Dear Adam: I bought and read your book; Thank you, thank you, from the bottom of both mine and my dog’s heart!
Here’s my problem: Yoshi is my 8-month-old, Rhodesian Ridgeback/Anatolian Shepherd mix. Yes, I found him at the dog park when he was 3 months old; he had been abandoned. Yoshi is now a healthy, happy 7-8 month old 75 lb. pup. He’s very “high energy”, to say the least.
However, he is responding really well to the training techniques from your book (although he’s stubborn sometimes; I have read that Anatolian Shepherd is not a dog for a first-time handler-me- but now he’s with me and I’m definitely not getting rid of him). I am a full-time student at Cal State, and was living in [omitted]. Every time I’d leave Yoshi at home to go to class, he’d chew destructively, even though he has my cat to keep him company.
I moved back to Santa Barbara in December, and into my mother’s house, because she has two dogs, and I thought once Yoshi had more company, he’d stop chewing. I was wrong. The other family members can leave and there’s no problem. However, if I leave him here, even in the company of family, he chews.
Last week he ate my cell phone, which was deep inside an overnight bag which was zipped closed. My mom was in the next room. I want you to understand that I personally have never seen this dog eat Anything; its only when I’m not around. I can’t get him into a crate. I bought a nice big one for him, and he just won’t go in it. So I’ve been locking him in my bedroom with the cat when I leave for school.
This week he’s eaten an entire file cabinet and its contents, among many other things. I’ve tried ignoring him for five minutes before leaving; I’ve given him herbal calming drops, etc. Nothing seems to work. He used to be fine in the car, so I’d just take him everywhere with me. Last week he ate my Sheepskin seat cover, and destroyed the Emergency break in the car (again, among other things) within a 45-minute period.
I apologize for the length of this e-mail, but I don’t know what to do. If I leave Yoshi outside, he spends his time frantically destroying expensive plants that don’t belong to me (they’re my mother’s) and I simply cannot afford to replace them. Please help me. I love Yoshi, and I cant bear the thought of this being an “unfixable ” problem.
He’s made so much progress in other areas; he was sick when I found him and I feel like I saved his life. Some have told me (not professional trainers) that he has irreversible brain damage from his mysterious illness, and will always chew and destroy and be stubborn. I think he’s got a serious case of separation anxiety. I have thus far been unable to help him with the methods suggested to me thus far. Help!!! Sincerely, Cori.
Dear Cori: Thank you for the question. What I am about to say may be interpreted by other people as brash and offensive, but I have the feeling that YOU will accept it openly and without becoming defensive because you are the type of person who recognizes when advice is given in your best interest. Okay, ready?
You must drop this helpless attitude you’ve adopted. You are the master. He is the dog. If you tell him to go in the crate, then come hell or high water, when you walk away from that dog… HE’D BETTER BE IN THAT CRATE!!! If you’re not willing to think like THE ALPHA DOG, then find a new home for the dog with someone who will. I don’t mean to come across as brash, but for Chrissakes… he’s YOUR OWN DOG. If you can’t even make him go into the crate, then there is something FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG with your relationship with your dog. And it doesn’t have to do so much with the dog.
The problem is within you. You must be able to protect your dog from himself. If you leave him out again, it’s possible he may kill himself. The dog is not brain damaged. Or if he is, then it has nothing to do with this behavior. He is experiencing separation anxiety. read the section in my book on separation anxiety. If you’ve already read it, I’d urge you to READ IT AGAIN AND PAY ATTENTION. Do exactly what the article says, and you’ll be able to lick this thing. Good luck,