If you have had a pet destroy your sneakers, obliterate your television remote, or shed your furniture, you aren’t alone. Animals, as endearing as they are, can be a bit inconsiderate.
Destructive pets can be a problem for your home and a danger to themselves. Thankfully there are some things that you can do to help curb chewing and other unwanted behavior.
Derailing Destructive Pets
When dealing with a destructive pet, it is important to realize that some of these behaviors may be perfectly normal. Dogs dig and chew, cats scratch, and nothing we do as humans is likely to change this.
When we acknowledge these behaviors as somewhat normal, we can then provide an acceptable outlet for them. Consider:
- Offering safe chew toys for your dog
- Creating a digging area for your pet in your yard
- Providing your cat with appropriate scratching surfaces
- Provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation
Perhaps that last point is the most important. Many destructive pets are born out of sheer boredom. Creating an enriching and stimulating environment is key to having a harmonious home.
Tips to Engage
The experts at Animal Medical Hospital & 24-Hour Urgent Care know that you want what’s best for your pet. With a little effort, you can be sure that your four-legged family is getting what they deserve in terms of a great home.
Exercise, play, and interaction help to decrease the odds of a destructive dog or clawing kitty.
Be sure to:
- Provide cats with three 5 minute activity spurts through the day (we are looking at you, laser pointer)
- Encourage structured exercise with your dog daily
- Enrich your pet’s senses with a bird feeder outside of the window, a video made specifically for animals, and places to climb and hide
- Simulate a more natural hunt for food by hiding treats and toys or using food-dispensing products instead of a big bowl of kibble
- Introduce novel objects into the environment (rotate toys or bring out a cardboard box)
- Provide social enrichment with other animals or people as appropriate
- Stimulate your pet’s brain by participating in training classes or working on some positive-reinforcement training at home such as clicker training
Having a stimulating home environment and appropriate outlets for normal behaviors can greatly reduce problem behaviors at home.
A Note About Separation Anxiety
Some pets have legitimate anxiety issues that can manifest as destructive behaviors. Separation anxiety in particular occurs when the pet is separated from the people or other critter that they are attached to.
When a pet is experiencing separation anxiety, pure panic takes over. These pets may scratch, claw, or chew at the things that are keeping them from their loved ones, be it a crate, a door, or a window. They may also urinate or defecate and often vocalize.
Most pets with separation anxiety benefit from environmental and social enrichment, but they may also need medical intervention. If you think your pet may be affected by separation anxiety, make an appointment with us for a behavioral appointment. This can help us to provide you with the best options for your situation, which sometimes include medications.
Destructive pets can be a challenge, but with some effort and work almost all of them can become model housemates. We are always here if you are having trouble with your pet. Don’t hesitate to ask if you need help.