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Hi - first time poster - but I'm at a total loss, so any advise would be greatly appreciated.

I have been trying to transition my almost 1 year old great dane from crate to free-roam of the house while I am at work. As with all of my danes in the past, I always give them a bone or kong to keep them occupied while in their crate so that when the time is right for the transition, they naturally will continue to use the kong/bone to keep themselves occupied - when they aren't sleeping on the couch. :) This method has always been successful in the past so it came as quite a surprise when after one or two days of free-roam my pup decided that the pad under the rug would be a great toy. I was also quite surprised since he had never shown any interest in the rugs (area rug over hardwood floor) - never in damaging them, or even smelling them, up until that point - and I never had a dog that ever did. The rugs have not been soiled by any previous dogs and maybe only once or twice by himself when I first got him at 8 weeks and even then only a small amount, and probably never made it into the padding, as I caught him 'mid stream'. :) And it isn't even the rug itself that has him so fixated, but rather the pad under the rug and the lining.

After his first 'attack', I waited about a month before trying again -- but again, the very first day, he went right for the pad. Since I know it doesn't do much good to correct a dog hours after the event, I decided the only way to 'catch him in the act' would be to take the pad and leave it in plain sight in the living room -- this way, if he even went over to smell it, I could immediately correct him so he would understand the association. That pad sat in the living room for another month -- he did not show even the slightest interest in it. So I tried again to give him free-roam today. Again, I came home to ripped up padding and shredded carpet lining.

I made sure he got plenty of exercise the day before -- several hours at the dog park with lots of dogs (he's still quite tired :) and hasn't moved from the couch all evening) and there were plenty of toys and things to chew on.

Since I know I will never catch him in the act, I am wondering what I might do to prevent this behavior. I considered applying some deterrent to the padding, but I understand the smell is not so good (and this is my living room); and I do not have a room without some rugs, except the kitchen -- but I am not willing to take the chance that he may find the wood cabinets tempting -- much too expensive of a risk, since he also found a wooden coaster that he totally enjoyed -- plus, the kitchen has got to be so boring (no couch, etc) -- so that would be 'bored-destruction' just waiting to happen (I do know dog psychology quite well, which is why I am so baffled on this one). And the thing is, he is not a chewer -- except for the coaster and of course the rug pad, he has never chewed on anything but his toys and bones.

I thought about muzzling him for a few weeks until he 'got over it' -- but that sounds borderline cruel and since I've never used one on a dog, I don't even know if it has the potential to hurt him since he would be unattended.

Lastly, and this just breaks my heart to even consider it: he will spend every working day in his crate. :-( It is quite large and he can easily stand without touching the top, stretch out, turn around, etc -- but still, I have never done that to any of my dogs and would hate to think I would have to do it to this guy since he is such a wonderful pup in every way (except maybe he has some rat terrier in him. :) -- plus, I'd miss out on that maturity that always comes with the 'transition' -- all of my dogs have gotten this air of 'I'm a big dog' once they have been given free-roam -- kind of like from diapers to training pants. :)

Thank you in advance for your suggestions.
 

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If it's not too much work I'd pick up the rugs and/or liners when you leave. Who knows why dogs do some of the things they do. Maybe in time try leaving one down and see if he leave it alone. Maybe he's mildly stressed and shredding the liner helps him.

Do you have any pics of your dane? I have an almost year old female black dane. I always get excited to meet another dane owner. They are such sweet dogs. I was lucky with my girl, she hasn't torn anything up and hasn't been crated either. She was such a good pup from day one.
 

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Sounds like maybe he is soothing himself with the chewing. Some dogs feel safer in the crate while alone. Since he doesn't touch it while you are home. I would wait another 6 months then try it again. See if age helps
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks for the suggestions

I think both suggestions are good and will incorporate them both. If Dawnben's thoughts are correct -- that he is still too young -- that gives me encouragement. All of my other Dane's were free-roaming at about a year when they were consistently dry in their crate -- this guy has been good in that regard for at least 3 months so I guess I figured he was ready. Lately when he sees me get ready for work he heads right for the couch, as if to say. "I think I'll stay here today" -- I guess I gave him too much credit too soon. :) Then I'll pull the carpet up prior to trying again, as Annageckos suggested -- can't hurt. I know 6 months will feel like an eternity for me -- but maybe he does need more time, since my fear was that once he destroyed the rug, he would go for the couch cushions -- but if he has no access to either for another few months maybe he will have settled down some by then. Thanks! (annageckos, I added a pic of him as my profile -- not sure if it will come through yet -- good luck with your black -- yes, aren't they just the sweetist breed -- this guy is just amazing -- like you said, from day one! love him to pieces!!)
 

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He's beautiful, I've always liked merle danes.
 
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