Last time I introduced you to my “problem child”, Gatsby. When I first noticed his destructive behaviors I chalked it up to puppyhood, since he was only 10 weeks old. I moved everything out of reach (or so I thought) and gated both dogs in the kitchen/dining area while we were away, to minimize their reign of terror. As the months progressed and he became more and more destructive, chewing the table legs and shredding areas of the carpet – I decided to step up my game. I bought him teething toys, assuming that teething was partly to blame. I also bought them each a filled marrow bone and slathered the inside with fresh peanut butter after they had eaten all the original filling. They got the marrow bones every time I left the house. Those seemed to keep them occupied and I (again) breathed a sigh of relief.
After I had Gatsby neutered, I expected him to calm down like Barret did after his surgery. However, his destructive habits just got worse! I started coming home to holes in walls (yes, holes in my drywall) and table legs almost broken in half (how does a dog his size DO that?). I knew there was something causing him to act out, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. I called in a professional, ASAP.
A certified trainer came to my house and inspected the damage, reviewed my routine and visited with the dogs. What she said was very surprising. I was (for the most part) doing everything I was supposed to, with the exception of crating the dogs. She understood we wanted to exhaust our other options before attempting confinement. She proposed a few new things to do and asked me to check back with her.
The first suggestion was that I adjust my walking schedule. She asked that I walk the dogs right after we got up in the morning, with the thought that they would have time to expend some energy and calm down before I left the house to work for the day. It made sense; the dogs were always wild with stimulation after their walks. She also suggested that I cut out the lunchtime walks, since I didn’t have time to let them settle before I had to head back to work. They were both old enough at that point to “hold it” until my husband got home. She recommended we purchase a Comfort Zone plug-in, (which uses natural, calming dog pheromones to reduce anxiety) to help transition them into the new changes.
The second piece of advice she gave me was to train them more often throughout the day, especially in the mornings. She suggested we teach them to do “puppy push-ups” and new tricks to stimulate the brain and tire them out mentally before being left alone.
Her final suggestion from the consultation was some dietary changes. She advised we cut out most grains, corn, and soy from their diet and introduce some raw foods. She reasoned that canines process soy and grains differently than people, and they can react like kids on a sugar high!
The next day I started implementing the changes in routine. The first days looked promising, the destruction level decreased, I was ready to celebrate! Too bad the positive changes started to wear away and he was back to the same old destruction in a few short weeks…
Next time I’ll tell you what other products I tried and share with you my opinion on their effectiveness, as well as what seems to be working for us now.