Destructive Behaviours

a) My Dog Barks Too Much / My Dog is Destructive

If your dog is barking, howling, digging excessively or seems to be in a continuous destructive mode, it is likely due to boredom. Dogs need mental and physical stimulation just like humans do. The specific needs of how much daily mental and physical stimulation required will vary based on breed and age.

Your dog, regardless of age or breed will benefit from Environmental Enrichment- and 15 minutes of sniffing is equivalent to 1 hour of physical activity. But, for some breeds, environmental enrichment is necessary. Here are some ideas things that can use to help you keep your dog busy and mentally stimulated or occupied when home alone:

  • Increase your dog's social time by going for daily walks or dog parks and ensuring they get to spend time sniffing at various stages throughout the walk
  • Consider hiring a dog walker if you are unable to walk your dog daily (maybe ask the young teen next door if s/he'd be interested in earning some easy money each week)
  • Purchase a few new toys. Alternatively rotate through 2-3 different toys each week so that old toys become new toys
  • Freeze treats (water, fish, chicken or beef broth) so your pet must work to earn the reward. Licking is a calming behaviour and they will love these treats on a hot day!
  • Coconuts and palm fronds are great for dogs to rip up and chew on
  • Fresh or smoked bones, cows' hooves/ears, antlers and other hard treats from your local pet store. These can also be kept in the freezer to maintain freshness and increase the difficulty for your pet
  • If your dog is a digger, consider building a shaded sand pit and weekly bury treats and toys for them to find. If this is not possible to build in your yard, try a plastic children's pool as they create a moveable space to dig or water play
  • Food release toys can be made from everyday household items; milk jugs, egg cartons, empty boxes and juice bottle make great fun for pets to play with their food. By slowing down their eating time, they will also eat less and tire more quickly after meal times. This will ensure longer more restful sleeps after each meal
  •  You can also use snuffle mats for stimulated feeding. By slowing down their eating time, they will also eat less and tire more quickly after meal times. This will ensure longer more restful sleeps after each meal
  • Try leading your dog through static balance and strength exercises for added mental and physical stimulation
    Consider enrolling your dog into Doggie Day Care. There are a variety of programs to choose from and you can cater your pet's attendance to suit your work schedule
  • Consider enrolling your dog into a course. Classes here in Townsville include: Agility, Disc, Nose Work, Urban Search and Rescue and Dog Obedience Training.

For further information, please visit:

- Muzzle to Muscle: Canine Rehabilitation and Wellness Centre & Dogz Afloat 
- Canine Obedience Club of Townsville Inc 

 

b) My Cat is Destructive

Your cat is trying to tell you s/he is bored during the day. Yes, they do sleep more than dogs, but cats miss their families during the day, too. Your cat will benefit from Environmental Enrichment. Here are some ideas and things that can help you to keep your cat busy and mentally stimulated or occupied when home alone:

  • Increase your cat's social time by playing with him/her daily (try during commercials, and just before feeding time)
  • Purchase new toys. Alternatively rotate through 2-3 different toys each week so that old toys become new toys
  • Let the cat play in the box their new toy came in (as they'll probably like it better anyways)
  • Move his/her tower or bed closer to a window where s/he can watch birds and lizards outside
  • Food release toys can be made from everyday household items; small juice bottles, aluminium foil balls, paper balls, and make great fun for pets to play with their food
  • Plant an indoor cat grass garden
  • Experiment with different frozen wet foods for morning feeding times so s/he sleeps more during the latter half of the day
  • For scratching unwanted furniture and rugs, try spraying white vinegar solution on the affected areas. You can also purchase a non-scratching spray intended for carpets and lounges. Also try different types of scratching posts and pads in different locations in the house (carpet, rope, cardboard, wood) until you find what your cat prefers to use
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