A crime has been committed in your bedroom: someone snuck into it while you were at work, stole your pillow, ripped open your mattress, and left mud on the blankets. You pick up a dirtied sheet and smell it. Yuck! Then, you notice a few hairs sticking to it…dog hairs! Your dog has been up to no good again! Yesterday a TV remote, the day before that your flower garden, the day before that your expensive running shoes… You search for your dog and finally find him cowering under the kitchen table. Now, you can tell him exactly what you think he is. Baaaad dog!
While no dog is perfect, there are a few who seem to be particularly naughty. Chewing furniture, barking their heads off, ruining your yard, it seems that their middle names should be “trouble”! Having a dog that causes mischief wherever he goes can be hard on a dog owner, trying your patience and making you wonder what ever made you get a pet. However, your dog isn’t literally a “bad” dog. Inappropriate chewing, barking, and digging are actually called behavioral issues by dog trainers. Behavioral issues can often be fixed or broken just like humans break habits such as chewing nails. It takes much time and effort on your part, but it will pay off a hundredfold when your dog stops the bad habit(s).
What Causes It?
Oftentimes, when a dog does an unwanted behavior, humans just assume that the dog is “being bad.” However, dogs don’t take pleasure in making you upset. We live to work for and please our owners and love to be part of a pack with a human as the leader. Therefore, your dog isn’t just doing a behavior to make you mad. There’s a reason for it, and you need to identify it in order to help you find a solution. Here are a few behavior problems and possible reasons for them:
Excessive Barking – Dogs bark to communicate with other dogs, alert you of potential dangers, and to decrease boredom. A dog who barks too much may be trying to tell you something (such as, “Look at that scary squirrel!”) or might be bored, needing more exercise and stimulating brain games to keep his mind busy.
Digging – Some dogs are natural diggers, especially terriers, and need an outlet for it. Such a dog needs a special place just for digging, like a sandbox. Or, a dog with that energy and need for digging needs to be enrolled in a dog sport such as Earth Dog.
Inappropriate Chewing – Have you ever felt the need for a big yawn or stretch? Sometimes, dogs get that feeling too, only we want to chew. A dog that chews inappropriate items needs to be given plenty of toys and bones to chew on, and the owner may need to be neater and put away his or her belongings. Another possible reason for this behavior is boredom. Perhaps the owner needs to exercise or spend more time with his or her dog.
As in the examples above, identify the reason for the problem and think of a good solution to fix or at least decrease it. Exercise, starting a sport, and more one-on-one time with your dog are often the biggest solutions to behavior problems, but you might have to get super creative for your dog’s. Remember that you can always consult a professional dog trainer who will be full of good tips and advice for your dog’s specific problem.