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Olivers Mom
Olivers Mom, Dog Answer Team
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Dog Expert
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dog eating socks, pantyhose etc.

Customer Question

I have a black lab that waits until you aren’t looking and sneaks off to find things to eat. She is partial to panty-hose but has also eaten - black socks, beanie babies (whole!), cat litter and anything that is in the garbage. She knows that she is going to get in trouble for this but acts like it is worth whatever punishment she is going to get. When we go into her grandmother’s home - she immediately disappears and runs through the house to find anything she can eat. She ate an entire pair of panty hose last week in seconds! She seems to have one mission in life - eat everything she can. She is 6 years old and her behavior is getting progressively worse. She has been to a professional obedience school and was wonderful for the first few months after that - but has since turned into an obnoxious rebel. She knows she is doing something she is going to get punished for but it doesn’t matter. She grabs whatever it is and gulps it down before we can get it from her. We also have a 4 year old yellow lab that is the total opposite - laid back, mellow, obediant. HELP!!!!!!!!!
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Olivers Mom replied 11 years ago.

 Labs are notorious for this behavior!  Unfortunately, it can become a serious problem due to obstruction of the bowel.  First, and excuse my bluntness, but have you lacked off working her obedience and manner skills now that class is over?  I say this because many owners do this and old behaviors start new again.  Go back to the basics - even asking for simple obedience commands can gain your control back in a short time.  Secondly, pure management.  There isn't any magic wand to this one except removing her access to as much as possible. (closed bedroom doors, litter box under something she can't get into but the cats can, etc).  Third is your discipline MUST be immediate - she won't learn anything if it's even 5 seconds after the fact so no use punishing in those situations.  After your verbal discipline, REDIRECT her to what is acceptable to chew/play with.


I hope this helps!

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Olivers Mom's Post: Unfortunately - my husband thinks a dog should be allowed to be a dog (ie do whatever she wants) - Katie - the black lab is his - and when I continually try to re-enforce her obedience - he thinks I am being too hard on her. I insist on her minding me - but he lets her get away with murder - she's his baby. We have learned to keep things up and out of her reach - but she has learned to find socks, etc anywhere. If we have company - she goes through their suitcases! Food on the kitchen counter isn't safe - turn your back and she jumps on the counter and grabs it and runs - knowing she is going to get in trouble - she wolfs it down before we can grab it. She has a whole basket of toys, chew bones etc. also. She loves stuffed animals - but she destroys them quickly - pulling off eyes, nose then ripping out the stuffing.
Expert:  Olivers Mom replied 11 years ago.

 Two things - dogs get a "kick" out of doing this because the owner pays so much attention to them (even if it's bad attention they can like it)  You could try totally ignoring the behavior, and then walk away to the treat jar or something to redirect her attention.


Second thing - I find the pet owner that won't do what's right for the dog's behavior and manner's will either change their mind when something serious happens or blame it on something else that caused the problem.   I guess time will tell huh?  I do hope he is the one that has to deal with your troubled guests  


"The dogs are easy to train - it's the people that are hard to train!"


Best of luck,

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Olivers Mom's Post: "the pet owner that won't do what's right for the dog's behavior and manner's will either change their mind when something serious happens or blame it on something else that caused the problem"

My words to him exactly! I am to the point of keeping her on a leash whenever she is in the house period. She has made us prisoners to her bad behavior and I am getting extremely frustrated. Because she is so sneaky - slipping off when she knows we aren't looking at her - it is impossible to "catch her in the act". She will wait for hours for us to become destracted with something else. She never forgets if there is something she wants. We had to start putting a gate up at our bedroom door - she waits till we are asleep at night and then slips out of the bedroom and prowls the house looking for things to eat - then climbs on the couch to sleep - although she has never been allowed on the furniture and knows that is wrong. She is worse than a defiant child!
Expert:  DanaDVM replied 11 years ago.

 Only as an addition to the conversation for your husband...maybe a realization to the number of dogs I see dead every year from necrotic bowels from socks and pantyhose.  People think if something gets stuck than we can cut it out...and that is true. BUT, like in the case of your dog...you are so used to her eating things that you will not know there is a problem until it is critical.  If she does have surgery...you are looking around $800-$1200...and this always happens when money is the tightest.


Maybe a trip to your vet WITH your husband so that he can realize the seriousness of "his childs" problem.


Dr.Vamvakias

Expert:  Olivers Mom replied 11 years ago.

 It's actually not a bad idea to have a leash on him in the house - I suggest that with alot of my pet owners having problems with their dogs behavior.  It's so critical that your timing of punishment and redirection/praise & reward is on that having a dog on the leash allows you to do this.  I think it's also worth your while to see if a trainer/behaviorist in your area can make a housecall or think about classes again. 


(Good advice from Dr V!)

Olivers Mom, Dog Answer Team
Category: Dog
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Experience: Dog Expert
Olivers Mom and 2 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Amen Dr V. I called my husband and read to him what you said. He has agreed to try to help correct this problem with Katie instead of being a hinderance! We had a good dog trainer - (he trains the police dogs) he kept her for 9 days and she was amazing when she came home. Except my husband thinks when you are being firm with a dog - that you are being hateful - he tells her to "sit down honey". Yes he's a softie. So I am going to be training Katie AND my husband now I guess. I informed him that when Katie is in the house - she is to be ON a leash and in our eye-site at all times. Cat litter has already been placed in the laundry room with a small kitty door - Katie just waits for someone to accidently leave the door open and she always knows it!

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