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They Enjoy Their “TREE”ts

Christmas Tree DogHi John,

My 2 9 mo. old Great Pyrenees/black Labrador Retriever mix love eating wood!! I try to provide them with some healthier options such as bones, chew toys etc. but without going completely broke buying all of these treats for them what are some other options for them to satisfy this inclination for an extended amount of time as to stop destroying my deck, picnic table, stairs etc? Just to give you an idea, they destroyed an entire 7 ft. Christmas tree in 3 days!! Crazy. Also it has to be something substantial because they tend to gobble everything down and I’m afraid they will choke or block their intestines or something.

-Melanie

Hi Melanie,

Assuming your Christmas tree isn’t still up in late April when I received your email, that would have made your lumberjacks about 4 months old at the time of the pruning. In human terms that would be about 3 or 4 years old and now about 5 or 6 years old. Lets for a moment imagine that they are indeed human and that age and you leave them in my care for the day. When you return to pick them up and ask, “How did it go John?”, I reply, “Fantastic, they’re great kids but to tell you the truth I haven’t seen them in a couple of hours, . . .” If your pair had 3 days to take the tree down something is out of balance at your house.

Dogs of that age shouldn’t be left unsupervised in the house or outside the house. In fact until they’re around 2 years of age, most dogs should be supervised at all times. I do this by having them drag their leads around in the house and around the yard when I’m handy enough to get to the end of the leash before they get into trouble. The idea isn’t to eliminate freedom, it’s to eliminate the freedom to get into mischief. Regular leash indoors and a 30′ outside. I keep my crates handy so I can pop the dog in when I’m going to be too busy to interrupt mischievousness and leave them in there when I have to go out.

If your termite twosome have much of the Great Pyrenees genetics coursing through their blood there’s trouble on the horizon of a more serious nature then wood chomping if you keep leaving them unsupervised in the yard. Over time some G.P.’s get quite aggressive when left in yards on their own. By nature they are protective and without you to keep reminding them that it’s your property and they just get to live there, somewhere between 18 months and 3 years of age you’ll be writing me about a problem you’re having with them putting something entirely different in their mouths, like a cat or a neighbour for instance.

When I learn of dogs that spend a lot of time in the yard, I’m told it’s because, “They like it.”, or “For fresh air and exercise.” but usually it’s because their owner likes it and the dogs just become used to it. Besides, what puppies or kids “like” isn’t supposed to be a priority. It’s a factor, but it doesn’t over ride providing a balanced enriching environment that allows for appropriate guidance when the need arises as it will over and over again as they mature.

I hope I’ve helped you cedar light. Your two are pining for some training and to start it wood help if you stop leafing them alone to lumber around as the bad behavior is bound to take root and branch off into territorial aggression.

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