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Kelsie [userpic]
Doggy Disobedience
by Kelsie (limelight_lude)
at September 18th, 2008 (11:44 pm)

My five-year-old Mastiff/Sharpei/Black Cur came through inheritance to our family a misbehaving mutt. I've been working with him very in-depth for the past three years, and he's improved quite a bit. He has been great with my mother and I, and hasn't been any trouble [except the occasional run out the front door, etc].
He's had aggression issues when he is disciplined physically, or he is cornered in somewhere (like the end of a hallway) and you are angry at him. Nothing major--he doesn't snap, but he bears his teeth and growls. We think he was abused physically before he was given to the ASPCA and then given to us, and maybe had a bad experience at the ASPCA because he is petrified of the vet's office.
He's recently, within the past month and even more intensely within the past week, been jumping up to counters and tables, taking anything chewable within reach, and chewing it to bits. Now, I'm sure our second dog [the alpha female] has been helping him in the destruction after he gets it down, but she doesn't usually get any to things herself because she's about a foot-and-a-half tall. So, he's been getting things off the counter/table/wherever and then chewing them to a pulp. So far: He's gotten eggs, cheese and other food left out on the counter in the kitchen. He's eaten a knifehandle and a Ped Egg BLADE. He has taken pasta, tortillas, and other things out of their bags. He's eaten, most recently, a stuffed frog keychain and a zip-top bag of hotel toiletries that we were going to send in an Operation: Shoebox to the troops. Oh, and he's also tried to eat terrorized two cats (we have three) within the past two weeks.
Nothing drastic has changed in his environment recently except I did some heavy traveling. In July I moved out of town, and starting in late August I became coming home once a week. I've been back without interruption for about a week now, and he continues to do these things.
I'm thinking it's something like a doggy anxiety since he only does these things (except the cats) when we aren't home, and I don't want to crate him because I feel like that's a cop-out to the actual problem, and will only cause him to act out when he's uncrated. Since his acting out seems almost psychiatric in nature, and he obeys me on simple commands extremely well, I don't want to resort to an obedience instructor.
What are some causes/options? Prescriptions? Therapies? Anti-anxiety herbs? Natural remedies? Et al for the canine variety?

[x-posted like it's my job to any place applicable comm!]