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Hey all;

So, Troy, my male Shih-Tzu/Poodle mix, is a one year old pup (Born Jul 16, 2016) , whom we took home when he was about 10 weeks old. This is my first "From puppy" experience to which my wife and I are the full time maintainers of this wonderful animal. I've had dogs all my life. As a matter of fact, I can probably count the number of months on one hand where I did not have a dog in my life. In my childhood, I was born into a family with a 1 year old pup (Brandy), and when I was about 12, we got another dog. I moved in with my wife, she had a 2 year old Lassah-apso(?), to which we had to put down last year. Which is where Troy enters the picture.

My wife and I are full time workers, 9-5, and my two kids (10 and 12) are in school full time as well. My wife and I took a week off work to acclimate Troy to his new home. He is a biter, and likes to play rough, but only with me (And I'm absolutely 1,000% OK with that, as I am a HUGE instigator of that play time, so I expect to get bitten. No blood yet. :rockon:). He's gentle enough with my boys and wife when they play, so I'm sure he's got the understanding of who to go to when he wants to try and be a playful bully.

My problem is that he chews everything, and anything when we're not at home. From pens, to pencils, to purses, to toys, to his pad, to boxes, to make up accessories, quite literally anything and everything he can get his teeth on. I mean it. And I'm afraid of that. However, when we're home, he's an angel, goes to any of us for attention, he's a big licker, and always seems happy. I take him on short road trips when I know myself or someone will be in the car with him the whole time, like, to go pick up the wife when I'm at home, or, wife wants to go to Chapters, or a run across town to get something, etc. Just to acclimate him to the car, and what its about. He knows what the car is, what it means, and he willingly jumps in on his own.

As a kind of last-ditch effort, to try and save my property, his health, and my sanity, last night, I picked up a 6 foot cloth leash and tied him to the patio door inside the house (Its an Air conditioned house, and there are two vents to either side of the door, so heat isn't an issue, as well, there's plenty of shade, and he'd only be "affected" by the sun until about 11am). He's got a dog pad, water, no food (The food needs supervision since the cat likes to steal it), chew toys and dog treats.

The reason why I tied him to the door is because I'm not a fan of locking him in his crate when no one is home. Sincerely, I'm not a fan of tying him to the door either, but I'm pulling hair out when we come home after work EVERY DAY to find something destroyed. I can't afford, both space wise and money wise, a gated area in the house for him to stay in where he can't get into things.

I have security cameras setup at home, and one of them point exactly where I tied him to (The cameras have been up for months), and I've been watching him from work today, just to make sure he's safe, and not getting hurt. I noticed he got tied up around a shelf which cut his lead to almost nothing, so I went home to untangle him, and spend about 20 minutes being mauled with kisses and cuddles. I noticed his leash was chewed up, and I doubted it'd last until the end of the day. Sure enough, he'd broken free by the time I got back to work.

I feel this chewing thing is either an anxiety issue, or a "How dare you!" issue. I reviewed previous video to see how he gets some of the things he gets into. He scopes things out, slowly picks out his target, and chews it, looks around, goes back at it, leaves it, then comes back to it, etc. Eventually, loses all interest in that target. I have come home to a complete disaster area, where I could barely see the living room floor. I've also come home to a single pencil that gave its life.

Given that I don't have the time to give him the full on training he needs, plus the fact that he's an angel when we ARE home and I can't direct him to what I consider bad behavior is, what options do I have left?

I've read that showing him what he's done wrong is a moot, even minutes after the event, and that he doesn't understand what he did wrong and why I'm yelling, etc. (Yeah.. I know.. Fruitless activity). I didn't see any mention about the age of the dog where this applies, so I don't know if its all his life, or just a puppy thing. Although, the other day, when he got at my wifes old purse and one of my boys put it away, I took the purse back, put it in front of him, and he sulked away. I think he knows he did bad. I think the problem is that he's not understanding that the house is NOT his chew toy, which is what I'm trying to curb.
 

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Chewing is a very normal dog thing, even for dogs who might not be considered puppies. Many young adults (and adults) can't be trusted at home loose. It's not necessarily anxiety, it's more that he doesn't understand what he can and can't chew, and because he's very young he just gets into everything. And you're right, yelling at him after the fact is fruitless and only damages your relationship. Here are a few steps you can take to help with this issue:

1. Pick up your house. Anything you don't want the dog chewing on must be picked up and put away where he can't reach it. Make sure he has plenty of chew toys. Antlers, rubber chews, just something appropriate for him to play with while you're gone. Puppy proof you're entire home. If you're lucky, that will fix the problem. If not, and he chews furniture or something, move on to step 2.

2. Confine the pup to a single room. Close a door, use baby gates. Your dog is probably a bit too big to be completely confined with an x-pen, but that can be an option, too. Make sure that room is utterly dog proof. Sometimes that means removing the furniture if the dog chews furniture, or blocking the furniture with gates. Most people choose a room with hard floors, like a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room, but if your pup is potty trained he will probably be fine. If your dog chews walls, escalate to step 3.

3. For dogs that eat the house, a crate is typically the only safe option, or some sort of bare room with brick/cinderblock/stone walls. Few people have one of those rooms. Many people use crates successfully, and they have happy, healthy dogs.

Management is key. If he can't get to things to chew on, he can't create bad habits. Really, a crate is probably the easiest method because how many of us can keep our houses that clean? A crate for your size of dog probably only costs $30 on Amazon. If he's potty trained, you can even get him one that is meant for a bigger dog to give him more space. I purchased a 42" crate for my 50 lb. dog for $50 on Amazon.

I would not recommend tethering him unsupervised (A crate is a much safer option that gives him the same amount of space, really). Many dogs have become tangled and strangled from being tethered, and if he chews on the lead it's only a matter of time before he figures out how to get loose. Even with cameras on him, you might not get back home in time to save him should he get caught up.

Other tips: Make sure the dog is properly exercised. Boredom can contribute to destructive chewing. Some dogs just chew because, you know, dogs are dogs, but if a walk can fix the problem, why not?
 

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Thanks for the reply. Useful info. I hadn't considered the strangling, but, the entanglement of legs and lack of freedom to run around was what was breaking my heart. So a trip to Home Depot to pick up heavy gauge wire to act as a leash isn't gonna happen now. ;) I know about how dogs use their mouth for everything, just the same as we use our hands for everything. Chewing, I thought stopped after a certain age. I don't recall my first two dogs getting into much in their later years, but, I might have been oblivious to what my parents did to prevent the dogs from chewing.

When we're not at home, Troy has run of the living room and kitchen area. The kitchen is all cupboards with doors, and he's never gotten into them. We're in a 3-floor house (Basement, main, and bedrooms) and he's confined to the main, with gates at the stairs to lower and upper floors. One of my boys, one day, forgot to close the gate to the basement, and Troy managed to completely destroy stuff in the room, including computer equipment, which has put a ban on his being downstairs even with supervision. On the main floor, hardwood and linoleum floors all around (thankfully). We've blocked off book shelves (He hasn't gone UP a level to get books, just gets the ones on the lower shelf). I've not been able to catch him up on the table on video, but, he gets up there SOMEHOW to grab pens and pencils. Unfortunately, my boys forget to put their stuff away when they're done using them. I guess it'll have to become a new bedtime ritual to clean up the table.

Troy is paper trained, so, he goes on the pads, and he's pretty good at it. He misses on #2 sometimes, but, its in the area, so we don't give him grief over it. We've not seen any misses with #1 anywhere in the house for the past several months. He's never messed in the crate, and he's night-crated since pretty much day one.

In the mornings, I'm going to have to start getting up earlier to take him outside and he can do his running in circles, I guess. I'll try that for a couple weeks and see where that leads me. I can't walk far (Not a physical inability, just a matter of time in the mornings) so his usual running around in circles might have to do.

What we're probably going to have to do is get shelving with doors, and slowly migrate from an open shelf setup to closed doors, at least for lower levels, or I build some doors onto what we currently have. I'm thinking the building of doors would be the best, since that means I can play with MY toys. ;)

The pocket book doesn't like this advise, but, its the best option.

Thank you, so very much.
 

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You're kids will just have to learn that if they don't put their stuff away, it might get destroyed! The loss of a favorite toy may encourage them to clean up their things....

Some more cost efficient options for blocking off shelves with books and other...munchables...is using just the panels of an x-pen, or even some sort of thin grate-type wire from home depot (like, metal garden fence) and securing it across the shelves somehow. Command strips can be useful, as you can hang the grate on them and then easily take it off. If the dog is willing to work away at barriers to get to objects on the shelf, then it may not work, but I found just putting up a light physical barrier works well enough if the munchables are low-value. Not pretty, of course, but probably less expensive then putting doors on all your shelves, and it's only temporary.

If budget is really a constraint, again, a crate is the best option. If your dog isn't destroying your house, they are typically sleeping all day anyway. The crate is also a temporary management tool. But, note some dogs, not even adults, never grow out of destructive chewing.
 

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Crate. Tethering like that is very dangerous. At best, he chews the leash and destroys the house. At worst, he strangles himself. Somewhere in between best and worse case, he breaks a leg or rips a ligament getting tangled.

Chewing is normal. Get a couple durable chews like the classic Kong and a durable Nylabone for use in the crate. No stuffed toys unsupervised and no rope toys as chews at all (rope is for tug and fetch, not chewing).

Fleece blankets make a cheap and fairly safe bedding, not as fun to de-stuff as a fluffy bed but safer than towels which can tear into dangerous strings (risk of intestinal blockage; just like with rope toys)

He is a small-ish dog, you could get a Great Dane sized crate if you are uncomfortable with the amount of space he has. More comfortable than being tethered anyway (separate from the safety issue I mean) as the dog can easily turn around, lie down, burrow in the blankets etc.
 

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Invest in a crate or tall exercise pen. It is much safer and more humane than the way you are tethering. There is a stigma around using crates and I think people have more insecurities about 'caging their dog' than the dog does. I can't tell you how many dogs (and people re: sanity) have needlessly suffered because someone had an unfounded moral dilemma against confinement.
 

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I see in your last post that he is crate trained - I definitely agree with everyone that a crate and/or ex-pen would be your easiest bet! Since he's already trained for the crate, it shouldn't be much of a hassle for him to adjust to being in it during the day. Like Shell suggested, you could maybe find a used extra large crate to put him in. My Aussie is in a Great Dane sized crate, and we have actually attached an ex-pen to the crate so he has more space to move around in, but not get into trouble. (That said, he has managed to push the ex-pen part out into the hallway on a few occasions, but thankfully the crate doesn't fit through the door when it's fully set up! I doubt you would have such a problem with your little guy though.) The combination would allow you to still put out his potty pads, and possibly leave him with some appropriate chews/toys. (Like a Kong or bully stick.)

I think the more times he ISN'T allowed to get into inappropriate things (and therefore reinforce the bad behaviour) will make it easier in the future for him to may be let loose in the house - or he may never be totally trustworthy. We have a Lab staying with us who will seemingly randomly decide to eat/chew up something while her parents are gone. She will be good for weeks, then decide today is the day to munch on something... She's four now, so I think it will likely be a lifelong thing, though they are a lot less concerned about it than I am! :p
 
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