Raise your hand if you’ve had this experience: You’re hanging out in the living room watching TV, and you hear a knock. Your dog immediately launches themselves off the couch, barking their head off as they skid toward the front door. You follow along in their wake, grab their collar, open the door a crack, and apologize to your friend standing there with a plate of homemade cookies.
You haul your dog backwards and open the door to let your friend in. Your pup wriggles free from your grasp, jumps up, knocks the plate from her hands, sending cookies flying. Satisfied, they immediately begin chowing down on the peanut butter goodness that has magically appeared.
This scenario (and others like it) play out in homes across the country. Barking, chewing, and digging are the most common issues, leaving plates of cookies, chewed-up couch legs, and torn-up yards in their wake. In this article, we’ll talk about why dogs do these things, and what you can do to fix them for good!
Barking (And Howling) At The Moon
Dogs have a number of sounds which allow them to communicate with us (and each other). Barks, howls, sighs, grunts, groans, yips – all are part of their repertoire of vocalizations. The only time barking gets out of hand is when your pup makes too much noise, and doesn’t listen to your commands to be quiet.
In order to address this, we need to do two things. First, identify what sets your pup off. Is it the doorbell ringing? People or dogs walking by? Sirens? Boredom? Once you’ve identified the triggers, it’s easier to mitigate them. For instance, instead of having your friend knock on the door, ask them to text you when they’ve arrived.
Second, teach your dog commands for “speak” and “quiet.” Reward them when they’re being quiet, and teach them when it’s okay to bark.
Digging To The Center Of The Earth
Digging is completely normal for dogs – especially some breeds. Terriers, Dachshunds, Beagles, Schnauzers, German Shepherds, and Border Collies are particularly prone to digging – especially if they’re after something like a groundhog, mole, or other ground-dwelling rodent! Aside from going after prey, dogs dig due to anxiety, boredom (ie escaping the yard), or to beat the heat by creating a cool patch to lay in.
There are a number of ways to make sure that your backyard doesn’t resemble a land mine. First, make sure that you’re giving your dog enough attention. Dogs dig when they’re bored, so taking them out for walks (and playing with them) will help them to chill. Secondly, you can give them a designated sandbox or digging area that allows them to satisfy their instincts to their heart’s content.
Chewy, Chewy, Chewing
Dogs chew for a number of reasons, including boredom, curiosity, excess energy, anxiety, or (in the case of puppies), teething. If you find Fido snacking on your couch leg (or the drywall), make sure that he’s gotten plenty of mental and physical exercise. Puzzle games, “sniffari”-type walks, and stuffed Kongs are all appropriate activities to alleviate canine boredom, anxiety, and energy.
Another way to prevent your dog from chewing is to crate train them. This gives them a safe, den-like environment that they can chill out in when you’re either not home, or not able to supervise them. When they have less freedom to roam, there’s less of a chance that they’ll get into trouble.
Keep At It
The key to mitigating all of these behaviors is consistency. You won’t see changes in one session, but when you train consistently over time, your dog will learn what makes you happy, and will want to please you. Remember, training your dog shouldn’t feel like combat!