Dog uses calf as live chew-toy... - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 06-27-2014, 09:58 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Wisconsin
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Dog uses calf as live chew-toy...

I am pretty upset that my boss's young dog has reverted back to chewing on newborn calves. We got brandy as a pup last year and last summer she took to licking on calves, and she was never vicious, she just loved to lick the milk off their faces. I got after her about it but my boss didnt and with her being super smart she started doing it when I wasnt around to see her. And then she started nibbling on navels... which she got thoroughly trounced when i caught her doing that. She then started chewing on one of our heifers ears, nibbling the skin right off, pealing it like an orange. It was only the ears, no where else and it was only on that calf. Once we noticed what was happening, we immediately tried correcting the behavior... putting gross tasting stuff on ears, shock collar on brandy, even smacking the tar out of her when we caught her in the act... and just when we think she had quit and the ears were healing, Brandy would start licking and nibbling on them again.... So in the end our only option was to move the calf to my house and keep her in one of my horse stalls. Brandy never touched any of the other calves.

The calf healed just fine, though you can still see the scars on her ears. We watched brandy like a hawk and got after her for going near the calves, especially the "tasty" newborns. And its been close to a year now since then and so far shes been a really good girl and not hurting the baby's... that is until just recently...

Yesterday we had a bull calf born. His momma was a first time heifer and the birth was long and difficult and left her enthused about motherhood. So she didnt clean him up and none of the other cows went out to pasture where he was at to lick on him. So he was still slimey a couple hours after birth when my boss and i trucked him back to the dairy barn and put him in the manger. We fixed him up a bottle of colostrum which he drank, but he was still very weak. His head was swollen, had little bit of fluid in his lungs, and during birth his left hind hip/leg was injured. And last night we had to tube feed him.

Anyway this morning he was a perky boy, obviously feeling a little better cuz he drank on his own. Then we tried to stand him up to help him go potty and i notice some bare flesh on his elbow... Immediately i think that he mustve gotten scraped by something while we hauled him home but honestly i couldnt imagine what... and on closer inspection the wound was far worse than I thought...

The skin all around the elbow was gone and it was almost to the bone... there isnt much meat on a newborn in the first place but it was like someone skinned him there. It wasnt bloody either... Everything all screamed "Brandy did this!!!" and I was absolutely LIVID! Of course I couldnt do anything but tend to the baby since I didnt catch brandy doing it in the first place...

I washed the wound out as good as I could... there was hay and feed underneath the skin that was left! I bandaged it as good as i could but the where the wound was it is just about impossible to vet wrap it and keep it from sliding down. Plus i hoped that the bandage would deter brandy from going back to the wound. Gave him a shot of penicillin to help combat any infection.

But later in the day after a trip into town, I came home to give brandy her flea/tick/heartworm meds and when she didnt come when i called i went looking for her and guess where i found her... yup she had the calf's bandage down and she was looking guilty with a purple mouth (blu kote)...

I saw red... and brandy didnt go anywhere near the calf again..

Rebandaging the wound wasnt workin out so boss and i agreed that the safest place for the little guy to heal was at my house, kept safe in a stall. So I prepared a stall, loaded him up and brought him home. The horses like him already... my big paint thinks hes the cutest thing in the world lol.

Anyway so this is just me venting about Brandy... she doesnt do it viciously, she does it like she is licking on a dog treat... she doesnt kill the babies, doesnt get aggressive or mean... she doesnt even do this with all the babies (just the two). I'm kinda lost on what to do with her, but we will definitely not let our guard down and be watching her like a hawk from now on and really get after her when she goes near calves.

Any one else have this issue before or advice on how to deal with this?


Last edited by LadyChevalier; 06-27-2014 at 10:03 PM.
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post #2 of 20 Old 06-27-2014, 10:05 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: New England
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My dog gets hot spots really badly. If he has a sore he will lick himself raw and make a big wound. I'm thinking it starts with something very small (even just raw skin from her constant kisses) and becomes a big thing.

It could be some OCD thing and is something I would talk to Brandy's vet about.

Other than that I would just do what it takes to keep her away from the calves.
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post #3 of 20 Old 06-28-2014, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Palmyra, Wisconsin
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Sorry but any farm dog that chews on other animals should not be a farm dog. Can you imagine the pain those babies go through? It won't stop at those 2 either.
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post #4 of 20 Old 06-28-2014, 09:59 AM
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Sounds like this dog should be done being a farm dog, at least whenever there are babies around. She must be a good dog and well-liked otherwise, or she'd have been rehomed or shot already at a lot of places.

She's proven she's going to keep doing this behavior and is smart enough to sneak away and do it when she doesn't think she's going to be caught, which is dangerous for your livestock. This behavior isn't going to 'get better', though it may get worse and she gets more persistent or aggressive about the animals she is targeting. It would be better if she just killed them in a way- chewing on them while they're still alive is almost cruel, not that nature or dogs really know the meaning of the term.
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post #5 of 20 Old 06-28-2014, 05:07 PM
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One day she will start killing those newborns. It seems some old instincts are kicking in. Many men don't like to have a female tell them what needs to be done and consequently will do nothing. Just let him know what the dog has done and leave it at that.
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post #6 of 20 Old 06-28-2014, 06:27 PM
Join Date: Jun 2014
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The owner of the calves doesn't mind that his dog is, quite basically, eating his calves? He went from licking, to nibbling, to actually eating the flesh off the leg. What does the man think comes next.

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post #7 of 20 Old 06-30-2014, 05:21 AM
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that is abuse . animal cruelty . keep that dog away from the calves
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post #8 of 20 Old 06-30-2014, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Southwest Arkansas
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I live in the country, we run cattle and horses. I get the whole "our dogs just run loose b/c we live in the country", BUT if you have a dog with a propensity towards harming livestock that dog should be gone or be locked up. My current dogs are in the house when I'm home or in a fenced run when I'm not. If I'm working outside they may be loose, but they know they they are expected to stay near me. Why does Brandy apparently still have free and unsupervised access to the calves?
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post #9 of 20 Old 06-30-2014, 10:24 AM
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Location: East Central Illinois
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Get rid of Brandy! He is addicted to this habit and it's not right for another animal to suffer bc of it. I had to break my dog "Rose" of 2 habits: chasing cars and attacking my chickens. Although she stopped chasing cars she still wants to run after my (adult) DD's when they take a bike ride and chase my DH when he rides down the street on his ATV, and chase the horses, but the horses are blasse about it. I have to watch her like a hawk around my birds. They, fortunately are caged, but she still wants to chomp on them when I use a net to catch and move them. It's never gonna change, and I cannot trust her to control this on her own.
The other solutions will just make this dog miserable--crating, chain, housebound.
Sorry you have to go through this, BUT, dogs can become bad early. When I was looking for a companion for my excellent dog, "Xena" (GS/Collie, 1998-2008, RIP) I took on a dog "who needed space to run". HE couldn't be contained in the house, on a chain, in the basement or inside of a dog enclosure, AND every opportunity he could he would get loose, run for 3 days (precisely) then come back to eat. I took one year of this before I took him to a shelter, which he recognized. =/
The other experience Astonished me. I went to another shelter and picked up a 6mo GS, who still squatted to pee. I thought it might work out that Friday, but he tried to kill two of my cats, and attacked my horse, "Corporal" IN HIS STALL!!. I had to chain him up in another stall, and took him back to that shelter on Monday, in a crate. He had been ruined as a 6 month old!!
Rose has many fine qualities, so I tolerate the obsession to killing birds. My other dog, "Pyg" can be trusted with all of the other animals.
It might be the kindest thing to just put this dog down.

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Hope that you fall in love with "Trot", like I did!
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post #10 of 20 Old 06-30-2014, 11:21 AM
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That dog would have been shot the minute I found her gnawing on the calf. No excuse for an animal like that to be left alive around newborn farm animals. No guarantee she'd be safe as a regular pet either, as people have small animals that she might get into her head to chew up.

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