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It's not chewing - it's shredding


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Well, we've been trying most of the suggestions about Dixie. But we've realized that what she is doing is not really chewing but shredding.

 

I know that's a subtle difference. But it means that she isn't interested in the normal chew things unless they shred to pieces. She will eat treats and chews. But she then heads right for anything she can shred.

 

And it's hard to get her involved with games - physical or mind. She won't play catch, with anything. She won't even ply tug. She just wants to pull something apart.

 

Even crating Dixie doesn't really help. This morning, I discovered that she has been pulling apart the mat in her crate.

 

Sure, maybe getting her doing agility or herding out in the yard might help. But that's about as out of the question as a doggie psychiatrist is. I love the idea of an antler - although that might do some damage to our little TV and our stereo stuff. But the deer seem to feed on theirs - and I haven't seen such in PetCo or PetsMart.

 

Any specific help for shredding - as opposed to chewing? And will it stop or is this a permanent personality thing?

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Mine only shred when they're lacking in exercise, which has been more frequent than usual during this recent heat wave. All I can suggest is to exercise the mind and the body. If she's a rescue, this is probably what she's learned to do to cope with excess energy and/or stress. You may have to work at it to get her to understand play with you if she's already learned how to play by herself. Maybe try some calming treats to take the edge off and break the bad habit.

 

I did just remember one toy the dogs loved that resembled shredding. We took the shell of an old toy that was on the large side and stuffed it with the shells of other old destuffed toys. The dogs enjoyed ripping out the insides and it was easy to put back together for the next time. Just a thought...

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I've got a shredding/plucking puppy, too. So I'm really interested in any help you get here. What we've done so far is to remove anything that he seems to be obsessing over, change up activities often, and work on things that take brain power. Hope this helps and I hope lots of people give you loads of new ideas.

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nova was into shredding for a while. had to tear something up. i found she loved the cardboard rolls toliet paper and paper towels, etc come on. i saved lots of them for her to shred and doled them out when needed. pretty easy to clean up and it let her get that out of her system. i hit the jackpot at xmas with all the wrapping paper rolls, but she has since given it up! it seems a phase. hope dixie gets thru it soon.

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For the short term, no bed in her crate. My old Willow, at 15, still gets no bed in her crate because she will chew it up. I just had to get past the idea that I really wanted her to have something soft to sleep on. Wasn't going to happen, not even now when she's old and mellow.

 

You've had her, what, a week? Willow was labeled by rescue as a dog who didn't play. And yet, after she settled in with me, it turned out she was quite willing to fetch, and she became a frisbee dog extraordinaire. But she showed none of that inclination in rescue and not with me for a couple of months. And at her age, with a bad heart, bum knees, and mast cell cancer, she still will swim after a ball in the pond or dare the younger dogs to try to get a ball or pine cone from her.

 

You're not even going to see that pup's real personality for a while yet. She has to settle in and get used to you and her new environment before you will be able to really encourage her to play. Does she like water? Will she swim? Flexis are not wonderful, but if she likes to swim, it would be great exercise to take her to the pond and let her swim off some of the excess energy, whithout having to worry about losing her. A long parachute cord or similar would work as well for maintaining control while also letting her go out a distance.

 

Shredding is likely due to boredom and something she learned to do (i.e., a habit she developed) to while away her time in her previous life. As others have noted, you can give her things that are okay to shred, but watch that she doesn't eat stuff, especially if you do the "toys within a toy" thing.

 

Does she like to dig (it seems like a logical extension of shredding)? You could always construct her a "digging box" in the back yard. Just make the equivalent of a raised bed, bury fun toys for her to find, and let her go to town. Of course you'd have to fill it back in at times, and that may be more than you want to take on.

 

By the way, antlers (one of the major brands is Antlerz) are not so huge that they would damage TVs, etc., unless the human were throwing them in the house. Try Phydeaux in Carrboro/Chapel Hill (their new location is over near A Southern Season). They will have Antlerz there I'm pretty sure. They are expensive, but they last a really long time. Bully sticks are good too. They were lifesavers when Ranger was a pup.

 

Also any of the Nina Ottosen (I don't know if I spelled that right) puzzle toys might work for her (Phydeaux probably has some of them too). I have the dog pyramid, and once the dogs learn that treats (kibble) come out, it can keep them busy for a good while. You could put her daily ration of kibble in one or two toys and just let her work for her food.

 

But anyway, if you give her time, she may just be a dog who likes tug and fetch. She may never have had anyone interact with her that way and so just doesn't know what to do.

 

And if you feel like making the trip to Oxford, I'd be happy to try her on sheep at some point in the future.

 

I hate to be the one to say this, but it may also be the case that at her age she's just more dog than you need to deal with, and perhaps a middle-aged quieter dog would suit you better. But any dog who comes out of rescue is likely going to take a few weeks (or more) to really settle in and start to be themselves, to play, etc.

 

J.

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Rudder was(is) a shredder, too. All his toys are now the "indestructible" type, and he gets no bed in his crate. I did put a blanket under the crate tray to create some give and muffle any noise. Those two small changes made a world of difference. And I'll echo giving it some time. She's a puppy. The crazy-destructo phase will likely pass soon enough.

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Yes, what Julie and Jexa said. ^^^

 

My own dog was also a shredder. After many, many different toys while he was less than 1 year old, I finally realized that only indestructo toys (usually Kongs) or antlers would last more than 10-15 minutes. He didn't really 'stop' destroying toys until he was 2-2.5 years old. And I use the word 'stop' generously because if I play with a toy with him, and I let him take it off by himself, he will still hunker down and start trying to take it apart. (at 5 years old) I guess I have become better at supervising him with his 'nicer' toys, and his toys last longer now.

 

Bully sticks - lasted 5-10 minutes.

Nina Ottosen game (the one where he has to move the bones with his nose to get the treat) lasts about 1 minute until he has uncovered all the treats. But he LOVES it.

 

Jovi

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One other thought about tugging: getting a dog who is not disposed to tug, to enjoy tugging, is an art. I have seen a dog who never wanted to tug with his owner begin to show interest in tugging after one 5 minute session with a trainer. It was interesting to watch her technique. I also think that if you can find a tug toy made with a real pelt (or a part thereof), most dogs go crazy at the smell of the tug and are naturally inclined to bite it - which is the first step in tugging.

 

Jovi

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My old Lu never got over the shredding thing. Junk mail was her favorite. She'd tear it to bits & leave a mess all over the floor. I did mange to teach her that she could only shred things that I gave her, I think just by fluke, as Lu was not inclined to be taught things, just picked it up by association. It was easier to sweep up paper bits than try to stop her from shredding. Lu was part Heeler, and definitely had that stubborn streak!

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Shoshone loved to shred things. She never chewed her blankets, but any soft toy was gutted in seconds. One day I had a bunch of paper shredding to do, and I waved a handful of credit card offers in her direction. She went nuts on those envelopes. We wound up with a living room covered in paper scraps, and a dog dancing with happiness and barking for more.

 

We'd let her shred our junk mail at least once a week. It seemed to help her to have the 'job', so that she didn't shred toys.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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Scooter was a shredder! He loved any kind of paper product, and was especially fond of used dryer sheets that accidentally got dropped on the floor. At first I freaked, fearing he was eating them, then I realized he was just having fun making doggie confetti! :D

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^^ I had a dog as a kid that would roll in dryer sheets. Not chew them up or eat them, but place them carefully on the floor and proceed to rub his entire body over them. This is same dog that would steal my stuffed animals, bring them into the living room, and suck on them. Again, no chewing or destroying (he was sort of the anti-shredder), but their "fur" would be sticking out at odd, slobbery angles. He was sort of a prissy, dignified dog so we figured if he wanted to make himself smell nice by rolling in dryer sheets, he was welcome to it! As opposed to the other dog, who frequently rolled in cow manure...

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I got my puppy at 4 months old and I think he was around 16 months before he stopped destroying soft toys instantly. He was around 10 months when he stopped eating his bed. We were very careful with toys, all soft toys got put away, he only got rubber ones, which he was actually gentle with. He will be three in August and has not chewed or destroyed anything inappropriate in a long time: that said give him a soft dog toy and it will slowly dissolve into a pile of stufffing and shredded fabric, give him one of those flat unsuffed toys and they survive for ever.

 

Focusing his attention on rubber toys had some of unfortunate side effects, the gear stick, handbrake handle and the clutch peddle all have teeth marks, as does a selection of handles on my husbands hand tools, yet every piece of furniture in the house survived the puppy period intact, as did all our clothes and only a few shoes fell victim those with nice thick rubber soles :D Maturity and careful monitoring I believe are the key.

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Our aussie is a shredder as well. All he wants with a toy is to take it back to his lair (crate) and rip it apart. We can play tug with him but when you stop and let go, instead of pushing it back at you like my other 2, he runs off with his "prize" so he can destroy it. Fetching is somewhat the same. He chases it to get it and then try to rip the fuzz off the tennis ball. If I have treats I can get him to come to me and drop it (this is only in the past year and he's 7 now). He had no blankets in his crate until he was over a year old. We also have no stuffies or any other toys he can rip into little pieces. Rubber tennis balls and holee rollers do ok.

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Keeping fingers, toes, and eyes crossed. But Dixie has done well for two days now.

 

I've started playing "I can grab your feet". Which can progress to "fetch (well sort of) the Kong". And she enjoys sitting by my side of the couch while we read and I just hang my arm down where she is.

 

She seems to be calming down. Didn't realize that we were getting her within about a week of her being pulled from a pound. So anxiety about the sudden changes in her life may be the problem.

 

I also did ask our priest to consider an early "blessing of the Animals" - or an exorcism.

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She seems to be calming down. Didn't realize that we were getting her within about a week of her being pulled from a pound. So anxiety about the sudden changes in her life may be the problem.

 

 

Ummm, you think?! Now that you found this out, it really does change everything. Or should, at least, change the way you're seeing her...

 

I didn't quote it, but Julie's post is freakin' SPOT ON! I couldn't say it better myself. That's worth a re-read or ten. :D

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Stress can play a huge role in putting things in your mouth (that is if your dog) When we got Brody he gnawed a couple of seat belts and we are still using the leashes that suffered the same fate. The first couple of months he was with us if he was uncomfortable he would grab hold of his leash. Now when he is stressed he grabs a squeaky soft toy and runs around making noise until we decide he is done, he does no damage to the toy.

 

We have had 4 rescue dogs and with the exception of the 4 month puppy all have taken sometime to settle and feel comfortable. The rescue I help out always says give it at least 2 weeks, personally I think it can take much longer for the dogs true character to shine through.

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Luckily, our collar and harness are from Lupine. So, if she does chew one, I get a new one.

 

Yes, I wish I'd realized that Dixie was not coming for a visit, but for a placement. She'd been pulled, spayed, vaccinated... and brought to us so quickly. I honestly did not expect to be handed a pup on Friday who'd been spayed on Wednesday. But I guess that some rescues are overwhelmed.

 

As a victim of both stress and depression, I can sympathize with Dixie. So we are keeping her for now. And she really is improving. Maybe she just needs to feel secure. Don't we all?

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