your dog build her confidence and that will help her outgrow the anxiety, I believe.

Good luck
Posted by Todd
Jan 17, 2008
HI there

Just posted over in the other section. But as Max mentioned it may be a good idea that when you are ignoring her for the anxiety leave the door open so she can come and go as she pleases. The more used to not having your attention AND being outside i think the better she will get.

Posted by DavidG
Jan 22, 2008
Thanks for the advice. I have been away this last week (without taking Nikita with)and the chewing is only slight, almost nil on the door with the Citronella painted on and the other has a fair amount but not no where near what it has been. Had a different house sitter so possibly Nikita and Tikka were in not so much of a hurry to come in. Right now she is lying behind me in the study and not a worry in the world.

We always pack suitcases or boxes out of sight of the dogs as Nikita definitely gets anxious if she sees them. I think the separation anxiety is where I am going to concentrate as Nikita is totally at ease when she and I are in the house together.

It has been raining today and I have been fixing the doors with my shadow in tow (both in and out of the rain)......asking her every now and again, "Who did this?" with the response of total guilt and then I follw up with a "Bad girl". I know after the fact, but I also believe she is intelligent enough to know this is her art work I am talking about and it is really just not the done thing,,,,,chewing on the door.

Once again thanks for the advice it all helps.