Pet Column: Dogs need more than affection to resolve most problem behaviors

Olive gave herself a job, toilet paper shredder. Photo by Elle Williams.
By Elle Williams  
Pet Columnist, Canyon Lake Insider
As dog owners, we all hope to have that perfect Lassi dog. You know, the one that comes when called, would never chew up the house, greets people with a wagging tail, and rescues the kid who fell into a well. Then you come home only to find your cute bundle of fluff has ripped up your best pair of shoes and barked until the neighbors complain and left their “calling card” by the back door.
You may think, “Why would they do that to me? I provide an unbelievable amount of love and this is what I get in return?” Don’t worry, your pup isn’t trying to get even or be alfa, they just need more than affection to resolve most problem behaviors.
Dogs have evolved alongside humans to serve valuable roles in society, herding, hunting, retrieving, and much more. Such jobs require a dog to have a good amount of energy to burn. Now, in a modern environment, we have brought those same genetics into the house with no job but to be our constant companion. Many dogs get bored of this lifestyle and want a job. If not provided the appropriate outlet, many dogs give themself jobs like protector of the house and shredder of the couch cushions.
To avoid problem behaviors I suggest having a routine involving exercise, mental stimulation, boundaries, communication, and affection. When a dog has pent-up energy they will release it in self-rewarding behaviors that we find unfavorable, such as barking and chewing.
By providing outlets for that energy, such as daily walks, a game of fetch, using their meals as an opportunity to work for their food, obedience training, and enriching their day by going to a new place, your pup won’t have the energy left for problematic behaviors.
What it comes down to is simple: dogs, just like humans, need outlets for their energy. Provide appropriate outlets and reap the rewards of a tired, happy dog.
Elle Williams is a local in-home dog trainer and the owner of Give a Sit Dog Training. She is certified in dog psychology, nutrition, and grooming, and specializes in basic and advanced obedience, puppy prep, and behavior adjustment training.


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