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Alright, let me premise this by saying, not only are we new to this forum, but we're also not here to be told we're doing it "all wrong". Yes, we've made mistakes and learned from them or trying to learn from them but it is counter-productive to respond to a post asking for help by telling us we've screwed up and then offer no positive or constructive advice. We are loving pet owners and we would do just about anything for our pups. So if you're just going to judge us by the struggles we are having and leave it at that, you can just spend your time doing that with someone else. We will not acknowledge immature behavior. We are here for advice or realistic solutions.

We have two boxers; one is 2 years old and the other is 1 1/2 years old. Our oldest, Roxxy, is smaller than average, has some separation anxiety but is not destructive; just spastic. She is super timid around people she doesn't know and very attached to us when we are around. She doesn't bark unless she is in a crate and we've had her house broken for almost a year now. When she was just 8 months old, we had someone watching her while we were away and they didn't secure the crate she was in so she took off and was missing for 2 full days...ever since then her anxiety peeks if we crate her so we worked hard and successfully to take her out of that environment. She now roams the house for up to 12 hours (we rarely let her be alone for 8; it's only a couple times now that we unexpectedly have to visit the hospital or something that it's longer. She always provides a surprise of good behavior upon return).

Let me also add that we constantly walk them and let them run, for endless amounts of time, in our large back yard...Roxxy is faster than lightening and while Bentlee likes to run, he gets worn out quickly.

Last fall, we adopted our second boxer, Bentlee who is about a year and a half. He was the pet of my partner's brother and lived in an environment with 2 other dogs, 2 cats, some lizards, a 7 year old, etc. They then had a baby and they, we and others insisted they put that baby as priority and re-evaluate having so many pets in a small 2 bedroom flat. They returned with an ultimatum - either someone they know (us) takes Bentlee or they will not oblige. So we took them, partly because we liked Bentlee and partly because my partner's nephew was a priority.

We originally had him in a crate to ease him into being house broken (they had him in a crate more often then not). There began the issue.

To put it simply; Bentlee is a Houdini…or crate-dini and we've all heard the stories before. We have had to take some extra steps to dampen his magic skills. We had a metal collapsible crate that he manage to pull the wires from, bend one wall, and destroy the plastic tray. We would reinforce it with zip ties and wire but he would figure that out and chew. A lot.

So we returned to the plastic crate we had used with Roxxy and it is plenty big. We reinforced the notches around the outside with double zip ties and just recently have bunjeed the door so that if he were to push it open it would resist more than normal. Now, we had been house breaking him slowly but after multiple shoes, investments in extra storage, one couch, and two dvd players later...we are at our wits end and are returning to day one and working through it with him. Our goal is to get him house broken but he is one stubborn cookie.

We would graciously take Bentlee to the dog park in town to wear him out with other dogs but it is 50% cement and after a couple surgeries and long meetings with our vet, he has even told us not to take him on cement because he has unnaturally brittle nails and we've learned that even 10 minutes on concrete wear them down to the pink, split them, or tear them off. There are no sure supplements that will help...and the ones that would have made him sick. I'm sorry, but I'd rather him be comfortable then in pain or be sick.

Now, so far, he hasn't Houdini-ed his way out of his plastic kennel but that is not to say he hasn't tried. There are chew marks every which way. Before we reinforced it, he would exert enough pressure and bust the door open. We are not stupid - we know this obviously means he hates being kenneled and it's not going to help his separation anxiety. We did the gradual step up system to get him used to us leaving but it’s purely in his nature. It is not a long term solution; we hope to work it out to where he is house broken or really...anything else but destructive.

Bentlee is a loving dog; a little goofy, not the brightest, and definitely needs some work...we learned that quickly...but he is not a bad dog. We do not blame him for his actions or his anxiety and we know it is a fear that we are either not coming back or he did something wrong. We have done the research; we have talked to our vet...multiple vets actually, and we understand that punishing him is not helpful. We don't see our current choice and starting over with the crate a punishment but an attempt at correcting his behavior. When we come home, we ignore his excited behavior until he calms down to let him know that his spastic behavior will not get him rewarded - like man experts and advice columns explain to do.

Did I mention we've tried repellent sprays, no-chew sprays? Etc? They work for about a week and then he realizes that it just tastes bad but doesn't hurt him so no big deal.

Besides the issue of destructiveness; we are also seeing an issue with barking. We currently live in a duplex (not an ideal situation but you take what you can get as a young adult couple with one having a career job and the other still looking). We are moving (knock on wood) into a house next year which has a perfect area for a outdoor kennel run and environment for them to go buck crazy in. But until then, he barks when he’s in his kennel. Not continually, just sporadically. We know this because we rigged my computer to have a Skype open then answers whenever we call from our smart phones. We can communicate with him to tell him “no barking” and “lay down” which he responds to – sometimes well and sometimes not so well. The “nanny cam”, so to speak, may be effective and letting him know we are “around” but I’m not going to hold my breath. We have a bark collar on it and it blinks when it “works” but he barks over it so it either doesn’t work or he’s too stressed to care.

Aside from wearing him out (we do and he is worn out...), aside from seeing a vet to medicate an issue that is simply because he is a loving and attached dog, and aside from being told to go buy a $400 steel welded crate...what are other pet lovers’ suggestions?

Should we try one of those machines that play a tone any time they bark causing them not to bark? I can’t imagine it will be effective but has anyone been surprised that it does in deed work? We get hesitant to try something we haven’t heard any reviews about…so hopefully someone hear has some insight.

Are there any toys that are proven to be distracting for when we leave? We’ve tried kongs and peanut butter but he’s a little pig and has them licked clean in a matter of seconds. We filled bottles with dog food and he loves those but they don’t seem to be distracting…any other ideas?

We are changing our walking/running schedule to be more intense but regardless of that, what other ways can I wear a dog out that can’t really be on concrete? We get down and play with both of them a lot and boy do they play with each other, but since Bentlee gets kind ‘ve aggressive, it doesn’t last long. I know Boxers are an energetic breed – and we work with it. But besides telling us MORE EXERCISE…does anyone have any ideas of different ways to wear them out?

Is there something we're missing? They both sleep through the *entire* night, no problem. We never come home to accidents like peeing and pooping; we "Bentlee" proofed when we do have him out and we're gone...is totally effective except the couches. Is there a secret spray or trick we're unaware of that will get him to stop chewing the couches?If we could find the solution to his desire to to destroy (besides that he's anxious) then we wouldn't need to kennel him so if seriously, anyone has any ideas about to stop his chewing, that would be the cure-all.


Again, I appreciate constructive advice and solutions - don't tell me the obvious "they are energetic dogs" or "don't kennel him if he doesn't like to be kenneled" because that give us no solution for our problem. We are genuinely trying to help Bentlee become more well behaved and either house broken or kennel trained…and we just plea for help. So if you’ve got some suggestions, we are all ears.

You can see a photo of Bentlee and Roxxy here (Roxxy is the fawn one).
 

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Did you teach her that the crate is a happy place? It usually backfires if you just stick them in a crate.

Also, definitely socialize him! Have strangers hand him treats (if he is OK with that), that will let him know people besides you are nice. I HIGHLY suggest you sign him up for some training classes.

As for toys, they sell these things called Tug-a-Chugs or something like that: http://www.petco.com/product/113818...reat-Dispensing-Toy.aspx?CoreCat=OnSiteSearch

Here is a link to some interactive games on petco: http://www.petco.com/N_22_101_30_42...ames&cmrefr=5000&cmrefid=4294952548&cmrefpf=1

I'm sure someone will help you will the rest! Good luck, you are a good person for taking that dog in.
 

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First, I understand you are wanting to do the best for your dogs! Good for you!
Second, you've given us a lot of info and some very strict guidelines for posting replies, you don't want to hear this, and please don't post that, etc. Try to not be so strict and limiting about what you want us to say and what you don't want us to say. You never know when you will find something helpful. I do understand not wanting to be criticized, though. :)

When you give him a kong with peanut butter, do you freeze the kong overnight first? That tends to make the peanut butter harder to get out. You could also wedge a larger treat in the kong at an angle, the larger treat won't come out if it's wedged in, it has to be nibbled at, or licked till it's smaller.

There are several types of treat dispensing toys, buster cubes, things like that, if the treats are yummy enough, it might keep him occupied. But, you may have to experiment to find what he really likes, like liver treats, or maybe even some cubed cheese.

Have you thought about using a baby gate to block off a dog proof room in your house? We did that when we were trying to give our dogs a bit more freedom. We used the kitchen, and put the trash bin out of their reach, made sure things weren't left out, etc. and used a baby gate to block the doorway from the rest of the house. If your dog is able to jump over one baby gate, you could use the "double gate" system, which is two gates on top of one another.

Sometimes having a bit more space can help a dog relax if they have anxiety issues.
How much mental exercise is he given, i.e. training, mental stimulation, etc.?
 

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Can you put boots on Bentlee? That would protect his poor feet and allow him to run around having fun. You can train a dog to accept boots, especially if he learns that boots mean fun walks and trips to the park. Maybe softpaws for dogs?

He really sounds understimulated and in need of an outlet to me. Running around the yard just isn't enough- as you are discovering. Yes, he can run, but it's all the same, so there's nothing to stimulate his mind. Is your yard big enough to set up an agility course? You can build them yourself or order pieces online.

I like Lilasmom's suggestion of tugachugs and interactive games. His mind needs to be exercised. That would help a lot with his behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Doxiemommy, I apologize for the guidelines...I am up for ANY advice - I mainly didn't want replies complaining about what I have done without any suggestions. I've had that before and as you can imagine, it was not helpful. My boyfriend likes to say I am long winded - ha. Sorry about that. I appreciate your note of that. I suppose I'm just worn out from immature threads that I didn't know what to expect in this new forum. Lesson learned - this seems like a very helpful place! :wink:

The nice thing is, that all replies so far really have given me some ideas and I am so grateful for that; you all wouldn't believe.

As far as Bentlee goes,

LilasMom, the interactive toys seem great! I will be looking them over and probably youtubing a few of them in action to see how they would stimulate poor Bentlee. The tugachug looks fun. I think he takes after his owner in the fact that he has short attention so putting these out when he's gone could help - that way he knows they are treats for when we are gone. We've tried training classes...we keep looking for socializing classes to get him stimulated but the area we live in is very limited. We are going to look into more of these for the summer months when we have time off.

Back to Doxiemommy, I would've NEVER thought to freeze the peanut butter. BRILLIANT. I will be trying this trick IMMEDIATELY being that Bentlee LOVES peanut butter. THANK YOU for this! We have tried a baby gate and he knocks himself right through it...we can't seem to figure out where his motivation to be on the other side comes from, we pretty much desensitize anything we don't want them getting into...are there any specific gates you like using...brand names? We rent so we don't want anything installed until the home we are moving into in August. The metal ones work for friends we have but they are too short for Roxxy (she jumps more than Bentlee). I'm going to recheck to see what options there are because (knock on wood) maybe we missed something.

And Amaryllis, Bentlee has proven he doesn't like boots. :( He chews them right off. Occasionally we can manage to rig them so he doesn't take them off but as you may gather, he is pretty persistant. As for the agility course...where do you suggest looking for parts so I can become more familiar with this concept? It's definitely intriguing.

I am definitely going to address the mental exercise...maybe I'm just naive and we've trained and worked with him but I don't know if we specifically addressed it as though it were mental exercise and not just "playing". I like that idea.

As for Roxxy,

She has warmed up dramatically for strangers because of Bentlee. She hesitates but has been more willing to be around new people once she warms up. It's not something we're too concerned with. After some work, it's improved. Our vet said it may be due to the fact she is somewhat of a "runt" and was surrounded by very large siblings when she was younger who probably pushed her around a bit. No worries though, we give her plenty of loving.

I really do appreciate all the help you guys have supplied. I hope there is more to come and if you think of anything else, let me know! I will definitely post an update! THANKS AGAIN!
 

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Hmmm, the gate thing. Well, when you DO move, you can try the type you install. In the meantime, I know that there are some pet stores that carry gates, I always just went with the type in the baby department of stores as I thought they were cheaper! :)
I think the brand was Safety 1st. BUT, we have small breed dogs that can't really push through them. I bet you could google baby gates and find a better brand!

Our dogs love cottage cheese in their kongs, too. You can freeze that, as well!
 

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If you ask for advice then give 'conditions' you might not get good advice and you may be missing out on valuable opinions. Then there's this little RULE about backseat moderating, which on this forum INCLUDES telling people what they are and are not allowed to say in the thread. Consider this your official warning...


The fact is, on this forum if you give good information on what has already been done you'll get pretty good feedback on what else you can try.
 

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If you ask for advice then give 'conditions' you might not get good advice and you may be missing out on valuable opinions. Then there's this little RULE about backseat moderating, which on this forum INCLUDES telling people what they are and are not allowed to say in the thread. Consider this your official warning...


The fact is, on this forum if you give good information on what has already been done you'll get pretty good feedback on what else you can try.
As I stated in a previous response after my initial post,

"Doxiemommy, I apologize for the guidelines...I am up for ANY advice - I mainly didn't want replies complaining about what I have done without any suggestions. I've had that before and as you can imagine, it was not helpful. My boyfriend likes to say I am long winded - ha. Sorry about that. I appreciate your note of that. I suppose I'm just worn out from immature threads that I didn't know what to expect in this new forum. Lesson learned - this seems like a very helpful place!"


...I apologized for the conditions I had included and I appreciated the note regarding my use of them. I have been in very disrespectful forums where no matter the info given - people are just judgmental and give no advice. I was premising it so that we could avoid that. So far I appreciate ALL of the advice I have received and I believe I have been vocal about that appreciation.

You would not need to give me an "official warning" or redirect me to this little "RULE" if you had just read my apology to begin with after someone else politely pointed out my error and gave me fair warning.

Again - I apologize but please try to be more aware of the apologies I have already shared and my understanding of my own mistake. It only makes one feel more guilty and un-welcomed if you come off as someone who does not wish to understand another person's mistakes.
 

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Hmmm, the gate thing. Well, when you DO move, you can try the type you install. In the meantime, I know that there are some pet stores that carry gates, I always just went with the type in the baby department of stores as I thought they were cheaper! :)
I think the brand was Safety 1st. BUT, we have small breed dogs that can't really push through them. I bet you could google baby gates and find a better brand!

Our dogs love cottage cheese in their kongs, too. You can freeze that, as well!

Cottage cheese! I told this to my boyfriend and he gave me a face but I can't wait to try it! I have some freezing as we speak. After 3 days of rekenneling, he is still a bit crazy but he is calming down and a few of the tricks you and others had shared definitely seem to be making a small impact. Hopefully they don't wear off. I appreciate the gate advice - we have tried baby gates but yeah, we might have to wait until we can install something with how aggressive Bentlee can be!
 

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Cottage cheese! I told this to my boyfriend and he gave me a face but I can't wait to try it! I have some freezing as we speak. After 3 days of rekenneling, he is still a bit crazy but he is calming down and a few of the tricks you and others had shared definitely seem to be making a small impact. Hopefully they don't wear off. I appreciate the gate advice - we have tried baby gates but yeah, we might have to wait until we can install something with how aggressive Bentlee can be!
Also some healthy plain yogurt is really yummy frozen too.
 

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I'm going to do try this agility course in the Spring. It's made entirely of pvc pipes, there's a step by step guide and you only need a saw. So when the weather gets nice, my husband and I will go out back and build a jump bar and weave poles. I'm told you can get a tunnel made for children at JC Penney. It's not like a real agility tunnel, but it's better than nothing.

Did you look at the softpaws for dogs? Some of the reviews of the product mention boxers with brittle nails, they might really help.
 

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I'm going to do try this agility course in the Spring. It's made entirely of pvc pipes, there's a step by step guide and you only need a saw. So when the weather gets nice, my husband and I will go out back and build a jump bar and weave poles. I'm told you can get a tunnel made for children at JC Penney. It's not like a real agility tunnel, but it's better than nothing.

Did you look at the softpaws for dogs? Some of the reviews of the product mention boxers with brittle nails, they might really help.
I will definitely check out the softpaws - I looked but hadn't seen those reviews. Now that you bring that up, that encourages me that they may actually work contrary to my original belief. Keep me posted on your agility course this Spring - I have been looking into the concept and I think it might work out in our new house! :) Can't wait to hear how you enjoy a class!
 

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Good thing this mama loves her plain yougurt - I will try that too! I heard yougurt also helps their digestive system? Or is that totally wrong?
Yogurt contains live cultures which helps reset the good bacteria balance in the digestive system. It works for people, too. Just make sure you (and your dog) are eating yogurt without sugar in it. Sugar undoes the good effects.
 
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