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Canine Behavior/Tissues in couch

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QUESTION: Hello,
Me and my fiancées dog Colby is beginning to show very strange behavior. She and I just moved in together for the first time in January, and everything was fine. Well recently we started to find tissues in our couches and chair that Colby was pulling out of our garbage can. We cannot figure out why he is hiding tissues in the furniture and more importantly we cannot get him to stop. He used to just do this in the time where he was alone, about 3-5 hours a day during the work switch, now he is doing this after I leave for work and my fiancée is asleep. Can you help us figure out the trigger and what to do about it?

ANSWER: Hi Matthew,

I would like to respond to your question, but you did not follow the instructions in my bio. Could you read my bio and follow the instructions in a follow-up question here, and I will respond to your question at that time.

Your response will also indicate to me that you're receiving my responses and that they're not ending up unread in your SPAM folder.

Thank you,

Madeline Friedman, M.A.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello,

I have read your bio. My fiancée, I, and her dog Colby just moved in together in January. A few weeks ago he started behainvg strangly. He is on a daily basis pulling tissues out of our trash cans form the living room and the bathroom an buring them in between the cushions of the couch. He has never done this before until a month ago when he started. We have had neighbors move in and then out in that time but he normally when he is stressed bite his tail. he is alone for a few hours each day, and that has been this way for about 3 months before this behavior began.

Answer
August 8th update:

Hi Matthew,

I had another thought which may apply. I see you read my earlier response, and since you read my bio, I would need you to rate my earlier response before I go ahead and share that new information. You'll forgive me, but too many folks read my responses, which take quite a bit of my time to formulate and share, but aren't similarly generous and withhold rating which is part of the "contract" stated in my bio. Hope you understand.

Madeline Friedman, M.A.

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the further details.

The behavior Colby is exhibiting is called cacheing. Cacheing is usually done to hide food for a later time and is a behavior in dogs which is inherited from their ancestor, the wolf.

Although tissues themselves aren't food, their contents are salty and can be appealing to a dog. This doesn't mean that Colby is deficient in salt, necessarily; but it may mean that he needs more mental exercise and play time since it sounds as if you and your fiancee' work many hours.

The neighbors which lived with you may have provided some mental stimulation to Colby in the form of attention or games, as well as by their sheer presence. Now that they're gone, Colby might be feeling a bit bored and ignored.

I suggest you spend more time daily with Colby Training him so that he gets more mental exercise, and give him a bit more physical exercise daily as well. I don't know Colby's health status or how much exercise he currently gets daily, but if he's healthy and exercise is not much, you may want to provide more, and see if the behavior diminishes.

A word of caution: I have limited information to go on, but one thing concerns me. Dogs who cache items usually do so with food items. If Colby is in any way regarding the tissues as food items because of their contents (I know - ewww! - but dogs are dogs, after all...), then be careful about Colby starting to resource guard (protect) his cached items from you both, or from guests. I don't know Colby's age, or if he's had any resource guarding issues in the past, but I thought it would be wise to mention the possibility. However, you know your dog best, and can decide whether the possibility is real, or remote. Breed also figures into behaviors, and I don't know what breed Colby is; but, since you don't report that Colby is shredding the tissues, I suspect not a highly predatory breed, perhaps a spaniel or hound. But, as to this I'm guessing (but curious!).

If you up Colby's mental and physical exercise and you find the cacheing behavior is reduced or eliminated over the next few weeks, I'd be interested in hearing back from you.

Thanks for an interesting question.

Best regards,
Madeline Friedman, M.A.  

Canine Behavior

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Madeline S. Friedman, M.A.

Expertise

I respond to public questions only. I'm not a veterinarian & do not respond to medical questions.Suggestions: Submit a question in one area of priority, as what I am able to address in this venue is limited. Provide as much detail re: the behavior & issue as you can. Tell me how & if behavior is a change from previous behavior & when the changes occurred. Let me know what you think may have triggered such changes & what you have tried so far to resolve it, & what the results were. Let me know what you want help with & what are your concerns & questions about the behavior. I have set up a payment/donation to myself for responding to questions. I donate most of it to animal shelters & rescues. I keep a small portion for my time. The minimum donation is $25.00 on PayPal. When I see that a donation has been made, I will respond to your question. You will be prompted to make the donation before submitting your question. When you have read & rated my response fairly, which must be at the time you read it, I will refund $5.00 back to you IF YOU REQUEST that I do so in your rating comments. If I ask for more details, please respond as a "follow-up" & not as a new question. If I don't respond to your question, I will refund your donation less $5.00. DO rate me fairly at the end of our exchange. I will be pleased if you DO nominate me for volunteer of the month - why not, if I was generous in my response? I may suggest something you were not necessarily ready to hear, but I am honest in the interest of helping your dog, & that is my goal. Please keep that in mind. Please do NOT contact me privately about Allexperts questions through my e-mail or website unless I have invited you to do so. That is an invasion of my privacy - thank you for respecting it. If you would like to contact me for actual dog training & behavior consulting, you may contact me through my Web site.

Experience

Own & operate dog training & behavior consulting businesses, Hoboken Dog Trainer, and ny-njDogTrainer, in the NYC & NYC Metro areas since 2002. Work with thousands of dog owners & their dogs, & shelter & rescue dogs. Active volunteer in dog shelters and rescues (rescues being "no kill" and shelters being municipality-run urban shelters that can and do euthanize dogs). AllExperts volunteer in "Dogs, Category 701" and "Dog Training" and "Canine Behavior" since 2006. When you submit a question, please make sure it's being submitted in the appropriate category as I volunteer in two different categories. Make sure you agree to the Virtual Contract (the instructions I outline for question submissions) and agree to read and rate my response when I answer in the body of your question. I make donations to various animal non-profits based on YOUR ratings. If you don't rate my response, or rate it unfairly, you have just denied a dog rescue org or shelter a donation. Keep that in mind.

Organizations
Professional Member of APDT for five years Founding Member of Animal Behavior Associates Behavior Education Network Former Board Member of IAABC, appointed by Founder Former Member of IPDTA in Canada Founding member of Behavior Education Network

Publications
Chronicle of the Dog (APDT, peer publication, numerous articles) Popular Dog Series magazine, numerous entries AOL in Everydayhealth.com Tonowanda News Morris County News Vermont News Boston NOW New York A.M. Polo Trace Newsletter The Dodo AOL

Education/Credentials
Counseling Psychology, Caldwell College Animal Science, Rutgers University Master of Arts Degree Permanent New Jersey State Teaching Certification (teach public school and university level) Numerous workshops, lectures, and seminars on dog training and behavior Ongoing self-motivated study in my area of expertise

Awards and Honors
Best Canine Coach Award, 2006, Rondout Valley Instructor's Training Course Society of Illustrators, second place international competition Jellybean Photographics, second place international competition Fashion Institute of Technology "Commitment to Illustration" award

Past/Present Clients
Testimonials from a number of clients appear on my Web site at www.ny-njDogTrainer.com under "Reviews." My customers include: Puppy owners wanting to get their puppies off to the best start; owners of mature dogs who want their dogs to have more obedience skills; fosters and owners of rescue dogs or shelter dogs; customers with special needs who need to train or retrain their dogs; housetraining and housebreaking; owners who have behavioral issues with their dogs such as house accidents, aggression towards humans, aggression towards other animals, inattentive dogs, unmotivated dogs, overly-exuberant dogs; and, more.

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