Canine Behavior/Destructive dog
We have a beagle who is over 12 years old. We have had him since he was about 3 months old. He was a problem dog before we had him but he seemed to settle in well with us and has been with us for about 12 years. The problem we are having today is that he starts to tear apart every thing he can get his teeth into.
Since the cost of everything has gone up except our pay, we have to work longer hours now so he is spending more time on his own.
He has torn up the carpet, destroyed about a dozen rolls of toilet paper he got at under the stairs. He has even gone into the kitchen and taken out crockery and has smashed some on the floor as well as taking a bottle of cocking oil and spilling it over the carpet.
We take him for long walks on the weekend of about 6 miles and some short walks during the week.
He is becoming like a spoilt child as my wife tends to love him to death.
Don't know how to save the remains of my home and would appreciate some guidance on this other then having him stuffed as my wife will probably spot this .
LOL about the "stuffed as my wife will probably spot this" !
This dog has WAY too much free roam space. Confine him to kitchen with strong spring loaded, wire baby gate (I think Walmart (if they are in the UK) sells them rather cheaply), even two (one on top of the other) if you need them. Baby proof your kitchen: simple "locks" that are easy for you to manipulate but impossible for the dog will keep him out of your kitchen cabinets. Remove everything destructible from the room (if there's table/chairs, anticipate they might be chewed so "paint" (using real paint brush) hot sauce on the legs (it won't show but it sure will taste awful).
Dog is elderly, he may have some loss of cognition. He may require some short term medication to calm him as you put him through behavior modification to reduce his rapidly progressing separation anxiety. In the UK there ARE veterinary behaviorists. You might find one by calling local certified applied animal behaviorists such as:
The dog might benefit from professional evaluation for cognition.
Meanwhile, put him on behavior modification to treat separation anxiety, as I have designed the program that follows:
1. You can create an emotional independence in the dog by conditioning a "time out" article.
Simply place the chosen article (something you don’t use for any other purpose, like an odd garden statue) in full view of the dog every day for thirty minutes to one hour and call a "time out", during which you actively ignore the dog. When you remove the article, reward the dog with praise, but don’t overdo it. Over the course of two weeks, your dog will begin to recognize the article and begin to acknowledge your unavailability (many dogs go to a corner to lie down, or their favorite couch spot, etc.) Once you observe your dog’s recognition of the article, put it in plain sight about ten minutes before leaving the house (but NOT in the room the dog is confined to, the dog will lose its conditioned response.) In other words, use the article as a CUE to the dog that you are not available.
2. Make your dog earn everything for about one month, including pats, entering/leaving the home, etc. (This is called “Nothing in life is free”.) You will be promoting yourself psychologically, which will help the dog to feel calmer.
3. Purchase Turid Rugaas' book, “On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming signals” or go to her web site http://www.canis.no/rugaas/index.php
. Observe the dog’s behaviors before you depart to determine if your departure rituals are creating anxiety. Use calming signals just before leaving the house WITHOUT saying “goodbye” to the dog (which can set the dog up for emotional distress.) Dogs instantly respond to these signals and you’ll begin to see that response immediately.
4. Change your departure rituals so you do not inadvertently "cue" your dog. This means doing things differently EVERY day during treatment (which should last about two to four weeks.) If you put your coat on last, put your coat on five minutes before you actually leave the house; if you pick up your keys last, put them in your pocket ten minutes before leaving the house, etc. Again, given two weeks (at least) of this treatment, along with the others, your dog’s extreme sensitivity to your departure rituals should diminish and/or extinguish. When you RETURN home, ignore the dog for a few seconds, and then ask the dog to “sit” and acknowledge him/her; keep your homecoming attention short and sweet. If there is any destruction around (torn objects, etc.) IGNORE IT. What you don’t want is the dog to fear your RETURN as much as s/he fears your leave taking.
5. Do not allow the dog free “run” of the house when you are gone; this places a heavy emotional burden to “protect” on the dog, and might increase stress (which accounts for excessive barking!) Put the dog in a protected space (kitchen, well ventilated and spacious laundry area, etc., NOT the basement or the garage). Keep “special” toys there the dog doesn’t have at any other time, like a “kong” with a ½ teaspoon of peanut butter, a Buster Cube which holds a portion of the dog's daily food and which the dog will roll around to obtain it, a squeaky toy, etc. The dog will begin to anticipate this treat and associate it with your leaving the house. Leave a radio playing (on soft music or calm talk shows) and a light on when you are not home, and if possible move your answering machine (at full volume) into the room with the dog and leave your dog "messages" during the day.