Case Study - Bandit

 

Austin WhippetBreed: Whippet

From: Austin

 

Bandit had quite the destructive personality. He would pull toilet paper off the roll, either spreading it all over the house or shredding it into tiny pieces. He had chewed up several remote controls for the television and stereo. He would destroy shoes if he had a way to get ahold of them. Even outside wasn't safe from his little teeth... he was chewing not only the bark from the trees... but also the irrigation system! The last straw came when on a trip in the car to an Austin dog park. As his owner, Joyce, was driving he chewed up sections of the back seat!
Unlike many destructive dogs, he would not only destroy things if he was left home alone but also would do it when Joyce was in the house... even if she was standing in the same room!
Despite living in a somewhat small condo in Austin, Bandit was still getting plenty of exercise. He was taken on two jogs a day, as well as an extra walk at night. He had all sorts of his own toys available to chew on back at home, so it wasn't a lack of a chewing outlet. In fact, despite chewing on anything and everything in the house, he still loved to chew on his toys as well! The problem in his case came from a lack of respect for his owner, as well as confusion as to which things he was allowed to chew on. A quiet and unassuming lady, Joyce was loving and kind but lacked an authoritative voice. She would tell him "no" when he grabbed something that was not his, but she would do so in such a small and quiet voice that he would just ignore her. In Bandit's mind, everything belonged to him because no one was going to stop him!
We went to work, not only to help Bandit learn what he was not allowed to touch, but also to coach Joyce how to be a more authoritative owner. As such, a majority of our sessions were focused on giving Bandit's owner the confidence and instruction she needed in order to effectively tell him "no". We set up various situations in the house that would tempt Bandit into grabbing the objects and then focused on helping Joyce "lay down the law" instead of us doing so. We find it is much easier for most people to learn by doing rather than listening, and she began to build the confidence in herself as the sessions went on. Bandit, in turn, began to realize that he needed to listen to his mom! By the end of the second session, the two had a much better relationship and Bandit was actually responding to Joyce and leaving the various objects alone.
We did also set a few new rules up to curb Bandit from chewing on objects while his owner was away as well. Between a few household changes and some private coaching, the two are living together much more harmoniously today! Joyce is still loving and affectionate to Bandit (we never want to take away any of the bond between owner and pet) but she also is now a strong leader as well.