Comic strips are supposed to be an exaggerated world, but lately it has been hard to concoct ideas for Dilbert that are more absurd than reality. For example, when Dilbert's company develops a new product, I want it to be worse than any product you have ever seen in real life. I thought I was ahead of the curve until I saw my dog's reaction to her dog food. Let's start by saying she doesn't care for it.

Now you might think this is not the least bit unusual. Pets have preferences just like people, so it should be no surprise that she wouldn't like a particular brand of dog food. At least that's how I saw it until I reflected on the things she DOES like to eat, including every other type of food, the cat's food, mud, twigs, bugs, cat vomit, and her own turds.

If you ask me, the bar has been set low. How bad does your company's product have to be before your target market prefers eating its own poop? If I wrote a comic along those lines it would be too absurd to work even as comedy.

Our type of dog, a toy Australian Shepherd, is notorious for chewing up everything it can get its teeth into. As I write this she is sniffing around the office looking for something to beaver into splinters. It's a big problem. So we bought some sort of spray from the pet store that is intended to keep her away from prized objects. Apparently there is some subtle dog-only scent in this spray that she will find unpleasant. As you might have guessed already, the dog that sniffs asses and eats snails off the sidewalk was unfazed by this so-called unpleasant odor.

Dog training didn't work either. This breed learns quickly, and the first thing it learned is that we wouldn't punish it for chewing the bejeezus out of things. She knows she has a free pass. Her worst case scenario is some stern sounding baby talk, and she likes the attention.

But I think I have a solution. Tomorrow I'm going to rub her dog food on anything we don't want her to gnaw on. That should work. The only downside is that the entire house and all of our clothing will smell like something that would make a dog say, "No thank you. I prefer feces."
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Dec 9, 2008

being a dog owner myself with similar experiences, I hope I can provide a my two cents as a humble return favour for the hours of entertainment your Dilbert comic has brought us.

First, the seemingly bizarre lust for anything edible seems to be ingrained in dogs. Our dog eats anything she finds but is surprisingly picky when it comes to what we put in her bowl for breakfast or dinner. It seems that the more creepier, fouler and smelly it is, the more she wants to eat it. I suppose this is remnants of their wild past; their niche was to eat anything they could find, and to a large extent that consisted of leftovers - perhaps from humans as well as half-rotten dead animals. It is a battle you will hardly win.

They chewing on the other hand is another matter. How much physical and mental exercise does your dog get? Generally speaking, dogs are quite demanding when it comes to exercise, and if they get too little of it, they feel bad and for wont of vocal cords and intellectual insight, they express themselves in various ways that we perceive as simply annoying such as chewing up stuff, and and Australian Shepherd is a very demanding among demanding dogs. Sprays or reprimands doesn't solve the problem - it only addresses the symptom.

Imagine being locked up in a room with a nice bed and being supplied nutritionally correct food - you would still go crazy due to lack of stimuli and eventually you would behave in bad ways, so why would a dog be an exception?

An Australian Shepherd is a worker, so let him work. The need for mental exercise is sorely underestimated and underrated when it comes to dogs. They need hours of work. Every day! Perhaps there is dog club near your home, preferably focusing on dogs of similar kinds like yours. They can probably help you think up fun things to do with your dog. There is nothing better than a happy dog that feels satiated both mentally, physically and nutritionally.

Best wishes to you and your dog.
Anders from Stockholm, Sweden.
Dec 8, 2008
Just throw some habanero chile pepper sauce on the things she regularly chews on. It'll be fun to watch her react to the heat, and she'll probably stop doing it. If she actually enjoys it, then maybe she'll start saying, "Yo quiero Taco Bell." Either way, it's cheap entertainment for the night.
Dec 8, 2008
I think the real problem is that you've set a bad precendent with your other dog. Once you let one dog have his own ruling class, any dogs that come after just aren't going to listen.

Dec 8, 2008
I work at a pet supply store and I really can't blame her preferring turds to puppy chow. Turds probably provide better nutrition... <eek>

Check the ingredients: Any "by product" listed on the label is actually leftovers from other production and as such contains little to no nutritional value. Corn is likewise nearly useless to a dog or cat's digestion. If the first five ingredients are corn products and by products I'd strongly recommend any caring pet owner stay away from the food. For example, the first six ingredients of "Puppy Chow Complete and Balanced" are:

Whole grain corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E)

So the first ingredient is a high carb filler, the second is a protein filler, the third is a filler, the fourth and fifth are grain fillers and the last is unspecified species animal fat.

If a species is not mentioned you run the risk of getting fat from a rendering plant. A rendering plant takes any animal matter they can get and renders the fat out of it. "Ol' Roy" dog food got in trouble because the rendering plant they got their fat from actually accepted euthanized animals and so the fat they produced had significant !$%*!$%*!$ of euthanization drugs which got into the dog food. Not to mention the shades of "soylent green" that are suggested by feeding euthanized dogs to pets...

The other issue you run into is a corn based food like this causes real problems in a short digestive tract like cats and dogs have. Check out http://www.championpetfoods.com/orijen/documents/ORIJEN_White_paper.pdf for a very good analysis of just why the commercial, corn based, high carbohydrate diets are far from ideal.

About the chewing, there are two different types of deterrents: Scent deterrents and taste deterrents. I do not tend to recommend scent deterrents because I have not heard many good results from them. Taste deterrents tend to be more effective in chewers (things like Grannick's Bitter Apple or Fooey.) The store I work at carries both and they are very different so if one doesn't work, I'd recommend giving the other a try.

Finally about the attention span of dogs: I would be careful whenever someone puts a specific length of time to the attention span of any animal (or human for that matter.) A better way to put it is that the less time there is between the bad behavior and the correction for that behavior, the more likely the animal is to associate the correction with the bad behavior instead of something else or even the owner. If you wait too long it becomes less "I was bad" and more "My owner is bad." And "sticking their nose in it" is going to make them wonder if it is pooping on the floor that's bad or sticking their nose in poop that's bad.

One final tidbit: The final step in the production of Science Diet brand dog and cat food is a hose down in liquid fat. That fat becomes rancid which attracts the dog or cat to eat it. This is the "guaranteed great taste" they advertise.

If you're looking for a good food with no by products at a reasonable price that's pretty readily available, I recommend "Chicken Soup for the Dog Lovers' Soul" (or the corresponding "Chicken Soup for the Cat Lovers' Soul".) The food is well formulated, doesn't use any by products and is pretty reasonably priced. It is usually cheaper than the higher priced "premium" foods like Science Diet. The ingredient quality isn't as high as foods like "Wellness" from Old Mother Hubbard or any of the products from Natura or Nature's Variety, but is a very good balance of quality and economy.
Dec 8, 2008
Just buy decent dog food. Your dog is smart enough not to eat whatever dioxin and melanin crap you are offering.
And get her those bone like chewing toys that are made of boiled cow skin (no idea what those are called). Puppies need something to chew and it is easier to teach what is allowed than explicitly deny everything.
Dec 8, 2008
"beaver into splinters" is a funny phrase. I like the use of "beaver" as a verb. Conjures up a vivid image and a beaver is a naturally ridiculous creature.
Dec 8, 2008
I'll go you one better. I had a rabbit dog growing up that much preferred chasing deer to rabbits. We were in a sporting goods store one time and they were advertising a noxious concoction of deer urine and feces as a way to 'break' dogs of this deer chasing behavior. It was to be be placed directly on the nose of the dog. I only used it a couple of times until I realized that my dog thought it was a treat and would eagerly lick it off her own nozzle.

Can't really blame her, I guess, even I, a measly human, can smell deer in the woods. Rabbits are probably harder to smell.
Dec 8, 2008
First things first I used to work in a major pet supply retailer and that "bad tasting spray" that you mention works in about 90% of dogs, some dogs actually prefer the taste of the spray and will chew anything sprayed with it more than other objects.

There are a couple of things to remember when training a dog, one consistency is key you and your entire family must react to your dogs actions in the same manner. If you don't the dog is just going to get confused and do whatever the hell it wants anyway.

The second is to remember that dogs aren't people, it's odd to say but if you talk to alot of pet lovers they treat their pets like people all too often. A dog only has a short term memory of about 30 seconds so unless you catch them in the act don't bother scolding them.

I have found that the easiest way to stop a dog from doing some unwanted behavior is to make a short but loud noise to distract them, like snaping a finger loudly or what Ceasar Milan (aka the Dog Whisperer) prefers is a short a loud "shhh". Either way what you are trying to do is distract the dog from what it's currently doing so that it focuses on you. If it doesn't distract them then you need to step in and physically break the dogs concentration.

Hopefully you'll find something that will help you break your dog of bad habits, much like with people it is easier to stop it early on than letting it fester.
Dec 8, 2008
Your dog chewing the heck out of things has nothing to do with the breed. She runs the house. You won't solve your problem until you can control your dog.
What a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer on National Geographic.
You're a smart guy, you'll be able to pick up a bunch of tips to learn to control her.
Dec 8, 2008
"Our type of dog, a toy Australian Shepherd, is notorious for chewing up everything it can get its teeth into". Wow, did a lot of research into that purchase, didn't you!
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Dec 8, 2008
Hi Scott,

That is a pretty funny bit about her dog food. Never trust anything a dog will not eat. However, just because a dog eats something does not mean it should be trusted, for obvious reasons.

I am a bit concerned by the fact that you mentioned she is sniffing around your office. Is your old office mate still around? I liked the stories about your office cat, I hope she is ok. I also like your dog stories, I go both ways.

Dec 8, 2008
Okay - you need to kennel train your pup. Don't punish it by putting it into the kennel, but make it a safe alternative to drop kicking it when it chews the cords on your computer 2 minutes before your deadline on a strip. It'll be healthier for all involved and gives the pup a sanctuary. You teach the kids that when the pup's in the kennel to leave it alone (adults need to learn this, too) and you won't find little turds behind the couch, foil wrappers from the Christmas chocolates in the aformentioned turds, or various splinters of debris scattered about the tree on Christmas morning. Have as many kennels as necessary, not too large, so the pup has a place to hide, nap, or just be safe, at home or in the office.
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