How to Control Your Puppy's Destructive Behavior
Puppies are instinctively active, and a lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to boredom, inappropriate behavior and anxiety. As your puppy grows, these problems will just get worse until he/she is exhibiting destructive behaviors that are hard to curb.
Dogs exhibit different destructive behaviors, including:
- Chewing on items or furniture
- Digging holes in the yard
- Obsessively licking themselves or the furniture
- Breaking house training
- Eating non-food items
- Destroying items around the house
All of these behaviors are potentially destructive to your home, but some are also dangerous for your new pet. For example, a pet that anxiously eats non-food items may require trips to the vet for treatment, which may include x-rays, IV fluids and even emergency surgery.
You can help avoid boredom-related destructive behavior by ensuring your growing puppy gets regular exercise. After all, a tired puppy is a calm puppy! Regular walks and play time will help physically tire your puppy and discourage him/her from acting out due to boredom.
Your puppy also needs mental stimulation to ward off boredom. Regular dog training sessions are a great way to work your puppy's mind, but you can also try dog puzzles and other interactive games. If your puppy is food-motivated, a Kong toy stuffed with food can be a great distraction. These are also helpful for dogs that have anxiety when left alone; the act of getting to the treats will keep them occupied.
Some pets with separation anxiety will require training and/or medical treatment to overcome their fears. However, for less severe cases, you might try using a Thundershirt or calming pheromones to ease stress. Both help to comfort your pet and reduce the anxiety he/she feels.
Exercise equipment: A well-exercised puppy is a well-behaved puppy. You'll want a quality leash and harness and a selection of toys to ensure your puppy gets the mental and physical stimulation he/she needs.
Solutions for barking: Some dogs bark excessively out of boredom. To encourage your puppy to quiet down, consider an ultrasonic bark controller.
Anxiety solutions: As mentioned above, severe cases of anxiety will require training and/or veterinary care to address. For the moderately anxious dog, you can try a few pet anxiety remedies, such as the Thundershirt, anxiety chews or pheromone products, to help comfort your pet and reduce anxiety.
Clean up: Accidents happen, and your puppy may slip up on his/her house training when anxious. Some puppies will also eliminate inappropriately for attention. While using the other tactics listed to combat this behavior, you'll also need a good pet stain remover to remove any traces of urine from the accident spot.
If you're concerned your puppy might hurt him/herself due to anxiety, consult your vet and/or trainer. They may be able to help with your puppy's anxiety and underlying fears.