Your partner suddenly starts to change: he chews your books, destroys furniture or even urinates all over the house. These inconveniences alone constitute a real behavioral disorder representing the main cause of abandonment of dogs in the world.
Why is he behaving like this? What can be done to correct this behavior problem and avoid having to donate your animal?
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What is a “destructive” dog?
What is termed “destructive behavior” in dogs can have many symptoms:
- chewing on books
- tears in textiles
- scratches on furniture
- emissions of urine and feces in places that are normally prohibited
These different events can take place both in the absence or in the presence of the owner, indoors and outdoors. Thus, many homeowners may find that the garden’s plantings have been ransacked or that their dog has worked hard to dig multiple holes in the lawn.
Besides the major disadvantage that these problems can pose, they also represent:
- a cost to the owner who must replace all damaged items
- a potential danger to the dog who could chew on wires or electrical outlets
Why is my dog destroying everything in its path?
Contrary to what we can often hear, a dog never destroys its environment to take revenge on its master. Indeed, dogs do not know this kind of emotion that is too complex for them. By behaving in this way, a dog generally seeks to express unease or to be occupied.
In all cases, destructive behavior is the reflection of a psychological disorder, the cause of which must systematically be investigated. Thus, 2 major questions must be asked:
- When did the dog start showing this behavior?
- Has there been a recent change in his daily life? (a move, the arrival of a new child or a new animal, a reduction in outings, illness, etc.)
- What is he destroying in particular?
The answer to these questions can already inform the diagnosis. For example, it is important to know that a young puppy needs to nibble, especially to “get its teeth”. Likewise, a dog urinating when excited will be a sign that self-controls have not been acquired. If your dog starts to be aggressive at the time of the outings, then it is the hierarchy which has not been sufficiently established. It can also be true separation anxiety.
In all cases, it is essential to identify the cause of destructive behavior in order to be able to act on it. As a precaution, also consult your veterinarian in order to eliminate any suspicion of disease.
An element is often forgotten in the education process
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The different solutions
Each dog has its own character, to date, there is no “miracle” solution to quickly remedy destruction problems. Correcting behavior takes time and consistency. This is because the symptoms will only decrease gradually.
The most radical solution and the one most considered by owners who are often exasperated is the abandonment of the dog. Fortunately, there are other alternatives today.
The tools: anti-stress
Fortunately, in order to make it easier for owners, there are many accessories:
Thus, Adaptil can be very useful in calming anxious animals. Their principle is simple: they diffuse soothing pheromones to calm dogs. They can therefore be particularly useful in cases of changing environments or in the presence of people usually perceived as threatening.
For a 100% natural correction, there are also food supplements containing naturally soothing substances. They obviously assume that they can be swallowed by the dog, which can sometimes be difficult for the less docile animals.
The basic principles
First and foremost, as the owner, it is up to you to respect certain principles so as not to aggravate your pet’s symptoms:
- Before starting any behavioral remediation, always know why your dog is behaving this way.
- even if it is sometimes very difficult not to react violently when seeing your interior ransacked, you must always remain calm.
- avoid punishing your dog. In order to understand orders, a dog must always associate speaking with a gesture or a fact. If you fail to catch your companion in the act, punishing him “late” will not help. It might even lead him to associate punishment with other behavior.
- never lock your dog outside. This would only displace the symptoms such as, for example, causing additional barking disturbing the neighborhood.
- do not react: ignore the dog to minimize his anxiety.
- gradually get your pet used to loneliness: gradually increase the time you are away by going first to another closed room and then going out for a few minutes, etc.
Change the environment
Modifying a destructive behavior must be done in 3 steps:
- adapt the dog’s toys: choose them sufficiently heavy and resistant
- modify your environment: leave the radio or TV on
- modify his behavior: relearn the dog self-controls, respect for orders and hierarchy
In case of absence, you can put your animal in a closed room with its toys, its bowls, its open cage, and by taking care to remove the objects which could present a risk of destruction.
The important thing to remember is to always first consult a veterinarian in the event of a sudden change in behavior. It is then necessary to question yourself precisely in order to find the cause of the barking. Finally, the behavior of a dog is also accompanied by a change in the behavior of the owner.
If, however, you experience difficulties or do not feel able to perform such a task, do not hesitate to consult a canine behaviorist for help.
Final words and important recommendations
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