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1493 Views 19 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  lad20050620
Hi! I am new to this forum.
So I need some help! I have a Golden Retriever, I have had a lot of other dog breeds but he is my first Golden. I love him to death but we have a serious problem. If he is left alone he will destroy everything in sight. LITERALLY EVERYTHING from paper to packages to plants. I have no idea what to do. He just turned one today, I have only had puppies (2-7 months) tear things up but it was never like this and they learned within a week or two that it was not a good behavior. Every once in a while they would tear a dog toy up but that is expected. Plus I didn't mind buying dog toys. I have been dealing with this since he was 5 months old. I have looked it up online, asked other people who have had dogs. Right now I have him on a run cable that lets him run and gives him plenty of room to move. But I don't want that to be the permanent solution. I would feel horrible if he would have to stay on a cable all day unless someone is outside with him because he hates being inside. HE LOVES TO BE OUTSIDE. I have tried taking everything he can destroy and putting it away but he still finds something. Digs up plants, destroys the small trees and bushes in the yard. I have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO! Any help will be greatly appreciated
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Work on training daily, using reward-based methods. Add in some fun tricks. They're low-stress, help build your bond, and get your dog thinking and problem solving. Plus they can be surprisingly useful - I use a nose target and stepping on a platform to help weigh my dogs at the vet, for example.

Encourage sniffing. Do treat/kibble scatters in grass, or hide treats/kibble around the house and have him search them out (make it pretty easy the first couple times so he learns it's a fun game, not a frustrating one). put kibble or treats in toilet paper tubes or empty cereal boxes and fold them closed so he can figure out how to get at them. If he's not interested in stuffed food toys as a treat, try feeding part of his meals in one. Start easy, just loose kibble or kibble that's just a little sticky with peanut butter, unsweetened yogurt, etc. You can increase the difficulty by packing food in there and/or freezing it later.

Slow down those outings. Doesn't have to be all of them. Runs are fine so long as he's fully physically grown and those growth plates are closed. But running being his only outings only gets you a dog that's fitter and fitter - therefore less tired each time - without much brain stimulation. Let him sniff and explore interesting (safe) places. Take him out to wilder areas as much as possible (forest trails are awesome if you have access, otherwise somewhere like parks with lots of plants and critter smells). Use a long line and don't worry about enforcing leash manners beyond what's necessary for safety (with my dogs, that's 'you can't lunge/pull on the leash, you have to come back and wait with me when people pass, and I get the last say in which path we take'). Dogs take in so much information by smell, and a leisurely 20 minute walk that's mostly sniffing spots that seem terribly uninteresting to us humans often does more to help a dog chill/settle than a physical workout does.

The Facebook group Canine Enrichment has a lot of ideas, frequently with cheap/free things around the house, if you want to get a feel for what other people are doing.

Oh, and there's no official registration for ESAs in the US. All you need is a note from your doctor/mental health provider saying an ESA will be helpful for you, and you'll get the housing rights under the FHA and the ability to take him on an aircraft. ESAs do not have public access rights (eg restaurants and non-dog-friendly stores), so no special training is required. Any organization/website telling you otherwise is either misinformed or trying to get money out of you for a bogus registration certificate.
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Ah, sounds like you're aiming for him to be a therapy dog, where the dog visits hospitals, care homes, etc. to help people other than the handler. Service Dog and ESA both refer legally to dogs/animals who support their owner/handler in some way. The differences can be a little confusing, for sure.

It's very good that you have a lot of space! Even with a lot of yard, new spaces are always going to be more interesting/stimulating, so letting him take 'sniffaris' on trails and the like where you let him set the pace and really get his nose working will be awesome.

Definitely work on those lifestyle changes first. Personally, if I didn't see any improvement even after a while with increased mental stimulation, I'd honestly be working on crate or pen training to help teach him to settle on his own. A good, sturdy setup should allow you to make sure he only has access to things that he's allowed to chew/destroy. He needs to learn how to entertain himself appropriately and relax even when you're not there to direct him.
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