The Maasai tribes of Africa have a fascinating foundation to their religion and culture: they believe that all cows on earth belong to the Maasai. For example, if they saw that another village had cattle, they assumed that an ancestor must have lost the cows, and they would plan a raid to reclaim them.
Our puppy, Otis, appears to have a similar belief system: he believes everything on earth is for him to chew.
Well, all right, not everything. He usually fixates on a few things at a time. Right now it’s socks and toilet paper. Last week it was milk bottles and envelopes. Before that it’s been bags, belts, books, boots, bottles, cardboard, carpeting, couches, doors, eyeglasses, fingers, magazines, pencils, pet beds, pillows, printer paper, power cords, sheets, slippers, sneakers, sticks, sunglasses, coffee tables, tea towels, watches, wires, and yarn balls.
He’s been a dictionary of destruction.
He even chewed a hole in the tile floor in the kitchen. That one took some gumption. I guess we’re not getting that pet deposit back.
We call it his “numming” problem, as in, after we correct him, he must be thinking, “Aww, I thought it was for numming.”
I should clarify that he’s not a bad dog. Otis is very sweet, has a great temperament, is quite smart, and plays well with other people, children, and dogs. It’s because he’s otherwise such a good dog that his constant chewing is all the more frustrating.
Hah! Right. Otis is not most dogs; in fact, he’s rather fearless. As I’m typing this he got into the laundry and high-stepped over to me to show me the nice pair of panties he found. (Note: I can’t believe I have to clarify this: not my panties.)
It’s best to never take your eyes off of him. NEXT!
The latest last straw came while I was at my parent’s house for my brother’s wedding last month. Otis went on a numming rampage that ended with him destroying one of Dad’s belts.
This prompted Kristin and I to pay a visit to Barnes and Noble and go through every dog book they had on hand, looking for any new ideas.
The only new advice we found was from, of all things, Dog Training for Dummies, which blessedly acknowledged that dog chewing is something that happens.
To deal with it, it had one new, albeit strange, suggestion: “Be upset with the thing that the dog is chewing.”
Here’s the idea: you treat the dog how you might treat a child that’s reaching for a hot stove. They don’t know any better, but you have to impart to them that a hot burner is a very bad thing. So you tell them, “No! The stove is dangerous! Stay away!”
So for a dog, you take away the precious forbidden object, and then yell at the object. “Bad sock! Very bad sock!” While you get mad at the sock, you don’t yell at the dog. They eventually pick up that the sock is dangerous and you’re just trying to keep them safe.
Strange? Yep. Would it work? Shrug. But, hey, it was a new idea.