We all certainly love our pets, but it is understandable that none of us want our furniture chewed up, our shoes or clothes destroyed, or trenches dug in the back yard. This article will give you tools to combat these problems and prevent household destruction.
You first need to make sure you have the right toys. Every dog is different in this regard. Some prefer more stuffed animal types of toys, while others enjoy firm toys like the Kong TM. You need to make sure the toy doesn’t look overly similar to your possessions (like letting your dog play with an old shoe, towels, or children’s toys). The toy must also be quite durable so your dog can safely chew it for a long time. If your dog does like rawhide then the pieces need to be rather large. It is often safer to use thick, flat sheets versus the stick or bone shapes. You will need to rotate and change the toys often to keep your pet’s interest.
It is also important to encourage playing with the allowed toys. You can use praise, affection or even treats when you see your dog is using the appropriate toy. It is often a good idea to hide food in toys to make them extra appealing. You may even be able to freeze food inside the toy to help extend the duration of play. There are also some toys such as the Buster Cube TM or Crazy Ball TM, for example that slowly release small pieces of food which helps provide a constant reward. You can also do things like play fetch to help show your pet this is something fun to play with.
Often dogs get themselves into trouble when they have too much energy and no outlet for it. It is important to provide regular, daily exercise and interactive play time. You may find additional training is a good way to engage your pet. Most dogs love to learn and even would enjoy learning a job like retrieving the paper or putting the toys away in a container. One form of interaction you do need to be careful of is tug rope type toys. Some dogs take this game too seriously and can become overly aggressive or exuberant. It can sometimes inadvertently teach bad behaviors. It is only acceptable if you can initiate and stop the play on command.
Sometimes dogs have plenty of toys and interactive time, but they are simply attracted to a specific household item. If that is the case then you are best off to block off access to that object if you can’t closely monitor your pet. You can alternatively use a product like the SnappyTrainer TM, ScatMat TM, or Spray Barrier TM. You may also be able to use a product like Bitter Apple TM that has an aversive taste.
If you do see your dog chewing something it shouldn’t then you should immediately interrupt it with a sharp noise or a pull on a leash if one has been left attached. Then give an appropriate toy and praise as soon as your pet begins to chew the approved toy. You don’t want to use physical punishment since it won’t benefit your pet and can create additional problems.
Some dogs will chew as a result of anxiety. If your pet is only destructive when you are away and seems upset with your departure (excessive panting, barking, house soiling, etc) then you will need to work on those underlying anxiety issues with the help of your veterinarian.
In regards to digging, there are several reasons why dogs dig. It can range from burying or retrieving bones and toys, cooling off, escaping from fences, digging for animals (rodents), or out of play. You will need to supervise your dog while outdoors and interrupt the behavior if you catch the pet in the act. You can also use booby traps to deter digging in a particular area. You can do things like place balloons that pop or put water in the hole or a motion detector device that sounds an alarm or citronella spray when your pet gets next to the hole. You can also prevent access to the area by using chicken wire, rocks, or another large object over the hole. If you feel your dog is digging out of play, then you will need to spend more time in supervised exercise and daily interaction and play.