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A friend/neighbor is having a real problem with her Sheltie that is driving her crazy. There are 3 adults, 2 children, and 2 small dogs besides the Sheltie living in the home. The dog, June, turned up as a stray a year or 2 ago and they took her in. June is particularly attached to Susan.
Susan's husband works, the kids go to school, the the grandfather is home all day. Susan goes to school part time and also works part time. In the morning, when everyone's getting ready to leave, June will steal one of Susan's shoes (even get it out of the closet), run through the doggie door, and hide or bury the shoe. She will also do this when Susan comes home and takes her shoes off. If she can't get one of Susan's shoes, she takes one of the kids' shoes, but not the mens' shoes. She never tears them up, she just hides or buries them!
Obviously this is some sort of separation anxiety. As far as I know, she's always done it, but I'm not sure if it's getting worse or not. Short of putting all of the shoes up somewhere out of reach of the dog, is there anything they can do to help this poor dog?
My friend is really hoping that she can get some suggestions on how to deal with this issue, because as funny as it seems, it is driving them crazy. LOL! I told her that if anyone could help her, it would be the wonderful people here! :D
By Judy from Tulsa, OK
Added info: Checked with Susan to verify info. She says they've had the dog a little over a year & really started doing this thing with the shoes 3-4 months ago - they don't know what happened to trigger it.
Once upon a time, Shelties were working dogs, and formed an extremely tight bond with the one person who directed the dog's work. They are probably the smartest dogs on the planet, bred to be able to make independent decisions in the fields to guard and move the flock (sheep) or herd (cattle) but also to recognise and respond to the 'boss'.
Clearly, this Sheltie is showing her breeding and has identified Susan as the boss. She may see the children as an extension of Susan, or as the flock/herd she is responsible for.
She obviously thinks Susan should be staying home and giving her (the dog) work to do rather than leaving the house on a regular basis without the her! She's showing her frustration at the lack of a job by taking the shoes in hopes of forcing the boss to assign some sort of work-she's smart enough to have connected the shoes to Susan (and the children) leaving the house, so she's hiding the shoes to prevent leaving.
Something must have happened 3-4 months ago to cause the dog to suddenly display breed specific traits.
The trigger may have been as simple as a change in schedules, or maturity in the dog-how old was she when she was adopted? Shelties mature by about two years old; it's possible this dog has reached maturity and knows she should have a job to do.
If she was an older dog at adoption, it's possible she was trained to herd but was exhausted/shocked from what ever caused her to leave her previous home to become the stray who was adopted-it may well have taken her this long to have recovered and adapted to her new situation as a rescued dog. When she recovered enough, her breed traits reasserted. Loyalties completely transferred to Susan and the children, in her mind she is ready to work and is saying so by hiding the shoes.
This is one smart dog! She needs a job. Possibly Susan could take her to training classes, or use library books and Internet sources to develop a training programme that would satisfy this Sheltie's need for routinely scheduled work. The following link is to a site with loads of great info on the breed, including how to keep one healthy, happy, and busy:
Good luck, I hope Susan will update us, and include a picture of this clearly brilliant dog!
Try sprinkling cayenne pepper on your shoes. Set up a "dummy" pair of shoes with the pepper.
NEVER use cayenne pepper near your pet! I used to work for a vet. The hot pepper burns their eyes so badly that the pet will actually claw their eyes out trying to stop the burning pain! Put the shoes away, and get the dog other toys that can pick up the owner's scent...such as leather chew toys...store them inside your shoes, so they smell like your shoes and give these to the dog when you are leaving home.
My dog started chewing my shoes. She's a 1 year old Pit, recently spayed and has never done the chewing thing before. She's a rescue dog who was abused and is a friendly, well behaved dog. Please help.
By m.janus from Cheektowaga, NY
My sister buys used stuffed animals without squeakers or plastic eyes for her dog to chew on. Also, keeping shoes put away in closed closets will help.
Bitter apple spray, available at feed store.
Dogs like to chew, it's normal. Give them beef chews in place of a shoe. If I'm out of chews I gave mine socks instead, it was cheaper. I found old packs of socks at Goodwill. Make sure the chews are big enough to last and safe. Keep the shoes where they can't find them. Don't sweat the small stuff.
By Michelle B