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Well today I opened Ryleigh's kennel door (she sleeps here) to find that she had chewed off her harness in the night. I know she must have a lot of extra energy lately because we haven't been going out much with the heat. Temperatures here have been close to 120 daily so I have only been taking her on a long walk at night. If it's not that she has energy to be mischievous, then does anybody have any stronger harness recommendations? I was definitely not a happy camper this morning!

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Rule #1 with regards to dog harnesses - the harness should only be on the dog when you are using it to walk the dog. If you *have* to have it on for some other reason, then it should not be on unless the dog is under your constant supervision.


Unlike a collar, a harness is easily reached to be chewed by a dog - and, worse than damage to the harness, is that a dog can reach a paw or jaw around to scratch or lick, and get caught in its own harness, panic, and hurt itself.


"Strength" has nothing to do with whether or not a dog can and will chew a harness. I don't recall your dog's age but when dogs are youngsters, and particularly when teething, chewing can be a real issue. Also, I don't know the circumstances (and neither do you, in this instance?) but Ryleigh may have gotten caught in her harness in some way, since she apparently hasn't done anything like this before?


Leaving a harness, like a collar with dangling tags, on a dog in a crate is also a way for your dog to be injured or killed should one of the hardware parts (like dangling tags) get caught between the wires or openings in the crate, and the dog struggles to get free - twisting and turning, and strangling herself.


So, to avoid this problem entirely - remove the harness when you are not actively *using* it (walking the dog). If you use the harness like a collar to also hold her ID, then consider a collar for ID (one that has very low likelihood of catching in the crate openings, like an embroidered collar) and only use the harness when needed for walking.


And, one final question, is there a reason why you need to use a harness versus a collar? Perhaps the right collar would help solve the problem in the future as her likelihood of tangling in it would be greatly reduced and likelihood of chewing it would be non-existent.


Best wishes!


PS - If she is bored because of conditions beyond your control weather-wise, how about substituting other activities to tire her out? Mental activities can be more fulfilling and tiring than physical ones. Learning new tricks or manners, learning games (the "shell game" with cups and treats, for one), finding activities that can be done indoors (agility, rally, obedience, tracking), swimming. Also try feeding strategies that take time and thought, like kibble holders that dispense only with action (many kinds of these like the Squirrel Dude or my Dan's "purple bottle on a rope" since I don't recall the name). Hiding her food in small amounts at dinner time so she has to search and find. Enriching her day will help her be content at night and during other crate time.

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Her story: http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=31368&st=0&p=390189&fromsearch=1entry390189


She is almost three, but has never had human interaction. The harness is the only way to walk her without the possibility of her getting away. It also helps me get her to do things inside since she will rarely let me touch her--I can just grab on to the handle and walk her to where she needs to be. She's also terrified of toys so mental stimulation hasn't proved successful! After examining her shelter harness further, I noticed chew marks on that too, so I think it is a boredom thing.


Thanks for all of the info! I'd love to find something that she enjoys to do that is low key and can be done inside, but she hasn't gotten there confidence wise.

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That does change things. Sorry, I did not remember and didn't check it out first. Save some of those ideas *for later*!


Back to the harness - obviously substituting a collar and a drag line would not work as she could chew the drag line - unless you used a very short cable drag line. Considered that? I mean very short (four feet, maybe, or less if that would work) and no loop on the end to snag on things. Cable would not tend to tangle as easily and wouldn't be chewable like a leash or rope.


Or, since you can get close enough to take hold of the harness, how about a very short lead (a mouse, maybe, like they use in agility)?


I would still suggest those things you can do to relieve boredom indoors - interactive food dispensers (avoid sounds and such, so the Squirrel Dude might be just the ticket - just give her her food in one of these in her crate at mealtime, and leave her, and see if she figures it out - try special treats to get her interested, like fishy-smelling treats if she likes those - most dogs can't resist). Stuffed Kongs are another idea. Or just plain old chew toys or raw bones.


Does she like water (you might not even have a clue) and is swimming an option on hot days? Sprinkler in the lawn or kiddie pool? These may be way too much for her, I understand.


I admire your efforts for this little girl, and hope you can find activities or alternatives that will work for you. There are a lot of folks here who may be able to suggest much better ideas than I could.


Very best wishes!

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