If you thought that being a dog parent was going to be all sunshine and roses, you're probably thinking twice now that Rascal has made it his mission in life to destroy everything in sight the moment he's outside. According to a 2000 study sponsored by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, outdoor destructive behavior is one of the top reasons why dog owners relinquish their pets to shelters. Rather than letting it escalate to this extreme, find out what's triggering Rascal's behavior so you can effectively put a stop to it.
Take Rascal to a veterinarian to rule out medical conditions that might be triggering his destructive behavior. Thyroid hormone imbalance, nutritional deficiencies or brain disease can all cause the undesired behavior. A veterinarian can give your furry friend a full checkup that includes an analysis of his brain, blood, stool and urine.
Increase the amount of exercise your pet companion is getting, because pent-up energy, boredom and a craving for attention might make him resort to destructive behavior. Spend quality time with Rascal; go jogging with him or take long walks with him, play games, such as fetch and tug-of-war, and practice obedience training to stimulate him mentally. Tire him out so he's more likely to take a nap than destroy his surroundings.
Provide plenty of toys for your dog to play with when he's outside. Your pet companion might prefer to play with the toys instead of destroying his surroundings. A food-stuffed dog toy or chew toys, for instance, can keep him busy for quite a while. These toys require him to lick and chew, which can have a calming effect.
Build a digging pit for Rascal if his destructive behavior consists mainly of digging up the backyard. Border off a small area of the yard with bricks and fill it with a combination of soil and sand. Shallowly bury dog treats and toys in the digging pit before showing it to Rascal. Then dig in the pit and pretend to find one of the treasures. Show it to your dog to encourage him to start digging. Lavishly praise him when he starts digging to motivate him to keep up the good job.
Supervise your dog when he's outside. The moment he displays destructive behavior, clap your hands loudly or blow a whistle to startle him and break his concentration. Then redirect him to an appropriate activity -- give him a dog toy or guide him to his digging pit. When he shows interest in the toy or digging pit, praise him and offer treats for his good behavior. Avoid scolding or punishing him after the damage is done, because he won't be able to associate the punishment to his destructive behavior.
Items You Will Need
- Dog toys
- Dog treats
- Correct your dog's undesired behavior from a young age so he grows up knowing what he is and isn't allowed to do. As he gets older, watch closely for behavioral changes so you can quickly nip them in the bud.
- Kane Skennar/Digital Vision/Getty Images