We've had Hooligan for almost 2 months now and we really love him. We're starting to bond and it has so far been a rewarding experience. There are just a few things we're working out and I wanted to get some advice on how best to proceed.
Issue 1: Hooli doesn't like to be left alone at all. Luckily my husband works from home, so he's rarely left alone, but sometimes we do have to both go out and he gets upset when we do. I know this is pretty common. He whines, then howls/screams and destroys anything he has access to.
Issue 2: Hooli doesn't just destroy things, he eats them. He can't have any plush/fabric toys because he will immediately tear them up and start to consume them. He can't have a bed in his kennel or crate because he'll tear it and eat it. We've already been to the emergency vet for surgery to remove stuff he's eaten, and it was a terrifying experience that I hope never happens again.
I am wondering if there's any way to get him to play with toys, but not EAT them? I don't really mind too much if he tears things up. It seems like fun and I could give him toys to destroy if I didn't have to worry about his safety and getting blocked or punctured insides.
I would also love to let him have the run of the house because he's really a very good boy - very friendly and polite and gentle. I am just concerned about him eating things. He even eats the corners of our blankets at night if we're not careful. We enjoy having him sleep on the bed, and I'd hate to have to confine him at night, but I worry about him eating blankets. So far he's either passed or barfed what he's eaten blanket-wise, but I really don't want to put him through surgery again! Plus it was expensive! Over 3k! I'd do it again in a heartbeat but it can only happen so many times, lol.
We've tried several ways to confine him when we're away. Before we got him, we converted a room in the basement (where Josh's studio is) into a kennel. It is roomy, with 2 walls being the basement itself and the other two chain link with wooden structure and wood to cover the terminal ends of the chain link (so he didn't cut himself). We nicknamed Hooli "The Beaver" after he tore the wood off the chain link, broke it in half and ate a good bit of it. He also chewed partway through the stairs, as the room is right where the stairs come down into the basement. He did this within 3 hours while we were out seeing a movie. We give him things like nylabones and a kong, which he does chew on, but I'm not sure what else to use to possibly keep him better occupied. We tried a bully stick once, but he had it down to a short, potentially dangerous nub within a few minutes and it's not something we can leave him with.
After the kennel debacle, we tried just crating him. He can't really get to anything in the crate, but he sure tries. It's a hard plastic one and he's chewed on it a bit, but doesn't seem to be able to escape or destroy it. I'd prefer of course that he be relaxed and comfy while we're gone. I'd LOVE to give him his bed that he sleeps on, or more toys, but he'd just eat them.
I know some people have suggested getting another dog for separation anxiety, but he doesn't like other dogs at all, so that's not an option for us.
Does anyone have an opinion on kennel vs. crate? I want either one to be positive - his home & refuge, not punishment. I don't want him to dislike going in the basement because of the kennel, because we want to encourage him to go hang out with Josh in the studio. I worry it's colder in the basement, but he'd have more room. I don't know if we should try covering all the wood somehow so he has only chain link, or if we need to buy a separate, fully-enclosed chain link & metal kennel? Or stick with the crate? I feel bad about putting him in the crate. He can stand and turn but it's not that big. It's kind of nice that we can have the crate upstairs anywhere and we have been playing games of find-the-treat with him so he gets to associate the crate with good things and it's not as easy to do that with the kennel. What do you all think?
So, sorry this was such a long post! I just want to see if anyone has any insight on things we can do to make life more pleasant for us and our little Hooli!