Keep Your Pooch Out of the Doghouse with These Tips to Avoid Doggie Disasters
While some dog habits are ingrained and unpopular among their human family members, it’s possible to replace those unwanted behaviors with more appropriate canine conduct. Many negative behaviors stem from a dog’s boredom, which often leads to mindless munching, excessive barking, digging, and other destructive acts. Dogs who receive less activity and mental stimulation then they need often become frustrated and act out. But there are lots of things you can do to keep your possessions from becoming unwanted targets of their attention.
Recognizing Signs of Boredom
Bored kids whine and declare their boredom. Aside from shredded toilet paper and upended garbage cans, how can you tell if your dog is bored? If they’re antsy or restless, pawing for your attention, jumping, barking, or if you’re greeted by a mess every time you come home then chances are they need more stimulation.
Tips to Keep Boredom at Bay
There are many interactive activities you can do with your pup. A game of fetch, a swim in a creek, a hike, agility training, frisbee playing, or obedience drills all provide entertainment and a positive focus for your dog. Tug-o-war also offers a good mental and physical challenge. It doesn’t make a dog aggressive, contrary to popular belief. Toys that dispense food — like Kongs or Bob-a-Lot — provide good mental stimulation as well. Your dog works the puzzle with the goal of getting to that yummy treat. You can even create a DIY bottle game that you can play in your yard or on the go.
Dogs were bred to help humans — so why not give your dog a job! Train them to fetch the newspaper, put away their toys, carry logs or sticks to the woodpile, or grab and carry other household items. Some breeds relish more complex tasks. Most people don’t have a gaggle of geese or a flock of sheep to herd, but there’s always agility or lure coursing, especially for dogs who love to chase.
You can also train your dog to do simple tricks, once they’ve mastered the basic sit, stay, heel, and come commands. Just a few 10-minute sessions each day burn mental energy and help your dog stay disciplined. If you want your dog to return reliably when their off leash, consider working on recalls and impulse control.
Keep in mind that dogs are very social creatures and most love playdates as much as any kid. Schedule a playdate with your friends’ dogs, visit the local dog park, or take your pup to dog-friendly nature trails so they can see and play with other pooches. Even better — adopt another furry companion so they can keep each other company!
When You’ve Got a Time Crunch
Have a really busy schedule? It might help your furry friend if you hire a dog walker who can swing by once or twice a day to take your dog for a spin and give them some welcome stimulation. If you’re away for longer, you can hire a pet sitter who’ll come stay with your dog. After all, it’s cheaper than paying for damages to your home!
Disciplining Your Dog
Dogs react similarly to children when they’re disciplined. You can punish a dog constructively so they learn through conditioning what’s allowed and what isn’t. Never hit a dog, shout or scream, or stare them down. Also, don’t punish your dog for something they did after the fact, as this will confuse and upset your pooch even more.
Dog-Proof Your Home
Even after you’ve spent plenty of time teaching your dog good behavior, you definitely want to change some things up in your home in case separation anxiety or boredom kicks in. This way, you ensure that your pooch is kept safe and comfortable while you’re away. Install baby gates to keep your dog from using the stairs, and don’t leave dirty laundry on the floor to avoid bathroom accidents or chewing incidents. If you don’t want your dog in a certain room, make sure the door is closed. Also, never leave out food that is toxic to dogs; keep them stored in the pantry or on a high shelf.
A happy, occupied dog is less likely to become bored, and thus destructive. So go ahead and flip on the TV or radio, give them a puzzle toy, swap out toys regularly, or create a DIY agility course. And banish the boredom blues forever.