By Jerry Akinluyi
If your dog is destructive, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself, “What is the reason for this behavior?” It is important to understand and acknowledge that every behavior has a reason.Once you understand the reason, it will be much easier to correct the behavior. Dogs are social animals that require attention. If behaving badly gets them more attention than being good, they will act up. Negative attention is better than no attention at all. Destructive behavior in dogs is not a normal state of being – it tends to happen when an adult dog becomes bored or lacks adequate exercise. Such dogs are likely to develop nervous or frustrated tendencies, much the same as humans bite their nails, and an under-stimulated dog will often resort to chewing, digging, and repetitive behaviors.
The stability of a dog’s behavior depends on the social structure of a pack hierarchy. Does the dog see you and your family as consistent pack leaders? Have you established clear rules and boundaries? If not, the dog will be stressed and confused by your inconsistencies. Since dogs can’t go out for exercise, they relieve stress by either chewing, vocalizing or digging. Have you established a daily routine that provides the dog’s need for exercise, socialization and mental stimulation? Behavior problems are a direct result of the dogs’ attempt to fill his need for the attention, direction and stimulation that are not being provided.
Is the dog only destructive when he is home alone? Is most of the damage by the windows or doors ? Is he eliminating, salivating or vocalizing excessively? If this is the case, the dog is most likely suffering from “Separation Anxiety.” This is an emotional reaction equivalent to a small child being alone and lost in a big city. Establishing a routine is especially important for the stability it provides. If your dog is especially needy you may have gotten into the habit of giving the dog random attention or attention on demand throughout the day. This means when you leave the dog, he/she is not only missing your presence but the attention that you provide. Confidence-building through positive obedience training, fetch or even agility will help de-sensitize the dog to the cues of your departure.
Establish a daily routine for feeding, walking and playing. “Retrieving/Fetch” is a good confidence building exercise. Practice formal obedience. Obedience opens the lines of communication and builds confidence. Don’t make a big deal about going or coming. Ignore the dog for a few minutes before leaving and returning. Don’t give him attention until he is calm. Discourage any needy (attention-getting) behaviors by ignoring the dog. Examples would be nudging you to be petted, and staring, whining or barking at you to get attention.
Teach “stay,” gradually working up to you being out of sight. This will stop the dog from constantly following you and teach him to relax when you are not in sight.
understand what can constitute destructive behavior in dogs. While what is destructive may depend on what you value and what your dog has been doing, not all behaviors that destroy human structures and items are spurred by an intent to destroy! While puppies can be destructive, their destructive play is about exploring, not about intentionally destroying things. On the other hand, a destructive adult dog displaying negative behavior such as chewing, digging holes in the backyard needs attending to. Abnormal behaviors in a pet dog include aggression, anxiety, displacement activities, trying to dominate you, fear and phobias, frustration, and stereotypical behaviors such as repetitious actions
Establish a secure comfortable confinement area. This should not be in an isolated area that would prevent from the every day sights and sounds of the outside world. The dog should be introduced to this area in a positive way when you are home and confined at various times when you are home (so the dog does not associate being confined with you leaving). The dog should have a long- lasting bone or activity toy while in this area, as well as water.
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About Akinluyi Jerry
Akinluyi Jerry is a young entrepreneur, Animal lover, Dog Consultant and expert, CEO of Jeak’s kennel and securities. Member of Africa’s young entrepreneurs(AYE) .A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile ife.