Does your dog like to chew? Did Fido ruin your carpet the last time you left him alone? Has your puppy ruined your new pair of shoes? Chewing and destructive behavior can be a major behavioral issue. It is also a large reason why so many dogs end up in shelters. Luckily, finding the cause behind destructive behavior and adding in enrichment can help reduce it. By enriching your dog’s environment and exercising their mind, they will be less likely to chew on your valuables in the future!
What Causes Destructive Behavior?
There are a number of reasons that may make your dog engage in destructive behaviors such as chewing. These include boredom, under-enrichment, stress, and other behavioral issues.
Boredom: Boredom is a big factor in behavior. If your dog is bored, he is likely going to find other ways to have some fun. Bored dogs are more prone to digging in the yard, chewing on objects they shouldn’t, or howling or barking. A bored dog needs more enrichment, and exercise, to help stimulate their brain.
Under-Enrichment: Under-enrichment is similar to boredom. A dog that only gets short walks, or a single toy to play with during the day may be under-enriched. This can lead to stress and destructive behaviors. By adding in additional enrichment, you can help meet your dog’s individual needs.
Stress: Stress, such as separation anxiety, is a leading cause of destructive behavior when you are away from home. If your dog is anxious about being left alone, they may chew door frames, carpeting or other items in an attempt to escape.
Behavioral Issues: In addition to separation anxiety, other behavioral issues may cause destructive behavior. If a dog doesn’t know not to chew on something, or hasn’t been trained to know the “house rules”, they may become more destructive as a result.
Enrichment encompasses a large variety of activities. Enriching items are those that encourage your dog to use their mind or body. An enriching activity may be as simple as a walk through a new neighborhood, practicing agility, or a game of fetch. For more easily bored dogs, stuffing a Kong with treats, or hiding bits of food around the house can increase enrichment. Many dogs find enrichment in having a “job”, such as herding sheep, attending regular training classes or just following a variety of tricks or commands. For some creative ways to enrich your dog’s world, check out this Facebook Group.
How Can Enrichment Help Stop Destructive Behavior?
How can enrichment stop destructive behavior? That’s easy! By redirecting your dog’s attention to something appropriate, you both engage their mind and prevent them from chewing on something they shouldn’t. Enrichment can help tire your dog out before you leave the house so they are more likely to relax. Taking walks, starting a training class together, or engaging in canine sports also help enrich the mind and body at once. Dogs that are tired and challenged are less likely to want to engage in problem behaviors as they are happy and healthy.
Enrichment can be as simple as adding in a fun toy or taking a walk. It can also involve more complex activities such as daily training or sports. Regardless of what your pet likes, finding an enriching activity can help them stay happy and healthy. A happy, tired, and healthy dog is less likely to ruin your dresser, and more likely to remain a great family pet!
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