Is your dog digging holes on the back lawn or rearranging the plants in your garden? Is your dog destroying outdoor furniture or destuffing your couch? Or is he leaving scratch or bite marks on your doors and fences?
When we think about these behaviours we see them as “problem behaviours”. They are all however normal canine behaviours that simply need redirection.
We need to think about what activities your dog likes to do. Providing an environment where your dog can dig, can seek and destroy, and can hunt something out is going to mean that your dog is both stimulated mentally and physically.
Make feeding fun
Thecanineclub recommend that you get rid of your dogs food bowl!
Feeding your dog in ways other than in a bowl can help to use those canine talents of sniffing out their food. It can also help to slow down the feeding process which is great for the dogs that seem to inhale their food or for the dogs carry a bit of extra weight.
* Hiding your dogs biscuits in piles around the backyard, or simply scatter them across your lawn or deck. Then let your dog race outside to hunt out every last little piece of Kibble.
* Putting your dogs food inside an empty muesli bar box, and then put that box inside the Weet-Bix box, and then put that box side in an even bigger box. Then let your dog to rip through the boxes, tearing with those teeth and pawing at the boxes until he gets all of his biscuits out.
* We often suggest to our clients to freeze your dogs food, and give him a dog food popsicle to chew. For my dog, he’s a retriever, I get one cup of his biscuits, put them into an empty ice cream container, pour cold water on top, enough to cover bikkies, and freeze into a great solid block of dog food. My dog spends ages chewing through this on the deck. It is great to get those teeth clean, and keep Simba cool in the summer. ( this is also a great teether for puppies, as the coolness soothes the gums) For smaller dogs you can do the same with yogurt pottles.
* Put your dogs food into a food orientated toys such as treat balls, frozen in a kong or kong wobbler.
* Feed your dog his kibble through training on his walk
Active time wasters for your dog
Providing a sandpit for your dog, and burying some yummy treats in there, is a great way to redirect digging.
Hiding some food-I-fied toys in the sand will give your dog an incentive to dig there, rather than in your garden.
Hone in on your dogs talent of destroying things, and getting the insides of something out. Give him soft toys to destuff and destroy, this is a great way to channel that particular canine talent.
I visit op shop’s and buy lots of soft toys, I cut off anything that could be potentially dangerous to my dog, I then let my dog pull all of the stuffing out.
I come home to a deck covered in white stuffing, but I also come home to a happy stimulated dog and a lounge suite intact.
Once my dog has destuffed the soft toys, I can then use that to hide his food in the next day.
When you think about leaving your dog for the day, take a couple of minutes extra to set up a fun environment for him. Keeping in mind the particular activities your dog likes to do, and provide an outlet for that.