We have a yellow lab that is 4 years old and she recently began chewing up our house when we are gone, what can we do about this? We’ve had Rotties before so Lab behavior is new to us.
I got your email address from your website. My husband and I have a 4 year old yellow lab who recently started chewing again. We tried to keep her in a crate when she was a puppy, but when we would come home, the carpet was tore up, webbing and nose bleeding. Fairly painlessly she grew out of it for about 1.5 years. She then about 9 months ago started chewing the dining room furniture while we were away and the baseboards in the house. Bought a plastic crate so she couldn't hurt herself, she bent the door and tore off the top to get out. Moved to a 10x10 kennel outside. I'm 5' tall. She dug a whole that was waist deep on me in 2 days. Most recently we've built a kennel out of 2x4 and very thick cattle fencing. She's become a beaver. She ate the door off and pulled up the cattle fencing. She has broken a tooth during all of this.
Obviously she has some issues with containment? Part of me thinks separation, but when we're home, she is very laid back, and doesn't seem to care what we're doing as long as she can see us. I don't want to medicate her all day. Right now we're thinking a steel cage welded together, yet safe enough she won't cut herself up. If I could trust she wouldn't chew up the house I'd let her out. We have a fenced in back yard, about 1/2 an acre, but she's a digger and will certainly find a way out of there in a few hours as she likes to run. She has every toy imaginable, attention, exercise. I think she's pretty well trained, sit shake, stop, go, get your toy, lay down, etc. but she's very very stubborn. An old soul I call her. No children in the house. We've always had rotties, so the Lab behavior is very uncommon for us.
Do you have any suggestions?
Thank you, Jennifer
Your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. You say in your email that when she was a puppy she exhibited this behavior and when you didn’t solve it then you’ actually trained her to behave in this way.. Dogs like this learn that if they dig, chew and struggle long enough they will eventually be able to get free and it’s a very tough situation. This will likely be a lifelong issue with this dog. It won’t be something that goes away 100% and it may resurface under times of stress for the dog.
We have a section on this on our website and Ed has written an article about dogs that break out of crates. You can find the separation anxiety info here
This is not a breed specific behavior, it’s not only seen in Labs or Poodles or Jack Russels. I get emails about this every day from owners with a variety of breeds and mixed breeds. This is anxiety that was not managed properly when the dog was a puppy. It’s fairly common, and is a big problem because of the damage the dogs do to your home, and themselves.
I’d also direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website. It will find posts, articles and Q & A’s that deal with your search terms.