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Q & A: Destructive Young Pup

Filed under: Q&ADogDr. Patrick Mahaney

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Dogs love to chew things. It's a fact of life.

But it's no fun when that thing is an expensive piece of furniture.

TeddyHilton.com reader, Jenna, sent in a question for Dr. Patrick Mahaney:

My boyfriend and I adopted a Yellow Lab/Collie cross, Richie, a few months ago. He's about nine months old now, and absolutely loves our home and our 4 year old Border Collie Muttley Crue.

Our problem is that when we leave him in his large crate during the day, he chews on the bars, tears blankets to pieces and thrashes around to the point where he has left holes in the walls. When we leave him out of the crate, he destroys furniture (two arm chairs and a $3000 leather couch). What can we do to train him out of these bad habits?

Also! He has a bad habit of biting! He'll jump up to greet us and bite our faces. When we're walking, he bites the back of our legs and knees. What can we do! Is this the Collie in him trying to herd us?

- Jenna

Dr. Patrick responded:

Hi Jenna,

Thank you for your question. Many pet owners find themselves in your situation and poor companion animal behavior can really interrupt the human companion animal bond.

Border collies and their mixes are very smart breeds and need appropriate training, discipline, and "work" to keep them from behaving in a way that is unacceptable to humans.

It sounds as though Richie is having issues with separation anxiety, which often happens during puppyhood but can occur at any point in life.

Before you leave him in the crate, make sure you thoroughly fatigue him so that he will be more inclined to rest or sleep in your absence. Keep Richie's crate out and open at all times. Feed and give him treats inside his crate so that he associates the crate with a positive stimulus. Remove blankets and any other objects from the crate (when you put him in the crate and leave him) as we don't want to give him anything that Richie could consume if he gets anxious.

If he insists on jumping, then turn your back to him and refuse to interact. When Richie calms down and you finally greet him, put him in a sit-stay, then praise and give him a treat for good behavior.

Finally, pursue a consultation with a Diplomate of the College of Veterinary Behaviorists specialist (see http://www.dacvb.org/) as they will help you to best manage the problem from behavior modification and medication (if needed) perspectives.
Feel free to connect to me further via my website.

Good luck,
Dr Patrick Mahaney

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