We have a 8 month old Labrador Retriever puppy, his name is Beau.
How can we get this puppy to stop tearing stuff up? He is an outside dog and because we live in a cold climate he has to have access to the garage where it is warm. We have put stuff out of his reach, we have tried rubbing his nose in the trash and telling him no, but nothing works. We have gotten trash cans with lids and tied them shut and he still knocks them over and spills them all over- we have to keep the trash in the garage because we live in the country.
Beau will jump up on the boat and then climb up on top of my car in the garage. More than a few times we have heard him crying at night because he can't get down, then we have to go out and get him down. He has torn up one car top up already. We had a female Labrador for 13 years and she was wonderful, she never tore anything up- she was an angel.
We understand that he is a puppy and does not know any better. What can we do to stop this destructive behavior??
Puppies do chew--it is a normal exploratory behavior--they do not have thumbs to pick things up with! Your puppy may be entertaining himself when left alone, and if he has nothing else to do, then the trash becomes a favorite toy. Providing appropriate things for him to chew on--such as food stuffed toys that he has to work at to get the food out--may help. Keeping the trash entirely out of the area he has access to is a critical thing to do--making it tough to get into will not be enough. Exercise on leash and off your property is also essential for puppies this age. Punishment of trash raiding, especially after-the-fact, will not help and could actually make your puppy fearful.
However, your puppy may not be just acting like a puppy. He may be feeling isolated in the garage or outside, and showing his anxiety by getting into the trash, and jumping on the boat and car. He may be much happier as a house dog, where he will have company on a consistent basis. He may have made the connection that "bad" behavior gets a reaction from his family, and let's face it, a bad reaction is better than no reaction at all. What we want him to do is associate good behavior with praise and attention, and the only way to do that is to have the puppy with you to teach him what we want him to do, as opposed to correcting him after the unwanted behavior has occurred.
Obedience training classes would also be helpful in setting up a structure for this puppy.
You should contact your veterinarian for help with this problem right away before the destructive behavior becomes more and more reinforced.