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Originally published August 27, 2013, last updated February 20, 2014
Exercise and Entertainment: A Dynamic Duo Against Destruction
“My dog ruins everything in sight! I just can’t get him to stop chewing.”
Such complaints aren’t uncommon among dog owners. In fact, pet aggression, riddled furniture, and half-eaten garage doors often drive loving owners to consider trotting their otherwise adorable canine straight to the pound.
So what do you do when your dog’s conduct is downright destructive?
Two veteran veterinarians agree that some destructive canine activities are related to separation anxiety – abnormal, unwanted behavior that occurs during the owner’s absence. They also agree that these behaviors can often be remedied with a few simple changes in the owner-pet relationship, and in the animal’s routine or environment.
Heidi S. Ritthaler, veterinarian at the Millsap Veterinary Clinic in Millsap, TX, points out that separation anxiety as diagnosed by a pet owner may be no more than simple boredom and lack of activity. “Many owners who feel they have a dog with this disorder may actually remedy it with exercise.”
She also suggests that proper attention and training can assist in combating numerous misbehaviors. Books and videos on training are readily available in bookstores, on the Internet, or at a veterinary supply store.
For an especially energetic dog, veterinarian LeeAnn Lake-Heidke of the San Juan Veterinary Hospital in Farmington, NM recommends adding simple items to the pet’s environment to satisfy its need to stay active. “Kong toys or other ‘busy toys,’ if rolled or moved in the right direction, will produce hidden treats that will keep your pet busy and happy for long periods of time. Television programs, videos and music can also entertain and settle an overactive dog.”
This dynamic duo of exercise and entertainment may still not be enough to curb your dog’s destruction. Professional help may be necessary – and is available. Ritthaler and Lake-Heidke will share some options with you in Part 2 of this series.