Ask Ethel: Why Does My Puppy Chew Through Everything?

Ask Ethel: Why Does My Puppy Chew Through Everything?
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10/05/2010 AT 02:00 PM EDT

Dear Ethel,

Our 8-month-old Australian shepherd-beagle mix is chewing EVERYTHING. So far, she has destroyed the legs on my son's wooden swing set, any tree limb she can find, quite a bit of siding on the house, plastic chairs and the wires that supply our computer, TV and telephone from the side of the house.

She has a multitude of chew toys and balls, and I spend an hour twice a day playing and working with her. She loves to fetch, tries to put her smaller balls in any hole she finds, jumps straight up in the air, and has the sweetest personality. After paying over $200 to replace the wires (which she promptly chewed up again even though we put wires and bricks over them in an attempt to block her), however, we are at a loss as to what to do.

She comes in the house at night or when the weather is bad and goes into a crate, which she seems to like. She has learned to be on a leash and knows and responds to several commands. We know puppies chew things, but isn't this a little excessive? Please tell us what we can do! We don't want to get rid of her, but she is destroying so many things that it might come to that.

–Chewed Out

Dear CO,

There isn't anything wrong with your dog. She isn't doing anything wrong, either. What's wrong here is the yard.

Colleen Safford is one of New York's most recognized dog caretakers, and owner of New York Walk & Train and Far Fetched Acres. She says that a yard is only as good as a human in it, and your Aussie-beagle is being left alone outside for far too long.

"She needs supervision and management," Safford says. "She's still a toddler and just can't be trusted to be left unattended."

It sounds like your dog likes her crate – leave her there during the day. Don't feel guilty about it, either. Arrange for someone to relieve her midway through so she can get a walk and stretch her legs, and leave her with solid, food-stuffable toys that can stimulate and occupy her while you're away.

She also needs more exercise. I know, you're looking at me like, "I give her two hours a day! How much more can I give her?" Well, she's telling you she needs more, and given her breed mix, it's no wonder.

"Both breeds are highly intense sporting and working breeds," Safford says. "The hours of exercise she's getting are still not cutting it. An hour walk for a dog of that breed doesn't count."

What your pooch needs are sessions off-leash where she can run and get her heart really pumping. A high-impact cardio workout, if you will.

Most important, give your dog a chance. I know that all her chewy behavior is driving you crazy, but don't let her go. Try to work on the problems and start right away so you can start mending your relationship (and keep from having to replace any more of those wires).

–Ethel

Got a thorny pet (any pet!) problem that you can't figure out? Try Ethel – she'll do her best to help. Send your questions to helin@peoplepets.com. Include your pet's age, breed and sex, and try to give as much context to your problem as possible.

Previously in Ask Ethel:
Ask Ethel: Why Won't My Dog Sleep Through the Night?
Ask Ethel: Are My Dogs Housebroken or Not?

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