TIP #1: PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STIMULATION
For dogs and humans alike, physical exercise is fundamental to good health. We all know the couch-potato lifestyle comes with a host of health problems. And, much as people turn to crossword puzzles, books, chess games, and other brain-vitalizing activities for the fun of mental gymnastics, dogs need to solve doggie problems.
In dogs, a lack of physical and mental activity can prompt nuisance behaviors. The majority of dogs were bred with a working purpose in mind - and that's not just the herding and hunting breeds. For example, the seemingly dainty Yorkshire Terrier was originally meant for rat hunting. Providing dogs with vigorous, daily exercise has profound effects on their behavior. Tired dogs chew less, bark less, sleep more, and are more likely to relax when home alone.
A good daily workout and, if the dog is social, regular play sessions with other dogs are great ways to exercise a dog. So is time spent interacting with his owners, whether that's playing hide-and-seek in the yard or coming along to the office.
Dogs are meant to work for their food. When they were in the wild, nobody just handed them a bowl of kibble. Dogs are natural hunters and problem solvers so the more closely we can mimic this process, in many cases the less troublesome the dog will be to live with. Serving all the dog's meals in a stuffed Kong or treat ball, in food dispensing devices, or through a game such as hide-and-seek or in food puzzle toys can relieve many nuisance behaviors.
Interesting dog toys are another great way to engage a dog's brain. Dogs have distinct preferences when it comes to toys, so it's worth doing a bit of sleuthing to figure out what hooks a particular dog. Some are never happier than when they get to dissect a stuffed toy; others can spend hours entertaining themselves with a rope toy. Get an assortment and switch them out each day so the dog doesn't have time to get bored. Of course, you want to make sure you use safe toys so your dog does not ingest parts and pieces of his toys. There are especially tough toys available, including a variety of Kong toys, Jolly Balls, Buster Food-Cubes, and the Tug-a-Jug.
- Excerpted from Decoding Your Dog
TIP #2: WHEN ADULT DOGS START CHEWING
On occasion, an adult dog who has been trustworthy with his chewing habits may suddenly surprise you with an oral foray into the forbidden.
This may be a stress response to something environmental happening in your absence, such as a burglar trying to break into your home, loud equipment working in the street in front of your house, or stray dogs romping through your yard. Sometimes even something like a compelling need to urinate or defecate can stress a well-trained dog into inappropriate chewing.
If you can determine the nature of the stressor and control or remove the cause, your dog should quickly revert to his prior good chewing behavior. He might also need a refresher course in the crate, after a veterinary exam to rule out possible medical causes. (Anytime there's a significant behavior change in an adult dog it's important to rule out - or treat - any possible medical contributors to the undesirable behavior.)
A return to inappropriate chewing may be a result of inactivity and pent-up energy. Perhaps the weather's been bad or your workload extra heavy, curtailing your normal exercise sessions with your canine companion. That energy has to go somewhere - and for some dogs, it goes right to their jaws. The solution here is a renewed commitment to provide adequate exercise, with the addition, perhaps, of mental exercise into your dog's daily routine.
- Whole Dog Journal
Jeff Dentler, CPDT-KA, FFCP, CTDI