All too frequently we hear dog guardians talking in frustration about their dogs and the destruction they have caused at home. Stories like…
“While I was at work, Fido destroyed his brand new, EXPENSIVE dog bed… This is the FIFTH one!!”
“Bobby dug up and chewed through the irrigation system!”
“Overnight Daisy got into my wardrobe and destroyed my BEST shoes!!!”
Many people are under the impression that puppies are destructive, it’s a phase they go through and that they will grow out of it… Well, we are regularly working with dogs that didn’t ‘grow out of it’ are still committing the same offences, and have developed other new, ‘naughty’ behaviours like EXCESSIVE BARKING… Where did it all go wrong? Or is it that you’ve just been unlucky, and got a dud dog?
It’s extremely unlikely that you were unlucky and got a dud dog. Dogs are highly intelligent, more intelligent than they’re often given credit for. If we aren’t the ones stimulating their minds, they’ll get BORED, and will look for ways to do it themselves. Often it isn’t in the ways guardians would like, but they’ll enjoy it so much, that they’ll do it over and over and over again. The good news is, it’s often easy to fix.
Our dogs should be getting a minimum of 2x 45 minute walks a day, but with our busy, modern lifestyle, this often isn’t practical, and our dogs are the ones that miss out. Luckily, mental stimulation is as important as physical stimulation if not more so, and we can satisfy our dogs’ active minds with quick training sessions over the day.
Providing your dog with enrichment toys while you aren’t home is another good way to divert their attention from destruction, to interacting with an engaging toy. Boundaries are also required in the home so that your dog isn’t able to get themselves into a destructive mess. Having your dog sleeping in a crate at night will not only create good sleeping habits, but will also cut off the opportunity to destroy things.
Canine Connect’s top tips for minimizing destructive behaviours
- Ditch the food bowl, make your dog think and figure out how to get their food through KONG and other puzzle type toys.
- Walking your dog in the morning and getting rid of that excess energy before you leave for the day.
- Restrict their access to those precious items you would rather not be destroyed.
- Boundaries in the house (bed/crate). Dog must be in this spot when they’re inside the house and can only be off this spot under supervision. Teaching a ‘place’ skill is one of the most useful and important skills you can have.
- Quick training sessions 2-5 minutes over the day, improving current skills and teaching new ones. Short and frequent is the key.
- Remember to find the fun in your training so you are more likely to do it and do it often.
The next time your dog does something ‘naughty’, instead of getting angry at them, step back and think about why they may have done this and how can I make proactive changes to prevent it in the future.
If you’ve had a good crack at these tips and still don’t feel like behaviours are improving, get in contact with your local animal professional.