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January 23rd, 2006, 06:51 PM
For those of you who remember me, last time I posted I was in the progress of selling my condo and buying a house. I have now moved into the house, and all is going well except for one tiny little thing...

My 2 yr old Maltese X (named Cube) used to be confined to a wire kennel during the day. Due to how well he behaves when left alone at my boyfriend's mom's house, where he was confined to the kitchen, we decided to baby-gate him in the front entry, figuring the extra space would make him less likely to pee & poop on his blankets during the day. This went well for about the first week, when we had the area blocked off with his wire exercise pen, braced with boxes. Then we unpacked and installed a wooden baby-gate across the opening. He is pretty good about not laying in his pee or poop if we don't get home on time to let him out, but he's started chewing on the baby gate. We come home to chunks of wood all over the floor and this can't be good for him! Today we found two of the little metal pins that hold the pieces together--he's chewed the wood off so they've fallen out. We've tried coating the wood with human anti-nail-biter stuff (it tastes horrid to us!) but that didn't seem to have any effect. Today I bought some bitter lime (couldn't find any bitter apple). This stuff is like a paste, and contains 0.0025% bitrex, supposedly the world's most bitter-tasting substance. I put this stuff on the first chunk of wood that he's chewed on and then he comes over to sniff things. I offered him my finger, figuring he'd sniff it and walk away, not wanting to taste it. But NO!!! He licked the bitter lime off my finger and then started licking it off the wood!! So this stuff is obviously not going to work. I don't know if I can take it back, cause now it's open, but I don't care about that at this point. My dog is eating a wooden baby-gate and I need him to stop. What can I do?? He is left with toys, food, water & blankets, but he doesn't eat anything (not even treats that he normally loves) when we're gone. He hates to be alone, and has separation anxiety. I can't leave him loose in the house as he chases the cats, eats cat poop, barks at anything that moves outside and I don't trust that he won't poop or pee on the carpet (or on the bed!) when we're gone.
I don't want to put him back in the kennel during the day, and I can't take him with me, or change my schedule. I need to find a way to keep him from chewing on the baby gate. Suggestions??

Melissa & Cube

January 23rd, 2006, 07:58 PM
Depnding on how long you are gone during the day - I would put him right back into the crate and no food or water. Letting him eat/drink all day causes him to have to potty. If he is getting plenty of food/water when you are home that should be fine.
I would think about getting a plastic airline crate - small. This creates a den environment and helps him to feel safe in his personal space. Give him a soft toy that smells like you (sleep with it for a few nights or wipe in on you after a sweaty work out) and that will help to comfort him. Leave the TV or radio on to keep him company and less tuned into the little sounds of life that might unsettle him.
He has shown you that he isn't ready for the baby gate or more freedom so he needs to have a smaller world as he adjusts to the new house and the responsibilities of being home alone. You need to manage him while you are training.
Practicing with him when you are home would help. Give him crate time when you are doing chores. Work that into baby gate time when you are doing chores - then you can watch his behavior and help to correct the bad choices while helping him to adjust to it.