BENGALURU: I have a three-year-old Labrador. I have trained him to use the couch and bed. When I leave him alone in the house for a couple of hours, he starts biting the furniture and shoes. He seems okay for two hours but if I get delayed, he gets restless and starts chewing up things. What can I do?
If your dog shows destructive behaviour, it could be either associated to separation anxiety or could be merely boredom. Generally dogs with separation anxiety exhibit excessive whining, barking and severe destruction as soon as the owner is out of sight. The fact that he is fine for few hours and tends to be destructive afterwhich indicates that the cause for his behaviour is boredom. If you have not already done so, assert this observation with the help of a professional to make sure he is not suffering from separation anxiety.
If his behaviour is primarily because of boredom, then the solution is to keep him engaged. Keeping a dog idle indoors can be detrimental to his physical and emotional health. We have the responsibility to enrich their lives with adequate exercise and activities to prevent this kind of boredom and anxiety.
The most important and essential requirement is exercise. Give him adequate exercise including brisk walks, jogs, swimming and good amount of active play. Be creative in your games depending on the breed and the dogs personality. Some dogs like fetch, while others like to use their nose to explore and find. Either ways at the end of the game when they get their object, it gives them a sense of achievement and satisfaction in addition to the physical exercise that they get. Invest in toys that help in keeping him mentally stimulated.
There are toys that can be stuffed with food and require the dog to apply his mind to take out. These toys will keep him engaged, stimulated and can be given to avoid boredom. Before you leave the home, make sure he is exercised, well fed and has something to keep himself occupied. Spend a lot of quality time with him.
Remember to be consistent and calm.
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