View Full Version : Please help - destructive dogs

8th November 2008, 03:48 PM
I'm getting quite fed up with the destruction that Maija and Hermie create in the house. The last straw was this morning when while I was in the bathroom for a couple of minutes they chewed a big hole in our bedspread (this is the third bedspread...) They've also destroyed three duvet covers, a couple of cushion covers, several pairs of shoes and slippers - it just seems to be endless. They are 21 months now, not puppies any more. We've bought them various toys but they've never been interested in those. They like rawhide chews and have those regularly but still prefer to destroy things in the house. They also like shredding tissues, paper, card, books... What can be the matter with them? We had a ruby boy a long time ago, he never destroyed anything. I'm at my wit's end :confused:

8th November 2008, 03:50 PM
My first thought is they are not getting enough exercise. The reality is a tired dog is a good dog. If you're walking them every morning, try walking them at night too. If you're not taking them on at least a 30 minute walk every day, that's your problem right there. It really could be that simple of a solution!

8th November 2008, 04:03 PM
Yes, I can relate to that.
cavaliers are more destructive than toddlers and mine has done a lot of damage to furniture/skirting board/shoes.
She still digs into my bedspreads and steals clothes.Mostly it involves blocking access to where expensive things are kept but the recommendation to walk the hind legs off them has worked wonders for us.A tired dog is one who'll sleep in it's basket for hours.
Keep shoes out of reach.When you own a cavalier,you'll need to accept that your house can no longer be a perfect house.
Papers will be shredded, bins emptied and laundry baskets raided....that is if they can get access to them.
You were truly blessed with your ruby.

8th November 2008, 04:08 PM
We walk the girls for an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening. After the morning walk they are very tired and sleep for several hours but I can't do several long walks a day. We've learned to keep shoes away quite well, but someone will occasionally forget - and the shoes are ruined! I don't mind the house being messy as such, it's just the destruction of stuff that I object to. Oh yes, I forgot to mention the socks and knickers... where do they always manage to find them??

8th November 2008, 04:19 PM
This is normal behaviour for dogs -- because obviously they are having fun. The issue is that they are not doing what you'd like. But dogs that have had no training, and dogs that are not being managed, will not know what it is you'd prefer or that it is rewarding for them to make that 'right' choice. What time and training have you put into them?

And more to the immediate point (and the easiest point of intervention!) -- how/why can two dogs have so much freedom that they can do all this without anyone noticing or intervening before they destroy so many things?? :confused: Are they just left to run around the house and do as they want? How/why do they get the time and access to destroy whole duvets and other items? Also: this is seriously risky for their health, on top of being frustrating for you -- if they swallow bits of what they are chewing, they could easily die from an obstruction!

I'd suggest buying The Good Little Dog Book by Dr ian Dunbar as it will give loads of advice on how you get your dogs to be the good canine citizens you'd like them to be (as yes, this is YOUR job to teach and manage them, not something they just know to do! That's always the tough bit -- we all have to put in the time to get the dogs we want. :) It is just the same as children -- if we let kids run around and do as they want with no supervision, and have not taught them self control -- then they do not know how to behave).

Also: are these two dogs that you got together as puppies? If so, that is likely an additional source of your problem right there -- and this is going to be a serious task as this is why trainers and breeders tend to say never, ever get two puppies at once. They needed to be trained and managed separately with only occasional time spent together, from the very day you brought them home. If you did not do this, and did not focus on daily training independently, then they have bonded more with each other than to you. They learn to pay little attention to the humans in the house. It may be that the solution is going to be rehoming one of the pair -- a tough option, but one that may be better for the situation, for the dogs, and for you. But you will still have a major task with the remaining dog --and seriously must limit what your dogs have access to as eating clothes like they have been means one is very likely to end up in an emergency situation as is. They just cannot be allowed to access all this stuff -- clothes, shoes, furnishings. It sounds like they are given more freedom than they have learned to to manage on their own, and have very little self control. That is a different issue from simply walking the dog til it is tired. Also, how much daily training practice do you do? Daily training tires a dog -- and gets the results you wants-- far more effectively than exercise alone. :)

In short: you have a pretty serious problem on your hands and you will need to deal with it seriously, as I think you recognise :flwr: . I'd really recommend looking up a nearby APDT qualified trainer and get some formal help, as doing this on your own is going to be very difficult and given that they are this old and running around like this, they will need a LOT of work and time.

But get the Dunbar book and also please read ALL the articles here too:


And on managing two dogs the same age and why you are having such problems now:


And decide on a management technique -- these dogs should be babygated in the kitchen or a safe playroom without access, ever, to items you do not want chewed. This is true for ALL dogs -- never assume a dog will NOT get into what it can access. Think of how you'd toddler proof a house and what you'd let a toddler do without supervision =- that is basically how anyone should approach a dog too.

8th November 2008, 05:24 PM
Hi Eeva, i would definately second the idea of a baby gate, our are not allowed upstairs whatsoever - they don't need to go up there so they necer have access. If we are out then they are in the kitchen with a few toys and their beds, water etc. when we are in they are with us in the d/stairs (only kitchen/diner and living room).

as they are always in my sight/ear shot they dont get the opportunity to chew anything they shouldn't. I also 'rotate' their toys so they feel like they are new and different - this keeps their interest in the toys.

i am no expert, but this has worked well with us. Maybe start this immeidately and hunt down some professional help asap! i can appreciate this must be very frustrating for you x

8th November 2008, 05:31 PM
In addition to what has been suggested above kongs can be a good tool to keep your dog busy chewing for a while, and to keep them busy chewing at something you want them to chew! You could serve their daily food to them in a kong instead of in a bowl, and put something they really like into the tiny hole at the top to really keep them going. As has been said already Ian Dunbar's book has a lot of helpful suggestions in helping to keep your dog busy and out of trouble. Good luck :D

8th November 2008, 05:37 PM
Eeva, your mail has brought back memories for me :D Millie was obsessed with chewing through our duvet covers and pillow cases when she was a small puppy - I went through so many sets and gave up buying any new ones until she had grown out of the habit.

Jack also chewed through our old sofa (it was only brand new at the time :eek:) He started chewing the scatter back cushions and then moved onto the arm and back. One day my husband found him with only his bum and tail sticking up in the air - the rest of him was buried chomping happily on the inside of the sofa :rotfl:

I can laugh now, but I do feel your pain! I think what you are experiencing is all normal puppy behaviour and hopefully they will grow out of it very soon. In the meantime just try limit their access to anything of value!

8th November 2008, 06:09 PM
I know what you are going through. I used to own a cross between a Doberman and a German Shepard and it took us nearly 2 years to stop her destroying things, and we were at home most of the time as my husband worked from home. She chewed all the banisters, chewed plenty of holes in the plaster. Dug out my big Plant, the list is endless. When we moved House it suddenly stopped. The funny thing is that I have three Cavaliers now the oldest Rosie being 2 ½ years, Ebony is 1 year and 9 month and my youngest Harley is 11 weeks. I never had any problems with chewing. My two girls used to steal my socks and underwear and tried to chew the site of my rug, but that didn’t last long. Harley being a boy (that’s what I blame it on) tries it on and I have to be very strict with him. Sometimes I put it down to my breeder. She spends a lot of time with the puppies and corrects them if they do anything wrong. She also starts housetraining them before they go to homes. Harley at 11 weeks is nearly clean. He goes to the back door and if I don’t see him or don’t get there quick enough he pees on the pad I leave there. I had the same with my two girls, both from the same breeder. She does put a lot of time and effort into her pups before they go to homes. I am lucky to have found her.


Cathy Moon
8th November 2008, 09:07 PM
I'm experiencing the same thing with Geordie all of a sudden! He's been foraging for cardboard, magazines, and catalogs. So if I'm at work and Colin has any errands to run, the dogs are gated in the kitchen again. And we're going to start walking again now that the weather has changed for good and the neighbors aren't putting pesticides on their lawns until Spring. I would love to get the Ian Dunbar book!

8th November 2008, 11:14 PM
Speaking of, Ian Dunbar and his wife are doing a weekend-long seminar here in Atlanta, Dec. 6-8 at ZooAtlanta. I would love to go, but I will be at a Cavalier show in Nashville.

Info can be found here at Jerry Hope's website if anyone in the area is interested:


9th November 2008, 12:23 AM
Thank you for all your supportive and understanding replies. But Karlin, these dogs are not left to roam the house by themselves and left to their own resources as you - sadly :( - suggest, it only takes them two minutes to do something like this - like I said, this morning I was in the bathroom for a couple of minutes. Do you babygate your dogs when you go to the bathroom? I work from home, so I watch them all day, if I go out they are always left in the kitchen only.
They have bonded strongly with us - not only with each other as you suggest - and have had plenty of training as well.
Neither of them will ever be rehomed - that's a totally outrageous idea.
I didn't really need anyone coming on me like a ton a bricks, that wasn't at all helpful and has upset me so much. I'm not sure a militant attitude is necessary. I regret now I ever posted this here.
Thank you to all of you who gave supportive and sympathetic advice, it's good to know there are, indeed, others who have experienced similar behaviour and after all, I'm not totally hopeless as a dog owner.
I will cancel my membership here as from today.

9th November 2008, 08:37 PM
Eeva, you asked for advice, and cannot complain because people make suggestions you do not want to hear as was very likely to emerge based on the facts as you have presented them -- because you are talking about owner issues to address, not something innately wrong with your dogs. And you yourself said you were at the end of being able to manage or tolerate them --
I'm at my wit's end -- which to me implies you were thinking of last straw solutions. I think you'll find any trainer who comes in to assess the situation will say much the same thing.I urge you to simply take an honest and neutral look at what they are doing and why they are doing it and how they have the ability to do such things in the first place.

If your dogs have the chance to do this much destruction in two minutes, you do have a very serious training and management problem that will need to be addressed. The problem surely didn't emerge out of nowhere, and is also a very typical problem with two puppies that were taken on at the same time. The dogs can both adore their owner and *totally ignore them* when it comes to direction, and spur each other onto destructiveness when raised too closely together -- they certainly have not paid any attention to any command you gave them to, say, remain in a quiet downstay while you used the bathroom for example. This is what I am suggesting is a likely contributing effect and I will bet a trainer will bring this up too. Why, for example, are they roaming into other rooms to destroy objects if they are being constantly managed and watched?

And yes, if I knew my dogs might destroy things or chew shoes, items of clothing and bedding and anything else that could possibly kill them -- as all these things could -- of course I would gate or crate them whenever they were not in arm's reach. I always crated the dogs when I was not able to actually watch them, when they were younger. They are always confined to safe room of their own when I go out. I routinely use an xpen and babygates for management.

I am sorry you don't feel able to take such advice on board and given the deep level of frustration that comes across towards the dogs, please do get a good APDT trainer in -- you can get one off www.apdt.com where there's a UK section. Please do also read the articles I linked to as they should be of help.

Good luck -- I hope you can resolve this . :thmbsup: