Destructive in garden

Posted by jsls
Jun 22, 2009
My 15 month old female lab chews up hoses, chairs, tools, and anything else she can get to if she is left in the garden on her own whilst we are out of the house. She doesnt chew anything in the house although she will occasionally take the babies toys into the garden.(I normally notice and retrieve them before any damage is done). This means we cant leave any garden furniture outside and is getting to be a problem with the hoses as we run them across the yard to the area outside the fence.
Other than this she is a pretty good dog, quite obedient if a little lively and very sweet natured.
Any suggestions would be very welcome as other wise we will have to pen her in a small area of the yard when we are out and I like that she has the space now.
Many thanks.
Posted by Idan-Kashi
Jun 22, 2009
Does she just chew or also eats it? I recommend you to immediately get a muzzle that would prevent her from putting her mouth on anything, until you find a solution - maybe she'll just grow out of it. But for now, use a muzzle and do it now. My dog almost died because this stupid behavior, he was in two hard surgeries and not to mention the high price...
Posted by kjd
Jun 23, 2009
Perhaps you could give her a chew toy or one of those toys meant to exercise her mind. She may just be bored.
Posted by KOPsarah
Jun 28, 2009
Hi JSLS and thanks for your post,

It sounds as though she is reaching her ‘terrible twos’! This is common with many dogs around this age as they are approaching maturity and start testing the boundaries and their position in the pack. This period is often also associated with destructive and attention seeking behaviors such as digging and chewing. There are several things you can do to make this period easier for you and your dog.

[B]If you catch her being destructive[/B]

Three steps to take immediately:
-Alarm your dog with a squirt from a water pistol or by shaking a pebble filled can
-At the same time say a loud “No!” or “Bad” or utter a sharp growling sound like “Aaahhh.” Be stern and sincere every time so that the dog associates the harsh word with stopping the behavior
-Redirect your dog with a command. ‘Sit and stay’ is a very good choice. Praise your dog as soon as it responds correctly.

Some dogs however can be difficult to alarm. In this case the time-out method is best. Set up a time out spot such as a crate, kennel or quiet room. As soon as she disobeys calmly and silently remove her to the time-out spot for a 3-minute time out. To make the situation positive again when the 3 minutes is up let your dog come back out and ask her to sit, when she responds correctly praise.

[B]Preventing destructive behaviours[/B]
First of all it is important that you remove anything from your yard that your dog could poison or injure itself with if it chews or gets into them. Then you can help prevent further damage by making things feel, taste or smell nasty. Dogs generally don't like the feel of metals or rock surfaces so try putting mesh or metal over surfaces or in pot plants and gardens. Stones which are too large to swallow are also excellent for use in gardens. For larger objects such as your outdoor furniture try cayenne pepper as many dogs do not like the smell or taste. You can also try using sprays designed to keep animals from spraying on objects as these are designed just to deter animals away by causing a lingering aversive smell.

[B]Keep your dog challenged [/B]
Keeping your dog mentally and physically challenged will greatly reduce behavior problems in dogs of all ages but especially in the high energy teens months. There are a number of ways to keep your dog challenged.

Regular daily obedience training is a good routine - just five minutes a day spent rehashing familiar commands with your dog is an extremely effective way of reinforcing your authority and dominance while also keeping your dog mentally challenged. Be sure to use praise and/or treat immediately whenever your dog does something right.

Regular exercise is also very effective at improving your dog’s behavior and it can be both mentally and physically challenging. Quite walks, while not particularly physically challenging keep your dog mentally stimulated especially if you vary the walking environment to include new and interesting places. Free running your dog at the park or jogging with your healthy dog on lead can provide a great energy burning opportunity. Alternatively you can train many dogs to run on treadmills which is especially useful if you have reduced mobility or limited time and have a high energy dog.

Finally toys are also an important source of mental stimulation for dogs and are very useful for keeping dogs entertained when owners are out. Try to build up a collection and rotate them so your dog does not get bored. Toys which can be stuffed with food and require the dog to work the food out slowly are especially valuable.

I hope these ideas help, let us know how you get on.
Posted by jsls
Jun 30, 2009
Many thanks for the advice. We have tried the cayenne pepper but she seems to like it and just licks it off. She goes out for walks and to the dog park which is off leash so gets lots of time to burn off energy. I think she may be testing me, she seems more respnsive to my husband at the moment than me. Im not sure if this is because i always have the baby with me who is 6 mths. She loves the baby however and is very good with him and very affectionate toward him. I will try to catch her in the act and hope that helps her annd do some more discipline training with her. She has quite a few toys to play with but can alternate them with some new ones. Thanks again for the advice.