Monday, July 12, 2010

3 4 Reasons Your Dog Likes To Destroy Your Things

Dogs are funny. One minute they are telling you how much they love you, the next, you find some of your possessions shredded to bits and you can't understand why. Yesterday, I went to a family wedding. Because of a shortage of time, I wasn't able to put Homer in his crate. (We've inherited Homer from my brother so now I have three dogs). I figured how bad could it be.

When I got home, the living room was a disaster area. He tore the book jacket off of one of my books because it was on the coffee table. There was a roll of wrapping paper on the floor that I forgot to put away. Finally, there was some stuffing taken out of a pillow. I couldn't be mad at him because he didn't realize what he did wrong. The only thing I could do again is give him choices.

Here are the biggest causes of why your dog goes ballistic when your out:

  • Your Dog Misses You. It's been said that a dog's biggest fear is that they'll never see you again. They don't know how long that you'll be away just that you're away. Separation anxiety can affect dogs differently. One of the ways dogs deal with this is by chewing up whatever possessions you have. Your scent is on them and they feel closer to you.
  • The Dog Is Bored. Dogs like people have different levels of intelligence. Some dogs need to find constant sites of stimulation. Smart toys are becoming more popular as a way of giving dogs a challenge.
  • They are aggressive chewers. Although most puppies teeth between 4 to 7 months. Some dogs just love to chew and can't get enough. It may be a way they relax or they have nervous energy.
  • They need more exercise. I can't believe I forgot this one. A working dog will need much more javascript:void(0)exercise than a dog that is bred for companionship. Exercise improves circulation, stamina and relaxes one's nerves. A dog that has a good workout will be thinking more about sleeping and not about being curious to what's lying around when you're out of the house. I didn't take the dogs on a walk before we left last night and I think if I had, there would probably have been less of a mess.

How To Handle This

1. Anything you don't want chewed shouldn't be within reach. I'm not the most organized person so I guess Homer will help me improve with that.

2. Use Positive Reinforcement. It does no good to scold a dog unless you catch it in the middle of the act. Many times Homer will try to latch on to a sock or pillow and I'll swap it out with a treat to give him a bigger incentive. He knows he should not be chewing these things but he still likes to test me. I look at him as a work in progress. Still positive reinforcement will build greater trust than yelling or punishment. Some dogs take longer to learn this.

3. Work Through The Anxiety. Separation anxiety can be lessened by conditioning a dog to get used to your absence. It involves repetition and patience. Start with leaving them for one minute and gradually build up the time as you go.

4. Exercise with Caution. On days where the temperatures hit the extreme highs and lows, you can't be too careful when it comes to the welfare of your dog. Always have a supply of water on hand if it's too hot or take them out in the early/late times of the day.

Let's Discuss!

What are methods that you use for your dog to become less destructive? Which one worked best?

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  1. In reference to "Your Dog Misses You", I have personally witnessed separation anxiety in dogs, so I know how intense it can get. Dana's late Pug Dudley used to get really excited and aggressive whenever people left the house - he'd bark angrily, chase them and try to stop them. Definitely a problem. I've also seen it in cats: My former housemate's cat Sophie once got visibly frustrated because she could see me through a window but couldn't get to me through the closed door, and another cat I visited recently shot me a dirty look when I walked out of the house after petting her for a few minutes.

  2. All animals have a fear that they're never going to see us again. It seemed like your cats and dog had strong attachments to you. It is amazing how different the reactions can be.



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