Destructive = Bored

20 Feb

Dogs need something to do. And they’ll find something to do. Our job as pet parents is to give them something constructive to focus on when we’re not home so that they don’t take out the kitchen cabinets, like one Lab belonging to an acquaintance. That dog chewed up the lower cabinets so badly that they had to be replaced. Then she chewed them up a second time. Boxer licking chops

We hear stories all the time about dogs who, in their need to work off excess energy, wreak havoc on their homes. Boxers, Australian Shepherds, terriers and other high-energy or high-intelligence dogs seem most prone to destructive chewing.

This is how many dogs end up at the shelter. But they’re only doing what they instinctively need to do. Some dogs need to be busier than others. Some need to chew a lot while others don’t seem to need it once they’re grown. All puppies and young dogs need to chew.

Using a crate and giving the dog something to chew while in the crate can help not only housetrain the dog, but also teach her to focus her natural chewing desire on approved items. Providing a chew while the dog is in the crate helps the dog associate the crate with something good, and mos dogs will look forward to crate time if given this type of activity.

There are plenty of toys on the market for keeping dogs busy and occupied when they’re home alone. In fact, we’ve created a department on called “Home Alone” to offer a collection of these toys. But one of the least expensive and most effective chew toys I’ve seen (and I use it myself) is a natural bone. You can get them at any pet store. Get a straight bone, not a knuckle bone. They usually have a little bit of marrow inside, which the dog cleans out fairly quickly. After that, you can reuse it over and over for years, filling it with spray cheese, peanut butter, kibble, Cheerios or any combination. You can put them through the dishwasher if your dog doesn’t get everything out. After six years, I’ve only replaced mine once for my two large dogs.

And here’s a tip. Don’t leave the bone out all the time. Give it to your dog in a confined area such as a crate when you leave home. When you return, pick it up and don’t give it back to your dog until you leave again. That way, it stays special in your dog’s eyes. She looks forward to having it. And besides, when you’re home, she’s playing with you and doesn’t need a bone to keep her busy, right?


Posted by on February 20, 2006 in In the News


2 responses to “Destructive = Bored

  1. Tiffany

    September 23, 2006 at 9:25 am

    Hi I have a 1year and a half old german shepard mix and it seems as if he is bored because he is always sleeping. He doesn’t even play fetch or anything. I do take him for walks though, he likes that but is eager to get back into the house. What is the problem?

    NOTE FROM MODERATOR: One mistake we all make is to assign motivations to our dogs. You may feel that your dog is eager to get back into the house because he’d rather be inside sleeping than out for a walk. But maybe your dog is excited and animated because he’s been rejuvenated by a walk. You must keep walking your dog every day. Your dog is still young and should have some energy. Dogs often sleep when they’re under-stimulated. Is there a dog park nearby, or somewhere you could let your dog run around off-leash? You say he doesn’t play fetch. Has anyone ever taught him to? I have a retriever who didn’t have to be taught because it’s instinctive, and a collie who never cared or caught on. Some dogs have to learn how to play fetch. Have you shown him what to do? How about enrolling him in training classes?

    One veterinarian I know estimated that adult dogs (age 2+) sleep for 18-20 hours out of every 24. If your dog is getting an hour of exercise a day, don’t worry about how much he sleeps. Dogs will sleep more than people do. Just be sure you’re giving him the mental and physical stimulation to be healthy. – L.W.

  2. Erin

    February 6, 2009 at 9:52 am

    We have two adult dogs, approx 1 year old. They have the best time together, great friends. BUT while we are gone during the day, they are outside, and i guess bored. We have about 15 toys outside for them, ranging from rope toys to basketball, to numerous chew toys. The are very destructive to the yard though, tearing thru bark mulch to get to the tar paper underneath and shredding it, they dig random holes, chew their food bowls, drag rugs/ blankets from their house to the yard and chew them and shred them. It is getting aggrivating, we play with them when we can, but we do work and we thought them having eachother would help. Please give us some advice! THANKS


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