Have you ever come home to find the stuffing that was supposed to be in your couch on your living room floor? Or your favorite shoes chewed to shreds? Or the toilet paper strewn all over the house?
Although it is normal for many puppies to chew, when their behavior becomes destructive, it’s time to do something about it. In fact, destructive behaviors are the number one reported behavior problem in dogs. Understand that a dog is NOT doing it to make you angry.
Most often, dogs engage in destructive behaviors when they are bored, not trained properly, scared, aggressive, or anxious. Just as many dog owners chew on their nails or have a glass of wine when they are nervous, dogs will lick, chew, dig or toilet in the house when they are nervous.
Why Dogs Engage in Destructive Behaviors
The first thing you need to do is rule out any medical problems your dog may be experiencing. Here are some other reasons dogs may become destructive and tips for overcoming this behavior:
- Puppies especially see destructive play as a way of exploring. By nature, they are curious and will often chew or dig excessively. It is important to establish boundaries for your dog so he knows what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
- The old adage that “tired dogs are good dogs” is true. Dogs need to be exercised regularly to help them with all their pent up energy and to keep them in shape. It is important to walk with your dog or play with your dog. Dogs often wake up raring to go, so before you start your day, play fetch or take your dog for a walk.
- Separation anxiety. Your dog may follow you from room to room or become anxious as you are leaving. The most common time of the day that your dog is likely to be destructive is when you’re away at work or out doing things away from the house. Your dog can feel lonely, isolated, or unloved. Try leaving the TV or radio on so he has some noise to stimulate him.
- Attention-seeking. Without realizing it, many dog owners pay the most attention to their dogs when they are in trouble by correcting them. Dogs love attention even if it is “negative attention.” Make sure you give your dog praise and kudos and a lot of reinforcement for good behaviors.
- Noise phobias. Many dogs are afraid of thunderstorms, fireworks, or loud noises. Sometimes dogs will scratch at doors in an effort to get out. Create a safe place for your dog to stay during thunderstorms. A crate or kennel may be comforting. Try to distract your dog with activities like play or brushing.
Punishment is not very effective in stopping your dog’s destructive behaviors and can in fact make them worse. If you discover an item your dog has chewed even a few minutes after the fact, it’s too late to correct him. He does not associate his action to your reaction. You know that guilty look you think you are getting? It is really just your dog reacting to your angry tone or facial expressions.
To truly eliminate destructive behaviors, call your Bark Busters dog trainer. We will teach you how to issue commands to counteract destructive behaviors!