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Hello all!

I have a 6.5 month old Aussie. Or he may be a border collie, but that's a different story! He's a wonderful little boy, he likes to please and learns very fast.

Recently I've started some very time consuming training for work, but it will only last a few weeks. I understand that if Aussies get bored, they can become a little destructive. I still get the chance to take him to run around and play with other dogs til he's worn out about every other day and I provide him with plenty of bones and toys to chew on. He also gets plenty of attention :D However, he's been targeting multiple pairs of my very expensive running shoes. Mainly I think for the laces as he likes to pull and rip with his front teeth. And he knows he's being very bad too! I even sprayed them down quite well with fooey extra bitter anti-chew spray. I realize that a simple solution to this would be to just put all the shoes away in a closet... However, I would like to get to the root of the problem. I can't pinpoint it as being caused by my extra time at work since he's also just getting older in general and has always really liked laying on shoes/eating treats on top of shoes. In addition, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions/help for anything that could satisfy his needs? As you can imagine I'm very frustrated having to spend hundreds of dollars on new running shoes. :mad:
 

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Being tired out physically every other day is not enough for an Aussie puppy. Think mental stimulation as well as physically. He's making his own game out of chewing your belongings because he's not being mentally stimulated, and on days he doesn't get out, he is still bored all day long and Aussies / BCs are known to be destructive when bored.

I would try to put in more time every day instead of every other. I'd also try not just letting him lose with other dogs, and rather take him for stimulating walks. He may be understimulated by the environment and over stimulated by the dogs when he does get out, causing him to be a bit high strung. I like to play sniffing games on my walks by tossing pieces of treats into tall grass and having him find it. I also go to places with lots of smells and sounds like the nature trail by my dog park.

creating puzzles for him may also keep his mind busy, like taking a bottle and stuffing it with hot dog pieces and making him try to get them out. Do you do any obedience work? Working breeds love to learn, and learn very quickly. Try setting aside at least 15 minutes a day to work on useless tricks like roll over, spin, shake, high five, speak, etc just to give his mind something to think about.
 

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Unfortunately with the extra time at work I really have difficulty finding more free time/time to give him for the next 3 more weeks. We have been to nature trails but it is so far away it isn't ideal for my current situation. But definitely noted for after that. We also walk about 1.25 miles every day in a highly dog populated area, so he gets to stop at all the bushes and poles.

I also got him an IQ ball and I used to put half his meals in there along with a decent amount of treats. He seemed to become disinterested after a while. I'll try using different shapes like a bottle, maybe that'll help. And yes, I do obedience work, I pretty much ran out of tricks to teach him but I'll try to think of some more now and I guess just keep practicing what he knows over and over. Thanks so much for the advice, I wasn't even thinking about mental stimulation!
 

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Unfortunately with the extra time at work I really have difficulty finding more free time/time to give him for the next 3 more weeks. We have been to nature trails but it is so far away it isn't ideal for my current situation. But definitely noted for after that. We also walk about 1.25 miles every day in a highly dog populated area, so he gets to stop at all the bushes and poles.

I also got him an IQ ball and I used to put half his meals in there along with a decent amount of treats. He seemed to become disinterested after a while. I'll try using different shapes like a bottle, maybe that'll help. And yes, I do obedience work, I pretty much ran out of tricks to teach him but I'll try to think of some more now and I guess just keep practicing what he knows over and over. Thanks so much for the advice, I wasn't even thinking about mental stimulation!
Would it be possible to hire or find someone to take him out on the days you cant? It's a rare day I leave my Aussie home all day without taking him out, and he has gotten bored when I don't have time and chewed things like shoes and a pair of my glasses. It's rare he chews anymore however, because he goes out every day.

I would suggest googling some DIY puzzle toys involving treats for dogs, and making some as well as buying a variety :) Cosmo got bored with a kong super fast.

You can never run out of tricks! Start teaching him to pull things on doors like a towel tied to the knob, and eventually he could open the fridge. Teach to retrieve certain objects by name and have one of those be a water bottle from the fridge. Train him to put away his toys so you don't have to! Train him to jump through a hoop form of your arms. Train him to turn lights on and off. Train him to climb ladders and retrieve toys. Hang a toy on something above his head and have him jump :) the possibilities are endless!

Also is that in in your picture? Cute!
 

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if the shoes are expensive, I would put them away. until you've trained it there'll be more shoes ruined. :(

our Boxer loved shoes.
I think it was that they smelled like his humans. He'd put his nose in the shoe and then fall a sleep... it was a bit gross.:eyeroll:
if it's that perhaps some other piece of clothing or fabric that smells like you could be also his taste and make him leave the shoes alone.
 

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Pick up the shoes- problem solved. Honestly, the shoes are probably a novelty/smell like you and thus are more fun. Puppies have a 6th sense about finding naughty things to chew.

I have a sock thief, so I understand the pain. He has decidedly made me better at picking up though.
 

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He sounds bored. A dog like that (whether a aussie or a border) needs mental stimulation, or it's only going to get worse. Do you have a friend that can come over and play with and walk the dog while you are training? What about hiring a dog walker. Or bringing him to a day care. Honestly, those are 2 of the highest energy breeds, as exhausting as it might be, they can't just sit. He will learn behaviors in these next 3 weeks that you may never be able to reverse.
 
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The root of the problem = shoes are yummy ;)

Adolescent dogs love to chew. They especially like novel objects, like things they don't get to chew very often, or things that are fun to take apart. This can seem an awful lot like "loves to chew everything that's off-limits!"

It doesn't really matter whether you want to train the issue away or simply save $$$ on new shoes, the first step is the same: put the shoes away. All training starts by controlling access to reinforcement. Clearly, shoe-chewing is a self-reinforcing activity, meaning that the more he gets to do it, the more he's going to do it in the future, plus it sounds like an expensive habit to indulge. If a closet isn't secure enough, a latching plastic bin or high shelf can also work...I have been known to hang shoes on a coat hook, when handy.

I like to rotate toys. Every day, my dog gets 3-5 "new" toys from the toy bin, and the "old" toys go back in (or get washed, as needed). When my dog was a little younger, I included cardboard boxes (like empty cheerios boxes, etc.) stuffed full of wadded-up newspaper as "new toys," so she could satisfy her urge for destruction without actually costing me money. If you like spending money on toys, you could certainly look for some that mimic some of a shoe's qualities. There's the kind where the dog pulls stuffies out of a toy (like this: Amazon.com : Outward Hound 31001 Hide A Squirrel Plush Dog Toy Squeak Toy 4 Piece, Junior, Brown : Pet Squeak Toys : Pet Supplies), which might be kind of like pulling laces out of a shoe. Or your local pet store might have other interesting options.

By rotating toys, I keep the novelty factor high...after a few days, my dog thinks an old toy is "new" and exciting again, or maybe just gets excited about rediscovering an old friend ("OH! Decapitated rabbit stuffy, how I've missed you!!"). Novelty can be important for dogs, so varying your routines and going to new places, taking a different route on a daily walk, and so on can do more than you think.

If you want to train an automatic leave-it for shoes, that could be a good way to provide some mental stimulation for both of you, and maybe let you hope that you can someday go back to leaving shoes around the house without fearing their loss. I like the "It's Yer Choice" game (https://paws4udogs.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/its-your-choice-teaching-self-control/). Start by training it with food, then work up to using a running shoe as your "distraction" (but still food as your reward), and build it slowly-but-steadily to see where you get.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks for all of the suggestions.

I tried finding a doggy day care but the earliest ones open up at 630 am across town and I usually have to be at work by then. And I haven't been able to find a dog walker with a known reputation that I can give my spare key to. As much as I would've liked to :/ Don't get me wrong, he gets walked 4 times a day (sometimes we go for runs) and the biggest gap never really exceeds 8 hours. If it even comes close to that, I leave a puppy pad for him to relieve himself if needed. If I was intending to put my dog on the back burner, I wouldn't have even taken the time to seek advice here. I've read about the breed, and although I know it isn't exactly the perfect fit for every aspect of my lifestyle, I rescued him from very poor living conditions and I am definitely trying to make it work and make as many accommodations to him as I can.

We've been learning some new tricks I'd never even thought of teaching before and I've got a another puzzle toy for him that he seems to like and we play hide and seek games with treats. Looking into that squirrel toy, thanks :) I'm definitely going to try rotating toys, especially bones that he gets bored of chewing after a bit.

The shoes have all been safe, except for an already chewed training/bait shoe that he actually hasn't touched. I do feel very bad that he's bored but it's temporary and halfway done... Although it is Navy pilot training so I'm sure there will be more periods of short, high intensity training from time to time so I am learning from this experience. Also, I think he's even putting on a just little weight too. But I'm doing what I can to combat that without straying too far from the guidelines provided from the dog food company (mainly just trying to run with him more). We haven't been able to go to the dog park/beach because he's had an eye infection from our last visit and I just don't want it to get worse. Other than that he seems to be doing OK :(
 

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If you have to leave him home and the pad training can be trained out when you have time and it's working for now and he's okay with roaming the house then honestly? I think he's fine. Just give him a kong and hide some snacks around the house. (Under cups, under a mat or rug or towel, on a surface he can climb like stairs or between couch cushions etc) leave a couple different puzzles out with low calorie snacks. That should keep him busy a while and puppies sleep a lot so that should account for a large portion of the time. Just make sure there's nothing dangerous he can get to or gate him in an area. We used to gate our family lab in the kitchen. A couple accidents when she was a puppy but it was an easy clean up on the tile and now she's perfectly potty trained. We were just going to school and working but it all worked out fine.

If he's getting adequate exercise between the time he's alone I see no problem.
 

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Does he fetch or tug? You can get a lot out of just short 5-10 minute high intensity training and games. If you can add the play into the training it will be helpful for him. If you can't get out to run him or whatnot that day, I'd grab a tug and play some tug and ask for impulse control type behaviors while playing. That kind of stuff can be just enough to take off the edge.
 
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