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Hello! I just joined this forum because even though I’ve had dogs all my life, I’m still worried about, well…everything. There’s never a moment I’m not worrying. But anyway, I just wanted to post something a bit funny about my puppy as my first post :)

I swear, I think she has it out for me.

She doesn’t chew my stuff often, but when she does, she knows EXACTLY what to chew. I don’t know how she does it, but here’s a list of things she’s chewed:

•My favorite pair of shoes
•My favorite face mask
•My favorite bra
•My second favorite bra
•My favorite underwear
•My $30 Vera Bradley Lanyard
•My taxes

I wanna be mad at her because of course I really valued those items, but I always give in after 5 minutes 🤦🏻‍♀️ She only chews my things when they’re left near her kennel (even though she has PLENTY of toys in there) and when I leave her alone in my room for a few minutes. But somehow, during these rare occasions, she knows EXACTLY what to chew. It’s baffling. She’s still a puppy, so chewing is expected, but I’m hoping a little more training and a little more toys will satisfy her haha. She’s far too smart, and I don’t know if it’s for her own good or mine.
 

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Dogs do gravitate towards things that smell like us - it's probably comforting or makes them happy, because they love us so much - and the things we use most certainly fall into that category! The other part of this is that if something gets a big reaction out of us, even if it's a negative reaction, they're more likely to do it again, because any attention is good attention to most puppies.

Honestly, getting mad won't do much. It might even encourage her. With a puppy, you really do have to manage their environment, and sometimes that means getting into a habit of putting things away in places they can't get to, getting a new laundry bag that's too tall for the dog (or has a lid), putting loose objects into drawers when you leave your workspace, creating and maintaining a 'clean zone' around their crate/kennel where absolutely nothing she could possibly pull into the enclosure is allowed, etc. The less access she has to practice these bad habits, and the more she's encouraged and praised for chewing her own toys instead, the less likely she is to continue doing them in the future.

You can also look up 'trading games' to work on her defaulting to bringing you objects she steals instead of chewing them up. The trick is making sure you practice them a lot with things she's allowed to have, so that 90+% of the time she brings you something you can give her a huge fuss, 'trade' for a treat or attention or a special toy, and then give the original item back to her. This way she learns it's way better to bring you cool stuff she finds, because you give her lots of attention and a treat or two, and she doesn't lose the cool thing because you give it back (most of the time).
 

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Dogs do gravitate towards things that smell like us - it's probably comforting or makes them happy, because they love us so much -
I’ve definitely heard of this before, and I figured that’s what one of the causes was. I was also assuming she was bored and curious. It’s baffling because I did have other stuff laying around that smelled like me, and she of course went for my favorite things. I just don’t know how my taxes got thrown into the mix!

even if it's a negative reaction, they're more likely to do it again, because any attention is good attention to most puppies.

Honestly, getting mad won't do much. It might even encourage her. With a puppy, you really do have to manage their environment,
I know that positive reinforcement or even ignoring does so much more than negative punishment any day, and it’s not like I’m gonna kennel her as a punishment because she doesn’t need to associate her kennel with anything bad, but I will admit to reprimanding with “Bad girl!” and showing obvious frustration with her. It was very difficult to look at her and not be upset about my favorite shoes! But it’s pretty impossible to stay mad at a puppy—though I’m still holding a slight grudge even as I’m cuddling her right now. I do take blame in the fact that I shouldn’t have trusted her as much as I did with leaving these things out. It’s my fault just as much as hers. Her kennel is right next to my bed, so things do fall in between the crack that I just don’t see (which is how my mask and Vera Bradley lanyard got caught in the crossfire). I suppose it’s time for a little room rearrangement.

You can also look up 'trading games' to work on her defaulting to bringing you objects she steals instead of chewing them up.
Thank you very much for this advice! I’ll look into it because it sound very fun and useful for the both of us. We’re relatively familiar with trading games because that’s how I taught her “drop it”, but we used items of equal value with that. Quick question: she’s 7 months old right now, so will she be able to retain that trick as easily as she was when she was more impressionable at say, 2 months old? I really appreciate your response and advice! I’m realizing now that this probably should’ve gone in the training forum, I apologize!
 

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Theft is a dog's best and biggest game. If you have two dogs and three bones they watch to see when they can steal the bone the other dog has leaving the third bone alone. Same with three toys... and they will steal from you. In fact, when training using a toy they may try to steal it as opposed to taking it as a reward!

The best thing you can do is put all your personal things away and then get that clicker out and train. You can teach a dog to do all kinds of things this way and they think it is fun. If you are feeding kibble you can take part (or all) of any meal and have them earn it as part of the game. Once you have taught a new behavior you can add speed and power with a toy reward and a good game of tug.

Mental stimulation and focus is the key. Fifteen of twenty minutes of clicker training a new behavior can make a dog too tired to steal (at least for a little while!).

Here is a good start though you can also do things that are useful to you like finding your keys or your cell phone!

 

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Thank you for the link and advice! I’ve actually never 100% understood clicker training, but I know it’s very effective. I’ll definitely give it a try soon! I am realizing she does need a lot more mental stimulation, and she could definitely stand to learn a few more tricks…
 

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Karen Pryor's site is a good place to start. If you do not have a clicker, you can mark the behavior with an enthusiastic, quick, happy "YES!" Clicker training is very incremental.

You need to break every behavior down into tiny steps and progress that way. Dogs are associative leaners.. so the start is you put a box on the floor. The dog just glances at the box. You say "YES!" and give a bit of kibble at the box... then the dog might touch the box with his nose.. you say "YES!" and feed.. at the box (but stop rewarding for just looking at the box.. now she must touch it with her nose) and so forth. You can break it down even further... Look at the box, reward as above. Take a step toward the box, reward.. and so forth.. building a behavior. TIMING saying "YES!" is critical. You learn too!

Take a break every 5 minutes and play a game of tug or toss a ball or something.. then go back to training. Never work more than 15 to 20 minutes all told.

Look over her entire site.. there is a LOT of free information and all of this builds a relationship with the dog.

I start every puppy with marker training and teach every new behavior with marker training.

Let us know your progress!!
 

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Thank you, thank you! I’ll keep you updated after we start the training. Hopefully nothing else falls victim to her deadly jaws.
 

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Maybe she could smell that you were stressed out working on your taxes and thought she was being 'helpful', haha! I'm mostly joking - it's impossible to say why a dog finds one thing more tempting when they ignore lots of similar objects.

Dogs are lifelong learners. There's definitely some advantages of teaching certain foundations to young puppies, especially when it comes to handling and exposure to unusual sights/sounds/sensations, but you've got no time limit with training tricks or practical behaviors on cue. There's very little truth to the 'old dogs can't learn new tricks' saying.

I'll also suggest Kikopup on YouTube. She focuses on positive, reward-based training and has lots of free videos working through teaching tricks, basic skills, and common behavior issues.
 

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Haha, what a good girl for trying to help me out.

I was hoping that was the case! She’s a very smart dog, and all of the basic tricks I did teach her, she picked up in almost no time at all. She associated high-five with shake, so she got it on the first try! We haven’t done much behavioral training (other than potty training), though, because it’s always come “naturally” to her, honestly. And when I first got her, chewing wasn’t much of an issue. She chewed solely her toys. I never had to train her with walking off-leash or coming when called, either. In fact, I only recently found out that’s a trained behavior! I find myself really lucky with that because I’ve read a LOT of people’s experiences on here.

I’m a visual learner, so I’m sure those videos are gonna be really useful. Thank you!
 
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