Probably nothing is more frustrating than when your
dog tears up, chews up, or in some way damages your belongings.
Having lost anything from irreplaceable old family pictures
to hundreds of dollars of new plants, we appreciate your
frustration. But having a dog means that you will inevitably
lose an item you care about to your dog’s teeth or
paws. And although on any given day, any dog can turn anything
into a chew toy, your dog shouldn’t be routinely
First off, take a deep breath and try not to be mad at
your dog. Never, ever try to discipline your dog after
the fact by showing him what he did. Your dog won’t
understand punishment after the fact and this will damage
your relationship and can even cause your dog to become
defensively aggressive. You wouldn’t come home and
punish your dog if your neighbor told you he’d been
barking all day because it’s obvious your dog couldn’t
connect the punishment to the barking. The same is true
for destructive behavior. Dogs cannot connect the evidence of
misbehavior with the behavior itself.
Your dog isn’t being destructive because he’s
mad at you, to teach you a lesson, or to show you who’s
boss. There are many reasons for destructive behavior but
spite and revenge aren’t included.
Separation anxiety is a common, but not the only, cause
of destructive behavior that occurs only when your dog
is home alone. Your dog may also be bored, or may be being
frightened by noises or other events. Dogs are opportunists.
Your Fido may never get in the trash or counter surf when
you are home because he knows he’ll be scolded. But
these are intensely self-rewarding behaviors when your
Fido is by himself, because the end result is finding interesting
tidbits and nothing bad happens at all! Fido has simply
learned to tell when he will be punished and when he won’t.
So not all home alone problems are due to separation anxiety.
Be very, very cautious about crating your dog to manage
destructive behavior. If the destructiveness is due to
separation anxiety, thunder phobia, or other fear related
problems, confining your dog will only increase his panic
and likely result in him hurting himself trying to get
out of the crate. If you are going to try this option you
MUST MUST acclimate your dog to the crate and to being
alone in it gradually. “Crate Training the Right
Way”, a DVD we authored for PETsMART and available
at your local PETsMART store tells you how.
If your dog is also destructive when you are home, it’s
likely he’s just amusing himself. Chewing is an enjoyable
activity for dogs. Puppies and young dogs need to chew
because they are teething, and to explore and learn about
their world. Inadvertent destructiveness can also be part
of normal play behavior. Meeting your dog’s behavioral
needs for play, chewing, exercise, and mental stimulation
can go a long way toward preventing destructiveness.
PRODUCTS FROM HELPING FIDO THAT
WILL HELP YOU UNDERSTAND, PREVENT AND RESOLVE DESTRUCTIVE
To understand why “punishment” after the
fact won’t work and to learn the value of remote
punishment and providing opportunities for rewarding alternative
behaviors, we recommend our 4 CD set “How
Fido Learns Best”.
After you learn from the above program why remote punishers
are often best, try the SSSCat. Designed not only
for cats but small or easily frightened dogs, this is a
motion detector that emits a harmless spray and hissing
sound when triggered by movement. Great for counter surfers
and trash trowlers. Can also be used to discourage housesoiling
and urine marking.
If you think your Fido’s destructive behavior occurs
only when he’s alone, our CD “Managing
the Home Alone Dog” will help you determine
what type of home alone problem your dog has and what to
do about it.
If the problem is puppy chewing behavior, our “ Raising
a Behaviorally Healthy Puppy” book
will help you put things in perspective and give you
strategies for managing normal puppy chewing and nipping.
The book also discusses crate training.
To provide your dog with wonderful, engaging toys to occupy
him rather than using your sofa as a chew toy or digging
holes to amuse himself, watch our video showing Tug
a Jugs and Bouncy
Bones in action. Our Fidos LOVE these
toys and we are sure yours will too. Great way to prevent
destructive chewing due to “boredom”.