Destructive Behaviour Tips
Understand messy behaviour
Stop thinking of behaviours such as digging or chewing as destructive. Yes, they cause destruction but that’s on human terms. Dogs are just performing natural behaviours. They may also be doing these behaviours due to boredom or anxiety.
Digging is a natural canine behaviour. Dogs dig to find a cool spot in summer or a warm spot in winter. They dig to find grubs or roots to eat. They dig as fun, to help you with the gardening. They dig because they are bored. They dig because they are alone and anxious.
As this is an instinctive canine behaviour, it will be difficult to stop your dog digging. Instead you may have more success in satisfying your dog’s need to dig.
Chewing is a normal behaviour in dogs. All puppies chew and dogs explore their world using their mouths. Dogs may also chew when they have mouth, gum or digestive problems. Have a teeth check with your vet. Your dog may also be chewing due to boredom or separation anxiety.
Some dogs just love to roll in mud or animal poo. This may be, in the case of mud, to keep cool or to remove itchy parasites. Rolling in poo may be an evolutionary behaviour to disguise their canine smell and cover themselves in the scent of their potential prey. ‘Poo perfume’!
Solutions for destructive behaviour
Preventing destructive behaviours
Managing destructive behaviours will not cure the unwanted behaviour but it will control it enough to prevent it happening.
Some management strategies include:
- Shutting doors and/or building barriers to precious areas
- Keeping your dog on a lead when you need to control their behaviour
- Providing more outlets for your dog’s energy eg. canine sports, training, toys, games, walks
- Using other services eg. dog walker, doggy daycare
Long-term solutions require you to understand the cause of your dog’s unwanted behaviour.
Natural behaviour: If your dog is performing natural canine behaviours, albeit you don’t like them, you will not be able to stop them. Instead you must satisfy their need. So build a digging spot, Give them exercise. Satisfy their drive to dig, roll in mud, get wet or pound the pavements.
Boredom: If your dog is destructive due to boredom, you need to get more activities into their lives.
Anxiety: If your dog is destructive due to anxiety, you need to reduce the anxiety in their lives.
Dogs who dig instinctively are often difficult to stop. Trying to do so will only make you frustrated!
- Provide appropriate digging spots such as a sandpit or a half clam-shell filled with sand. Encourage your dog to dig there by placing toys and treats in the sand.
- If you have a dog-friendly beach nearby, take your dog there regularly and allow them to dig to their heart’s content.
- Dogs may also dig to find a cool spot of relax in summer and a warm spot in winter. Provide suitable resting spots for your dog, if this is the reason your dog digs.
- Dogs may also dig to relieve boredom or anxiety at being alone. Provide lots of exercise and mental stimulation for your dog.
Dogs need to chew, not only when they are puppies. Their strong canine jaws need an outlet for their energy and, if no appropriate chewable items are present, dogs will seek their own.
Supply your dog with a range of chewable items of different sizes and textures. If your dog gets bored with toys easily, rotate these around on a daily basis. If your dog hasn’t seen a toy for 5 days it’s like getting a new one.
Give your dog a variety of food treats to occupy their mouth. This is great when they have to be left alone. An occupied mouth is a quiet one. Ensure, however, that whatever items you leave your dog with, they are safe.
Oh and be as tidy as you can! Shut doors or place precious belongings away, out of your dog’s reach.