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Our dog chews on the bars of her crate sometimes when we're not around. Does anyone have any suggestions or insights?

More info: our pup, Biscuit, is about 10 months old. We rescued her about three months ago, and she already had all her adult teeth when we got her. She's about 40 pounds and looks like some sort of Golden Retriever/Aussie type mix. She gets a very decent amount of exercise, usually 30 min at the dog park twice a day (or a mile or two running or a longer walk), midday 30 min dog walk, tug-o-war or fetch and training games for mental exhaustion purposes. We both work 9-5 and she's crated while we're gone, with a dog walker visit midday. We leave Nylabones in the crate with her and the dog walker gives her a frozen stuffed Kong before he leaves after her walk.

The crate bar chewing has only happened three or four times and seems to be maybe related to things stressing her out when she's in her crate (e.g. an earthquake) -- but maybe not. We only know it happens because the wire crate bars are bent, but this is obviously bad for her teeth so we really want to put a stop to it. I don't think it's separation anxiety or crate anxiety - she seems to like her crate and goes in there of her own volition to nap even when we're home -- in fact she's in there as I type this sentence -- and we never hear her barking or seeming upset in there, even if we come back a couple of minutes after we leave.

When we first got her, we had the crate in a spot where she couldn't see people come in the door and covered it with a blanket, and she sort of went nuts a couple times, pulling the blanket into the crate and moving the crate across the floor from inside. We moved the crate to a spot where she could see more and got rid of the blanket and she definitely seems to like it more now, but still the occasional bar chewing. :doh:

Any ideas? Bitter spray, maybe? Except we've used it on our doormat and it doesn't seem to work particularly well...
 

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The thing with bitter spray is....some dogs actually like it! Ugh. There are several brands, so you could try another. But, you do have to re-apply on a regular basis, because it doesn't work if the dog can't taste it....

Some dogs feel more anxious when they are isolated. You found that out when you had the dog positioned where she couldn't see anything, and had it covered. She might do better if you left her in a puppy safe room, blocked off with a baby gate. We used the kitchen. If one baby gate is too short, and she can get over it, you can put two on top of one another, to make it taller.
 

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You know, dogs experience their environment through smell and taste. A puppy only has two questions about anything it sees: "what does it taste like" and "will it fit in my mouth." So don't rule out the possibility that it's nothing more than an interesting taste and texture, and the resistance from bending them is probably quite satisfying.

I'm no expert, but I'm not convinced its as bad for her teeth as you might think. Dogs are strong, tough creatures who, lacking opposable thumbs, use their mouths and teeth the way we use our hands. I'm just saying, their teeth are more robust than ours.

Think about maybe a better variety of toys in the crate.
 

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Bitter spray may work, but it may not. I used an old horse trick on my dog who chews on her bed - rub a bar of soap on it. Works for horses .. sadly, my dog quickly got used to the taste, and even seems to like it (now she tries to drink bath water at every opportunity)

My dog used to gnaw on the plastic 'bars' in the windows of her plastic kennel. Knowing my dog, I assumed she was bored and needed something to occupy herself - so I reserved a few new toys as 'night time' toys. Every night she gets 2, and never the same toys two nights in a row. It keeps things new and interesting for her. No more bar chewing (may or may not work for you, all dogs are different :))

I found this toy to be very effective:

I stuff the ridges full of cheese and peanut butter. It lasts a very long time, cleans teeth, and its tasty.

As from that, I wouldn't worry. As DustyCrockett said, dogs are tough creatures. Keep an eye on his mouth to make sure there are no cuts or injuries, but don't lose sleep over it. Just be glad she doesn't chew rocks :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
She might do better if you left her in a puppy safe room, blocked off with a baby gate. We used the kitchen. If one baby gate is too short, and she can get over it, you can put two on top of one another, to make it taller.
We were talking about trying that, but I almost think it would make her more anxious or feel more isolated. She doesn't particularly like our kitchen and its tile floor. Still, might be worth a try, just for an hour at first or something. We were also talking about gating off the front entryway (she loves chewing on that doormat) and giving her run of the first floor, but I think she might feel "responsible" for guarding the whole space if we did that, and that might just make her anxious. She's a cautious, wary sort of pup.

The toy variety idea is a good one. Right now she's been getting the same two Nylabones every morning, plus the Kong in the afternoon. Maybe if we rotated the Nylabones with something else, that would help. I'll look into the Stuffaball. Finding crate-safe toys for her has been difficult because she tends to chew things up so quickly.

I sort of assumed it was bad for her teeth, but maybe you all are right. We keep checking her teeth and they seem fine thus far...I Googled it and came up with some results about cracking teeth on crate bars and now I have visions of a toothless puppy dancing in my head. Sigh.
 

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Maybe if we rotated the Nylabones with something else, that would help. I'll look into the Stuffaball. Finding crate-safe toys for her has been difficult because she tends to chew things up so quickly.
My dog is a master at destroying toys too. She's shredded basically everything except Kong Toys. The only Kong Toy she can destroy is Kong Frisbee (but its specifically not a chew toy). Kong Classic, Kong Stuffable, Kong Ball, and even Kong Wubba have all lasted the past 10 months. Kong Wubba doesn't even have a single loose thread, I just have to toss it in the washing machine every now and then because it gets dirty. I feel good buying them too, because most are made in America (aside from Kong Tennis balls, they're made in china.. but I avoid tennis balls anyhow) Kong toys are expensive, but gosh darn do they last! I've never regretted a single one.

.I Googled it and came up with some results about cracking teeth on crate bars and now I have visions of a toothless puppy dancing in my head. Sigh.
Sadly, yes, tooth cracking is always a concerned. Dogs teeth are very tough, but sometimes they get over zealous. We can't bubble wrap the world, we can only do our best to steer them away from dangerous habits. Have you considered a plastic crate, instead of wire bars?
 

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Kong Wubba doesn't even have a single loose thread, I just have to toss it in the washing machine every now and then because it gets dirty.
I had such high hopes for the Kong Wubba! But it only lasted maybe twenty minutes before she started ripping off the tentacles and we had to take it away. She'll get it back, but only when we can watch her with it. Very sad.

We have considered a plastic crate, but a new crate is expensive and I'm not sure she'd appreciate the lack of visibility from an airplane-style crate, so it would sort of be an expensive experiment.

We did the bitter spray today and came home to no evidence of crate chewing...but that's the case most of the time anyway. Who knows what goes through that little fuzzy head.
 
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