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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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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.

Supplies to end destructive puppy behavior

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.

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