All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Young German Shepherd is Chewing EVERYTHING!

Dear Marie:
I just adopted a nine month old German Shepherd that was given up by its owner because it chewed everything and anything. She is extremely sweet. It’ just that when she is left alone, she chews whatever catches her attention. Apparently she chewed some young trees to stumps and destroyed almost every pair of shoes in her former house. She even chewed walls. Now, I realize I’m going to have my hands full with
this dog and I've already made some big changes to my home environment. My main concern is not for my stuff; but for her safety. Can you run down a list of items that I should consider and may have overlooked while I complete my “chew-proofing?”

Dear Gracie,
It’s so good to hear from someone like you who is willing to work with a “high maintenance dog.” So often, dogs with behavioral problems are just deemed “bad” and are destroyed. Often, these negative behaviors are normal canine activities and dogs just need to be redirected so that their actions do not cause damage to property, or themselves.

I’m sure you have already provided your new pooch with some chew toys. Be sure and lavish her with praise each and every time she uses her toys instead of a chair leg!  To make her even more interested in toys rather than inappropriate items, get a special "Kong Toy" that you can fill with peanut butter and treats. This type of "interactive play thing" keeps dogs busy and engaged for hours!

In the average home, there are many safety hazards, especially for pets that chew random items. Electrical wires are extremely appealing targets. To prevent your dog from electrocution, keep all wiring out of canine reach. For example, cords can run behind sofas or bookshelves, under carpet or above your dog’s maximum height (on two legs). If certain rooms cannot be wired safely and your dog will be left alone for any length of time, close off access.

Dogs will also try to find things to chew in your trash if it is accessible.  (Most dogs have no trouble pulling open kitchen cabinets...use baby-locks on any doors that lead to food or trash storage!) Bones, especially chicken bones, can be deadly. Other small objects can also become lodged in your dog’s esophagus and may cause considerable damage.

If you have children, make sure they pick up their toys and put them behind CLOSED closet doors and in boxes. The small parts of toys can break off by the force of your dog’s jaws, and if ingested, can cause as much, if not more harm than bones and trash.

Put all of your household medications in a secure medicine cabinet. Dogs can chew through plastic bottles and swallow the contents. If you ever suspect that your dog has ingested human medications, contact your veterinarian or pet poison control.

Keep all cleaning, gardening, miscellaneous household, and automotive chemicals out of reach of your canine companion. Most antifreeze products are extremely toxic. Unfortunately, many pets will eagerly drink the fluid if they have access to it because it has an enticing smell and taste. The plastic jugs in which antifreeze is packaged are no match for capable teeth. I always suggest purchasing antifreeze that is labeled, “non-toxic to animals.”

Acids and other caustic products must be stored in dog proof areas/containers. If your dog does manage to chew up a Drano container or pool product, DO NOT MAKE YOUR PET THROW UP. Instead, give her some milk so that the chemical can interact with the milk protein rather than your pet’s stomach. Then, immediately take her to your veterinarian.

Finally, realize that many common houseplants are toxic. Hang your plants from your ceiling, or set them on shelves that are too high for your dog to reach. By preventing access to poisonous plants and hazards in general, you should be able to keep your dog safe and happy.

Best wishes to you.

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