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Crate chewing

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Dougal- Jerome

Cute as a Button
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '08 8:00pm PST 
We have had Dougal since the beginning of October - he was a pound dog. For the first two months he was perfectly behaved, and soon we were able to start leaving him out of his crate when we left the house up to about 5 hours.

A couple of weeks before Christmas he started chewing our stuff when we left him in the house, even for a couple of hours. We were never around to see him do this so we couldn't punish him, and he never would do it when we were home. He then started chewing things when I left the room (but not the house). So, we had to start putting him in his crate again when we left the house (for his safety as much as ours - he chewed some wires once!).

Well, he doesn't *love* his crate but he never had many problems with it when we first got him home (before he experienced freedom and the chewing of our stuff). Whenever I put him in the crate I make sure I've taken him out beforehand, and I put his favourite toys and treats inside to occupy him. He chewed up the blanket we bought him, so I started putting newspaper in, and he chews that. I read you're not supposed to 'encourage' destructive behaviour in the crate, so I stopped putting in the blanket and newspaper (though the crate has a plastic bottom so it's not like he's lying on the bars).

Anyway, the real problems started this week. He has started chewing on the bars of his crate, even if I only leave for 1 hour. It's gotten so bad that he's actually chewing the vertical bars OFF the horizontal ones, so now there are sharp bars sticking out! I'm afraid he's going to poke his eye out on one, or he's going to break his teeth, and I don't know what else I can do. I tried putting vinegar on the bars but it seemed to spur him on. I'm off to buy some tabasco tomorrow to rub on them but I wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions here. He gets plenty of exercise and I spend time training him most days. He's such a good dog apart from this, but it's becoming a real problem now confused
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♥ Ch- Francis....- THD CG

134037
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '08 9:05pm PST 
I'd consult an animal behaviorist who uses positive methods.

For referrals see
http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/toeotl.php
http://www.whole-d og-journal.com/
http://certifiedanimalbehaviorist.com/bios/klondo.h tml
http://www.sfspca.org/behavior/top10.shtml

Your page doesn't say where you live so I can't look for you.

Are you getting tons of exercise before you go in your crate? Your mix breeds tend to be high energy. Good luck.
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Maggie CTL1 RE CGC

Bar Hoppin'
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '08 10:06pm PST 
Definitely look for a behaviorist.

Maggie chewed on the door to a crate and is now missing 2 teeth because she was determined to get out.
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Dougal- Jerome

Cute as a Button
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '08 4:36am PST 
Thanks for the responses, I will definitely look for a behaviorist. I'm in Ohio - I actually found one in our town in one of those links so I'll check it out.

We've talked about adopting another dog (we're due to move to a bigger house within the next couple of months) which is older and could be a calming influence on Dougal - we were discussing getting another dog anyway, so this might help alleviate his boredom while we're out - any thoughts?
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Conrad

PLEASE DON'T- LEAVE ME!!!!!
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '08 6:53am PST 
If your dog is experiencing some mild separation anxiety, another dog won't necessarily help. Conrad had this disorder before we adopted Marlowe, and still has it now.

But if it's just boredom..... How long is he exercised before you crate? What kinds of toys and things does he get in his crate?

As far as something nice to lay one, Conrad's a bit of a bed-shredder too, but I got him a nice carpet remnant to lay on and he hasn't touched it. The bed-shredding is fairly common--it's fun and interesting and I think pretty satisfying for dogs who are a little bored or nervous.
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Dougal- Jerome

Cute as a Button
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '08 7:02am PST 
I figured another dog wouldn't cure the separation anxiety but I wondered if it might help his boredom. I'm convinced he does have separation anxiety, so I'm trying things to help him get more accustomed to the crate.

The problem right now is that I'm not working so there's no real daily pattern. I'll be able to work in the next couple of months so then the crate issue is really going to cause real problems.

When we crate him he gets his favourite toys (including a stuffed kong) but he just ignores them. He will run around when we let him out, then when he's calmed down he'll go BACK to his crate and eat his treats. I started removing the kong and treats when I let him out as I don't want him to feel like it's a freebie for whenever he decides. I also put a couple of rawhide things and his favourite rope, but he doesn't seem interested in anything besides chewing the bars!

I will put some carpet in there and see if that helps. This morning I started trying to re-train him into feeling that the crate is not a bad place (when it's time for him to go in he puts his tail down and hides) by sitting next to the crate and luring him in with treats into a down/stay and he stayed for 1 minute (after a few attempts) with me sitting next to the crate and with the door open. I'm going to start feeding him his main meals in the crate as well and see if that helps. When I do start working I'm hoping it will be part time so it won't be too much change at once. Any other suggestions would be great, I'll try anything I can to get him past this.

If your dog is experiencing some mild separation anxiety, another dog won't necessarily help. Conrad had this disorder before we adopted Marlowe, and still has it now.

But if it's just boredom..... How long is he exercised before you crate? What kinds of toys and things does he get in his crate?

As far as something nice to lay one, Conrad's a bit of a bed-shredder too, but I got him a nice carpet remnant to lay on and he hasn't touched it. The bed-shredding is fairly common--it's fun and interesting and I think pretty satisfying for dogs who are a little bored or nervous.
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Dougal- Jerome

Cute as a Button
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 18, '08 6:25pm PST 
Ok so since I posted this is what we have tried:

1) Taking him for a 1.5 hr walk before putting him in the crate, so he is exhausted when we get home;
2) Coating the bars of the cage with bitter apple (this seemed to spur him on);
3) Putting his old shredded blanket back in the crate for him to chew on instead;
4) Stuffing a Kong with peanut butter (which he would normally do anything for) and freezing it;
5) Moving the crate to his 'safe spot' by the couch;
6) Taking more time to get him into the crate willingly, using treats and LOTS of praise;
7) Slowly getting him into the crate and staying put with the door open when we're home until we say he can come out (this is something he can do).

It's now gotten to the stage where if I even leave the house for 1.5 hours I come back to find he's chewed another set of vertical bars OFF the crate. I am fresh out of ideas. I looked into behaviourists but right now we simply can't afford it. I will try anything anyone suggests, whatever it is, I just don't know what else to do that I haven't already tried.
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Dougal- Jerome

Cute as a Button
 
 
Barked: Fri Jan 18, '08 6:31pm PST 
Oh, and we've also started feeding him in the crate, which he's fine with, and as we've moved it to our seating area he will go in, lay down and go to sleep when we're here.

I've never SEEN him chew the bars so I don't know how to let him know that it's not ok.
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Dennis- FDCH-S,- TFIII

I love agility- and flyball!
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 19, '08 7:04am PST 
Is this a wire crate? We had a similar problem with Dennis who is our rescue boy. He was ok for a few days with the crate, then decided he abhorred it and he bent the wires and busted out of the top. We left him loose in the house then. He was an angel for a few weeks, then started chewing things up, including a leather couch cushion and our vertical blinds too. At that point we bought a plastic airline type crate, as the rescue coordinator, who is also a professional trainer, suggested that we do. We very slowly over the course of maybe two weeks, got him comfortable with the new plastic crate, then started leaving him in it for brief, intermittent periods of time, then longer periods and brief periods together, so he never knew how long he was going to be in it for. That seemed to help. I think the fact that it was a completely different kind of crate in a different part of the house, helped a lot. At first Dennis wouldn't touch the stuffed kong that we'd leave for him in it, but now many times he will go willingly into the crate for the kong, which we stuff with canned dog food. The trainer we spoke to said that many dogs are more comfortable in the plastic crates. Hope that helps.

Edited by author Sat Jan 19, '08 7:08am PST

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Dougal- Jerome

Cute as a Button
 
 
Barked: Sat Jan 19, '08 8:11am PST 
Thanks - I was beginning to think we were the only ones to experience this! I'm looking at plastic crates right now smile
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