Dog misbehavior ... introduced second dog
June 4, 2013 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I have an 8 yr old American Staffordshire (LAILA), I adopted her at 2 years old (she had a past of abuse/neglect). She is an amazing dog but since I got her when I would leave sometimes she would chew anything in sight ...this behavior stopped finally once I worked with her and she started to become more confident in herself/me. Now, the only time she misbehaves is when another dog is introduced into the picture, and I can't get her to stop.

If a friend brings a dog with them, I cant leave them out together, and even if I seperate them she will chew the couch or pillows out of frustration I am assuming. I don't know what my best approach is. I adopted a 2 year old chocolate lab (SUGAR) and did all the basic introducing techniques. I kept them contained to half of the house out together but I would come home to a shredded carpet or chewed table corners (all damage caused by LAILA), shredded dog beds, etc. So, I decided to let Laila roam her regular area while gating off Sugar in his own room but still allowing them to see/smell each other. I still now come home to chewed carpets and anything else by Laila. She loves her crate but I am gone at work for 9-10 hours and that is way too long to crate. I am very busy so I try my best to walk her or spend extra time with her but I wonder if this is just never going to change with her age and past. Is it better to leave them out together and keep them to a confined area where they can't damage much? Anyone have any suggestions would be great. Thank you!
posted by love2much to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think 9 or 10 hours is way too long to leave dogs on their own, unexercised and misbehaviour always happens when a dogs not stimulated. Can you get a dog walker to come in half way through the day to take them out?
Do you leave Laila dog toys/chewing things/Kongs or whatever?
posted by stevedawg at 7:14 AM on June 4, 2013

Do you have a webcam or video camera you could film for several hours with? I think you may need to try to figure out if she's excited or anxious or whatever else is going on.

While I agree that most naughty dogs are underexercised dogs, I think you should spend the $75-100 for a trainer to come over for an hour or so and help you decide what kind of structure you should be providing. If you don't have friends or a vet who can recommend one, you can talk to an instructor at your nearest PetSmart/PetCo or check Yelp.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:39 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Crate the whole time you're gone. Everyone will be much happier. (If 9-10 hours is too long to leave them in the crate, then it's too long to leave them alone period - crate is irrelevant.)
posted by radioamy at 7:45 AM on June 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I agree with radioamy. Unless your dogs regularly relieve themselves in the house (which is disgusting), 9-10 hours in the crate vs. 9-10 unstructured "freedom" in a portion of the house makes no difference. And at least with the crate, it's 100% THEIR safe place. If you're concerned about the length of time, pay someone to take them for a walk halfway through.

Do you walk them together? I'm not saying this is going to solve your problem outright, but allowing both dogs to have structured exercise together with you leading them (dogs should be next to you or behind) will help them see each other as part of a unit. Also, I don't think you should privilege one dog (and especially the destroyer) with "extra" attention at this point. Try structured activities that both dogs can take part in so each will understand this is how life works now and you as the leader want a cohesive unit.

I think a couple house visits by a personal trainer would be good money spent as well. It can't be more than the damage being or already caused, right?

One last suggestion is a pheromone plugin. I don't think this is going to solve the problem outright either, but in conjunction with other steps may help to alleviate anxiety and calm the situation down overall.
posted by rawralphadawg at 8:06 AM on June 4, 2013

Thanks for all of the advice. Unfortunatly with my work and being that I am single I leave at 6:30 am and don't get home until about 5:30. I did have a partner who helped me with all of this but they aren't in my life anymore so it's just up to me, so I'm trying to do the best I can with the resources I have. Where I live, prices of anything is extremely high so I would be looking at $100/week for a walker. I do leave chew toys and bones out, I think it is seperation anxiety with her with her past issues. And I do agree having a trainer come would probably be the best bet so I will research that.

Neither of them relieve themselves in the house, I just worried confining her to one spot for that amount of time wouldn't be healthy. 9 hours seems like a lot to be alone but they get plenty of exercise on weekends, when I'm off, and when I am home and I know a lot of people are in the same situation as I am. I will try these and see what a trainer has to say.

I have never heard of a pheromone plugin actually, seems interesting. Thanks again!

I'm wondering if I should leave them both out confined to one room together, maybe that would be helpful. I dont relaly like seperating them as it doesn't seem appropriate and may actually increase her stress in wanting to get to him.
posted by love2much at 8:18 AM on June 4, 2013

How long ago did you get the new dog? I have noticed that dogs with behavioural problems tend to revert to old behaviours when stressed or things change and they feel a little out of control. Usually it's housebreaking, but in your case it sounds like the chewing has reared it's ugly head again. I've had good luck with pheromone collars with a highly stressy dog, and you can get deterrent sprays to put animals off chewing things, though i have no direct experience with how they work, most pet shops seem to sell them.

Make sure the dog has it's own space, maybe access to her crate even if she's not locked in it. It's own bed and enough toys and kongs or whatever so they can clearly have their own. If they seem to get along when you are there I would be more inclined to simply confine the dogs, with lots of toys, frozen kongs etc to keep them distracted in a room where they can't do as much damage. I am not big on crating, though know it can work and might end up being the solution here, but you could give the confining to a part of the house a try first.

I suspect when things have settled down and your dog feels more comfortable with the changes the old behaviours will fade again. It can easily take 3 months or more for this to happen. Remember most rescues have not had good experiences with change, as change usually means something bad is going to happen to them

Also you might want to take some dog training or agility classes with both your dogs, not so much to train the dog out of the problem but because it can really boost your first dogs confidence and also make it clear to both dogs that you are in charge (not in a dominating I'm the boss way, but in a you don't have to stress I have it sorted kind of way), also group activities, maybe crank up the number of walks for a while until everyone is settled in a bit more.

A nice morning walk if you have time, or at least a bit of time spent playing and tiring your dogs out a little before you leave, will help too.
posted by wwax at 8:32 AM on June 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree about the crating, especially if she enjoys her crate. However, I understand your reluctance as well considering how long you are gone throughout the day. Although for most dogs the only positive thing that they will do while you are gone is sleep. I know that is all ours do, and we have multiples out together, but they still do very little throughout the day while we are gone. Your Laila probably only sleeps or relaxes... and destroys things. So you aren't really stopping her from burning off any energy or anything like that (at least not in a positive way)

If you think that it is seperation anxiety, I agree with wwax, a walk or playing some tug before you leave if you can manage, will do a lot of good. Also put some peanut butter or squeeze cheese in a kong with some other goodies (some kibble or treats), pop it in the freezer before bed, and give that to her just before you leave in the morning. Typically if it is seperation issues the destruction tends to happen pretty quickly upon your leaving, and this helps keep her distracted for the most stressful period of time.

I will say though, that I agree that seeing what happens and how she behaves when you leave will help you get an understanding for why she is destroying stuff. If you can set up a camera you should be able to tell if she seems stressed and anxious, or meerly just bored. Or even frustrated that she can't get to the other dog. Speaking of which, how is it that she is inappropriate with other dogs? Is she aggressive? Or just inappropriate? Does she try to goad the dogs into rough play?

I will also say that we have a stressful pup and she is usually fine, but if she were seperated from another dog and could not get to them but could see and hear them, I am pretty sure that she would behave the same way. It is possible there is some barrier issues that she is taking out on ... well, anything. I'm just curious what the issues are specifically with other dogs, maybe that is the place to start so that you can trust them together and see if the issue resolves itself.
posted by Quincy at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2013

Thank you Quincy that is all great advice. She doesn't have agression issues at all, she is very playful...they behave when they are together and when I am home, and gets along with any other dog she meets.

Yesterday I made sure to give them some extra time, I took her for a long walk after work and played with them and decided to give them some space together while I went out for 2 hours in hopes it would help. I came home to her chewing all of the door frames. I left them with plenty of toys to keep them busy. I am going to get a dog trainer out to help me...the only resoultion I see at this point is to not have a second dog, but I would like to get to the bottom of it. I am basically just helping out my boyfriend while he is away by watching his dog so the solution here may be to seek other placement for the interum. Thanks again!
posted by love2much at 5:03 AM on June 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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