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5 Tips for Destructive Pets

dog biting shoes by stairs

Anyone who has ever owned a puppy or a kitten knows just how much destruction one tiny package can contain. But what if the destruction doesn’t end as your pet matures? Are you destined to live in a disaster zone for the rest of your pet’s life? Not necessarily. If your pet has earned a middle name like “Disaster,” “Trouble,” or “Mayhem,” the following 5 destructive behavior tips were written for you.

  1. Teething

In healthy puppies and kittens, teething usually ends by about 8 months of age, but that doesn’t always mean that chewing does. If your pet’s main outlet for destruction is your favorite pair of shoes or your fanciest piece of furniture, you’re not alone. Destructive chewing is so common because it is such an innate action; nearly every pet will exhibit it at some point. Chewing is a normal activity for pets (dogs especially), and is completely healthy. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should tolerate teeth marks in your valuable items.

Make sure your pet has engaging toys to chew on, and if you catch him chomping something off limits, gently discipline him and switch it out for a toy. Eventually, he will gain the understanding for which items are for chewing and which are not.

  1. Boredom

A tired pet is a good pet. If your pet has excess energy and nowhere to go with it, you can bet your home will bear the brunt of it. A solid exercise routine (going for walks, playing fetch, agility training, or even in-home play) will do wonders to wear your pet out and keep their behavior in check.

  1. Negative Attention

You’ve probably heard it before: negative attention is better than no attention at all. Is it possible that your pet is feeling neglected and is trying to get your attention? Perhaps a shift in your family’s schedule or dynamic is causing your pet to feel left out or lonely. If you suspect this to be the case, make sure to schedule some time each day to love up on your companion.

  1. Medical Issues

While chewing is fairly normal and healthy behavior, some dogs have a compulsive behavior called pica, which drives them to eat non-food items such as dirt, rocks, paper, cloth, and any number of other things. If you suspect your dog has pica, a visit with your veterinarian is definitely in line. Pica has been linked to other possible medical issues, and you’ll want to rule those out right away.

  1. Pet Stress

We all know that stress can cause a multitude of undesirable behaviors from stress-eating to nail-biting. While it’s easy for us to observe and identify our own stress-induced behaviors, it can be harder to identify it in our pets.

If you suspect that your pet is acting out in response to stress, it’s important to remain as calm as possible when you address them. Reacting to their destructive behavior with harsh punishment will likely only cause more fear and make the issues worse. Give your pet their own “safe zone” with their favorite toys and a security blanket or pillow, and make sure you’re as present as possible with them, as your schedule allows. Some dogs react very well to calming supplements to help them get through stressful periods in their life. As with all supplements, please consult your veterinarian before use.

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