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Sorry for the long post. I didn't find anything like this in a search. I realize that most people are trying to get their dogs to stop chewing on things they aren't supposed to. We have a bit of a different problem. We got a three year old lab mix from the humane society a couple of weeks ago. She is a wonderful dog, but she refuses to chew on any chew toys or play with any toys. We have tried rawhide twists, retriever rolls, cow's ears, pig's ears, Nylabones, squeaky toys, Kongs, beef bones, etc. etc. etc.

All of the "experts" say dogs need to chew for relaxation and stress relief. Well, Sadie certainly needs a bit of both of those characteristics but we can't find anything she will chew on. She might chew for fifteen seconds when we give her something new, but then she drops it and will not go back to it ever again. I have tried stuffing them with peanut butter and treats. She will lick it out and then stop. She has no ball drive in the yard or any desire to do anything other than go on long, brisk walks (and try to figure out a way to get at our cats). She suffers from EXTREME separation anxiety and we figured chewing would relax her a bit when we are gone, too.

Any ideas out there?

Thanks,
Scott
 

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Have you tried bully sticks? Our dogs are diggers (they are a digging breed). They really love relaxing by softly digging a super soft fleece blanket when we're all watching tv. Have you tried giving her some soft toys or a really soft blanket? Both of our dogs will "chew" softly and dig softly at a blanket.

When you say she has extreme separation anxiety, what do you mean? What does she do? How does she act? One thing that can help when you need to leave, is to exercise her briskly right before you leave. That may tire her out and relieve enough stress for her to relax a bit.

Also, if you've only had her for a couple weeks she may not feel settled in enough to relax and actually play. Give her a bit more time, and maybe she'll feel comfortable enough to play. And, every dog plays in their own way. One of mine lives for fetch, but the other would rather play tug any day of the week.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We haven't tried bully sticks. We have tried a number of soft and hard toys/chewing options. Her reaction is pretty much the same no matter what we give her. Maybe she just needs more time to feel comfortable. Sadie has only been with us about 2-1/2 weeks. She is still quite new and came from a pretty crazy background. She was originally found as a stray in Ohio. The rescue there was overloaded so they transferred her to the humane society next door to my office in Wisconsin back in November. She was adopted out of there shortly after and returned in early February because the previous owner couldn't keep her. We learned that Sadie had been left alone for at least 10 hours every day, never walked and only hooked on a line outside long enough to go to the bathroom. That all seems like pretty rough treatment of the poor girl, if you ask me.

I realize she has been through a lot and we are being very patient with her. We really want to find something she likes to play with and chew on in hopes of helping her settle in more readily.

Her separation anxiety is intense. She barks herself hoarse, scratches up the door and floor and drools enough to leave a large puddle. We tried a crate at first but she actually bent the door in an attempt to escape. We don't want her to think of the crate as punishment and would prefer to let her have the run of the house anyway. We currently gate off one level as a safe area for our cats and allow Sadie to have the rest of the house. Her response is the same whether we leave her for five minutes of three hours. She will rarely, if ever, be left alone longer than a few hours but we want her to be comfortable no matter how long it ends up being. I tried exhausting her before we had to leave her alone last weekend. She collapsed at the end of our walk, but immediately started her barking and scratching the moment we walked out the door. It is painful to see her so distressed.

We love the girl to death; not to mention that I have already gone down one notch on my belt from the three miles we walk every day! We really just want her to grow to be as happy with us as we are with her!

Thanks for your suggestions. I will pick up some bully sticks. I also welcome any additional ideas you may have.

Thanks,
Scott
 

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Perhaps your dog is not interested in chews. My GSD is definately not. whereas the rottie x will eat till an entire marrow bone is gone! Then vomits of course, ugh.
In your original post, you mentioned you desire her to chew, to distract and occupy her whilst you are away. You are motivated to do this, because she is distressed and you find this distressing, as we all would.
Her history is now your problem to solve unfortunately.
I would go for obedience work. LOTS of obedience work. dogs are happiest when they know their and everyone else's place in the family and are trained in my opinion. so teach your dog to make eye contact with you. "catch" her watching your eyes, mark this behaviour with a word 'yes' said nutrally, or a clicker, (or a home made clicker, ie. a pen that you click on/off works brilliantly), and is generally freely available. and treat with whatever your dog likes. This training should take about 5 mins to complete. Dogs are real smart lol

Triangle of Temptation. Which Steve is happy for me to send the link to you: http://www.k9pro.com.au/pages.php?pageid=52
this teaches your dog, using positive reinforcement, VERY FAST ie. All 3 of my dogs took 2 attempts to 'get it'.
In 24 hrs, my pups go from tail wagging, jumping, nibbling to.... can
sit
stay
shut up whilst being tied
wait
release
and all i had to do was feed them. simple really. And sooooo effective

More obedience training, less 'knacker her out antics' as being full of energy is NOT her problem, her anxiety levels are.
"We love the girl to death" - this is the time for tough love to help her overcome fear. A couple of weeks is early days for both of you. And the more attention/reward for her anxiety, the more it is reinforced.

There are pharmaceutical interventions also for extreem separation anxiety. SSRI's (prozac drug type) ask vet, also tranquillisation in initial phases of training.
And i would bet, that in 3 months time, when the dog has learnt to trust that 'this' owner doesnt abandon me, she'll be far more settled.

Good luck.
 

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Aww. Poor girl!
You could try some "leave" conditioning, to see if she can learn to tolerate being left alone. Put her in the dog safe level, blocked with the baby gate, give her a chew, and leave for 20-30 seconds. Don't talk to her when you leave or come back, no coddling or fussing. Then, after 20-30 seconds, let her out to be with you, or just interact with her.
Do this "leaving" for 20-30 seconds routine as often as you can throughout the day.

After several days, you might try upping the time to 1 minute. Then, leave for 1 minute, several times a day. After several days at one minute, try 2 minutes. You get the idea. But, start small, and don't fuss over her. Try to make this leaving routine happen as often as possible so that it becomes normal to her. And, the reason you'd start with just 20-30 seconds is so that she doesn't have much time to start a really severe reaction.

I still believe exercise is important, so keep this up. The previous poster, rotten, mentioned that "being full of energy isn't her problem, her anxiety levels are." I agree, BUT, exercise is well known for reducing anxiety in both humans and dogs. So, it's worth it to keep the exercise up, as you are doing. :)

And, yes, for dogs that have severe SA, there are anxiety reducing meds. This might be an option for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
We have worked quite a bit with her. She knows come, sit, wait, leave it, steady and easy. She's not perfect on any of them other than sit and come, but she is doing well. She focuses on us very well when we speak to her or give her commands. We also have her sit and wait when we bring her food in and set it down. She does not go for the food until we release her. We think she's quite smart and seems to want to please us. We are signed up for obedience classes, also, which should help her (and us) learn a lot. She LOVES going for walks and loves meeting every dog and person we encounter while we are out, so we will keep the exercise up. She also loves being out in the yard as long as she can see that we are out there with her but quickly gets anxious if we go into the garage or somewhere where she can't see us immediately. Then she starts panting and whining.

We'll give the leave conditioning a go. It's easy enough to do quite a few times a day. Unfortunately, there are still going to be those times along the way when we just have to leave her for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. I really don't want to medicate her if we don't have to.

Thanks for the suggestions, folks!
 

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I know this is going to sound different, but is has worked with every puppy i have ever had. Try getting or making her a rice bag. A old sock, new sock anything fill it with rice and warm it in the microwave and put it wherever she lays. you can add lavender to it to help calm her. this help all of my puppies feel like the had a company and get use to the crate at night. it may help her when you leave the house. just throwing out there as a thought.
 

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Wow, I never heard that before, but it sounds interesting! I have heard lavender recommended in other contexts before, so I get that. But, the only thing that would concern me is that puppies LOVE to chew. Did your puppies ever chew through the sock or whatever and have rice all over? Or eat it?
 

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I'm game to try the rice bag. My only concern is that my wife uses rice bags on her sore neck. We don't want the dog to start chewing that up!

Scott
 

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My dog didn't chew when we first got him. Now he loves to chew (Nylabones mainly). I think it might just take her a little while to get used the new surroundings and feel comfortable.
 

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I suspect that the advice to just be patient may prove to be the best. She finally rolled over for me to scratch her belly the night before last. Prior to that, she would always lay on her belly. This may all be tied to her growing comfortable that she really is in a forever home now. We're going to give her whatever time it takes to get settled into our home; however we would like to whatever we can to make it as easy on her as possible.

Scott
 

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I suspect that the advice to just be patient may prove to be the best. She finally rolled over for me to scratch her belly the night before last. Prior to that, she would always lay on her belly. This may all be tied to her growing comfortable that she really is in a forever home now. We're going to give her whatever time it takes to get settled into our home; however we would like to whatever we can to make it as easy on her as possible.

Scott
Awww! I loved that first moment when Hobbes first rolled over for a belly scratch. Now he loves belly rubs more than anything! (Well, maybe not more than chasing squirrels, but I digress...). She will get settled - it just takes a little while. How old is she? Many dogs take a few weeks (or months, in Hobbes' case) to show their true personality when they're adjusting to a new home.
 

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By the Humane Society's and our vet's estimates; Sadie is probably three years old. Maybe a tad younger but not likely any older. Today is the three week mark for her coming to live with us.

Scott
 

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By the Humane Society's and our vet's estimates; Sadie is probably three years old. Maybe a tad younger but not likely any older. Today is the three week mark for her coming to live with us.

Scott
Ah, then I think it may take a little longer than it would take a puppy. Hobbes was about a year old when we got him, and didn't really show his true colors for maybe 2-3 months. He settled in and seemed relatively comfortable before that, but there was a definite change within about a couple months where he just seemed more "himself." He suddenly started chewing more, settling into our laps for lots of cuddling, and also going crazy more when he was having zoomies. (He tends to be either ON or OFF - there's not much middle ground with him).

Just for fun, would you post a few pics? She looks gorgeous in your profile pic.
 

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I'll grab a couple of more pics either tonight or over the weekend. The only one I have on my laptop at work is the full image that I cropped to get my avatar. Here's the whole shot:

Sadie6.jpg

She is adorable!
 

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As far as the rice bag goes none of mine ever chewed on it. they only got it at night and most of the time i put it under a blanket or something.
 
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