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3yr old Lab has suddenly got even naughtier!

(8 Posts)
Seasidedolly Mon 01-Dec-14 18:51:35

Hi all

Just after some advice. We have a 3yo chocolate lab who we've had since his was a pup. He is a lovely dog who's never been aggressive or anything but he has always been quite naughty. This is our own fault as we didn't take him to puppy training when we got him.

His worst habits are stealing and chewing. Luckily, he doesn't chew furniture or anything but anything soft or that can be easily stolen are constantly at risk!

We moved house about a month ago and the last few weeks he's got even worse. He is left in the front room whilst we are at work, though he does have a walk before and after work, and a hours visit at lunch time.

Recently he's stolen chocolate fudge and downed it before I could get it off him (paper bag and all!), chewed the back of DH's most expensive shoes, and today he's chewed the back off a picture frame which is very unlike him, and in the time it took for me to pop to the toilet, located, stole ripped and emptied a brand new cushion I only bought yesterday.

It seems that he does these things for attention, if he has someone of ours he likes to let us know then waits for the game of "lets chase the labrador so he drops the shoe and doesn't destroy it".

I know chasing him makes it fun for him and this is part of the reason why he steals in the first place, but if we don't get the stolen loot from him, he will rip, eat or destroy it immediately. Or we offer him treats to drop but them I'm sure he thinks "if I steal this I get a treat so it must be OK".

I'm really at the end of my tether with him, our first child is due in April and I'm not sure if this will make things better, as I'll be at home with him more, or worse, because he will just want even more attention whilst we are focused on baby.

Does anyone have any tips that have actually worked, or a good book that you can recommend?

Thanks, and sorry for the rant. I just miss being able to leave a cushion on the sofa without having to lock it in the cupboard every time I leave the room!

crapcrapcrapcrap Mon 01-Dec-14 19:27:25

Where to start ...

OK, how long is he left for and what's his routine specifically - including feeding and treats?

He doesn't think he gets a treat for stealing. You need to spend time (like 5 minutes twice a day for a few weeks to months, then randomly forever) training "drop it" before you can expect it to work.

Missing puppy training doesn't mean he can't be trained now - just get your finger out and train him!

He isn't naughty - dogs don't understand right and wrong like we do, so they can't choose to behave badly. They just behave in ways that make them feel good, eg chewing cushions is fun, cushions are left within my reach so I'll chew them. You need to give your dog ways to enjoy himself which don't damage your belongings.

crapcrapcrapcrap Mon 01-Dec-14 19:29:38

Actually you should invest in some one to one time with a trainer - check out APBC or APDT sites for someone local and decent. Since you're pregnant that would be a wise course of action. A trainer can't fix the dog for you, you have to do that yourselves, but a trainer will be able to come to your home and give you a plan to follow.

Booboostoo Mon 01-Dec-14 20:23:24

You need to teach him a leave it command and I would hazard a guess that he is not naughty but he is stressed from the house move. Chewing can be a stress relief activity.

Try spending more time with him, try Adaptil collars/diffusers, crate train him and get him loads go appropriate chews.

daisydotandgertie Tue 02-Dec-14 08:00:01

Are you saying he is left all day with just a lunchtime visit? Is that five days a week? Has it always been that way?

The increase in chewing just a month after moving is certainly tied in with stress.

A labrador has been bred for years to carry and retrieve things. It's an instinct which will not leave him. You need to find a way to work with him and provide an outlet for the stress and boredom he is undoubtedly struggling with.

Any attention is good attention for a dog which is left alone in one room all day, so he is simply following a pattern which he has learned gives him what he craves. Unfortunately, he has also learned that chewing is massively rewarding and releases stress and endorphins which make him feel a whole lot better.

Tbh, you need to care for him better. He shouldn't be left for such a long time, every day. It's unreasonable. Can you employ a dog walker?

He also needs retraining. Work with the instincts he's been bred to have, and teach him to bring you the things he's stolen and make a massive fuss/reward him when he does. Don't ever chase him - he's trying to start a game with you. A leave it command might be useful, but to be successful you need to see him picking it up which might not work so well.

Spend some time training him daily to wear his brain out a little - three walks a day is never going to do it alone. He is a young, bright, energetic dog. That doesn't go well with working full time I'm afraid.

SausagePies Tue 02-Dec-14 08:16:57

The OP says he gets attention and walked before work, for an hour at lunchtime, and in the evening. Personally I don't think that so unreasonable.

I do agree though that you are never going to stop a lab from picking up and carrying things.

Persevere with activities to tire out his brain (Treat/toy hide and seek, 'tricks' etc).
Continue trading items for treats (might need to be a high value treat initially).
Leave him in a crate if you can not supervise.
Get a selection of chewable things and rotate them one at a time,

SausagePies Tue 02-Dec-14 08:19:00

... so they don't become boring.

daisydotandgertie Wed 03-Dec-14 07:50:44

But it is unreasonable - it's not just once a week, it's five days a week. All day, bar an hour at lunchtime. I'd be bored in that situation, and I have got the TV, internet, chores, the phone etc to entertain me.

It is really no surprise that he's entertaining himself.

The trouble is, once they've worked out how much fun an activity is - eg chewing cushions - they just want to repeat it. I can draw some similar parallels with me and, say, surfing the web.

He needs more company, more training and more stimulation I'd say. Plus some help to teach him alternative entertainment.

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