I received a phone call the other day from a clients dog. Yes, the dog. I was in the middle of a session and let my voicemail pick it up as to not interrupt my clients time. After 4 minutes the voicemail alert rang. My first thought was that someone really needed to “talk” about their dog. When I finished my session I immediately listened to the message. I heard lots of growling, snorting, and chewing followed by an owner in the background yelling at their dog, who continued to leave me a very graphic message. The client who owned this prank caller had contacted me about the destruction the dog is causing on a daily basis. “If it is not tied down, he will steal it and chew it up”, is what I was told on the consult. I hear this everyday, owners who are distraught by their dogs destructiveness.
The reason for most destructive behavior is boredom and frustration! While anxious dogs will also destroy things, the simple fact of the matter is, a tired dog is a good dog!
Proper exercise and a crate solve 90 % of destructive behaviors for owners. If you have not read it yet please read my post “is it mean to crate your dog”.
Most owners feel that having a backyard for their dog to run around in all day or playing fetch is appropriate exercise for their dogs. While physical activity is required for your dog, mental stimulation and focus makes your dog tired. I like to use the example of you going to a party or social event. If you go on a picnic and play frisbee, or catch you may be physically tired when you get home, but you are still able to do your daily routines. If you are working, however, and have a deadline to make or had a really mentally stimulating day, anything you normally do can wait until the next day because you are just too tired physically and mentally! The same holds true with dogs! Bored or frustrated dogs will find something to occupy their time, and normally it is something that is quite expensive to replace or remove form their bellies.
Play is just that , play. Dogs need to work to feel fulfilled, and by this I don’t mean you must become a search and rescue team. You can “work” your dog by simply taking them on a “controlled” walk or practicing obedience commands with them on a daily basis. If you have taken your dog to an obedience class, you know how tired they are when they come home. I have many people who tell me after an hour session, whether it is a private session or class setting, their dog is exhuasted. The reason is they were working!
The majority of owners never really “walk” their dogs. They may take them out on a leash but they still allow them to sniff around, and mark everything during the walk. Again this is not a “controlled” walk, this is them passing notes in class! Your dog marks to let others know he was there and this is his territory. If you have a backyard, there is no reason for them to mark on a walk. That is what their backyard is for, try playing fetch before you go on your walk to help them empty out before the walk. If your dog is marking on your walks they are actually making their territory larger and will “protect” it from other intruders. If you live in an apartment building, make it a point to walk your dog to a designated area to potty. Pick one spot, and one spot only. Have them walk with you in a “controlled” manner to that spot and then allow them to sniff and potty. Then have them walked a “controlled” walk back to your apartment.
A good “military” style walk where your dog focuses on you and not the world around them, wears them out and strenghens your leadership. If you need help teaching your dog to walk better on a leash or are having anxiety issues, contact us or a local trainer to help you teach them! Enroll your dog in a class or set aside time everyday to practice the commands they know for at least 30-45 minutes, and walk your dog! These are the best solutions to stopping the destruction and long distance calls your dog may make!
Tara, Brandie & the “pack”