Managing Destructive Behaviours in Dogs
6th March 2017
Dogs who seem intent on destroying the contents of your home and garden can be very difficult to live with. As humans, we find it difficult to understand why our dogs choose to chew chairs, tables, stairs, carpets, skirting boards and walls; some dogs will tear up and chew carpets and vinyl. These can be very expensive habits for any owner to tolerate, and may even result in a dog being rehomed.
So why do dogs chew the fabric of our homes? There can be many and various reasons why your dog is behaving in a destructive way:
- It could be down to boredom - if you don't interact with your dog and don't ensure that he has sufficient mental stimulation and physical exercise, he may look for other ways to entertain himself.
- It could be due to stress - when does the chewing occur? If it is when you are away from the home, it may be that your dog is stressed and anxious about being left alone.
- Diet can also have an impact - although we can see no nutritional value in a carpet or chair leg, your dog's diet may be lacking in some nutritional components that the dog is trying to obtain from other sources.
Digging up your garden can also be caused by boredom, or by a diet deficiency.
Your Bark Busters Home Dog Training therapist will talk to you about addressing your dog's basic needs including diet, entertainment and education, and safety.
If your dog's destructive behaviour is caused by boredom, then ensure that he is receiving enough attention, positive training and mental stimulation. Once this type of stimulation is sufficient, your dog will be tired and able to relax and sleep. However, there will still be times during the day or the evening when you may want to provide your dog with something that will entertain them whilst you are busy doing other things. For these times, you may want to consider a GameChanger® dog toy that you have stuffed with something healthy and tasty or a Kong which you can freeze to entertain for longer. Licking the frozen contents out of the Kong will keep him occupied for hours. There are also many brain training games for dogs on the market. These will keep the dog mentally stimulated as he tries to work out, and follow the procedure for extracting the treats from the toy.
These forms of entertainment for your dog are also effective if your dog tends to be destructive only when you are away from the home. But, where this is the case, it is also worth trying to discover why your dog is so anxious about being left. Occasionally we meet dogs who are too stressed to engage with food or mental stimulation whilst their owner is absent. Sometimes we need to try other things to try and reduce the anxiety that a dog is feeling. These may include providing a covered den area to create a small dark space for a dog to relax in, ensuring that he isn't left either with the full run of the house, or any places in the house where he might feel threatened, like the front window or front door.
For dogs who behave in this way, it is never a good idea to allow them access to the hallway or landing where they may feel that they are on guard duty. Remove his exposure to as many outside noises and sights as possible by closing blinds, and leaving the radio on so that outside noises are muffled. Also, start to try to separate from your dog from time to time whilst you are in the home, by putting him into the kitchen, or into his den so that he becomes accustomed to not being with you permanently. Start with just a few minutes and gradually build up. Don't make a big fuss about leaving him and, when you allow him to be with you again, give him some mild praise for his achievement. Remember that when you return home do not make him your first port of call. Ignore him for 5 or so minutes. Do not reward unacceptable behaviour by giving him his 'expected attention' as soon as you walk in the door. Make a coffee or change your clothes and you make the decision when to interact with the dog.
There is nothing to be gained from rushing in and shouting at a dog who has chewed the carpet whilst you've been out at work. He won't know why he is being shouted at! Instead, take steps to try and avoid this type of behaviour either by trying some of the ideas mentioned above, or employ a dog walker to come and take your dog out whilst you aren't available, try spraying your furniture with a taste deterrent like crib stop to discourage him from wanting it in his mouth.
If destructive behaviour is something you don't seem to be able to stop, you may need to call in a professional to help you ascertain the reasons for it. Your local Bark Busters therapist will help you to see what is going on for your dog, and why he behaves in this way. Finding out the dog's motivation for destruction is the key to ending the problem, and will ultimately prove much less expensive than constantly needing to replace the furnishings.
Bark Busters trainers have trained more than 1 Million dogs worldwide and are renowned authorities in addressing dog behaviour with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers International guaranteed lifetime support. With hundreds of trainers around the world, Bark Busters continues its mission to enhance the human/canine relationship and to reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia. Contact your local Bark Busters dog trainer to see how they can help.