Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Yellow Labrador is Chewing Everything - part II

Subject: 9 month old, yellow Labrador Retriever is chewing everything - part II

From: Carin (USA)

Labrador Retriever Name: Porter

To read part one of this e-mail visit: My Yellow Labrador is Chewing Everything - part I

Reader's E-mail - Carin Writes:

Hi Fay,

Most of the chewing is done when we are at work. Some during the night. We work full time so we are always gone during the day. The dogs are let out during the middle of the day though. They get to play then too. Family lives next door.

Porter gets alot of exercise. We are always playing fetch or swimming. They love to swim. He also fetches the paper almost every morning along with Murphy.

Porter does not growl ever. He does follow me room to room along with the other one too. They eat out of the same bowl, they chew on the same bone. They play wrestle alot too. He does not have any medical conditions at all.

Thank you for emailing me back. I am going to send a few pictures also. Murphy is the chocolate and Porter is the yellow. They even like to cuddle when they sleep.

Thanks,
Carin

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hi Carin,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer

I want to thank you for the adorable photos! My favorite is the one with Porter's head leaning on Murphy while they are both sleeping.

Labrador Retrievers will chew on whatever they can get their mouths on for many different number of reasons: boredom, curious, teething, curiosity, or Separation Anxiety.

The number one thing that I can recommend is getting yourself another crate.

Believe me when I tell you that your house and Porter will be much more safer with the him in a crate when you are away. The crate can help make Porter feel safe and relaxed. You don't have to put a blanket in the cage, as he will do fine without it.

Many people believe confining your Labrador Retriever to a room will help, and it might, but how many rooms in your home do you have that you feel would be safe for your Labrador. I'm sure your kitchen has plenty of objects that Porter can chew on, even if you completely dog proof it. The room would have to be completely empty with a hard surface floor and nothing else in it (even then, I know of Labrador Retrievers that have eaten through the walls). The confined room won't give Porter the comfort that a crate would provide him.

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If you don't want to go with the crate or can't for whatever reason, here are some other things I can recommend:

First off, I don't need to tell you that nothing should be left where he can reach it. For bigger items around the house, you may want to try a taste deterrent (Bitter Apple, Chew-Stop, lemon juice mixed with water, etc.) and spray it on larger items like furniture and carpet several times a day.

Leave him plenty of chew toys. I do highly recommend and love the Kong toys (make sure you get the proper size for your Labrador). The stuffed Kong toys can keep him busy (and out of trouble!) for long periods of time by encouraging them to get the food reward inside. They also provide plenty of physical as well as mental exercise for him. You can stuff them with peanut butter or other treats, freeze them overnight, and it will make it that much tougher for Porter to get the treats out, again keeping him busy.

Nylabone also makes very good toys. Many pet stores are full of garbage toys that your Labrador will quickly chew up and choke on or cause intestinal blockages. Rawhide is especially bad because it swells after being swallowed. You want to make sure you always inspect your Labradors toys, when pieces are starting to break off, it's time to discard them.

You can try placing Porter's toys by the objects that he tends to chew on. This way, it may act as a distraction when he does go to chew on whatever it is he's not suppose to chew on.

Labrador Retrievers also need plenty of daily exercise (physical and mental). Long walks (at least a half hour) and runs, plenty of toys and chews, and games of fetch will help to relieve boredom and burn off energy - two factors that contribute to destructive chewing. A tired Labrador is a good Labrador. There is a product called the hyper dog launcher will help to keep your hands clean and dry, and save your arm. Inside you can play games like "find the treat" and" hide and seek" (let me know if you need more info on these or other inside games).

When you do catch your Labrador Retriever chewing on something, give a loud LEAVE IT!" or "DROP IT command and quickly swap it with one of his toys. If he chews on the toy, make sure you praise him.

I mentioned Separation Anxiety above, which is another serious cause behind chewing. Labrador Retrievers that are highly dependent can feel abandoned when their owners are away, which can cause them to chew when alone to relieve anxiety and stress. What I didn't ask was if you notice any chew marks near the kitchen door when you confine Porter in there. Chew marks near doors indicate what called "barrier frustration," your Labrador is trying to break through the barrier to find his way to you.

Labrador Retrievers that chew as a result of separation anxiety will often show other signs of this condition. Following you from room to room, demanding your attention, wildly greeting you when you get home, and continuous barking. If you suspect separation anxiety to be the cause of Porter's problem, here are a few things I recommend you can try to help with the problem:

Don't make leaving your house a big event. No doggie kisses, belly rubbing, telling him to be a good boy, or whatever else you might do before you leave your house. What you want to do is ignore him for 10-30 minutes prior to your leaving and your return. Make sure this is done every time you leave the house, and by all family members present in your home.

A repeat on these two, provide plenty of toys and plenty of exercise.

Make interactions with your Labrador Retriever on your terms, not his. You pet him, play with him when you want, and not when he asks for it.

You also want to practice leaving and return from your home in short intervals. Get up and leave your home for a couple of minutes, then return and go about your business as though you never left. Continue doing this while gradually increasing the amount of time that you stay away for. What you are doing is instilling confidence in your Labrador Retriever that you are going to always return when you leave. Repetition and increases in the time you stay away for are the key.

Here is a good PDF booklet with further info on Separation Anxiety:

http://www.bestfriends.org/theanimals/pdfs/dogs/separationanxiety.pdf

Well Carin, I hope this will be of some help to you. As stated I do recommend getting another crate if you can. Please keep me updated on how things are going with Porter, and if you ever have any other questions. please don't hesitate to write.

Take care of yourself and those two beautiful Labrador Retrievers.

Fay

To see some wonderful photos of Porter and Murphy visit: Porter and Murphy 01/27/08

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