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Appetite for Destruction

Posted by Caleb Liber on

Pets are great; so incredibly loving, fun to play with, and great to have around. It's not all fun and games though. Some pets can be destructive. Perhaps it's during the night or when you're at work, but, as many of you already know, they can cause a lot of damage and cost you an exorbitant amount of money. Pets are destructive for different reasons. Many times, it's puppies and kittens who are acting out. I had a beagle puppy who chewed everything he could find, including CDs, wires, clothing, and reading glasses. It wasn't an easy thing to deal with, but there are proper ways to go about it. Plus, it's not only puppies and kittens who cause damage; older dogs and cats may act out too. Let's talk a bit about why our pets are doing this and what actions should be taken.

First off, let's take a look at what is actually being destroyed. Is it something preventable, like shoes or items left around the house? If this is the case, that's a fairly easy fix. Remember, your dog is a "wild" animal that you're attempting to domesticate. Sure, they've been domesticated for years, but their true nature still comes out, especially without proper training. We should first take a step back and ask ourselves why they may be acting out. Puppies chew more than average because they are teething, so giving them a chew toy or bone may be the answer to all your problems. Some dogs chew different items because they're stressed. Have you moved around a lot? Do you have an erratic schedule? That sort of chaos can be extremely hard on a pet. They love to have a routine. It's comforting to them when they know when to expect you home. According to lifehacker.com, excessive chewing may also be caused by a vitamin deficiency, so don't rule out chatting with your vet about their destructive behavior. In all honesty, your dog or cat is probably acting out in an attempt to tell you something. Perhaps it's not chewing. Many dogs and cats attempt to get your attention by treating your house/apartment as their personal bathroom/litter box. If it's a younger dog or cat, make sure they're receiving proper potty training. Perhaps you're not letting them outside enough. Maybe they're in pain or sick and they're trying to let you know. If your dog is chewing items he/she is not supposed to be chewing, or if your cat is scratching your furniture up, don't just let it happen. Don't look the other way. The problem will continue and most likely worsen. Try to get to the root of the problem. Once you do, you'll most likely be able to remedy the issue.

After you've figured out why your pet is behaving the way they are, it's time to start thinking about preventative measures. So, your dog is chewing everything? Keep specific chew toys and appropriate bones around so they go for those instead of your $300 boots. Keep in mind how big your dog is so that you can buy them the correct size toys and treats for the job. You'd be surprised how cheap and easy it is to please your pets. For instance, many cats love to chew on toilet paper rolls. Go figure! When buying chew toys for your dog, remember the following quote by Cesar Millan...

"If you buy your dog a Kong type toy, check and make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it. I have seen several emergency cases where a dog comes in with a toy stuck in his mouth. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example, do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on, because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair."

Make sure to reward good behavior! Let them know that certain items are good to chew on, and keep the other non-chew items away from reach. Depending on why they're doing it, if your dog or cat is peeing where they shouldn't, there are multiple solutions. One main (obvious) reason for inappropriate elimination, is that they simply can't hold their bladders as long as you may think they can. Small dogs have a hard time holding it all day. Heck, no dog should have to hold it all day! Some can, but none should. It's not good for them. Small dogs, especially, need to have access to the outdoors every few hours, so keep that in mind when you're thinking of purchasing a small dog. Perhaps your dog or cat peed in a specific area inside your house, and now they think it's okay to continue doing so. If this is the case, try sectioning off that area so they can't get to it. Make sure to clean it well, and when you let them back near that spot again, keep a close eye on them and reward them for not peeing there. Let them smell the area, and then take them directly outside after to relieve themselves. If your dog or cat is peeing all over your house and it's getting overwhelming, check with your vet. In many cases, they're sick in one way or another and are attempting to let you know. Then, for instance, if they have a bladder infection, you can get them the proper medications to resolve the problem. What you'll want to avoid though, is yelling at your dog or cat. That, along with shoving their face in their own droppings, will only scare them. They won't understand what they did wrong and you'll only get frustrated even more so. "Beyond that, it's also just not a very nice thing to do to an animal for doing what comes natural to him or her." - (lifehacker.com). When cleaning up after your pet, you may want to try placing the urine-soaked paper towels (or treats) in the proper designated potty area. This may lure them over. This little trick has worked well for people that I've personally known.

Whether it's chewing, scratching, relieving their bladders where they shouldn't, or some other form of destruction, we can all agree that owning a pet isn't always an easy task. In fact, it hardly ever is. It takes responsibility, love, and a whole lot of patience. Just remember that your pet isn't doing these "bad" things to upset you. There's always an underlying reason that's not always easy to see. It may take a little digging to figure out why your pet is acting the way they are. But trust me ... it's worth it for both of you! I'm sure you love your pet and want them to be happy, so doing a little detective work on your part to figure out why they're acting out should be a no brainer. Remember ... they can't speak to us in a language we understand. They have to let us know if something is wrong in other ways, so go easy on them. Ultimately, all they want is our love.

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