So far, our dog behaviour guide has covered becoming the alpha dog, dealing with begging and also excessive barking. This time we’ll look at two common (and potentially costly) behavioural problems: chewing and digging. Always remember that both of these activities come naturally to dogs. We know our pets so well it’s easy to think of them as humans and forget they’re actually animals. As such, we should never punish them for doing things that, in their nature, they’re compelled to do. Instead, we should try to guide them away from those destructive tendencies or give them alternatives to redirect their attention.
Dogs love to chew. There’s no changing that. In particular, puppies absolutely love to get their jaws around whatever comes into their path. It’s one of the main ways they explore and interact with the world around them. Chewing makes them feel calm–it’s their way of unwinding. You should give your dog plenty of chew toys from as early in their life as possible so they know what’s acceptable to chew. Dogs do have a fondness for chewing leather shoes and the temptation to gnaw on your expensive new footwear may be too much for them to resist. As such, if there’s anything you don’t want them to chew, simply keep it out of their way. Finally, never shout or punish them for chewing the wrong thing. Instead, reward them for chewing their correct toys with praise and even a treat. Chewing inappropriate things is not only destructive, it’s also dangerous. While dogs are clever, they’re not always smart, and they’ll happily gobble down objects like socks that can block their intestines and even require surgery.
Just like chewing, dogs love to dig. Who knows what they’re looking for or where they’re trying to get to, dogs just really like to hunker down and dig themselves a hole. Terriers in particular love digging up prized lawns because of residual instincts from their use as hunting dogs. Just like barking, digging is only a problem if it is excessive. Dogs that dig too much tend to be bored or have excessive energy. The best way to treat this, of course, is to tire them out with a wide range of exercise, combining walking and running in a variety of locations. If your lifestyle is too busy to manage more than the basic daily walk, dog day care or dog boarding are alternative solutions. An afternoon at a good day care service will leave your dog so tired and happy that the last thing they’ll want to do when they get home is dash into the garden and dig themselves a hole. Dogs also tend to dig if they’re anxious or distressed. If you can tackle the cause of that distress, there’s a good chance the digging will subside. Otherwise, a final option is giving your dog a designated area where it’s okay for them to dig. Sandpits are ideal.
We hope that you’re enjoying our dog behaviour guide. If you feel your dog has excess energy and would benefit from attending a day care facility, don’t hesitate to contact us here at Doggy Day Care Cornwall.