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How to handle your dogs destructive behaviour

25/04/2018 - Latest News

How to handle your dog’s destructive behaviour
Everybody who has ever owned a dog will have a story to tell about destructive behaviour. The occasional chewed sock is all part of being a dog owner but what if your dog is really damaging your home and property and potentially putting himself at risk too? In this blog we look at ways to handle your dog’s destructive behaviour.

Why do dogs chew?
Chewing is an entirely natural behaviour. Puppies chew when they are teething to help ease the discomfort. Adolescent and adult dogs chew to keep their teeth and gums healthy, exercise their jaw muscles and actually – just to pass the time.
If you and I are lucky to have a period of down time, we tend to switch the telly on, read a book, make a snack or fire up the x-box. Your dog doesn’t have the capacity for any of those things. He’ll either have a snooze or he’ll chew something.
Chewing can sometimes be a dog’s way of coping with anxiety. If you’re reading this article it’s probably because you feel your dog is chewing the wrong things and you’ve not yet found a way of stopping him. The root cause for this, could be either boredom or anxiety.

How to stop your dog chewing your prized possessions
Your dog was not born knowing what he can and can’t chew. You have to teach him what is and isn’t appropriate to gnaw on. In my experience, just supplying him with plenty of chew toys is not enough. He can’t tell the difference between a Gucci Loafer and a Dentastick.

Just as you would if you have a toddler in the house, you need to puppy proof your home. Any moveable object that you don’t want him to chew, needs to be out of his reach. And I mean well out of his reach. If your dog’s nose tells him there’s a steak on the worktop, believe me, he’ll find it hard to resist the urge to help himself to it.

Are there any electrical wires trailed across the floor or in his reach? Address that ASAP and never leave your dog unsupervised until those wires are safely out of his way.

The rubbish bin is another common target for chewing dogs. Nobody wants to come home after a hard day at work to find yesterday’s food wrappers dissected and spread around the house. Yuk.

Chewing is a normal, perfectly natural behaviour for dogs and I’m sure none of us mind our pups chomping on their own toys. However, unless he’s taught differently, a dog sees everything as a potential chew toy. It’s for us, the owners to teach them what is and isn’t OK to gnaw.

When everything he mustn’t munch has been put away, then you can replace them with a variety of chew toys. Obviously you can’t take away the furniture, skirting boards or door frames. You need to employ tactics to make sure that he doesn’t look beyond those lovely toys.

Boredom busters
No matter what their age, a dog needs mental stimulation. Sleeping on his bed all day every day just isn’t enough. Especially if he’s a working breed. Healthy dogs are dynamic creatures and they need an outlet for all that energy. If nothing is provided, they’ll find themselves something to do. Eg Chewing.

The best boredom buster you can provide for your dog is quality time spent with you. By that I mean quality time in doggy terms. Not watching TV or snoozing beside you on the sofa while you check your Facebook Timeline. For your dog, quality time might mean.

  • Walkies. Walks should be appropriate for your dog’s age, type and fitness, but even a 10 minute turn around the block is better than nothing
  • The chance to meet other dogs. Would you like it if you never had the chance to mix with your own kind? Dogs need to socialise with other dogs. If they’re struggling with it - to fix the problem.
  • A change of scenery. Perhaps a ride in the car to a dog walking spot he’s never visited before. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it too. Take a flask of coffee and your camera and really enjoy exploring.
  • Interactive playtime in the garden. For Kaiser and I this is part of our daily routine. We’ll play fetch, hide and seek, chase, tug of war or we’ll practise some of our agility “moves”. 10-15 minutes is usually enough to get the blood circulating and the endorphins flowing.
  • Hide and seek. You can play hide and seek indoors if the weather isn’t nice. For a young puppy, fill a shallow box with scrunched up newspaper and then sprinkle in some treats. They’ll be busy noodling about trying to find the source of those smells. As your puppy gets better at the game, make it more sophisticated by hiding treats or toys around the room and sending him to find them.
  • A training session with lots of treats. You can’t beat a good training session for busting boredom and getting rid of all that mental energy. I recommend daily practise sessions at home and a weekly class where your dog can socialise with his own kind and learn how to listen and obey when surrounded by distractions.

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. So a 15 minute training session can wear your dog out just as much as a 2 hour hike.

When chewing has a more deep seated cause
Destructive behaviour can be a symptom of stress or anxiety. If you think that’s the case, you may need professional help to address the problem. First of all, check with the vet that your dog is not in pain or suffering from any physical health problems that might cause excessive chewing.
Then talk to a dog behavioural specialist who will help you get to the bottom of problem and find practical solutions that work for you, your family and your dog. Most doggy problems can be fixed with patience and consistency. At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I’ve helped several dogs avoid the rehoming centre by showing them a better way to get rid of all that unwanted energy.

Join a dog training class to relieve your dog’s boredom https://www.premierdogtraining.co.uk/group-classes-romford/

Find out about 1-2-1 dog training to address behavioural concerns

Related articles
Four things your puppy needs to know about living with humans https://www.premierdogtraining.co.uk/blog-post/four-essential-puppy-tips/

You can’t judge a dog by its cover.  Does breed affect behaviour?  https://www.premierdogtraining.co.uk/blog-post/you-cant-judge-a-dog-by-its-cover/