He's Destroying the Couch

We recently adopted Ragnar, an adorable 4 yr old Tricolor and brought him home to live a life on luxury with his half sister, who has been with my boyfriend since she was a puppy.

Ragnar is adjusting well, except for one thing....he's destroying the furniture! He's fine during the day when he is on his own, but when we get home at night, he goes crazy. He's chewed the corners of the coffee table and started attacking the couch, too.

We scold him, distract him, give him chew toys and treats. We've covered the couch. Nothing helps. Tonight he actually ruined the recliner by pulling a huge piece of stuffing out and its no repairable. No point in replacing the couch of he is just going to do it again.

Any thoughts on how to alter this behavior??

What type of home did he come from?... could just be adjustment time... as he doesn't understand the new home? You need to distract him... work his mind, spend time with him on things like sit, down, stay... all in short periods... do you know anything about his previous living situation?

He was used as a stud. Lived mainly outdoors. We have wondered if this may be bc he never really had the opportunity to be a puppy?

What, exactly, are you doing when all this destruction is taking place? Since he doesn't do it when you are absent, it sounds to me like he is trying to get your attention. If he starts in on things presumably you then pay attention to him and any attention may be preferable to him than no attention. Of course you need to deter him, which may be hard to do in a way that doesn't reward him. If all else fails, tether him to you when you are home so he doesn't have the opportunity to destroy things.

Yes, we know it's attention seeking behavior. One or both of us is always present when it happens. We play with him, offer other toys, cuddle, go for walks, play ball, get him to play with his sister, whatever we can
He just keeps going back to ripping the couches.

@doughtygirl said in He's Destroying the Couch:

We play with him, offer other toys, cuddle, go for walks, play ball, get him to play with his sister, whatever we can

I can't imagine the nightmare of seeing your belongings destroyed, after a long day at work no less. Let me know if any of these ideas could be a consideration....

  1. Could he just need more exercise? Especially since he was an outdoor dog. Perhaps longer walks? Or a run (if either of you are joggers)? How long are the walks you go on now? Once a day? Twice? Do you have yard for the new siblings to run around in? Do the new siblings engage eachother in playtime, chases, etc?

  2. You indicate that you offer him toys as a way to distract him from the (cough) "undesirable behavior". And then what? Do you keep playing with him? Or is it more like, "here, play with this", and then you go back to making dinner? How long is the interaction you offer as a means of satisfying his need for one-on-one attention?

  3. Does he have anything that's "ok" to chew on? I give my "doodle" a (frozen) beef neck bone to chew. Since I freeze them, I don't have to worry about meat juice all over my house. And it makes it that much more of a challenge for her. (I can hear her working on a bone while I'm typing this.) Have you considered (or do you provide) anything like that? Something he "can" chew on?

@doughtygirl said in He's Destroying the Couch:

Yes, we know it's attention seeking behavior. One or both of us is always present when it happens. We play with him, offer other toys, cuddle, go for walks, play ball, get him to play with his sister, whatever we can
He just keeps going back to ripping the couches.

You need to get ahead of this as soon as he gives any indication he is heading for his favourite ripping spot. For whatever reason this behaviour may be self rewarding and you need to prevent him getting any satisfaction from it, which is why I suggested tethering, but you could alternately let him drag a leash and if he heads for the couch simply prevent him from reaching it.

Another approach would be a "scat mat" strategically placed....

@doughtygirl - Seeing where he came from.... that explains much....

@doughtygirl It sounds to me like he is being dominant. If it happened while you were away then it would sound like anxiety. It sounds very much like behavior I have encountered in the past many times, where the dog is asserting themselves.

Talking him immediately for a good structured walk as soon as you get home would help. Once he is in that frame of mind, you need to alter that thinking into a different mode. Distraction, walk, food, play, training / treats. When you find out the dogs drivers, it is fairly easy to switch their thinking.

Not enough walks is usually the problem, during summer I walk the dogs 3-5 miles a day every day. Never a problem. Winter comes and with the snow, ice and freezing temps they get whatever walks we can get. Then the problems start.

A tired basenji is a good basenji.

When we have this kind of trouble, first thing we do is put the tiniest bit of Vicks Vapo rub in where ever the dog is even interested in trying to chew - works every time.
Warning - they are relentless in finding places that do NOT have the Vicks.

I will leave the training advice to others.

It only takes a teeny tiny bit, their nose smells it!

What was his living situation before you adopted him? It's never too late with a basenji. They are very smart and can learn new behavior. It may take time but it will be worth it. Perhaps it is time to hire a professional dog trainer who could give you some advice on how to deal with this problem. Often it is a matter of how one reacts to the dog's misbehavior. You are doing everything that you can, and it is not working. i agree about the long walks and distracting him any way you are able. Never get angry at a dog! Even if you are furious. Basenjis especially are very smart but also sensitive. Unless there is something wrong with him physically, you should be able to get him to behave eventually.
btw, has he been neutered? Do persevere. You'll be glad you did.

Have you considered the use of dog anti-chew spray on your furniture or personal belongings? Of course, the spray needs to be all-natural, no chemicals and with no side-effects. Is there anyone who has made use of these type of sprays to protect your furniture from being chewed and damaged by the Basenji? I have read that Trixie Knabber Stop Spray is a good product.

last edited by eaglet

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