HELP! Destructive Behaviour

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Lainey
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:40 am

HELP! Destructive Behaviour

Post by Lainey » Thu Jul 26, 2007 6:14 am

My partner & I rescued a border collie pup from Dog's Trust and had lots of seperation anxiety problems to begin with. He chewed things when left alone - we restricted him to the kitchen, which we made secure, and did lots of sep anxiety exercises with him.

After a period of time, he stopped being destructive - this lasted for over a year.

He is now 3yrs old. We cant exercise him for long periods, as he has arthritis. He does get good walks and lots of playtime. We have a large extended family & he is well integrated into the 'pack'.

Two days a week, we are at work all day. His doggie walker takes him out for around 2 hours in the morning and a friend visits to spend another couple of hours with him in the house, in the afternoon. This seemed to be working well.

However, after a recent thunderstorm, he began to be destructive again - in particular chewing the door which leads into the rest of the house. We now spray the door with chew deterrent but that doesnt put him off.

However we're more worried about the harm he could cause himself and the obvious trauma he is in while left alone.

He has never been interested in treats or toys while he's on his own, although we continue to give him a stuffed Kong, which we remove when we come home, full of food. We also leave the radio on for him.

My partner & I are the pack leaders, although a few friends do not follow our example. He is a fantastic dog, very intelligent and easy to train in other ways.

We are now at our wits end. We are concerned about using a cage, as he has never experienced one before and has a tendancy to chew his paws, which we feel would get worse if he was left alone in a cage.

We cannot expect friends & family to puppysit all the time & unfortunately, we do have to go to work!

If anyone can give any advice, we would be very grateful.

Lainey

RoddyB
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:42 am

Post by RoddyB » Thu Jul 26, 2007 8:50 am

Hi Lainey,

We got our border collie from Dogs Trust in January and she has many many problems, though strangely, she's the only dog we've had or known who shows absolutely no interest or distress in thunderstorms.
A lot of Poppy's repetative behavious comes from habit rather than actual distress. Now the storm's over, maybe your dog's gone back to chewing the door/ himself out of habit. We're in the process of breaking at lot of these behaviours which were coping mechanisms for Poppy when she was in distress, but which now she goes back to out of habit.

When we're out, I plug in a DAP diffuser which takes the edge off her anxiety - in some dogs it works extremely well. We took Poppy on her first holiday in May and I was very worried about her nerves/ distress and we plugged the DAP in all week and she was a revelation to us! She feel asleep as soon as it was switched in and she was very chilled.

As a stray, Poppy is very easy to manipulate with food, so thankfully she can be distracted with Kongs/ chews - my sister's westie chews/licks his feet when he's unsure of the situation and she's not found a way to break it. There's bound to be someone on this forum who may have a suggestion.

Good luck - try the DAP, it may not work, may work a teensy bit or it may be the answer to all your prayers, but I think it's worth a go. We were more that a little sceptical about it, but it really can take the edge off our dog's panics.

Roddy

D
Posts: 119
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 8:56 am
Location: Oxfordshire

Post by D » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:05 am

What is a DAP diffuser?

RoddyB
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:42 am

Post by RoddyB » Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:42 am

DAP stands for Dog Appeasing Pheremone. Basically, some scientist manged to make a synthetic hormome which simulates those of a lactating *****, so a dog coming into contact with it feels reassured.

It's kind of like a glade plug-in, if you know what I mean, filled with this pheremone stuff that goes into the atmosphere - completely harmless to all and doesn't affect other animals (or humans!).

Lainey
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:40 am

Post by Lainey » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:16 am

Thanks - I will try the DAP plug in.

I agree that habit has a lot to do with it - we've covered the offending door in perspex now, in the hope that the wood-chewing habit will be broken.

Lainey

RoddyB
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 9:42 am

Post by RoddyB » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:27 am

I order mine from petmeds.co.uk - they seem to be the cheapest (if you're based in the UK) and you can also get refills from them, saves buying the plug bit again!
Good luck
R

emmabeth
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Post by emmabeth » Thu Jul 26, 2007 12:39 pm

I would go for a crate, a big one, so that he cant chew up anything that matters.

Then when you return, you cant possibly be in anyway upset at anything hes chewed.

He is fearful, hes not confident being left and so he chews and you come home and with the best will in the world, you probably are not happy to find more things chewed up. So he then associates being left with you coming back and being unhappy.

So if you use a crate, then you can break that cycle and you coming home will be a happy event.

Definately give the DAP diffusers a go, and i would look at Bach flower remedies for fear and anxiety as well. These wont have an instant effect but they will help in the long term.

Em

Dibbythedog
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Location: Middlesex West London

Post by Dibbythedog » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:14 pm

Hi Lainey ,
What is your dogs name?

Did you get back in touch with the Dogs Trust as you should be able to consult their behaviourist if you are having problems.
There are also behaviourists at COAPE and the Association of Pet behaviour Counsellors .

What seperation exercises did you do and do you have other dogs?
When you say you are pack leaders, if you do things like go through the door first or eat first , these things arent a "cure" for problems such as seperation anxiety.

How does your dog cope with storms if you are at home with him?
It sounds like your dog was learning to cope with being on his own but not able to cope with the noise and/or flashes on his own.

He has never been interested in treats or toys while he's on his own, although we continue to give him a stuffed Kong, which we remove when we come home, full of food. We also leave the radio on for him.
It's likely he is too anxious to eat his treats or play with toys. Leaving a radio on can help if it has a pleasant associaton with you but if you only put it on when you leave , he will associate it as part of your leaving routine and it wont help.

We are now at our wits end. We are concerned about using a cage, as he has never experienced one before and has a tendancy to chew his paws, which we feel would get worse if he was left alone in a cage.
I would be concern that if he is not used to a crate he will feel more trapped and distressed and try to escape from it . It might help if you have a crate and cover it and leave the door open. You can make it feel a safe zone for him by leaving an unwashed article of your clothing with your scent on it . Quilts and duvets are nice and soft and comforting though there is the risk he will destroy it , you could also spend time sitting in (if you could get in it !) or near the crate with him so he associates it with you and feeling safe.

Good luck , Alison

Lainey
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 5:40 am

Post by Lainey » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:37 am

Thanks for all your comments!

Our dog's name is Murphy.

We're really good at ignorin him when we get home, even if he has just eaten the brand new door we installed 2 replace the one he ate when a puppy! Gritted teeth mind you, but we never punish him or fuss over him for a good 5 minutes.

I'm waiting to hear from the Dog's Trust about this current issue - they've been really helpful in the past as he needs quite special treatment due to his arthritis.

We do go through doors first & eat first, 2 establish the general pack leadership. However, for the seperation anxiety - we make sure he doesnt follow us from room to room, is comfortable spending time on his own while we're in the house, approach him for pets as opposed to letting him demand them etc etc. These methods helped tremendously when he was a puppy.

Being a Border Collie, he does push back every now & then and we have to keep an eye on his intelligent/manipulative streak lololol.

Murphy was fine with storms and even thunder & fireworks when he was a puppy. It's only been in the past year that he's shown fear at loud noises. Perhaps something spooked him while we were out, that we dont know about.

We're conscious that putting on the radio and his bed in the kitchen only when we leave, would give him bad associations - so we try to do both things at other times of the day while we're in. We also sit in the kitchen often, trying to make it a 'good place' for him.

I really dont want to use a crate or muzzle, however thanks for your suggestions Alison - now i realise that perhaps getting him used to a crate slowly by leaving door open etc would work, if it has to come to that.

Will let you know how we get on!

Lainey

emmabeth
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Post by emmabeth » Fri Jul 27, 2007 12:45 pm

I dont mean to get at you but...

This pack leader stuff, it means naff all to your dog.

What IS good about it is that you set up clearly defined boundaries and good manners, so not following you around and not barging through doorways first, thats a good thing for any dog to learn.

It wont teach your dog that you are its pack leader, because your dog is well aware you are a human, not a dog. Take a look at the dominance thread that is sticky at the top of this forum for more about this.

A pack leader ensures the safety of the pack at all times - sadly since you go out to work all day, you can never be that 'pack leader' in the sense you understand it, a pack leader would never abandon his pack all day long!

Try to readjust your attitude on this, instead of thinking 'i am the almighty alpha, i am the pack leader' think ' i am the team leader, my dog is my team mate'..

Its only a slight difference but its a more positive, friendly attitude and dogs respond to it far better.

Your dog needs to build up his confidence in himself, as well as in his owners, its no good him being totally confident in you if you arent there some of the time!

Take a look at the clicker training thread if you dont already do this, and do lots of 'free shaping' which will teach your dog to think for himself, engage his brain and give him less energy to put towards worrying about things. This will increase his confidence, and you can teach all sorts of things with a clicker, you can even 'teach' calm relaxed states of mind, simply by marking them with the clicker and rewarding them.

Definately give him a crate, teach him its a nice place to be and slowly work up to being able to shut him in for a few minutes at a time (but certainly not straight away).

You may well find that once hes happy in the crate, he relaxes because the 'decisions' about what to do when you are out are taken away from him. Having to make choices can often really upset a dog when theres no one there to give any guidance, so this could really help.

I have other tricks up my sleeve as well but give this a whirl first.

Em

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