|All images in this post from http://dog-shaming.com/|
In order to successfully alter destructive behavior, figure out why your dog is doing it. There are three basic reasons why dogs destroy things: a desire to chew, boredom or misplaced energy, and separation anxiety.
Many dogs just love to chew things - any things. This may be particularly true of puppies and young dogs. This behavior doesn't need to be stopped (since chewing is good for the teeth), just redirected. Give the dog access to a chew toy, either edible or inedible. Treats like bonies or dental bones are designed to clean your buddy's teeth while being used. Dogs who love to chew can't really be expected to give up the activity entirely. And the habit might even save you some money in dental bills.
|'I did this'|
A bored dog will go beyond simple chewing to directed destruction. They may also bark excessively, run aimlessly around your house or yard, or just have a total lack of interest in you or their toys. Dogs need mental stimulation just like we do! Their destruction isn't naughtiness, it is a desperate attempt to stave off boredom. High-energy dogs may have particular difficulties in this area.
The easiest way to reverse boredom is to have a consistent walking and exercise schedule appropriate to your pet's needs. Try an agility course, a doggie sport, or incorporate your workout with theirs (just be mindful that most dogs will keep going far past the point when they need to rest, so watch for signs of exhaustion).
|'I try to chew my way out when my parents are gone'|
Many dogs are stuck inside all day while the owner is at work. If your budget allows, consider a doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker. These professionals will ensure that your buddy is well-exercised and socialized.
If boredom isn't addressed, it can turn into a whole host of anxiety-related behaviors, including the last major reason for the destruction of your house: separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is pretty easy to spot. If your dog only chews up the furniture when you are gone, that's separation anxiety. This may also come with a host of other nervous behaviors - clinginess, whining, refusing to eat, barking, urinating/defecating inside, and so on.
Come back next Friday to learn about addressing separation anxiety in your pet! In the meantime, we want to know - has your dog ever destroyed anything? Tell us your horror stories in the comments.