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Inappropriate chewing when we leave the house despite having a stuffed Kong! Help!

July 24th, 2008, 03:07 AM
We recently adopted a 1-year male beagle ("Lemondrop") from the Pound and he has been very good with doing his potty outside, knowing which rooms are off-limits, etc. When we leave the apartment to go to work we will keep him in his room (his crate which he has no problem going into and out is also in the room). I leave a few chewtoys in the room and also a stuffed kong with dehydrated lamb lung smeared with peanut butter. However the problem is that he will chew on everything EXCEPT the Kong! I made the mistake of leaving a cable wire accessible to him once (not connected to the electrical supply) and he has chewed through it and the bottom of the door has been chewed (I think he's working on it as I type this at work).

I understand it may still be early days; after all it's only the sixth day he has been with us and he may still have separation anxiety but I'm concerned that he is not working the Kong. When we are at home he will chew the Kong incessantly and will play with his toys. However, once we are not in the room or if he is in the crate and I wander off to the next room, he will not do anything except: 1. whine, 2. bark, 3. try to chew the door of crate, despite having his favourite stuffed Kong with him.

As for doing my research, I have read just about everything on crating, including spending time next to him while he is in the crate, spending time in his room (sitting there while I check emails or read), rewarding him when he is quiet in the crate chewing on his kong.

Is this just a beagle issue? I feel so bad about leaving him alone, but I don't think the absence is very long: 9am to 12noon, we're back for lunch and then alone again from 2pm to 6pm.

Please help - I am in desperate need of suggestions... :(

July 24th, 2008, 09:43 AM
Welcome to Lemondrop :) . Thank you for 'opting to adopt' :thumbs up .

These are some of the things that have worked with us in the past with our dogs who suffered from separation anxiety, regardless of the degree.

1. Lots of exercise before leaving the house. For example, a 30-60 minute walk (use this time to incorporate training such as sits/stays/downs etc) + 15-30 minute bike ride (the bike's for me, the dogs run alongside :D). Off-leash play-time is very important as well. It means having to get up a couple of hours earlier but so well-worth it and you get plenty of fresh air and exercise too.

2. Kongs must be stuffed with high end rewards, something the dog absolutely loves and doesn't get at any other time, only when he/she is left alone. When you return, remove the Kong (even if your dog hasn't touched it). You want him to associate your absence with something amazingly yummy.

3. When you do return home, don't make a big deal of it. Quietly say, "Hello Lemondrop" and ignore him for 5-10 minutes. You want him to not get all excited upon your return.

It's only been 6 days, he will eventually get accustomed to your routine. Just be consistent and remain calm. He'll soon learn that your leaving is ok and he'll learn to cope soon enough.

There's this great booklet called, "I'll Be Home Soon" by Patricia McConnell.

It has all sort of tips to help owners of dogs experiencing separation anxiety.

July 24th, 2008, 06:12 PM
luckypenny gave awesome advice.

i simply ditto it.

July 24th, 2008, 06:13 PM

if he is housebroken, try to just baby gate a room off for him to be in?

not sure what the living situation is like, but if the crate is in "his room" anyways it might be worth a shot.

also, how big is the crate?

if he is housebroken it can be much bigger than simply allowing him to get up and turn around in, which might help him out a bit...i dunno.

July 24th, 2008, 08:55 PM
Wow - thanks so much for your advice, luckypenny and kigndano!! That's really helpful. I will get some liver treats since I heard it's the holy grail of treats for dogs.

This morning when I left him, I gave him a cross Kong with his Orijen kibble and peanut butter, and he didn't bark/whine when we left - he was actually working at it! That's just great. I did give him a good workout prior to that. I'm sure that really helped :)

As for the crate size, it's enough for him to stand up and do a circle. I think it can be a bit bigger and I'm definitely looking into that. Or perhaps a playpen for him to be in.

Thanks for the great advice! :)

July 25th, 2008, 02:10 AM
I went back during lunch time and guess what? Lemondrop didn't finish the treats in the Kong! Obviously he left it alone when he heard that we were leaving the apartment.

Sigh. I guess it will take time.

One question: do dogs with separation anxiety get so anxious they won't eat the treats in the Kong?
Am I right to say that Lemondrop is so anxious that he doesn't work at it?

July 25th, 2008, 06:28 AM
you are 100 percent right

an anxious dog will not even eat a treat out of your hand.

only a dog in the right state of mind will accept food/water.

since it seems to be the front door sound that he associates with you being gone for a long time you should try doing the down/stay exercise and then just crouch outside of view outside (if you have windows and he can see you then it wont work so stay out of view, but close enough to where you can hear his whining)

then when he starts whining, wait until a few seconds of silence to come back inside...rinse and repeat.

see if that helps.

July 25th, 2008, 06:30 AM
i never had sep anxiety problems so i dont know HOW long it will take.

but im sure it will take time to de-sensitize him to being alone.