Let me start by saying that I love being a petsitter, and incidents like this are far and few between. The last time we had a dog destroys things was nearly two years ago when an insatiable and poorly trained English bulldog tore up one of our petsitter’s headphones. The owners had warned the petsitter not to leave anything within the dog’s grasp, so we did not fault the owner.
However, in this case, the owners warned us to leave socks out of the reach of their Beagle as in the past he had completely ingested a sock and had to have an expensive surgery to remove the life threatening object from his innards. There asked that we ought to keep our items on their picnic bench style dining table where the dogs could not reach them.
Item 1 Destroyed
We did exactly as told, but of course somehow one of dogs got up on the table enough to pull my shoes down and tear at them while I cooked in the room next door, the kitchen. Wandering into the next room I found my shoe shredded at the heel and tongue, and the plastic bits at the end of both sets of shoelaces to be chewed and frayed beyond the ability of being able to lace up the shoes any longer. While not ashamed to wear them with their chew marks, unfortunately the shoe missing the top of the heel is now too uncomfortable to wear as its loose without its top heel. Sad as they are my go to flats that match nearly anything I wear. I’ll have to see what a cobbler can do, although the repair won’t come cheap.
Anyway, unbegrudgingly I told the owner of the incident letting them know they ought to rethink telling caretakers to leave things on the dining table. I was polite and matter of fact about the danger being the greatest issue. I then put all of my stuff away in a dresser to avoid further destruction.
Item 2 Destroyed
But then the next morning as I cooked breakfast, I came to see that one of the dogs had pulled one of the owners’ shorts out of their laundry hamper that they leave on the ground.
It had shredded the elastic inside.
Items 3 & 4 Destroyed
Now this time they both got in on the action. Returning to the bedroom from getting ready in the bathroom, I found they had dragged the blankets from their crates and begun to chew holes in them.
Item 5 Destroyed
The last thing they got their teeth into is a dishtowel that hung on the oven handle. A nice hole lies in the center of it now.
These dogs have a serious chewing problem and would benefit from training.
One of the dogs also has a serious humping problem.
I don’t blame these sweet little dogs for their damage. I blame their owners for not giving proper directions to leave our items in a closed closet or in dresser drawers, or for not fully training their dogs to avoid destructive and dangerous habits. I feel bad as these dogs are one choking or digestive episode from death.
The Humane Society provides instructions on how to train your dog out of the gnawing habit, and there are numerous other resources online to help with this, as well as many dogtrainers in NYC. The cost of this isn’t an excuse as they live in a beautiful, expensive apartment in a central Manhattan location.
The dogs do have many Nylabones to nibble on, but providing alternatives is not enough. Dogs need to receive a stern “No” or a spray from the water bottle every single time they are caught misbehaving – on the instant. As many can recall Pavlov’s famous experiment, if an action is consistently associated with a reaction behavior is learned.
These dogs are sweet, but they NEED better training and more vigilant owners that provide crystal clear instructions on not to leave ANYTHING anywhere in reach of the dogs. I’m questioning if whether I ought to be carrying on the discussion further with the owners because it’s clear they don’t take the chewing problem as seriously as they should…
Anyone have recommendations on how to politely further encourage more diligence on their part? Telling them isn’t enough. They just reply, “Oh, they’ve never done that before.”
I highly doubt that, and just hope they don’t leave themselves or some odd petsitter with a dead dog when these pups ingest the wrong thing… Scary.