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New habit (destructive behaviour)

May 2nd, 2005, 03:24 AM
Hello pet-lovers. Some of you may remember me, as I was quite an active poster in 2004, but have been quite busy with a new job, new home, and busy schedule since Christmas, and I think this is the first time I've been here this year! I hope all is well!

My question is about my poodle, Casey, and his tendency to chew things up while my husband and I aren't at home. We never used to have this problem, until we spent a month living in a very tiny bachelor suite while we waited for our apartment to open up. During that time, he had full run of our bed as the bed took up most of the room. At first he was okay, but he started to go stir-crazy I think, and started to find small things like pens, make up brushes, etc. and destroying them while we were away. He also started getting into the garbage at that time.

We're now in a lovely 3 bedroom apartment and he's got tons of space. For the most part, he's okay -- but that's because I keep our home pretty tidy. If one of us leaves a pen on the coffee table, or something of that sort, it will definitely be destroyed when we get home. I've also resorted to keeping the garbage on the verandah, because he will get into every time if it is in our home.

In addition, he will do his darndest to get any food in the house, whether it is on the table or the kitchen counters, he will try. He is pretty small, but can jump like you wouldn't believe. I once had to take him to the vet because he managed to get a loaf of bread of the kitchen counter and he ate the whole thing....

Casey is a year old now. He was crate trained for the first 4 months. I don't want to crate train him again as he is alone on a daily basis for an average of 5 hours at a time. Any thoughts on what to do?

Thanks everyone!!!!

May 2nd, 2005, 06:22 AM
Hellooooo Tamara! Welcome back! :grouphug:

I was going through a similar issue with Phoebe. We started leaving her out of her crate when we went out and would come home to all sorts of mayhem & havoc. We finally decided to return her to her crate for a while. :( Unfortunately, that seems to be the course of action to take. If they start abusing their house priviledges, they have them revoked until they learn to behave once more - just like the rebellious teenagers they are. :evil:

May 2nd, 2005, 10:14 AM
I may be misunderstanding how severe the problem is. Now that you are in your new home and can leave the garbage on the verandah (I do this as well) that is a help. I don't leave pens on the coffee table because my Eskimo likes to play with them and I am afraid of the physical harm he could do himself - and as with the food situation - I had 9 lb. mini Dachshunds with back problems who could manage to get food from the counter. So no food is left on the counter or table when we are not in the kitchen - after all, if you tell a kid - or your husband "not to touch those cookies" - count on it. On the other hand if your poodle will chew anything and everything in sight that is a different matter and you may have to retrain to extent possible.

May 2nd, 2005, 10:35 AM
He is bored and has learned that getting into things is entertaining - getting the trash is even more fun because there are always special surprises waiting for him. But putting the trash up is avoiding teaching. So when you are home you need to be with him and teach 'leave it' and let him know that these activites are forbidden. The pens, garbage, food etc. belongs to you and are not for him to steal.
I would highly recommend that you go back to crate training him when you are gone. Give him a safe toy/bone to entertain him - leave the TV on Animal Planet and don't worry that he is crated. He has not earned the right to be free in the house yet. Not only are you saving your home from destruction, but you could be saving his life. How terrible would it be if he got into something that killed him? You would never forgive yourself. Crates offer a safe haven for both your house and his life. You can wean him off of the crate as he matures and gets better about his behavior.

Cactus Flower
May 2nd, 2005, 12:22 PM
Hello Moondarlin!!!!!!!!!!! SO nice to have you back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No advice that hasn't already been posted, just wanted to say YAAAAAY at seeing you here again!

heeler's rock!
May 2nd, 2005, 12:57 PM
Hey moon!!!!!! I've missed you!!!!! :D :D

No other advice from me, I also just wanted to say it's great to "see" you again!!!!!!!! :grouphug: :grouphug: :love:

May 3rd, 2005, 12:46 AM
Hi all! Nice to hear from you all again! Wasn't sure how warmly I'd be welcomed off after just disappearing like that... so it's very much appreciated! :love: :love: :love:

I agree that just leaving things out of Casey's reach is not really fixing the problem, and while it works great right now, it won't work when we have children in the house (nope, not pregnant yet, but we're planning on starting soon!), and there is always the likely possibility of one of us screwing up. The destruction is NOT major at all, and he never bothers the things that are always there, like my books on the coffee table, possibly because he has been told not to touch them in the past. But if anything new is on the coffee table, floor or edge of the counter, he seems to think it is fair game, especially when he is home alone.

This is my plan (after reading the advice on this thread). I'm going to keep the garbage on the verandah because my husband and I both like it there -- especially now that we have summer weather, and all the recycling goes out there anyway. Other than that, I'm going to leave our house a bit untidy while we are home, to give Casey chances to get corrections ("leave it" and "drop it" commands). I'll leave him on the balcony (the one that he pees on, not the one that has the garbage in it) with his crate, bed and a few toys while we are out. I'll have to try this last part out and see if it is a go or not. We live in an apartment building and if he barks his head off, we'll be in trouble. I suspect he'll scratch a lot at the door to get out at first and then calm down. The balcony is walled and it has a huge window, so it should be a comfortable, safe environment.

The truth is, I hate doing this to him. He used to be sooo great on his own -- he didn't even touch the Christmas tree or the presents underneath it. I'm kind of disappointed that we have to go through this again. :sad:

Anyway, please feel free to criticize my plan -- that's why I'm posting it. If you see any potential problems with it, or ways to improve it, please do let me know.

Thanks so much!!!!

May 3rd, 2005, 07:57 AM
Tamara,of course we remember you,I have no advice to give,,just a welcome back :thumbs up

May 3rd, 2005, 08:11 AM
Sounds like a great plan - I really like that you are willing to be untidy in order to teach.
I am a bit unsure about the crate on the balcony - Are you thinking he will be free to roam on the balcony? not in the crate unless he chooses it? I am thinking he might complain and bother the neighbors, but you are going to have to test it out. I also want to be sure, as I am sure you have thought of it, that he can't/won't jump off the balcony.
We also caution people against giving dogs too much recess to do as they please 24/7 - this can lead to independence, bad habits, insecurities and protective behavior over the property. Your balcony is the same as a tiny yard - in some cases it might work but in others it might backfire on you. It depends on this dog's temperament. So try it, but remember that eventually you still might need the crate - especially when the weather is cold.
I would still encourage you to have him in the crate for bits of time when you are home - this will help him to readjust to it and not think he only goes in there when you are leaving. Maybe while you are fixing a meal he goes in and then out again when you are done.
He will be good again - it could be a combination of his age and the fact that life got so busy for a while. You might have inadvertently given him attention for his mistakes and he thought it was fun way to get your attention again.
Anyway I am impressed with your plan and let us know how it goes.

May 3rd, 2005, 12:20 PM
Just want to add: exercise, exercise and more exercise! Not sure how much you get the dog out but he's still young and I am sure has lots of energy! My Dobe gets out 2-3 hours for a good run each day and that's they only way she stays out of trouble. I agree use a crate if the dog can't be trusted, it keeps your stuff and the dog safe.

May 3rd, 2005, 03:18 PM
All things in balance. Exercise is vital for all beings - but make sure you balance it with mental stimulation as well. A dog will get just as tired working his brain for 20 mins as he will on a 20 min walk - plus you have the added benefits of learning and building relationship. We caution our clients that if you are on a serious exercise program with your dog - know that while 3 miles today will tire him it might take 4 miles next time because there comes a point where you are conditioning an athlete and he will require more to get the same benefit. I also don't recommend that you do much forced exercise with a younger pup. Their muscles and joints aren't ready for it and you could do damage that can lead to arthritis or dysplasia later in life.
Otherwise - play away and tire the little monster out so he is too exhausted to get into trouble.

May 3rd, 2005, 03:25 PM
Good point, I should have specified! While my dobe gets three hours of play, we are at the dog beach, so she does as she pleases per say! In the am we do more 'organized' walks, ie on leash and she does her obedience in the am as well, that being said while at the doggy beach she still is asked to do things, like sit, down, come etc and we play ball and she swims. It's the best thing for her and makes her tired and happy! I have a foster MinPin puppy at the moment and without his walk he's a nightmare! LOL

May 4th, 2005, 12:45 AM
Hello again. Tenderfoot, I should have explained that this is not really a balcony in the sense that Canadians (and Americans I presume) think of a balcony. It is more like a very small room that hangs off the side of the apartment. I have 3 balconies and only one is a balcony in the same way that we have balconies in Canada, and all three of them have roofs. The one Casey spent his first day in today has walls, and the window is only from my shoulders and up. There is probably a better word for what it actually is, but I don't know it!

Anyway, Casey did spend his first day there, and I think he was fine but how do I know? When I left he was scratching to get out a lot, but not making any other noise with his voice. When I got home, I was taking off my shoes and walking towards the room where the balcony is and he started to whine a bit. For all I know he was barking his head off all day.... Is there any way to find out other than asking the neighbours? Most Koreans won't complain about that kind of thing and will even lie about it when asked. The only time you can find out if there really was a problem is after the fact. A few weeks from now, my neighbour might say, "Oh your dog is sure quiet these last couple of days." I'm thinking about faking leaving him in there for awhile and just camping out in the living room to see if he cries -- at the same time I'd rather not know :o .

I do put him in his crate from time to time for a time out (not a punishment) and when company comes that isn't comfortable with dogs (surprisingly common in this country). He's quite good about it, as long as he can see that he's near people. When I've put him in there on his own while I left for an hour or more, he's howled the entire time and I've come back to evidence of major distress and a dog with a hoarse voice. :(

We do take Casey out to the river where he can tear around off leash as much as he likes, on a daily basis. We also play with him in our home and do a fair amount of training. The more time he has outside, the better behaved he is while inside with us, but we haven't noticed a correlation with his destructive behaviour -- that is mostly related to how tired I am, as in, whether or not I've put absolutely everything away!

Okay, off to scatter some pens and kleenexes here and there and practice "leave it" for awhile! :D

Thanks again everyone!

May 4th, 2005, 10:15 AM
Hi again Tamara. Could you set up a tape recorder when you're gone?

May 4th, 2005, 05:13 PM
Hi again Tamara. Could you set up a tape recorder when you're gone?

Wow! Great idea! Thanks :D

May 4th, 2005, 07:43 PM
Great idea Writing4fun!
Isn't it strange how different cultures are? These neighbors aren't likely to speak up until they have something nice to say - "your dog is being so quiet". I wonder if we wouldn't all be better off if we had such gentile sensibilities. Then again, the people I respect the most are the ones to tell it to me straight and I don't have to second guess anything.
What a amazing experience it must be to live there.

May 6th, 2005, 01:42 AM
Yes, but they won't hesitate to tell me when I look tired!!! I once did an exercise in one of my conversation classes about giving advice. One student said, "my neighbours are so loud that I can't sleep at night -- what should I do?" and in every single one of my classes, the answer was always, "Move." :D Can you imagine any Canadian responding that way?

Anyway, Casey is not noisy at all when we're gone (the tape recorder worked like a charm!) and he seems like he's adjusted to the routine after 3 days of it. I still feel a bit guilty, but he doesn't seem to mind at all!

The messy house training is going well too, and my husband is definitely enjoying me not asking him to pick up after himself!!!


May 6th, 2005, 07:17 AM
Moonie! Always good to hear from you. I feel I've neglected the board too as I can only get here for a few minutes when I can. I've been tied up with a faculty selection committee for the last several months. But I'm hoping to have more time. Can't believe little Casey is already a year old! Pictures!