We love to anthropomorphise our dogs. We talk to them, we sing to them, we call them our “fur babies” and sometimes even sneak them little scraps of our human food. However, as understandable as this behaviour is, it can detract us from a simple truth… we are sharing our homes with little wolves. And their instincts are completely different to our own. While dogs are intelligent and adaptable, they have no comprehension whatsoever when it comes to things like how expensive that designer sofa is or whether that pretty shattered vase contained grandma’s ashes.
When your dog’s natural urges lead it to start ruining your furniture and belongings, it can be extremely upsetting and frustrating. However, it’s important to remain calm and patient. These behaviours can be corrected with the right knowhow, a little patience and a whole lot of love.
Resist the urge to shout at them
Easier said than done, but dogs don’t have the same sense of causality as humans. If you point to some damage they’ve done and start shouting, they won’t comprehend any relationship between the two. You’ll just confuse them, not to mention upsetting yourself.
Correct bad behaviour in the right ways
Dogs, like their children, often don’t know that what they’re doing is bad. They’re just exploring their space and doing what their instincts tell them to do. That’s why it’s important to remain calm and correct bad behaviours in the right ways. If your dog is peeing indoors, don’t get angry with them. Simply clip on their lead as quickly as you can and lead them outside to finish. Reward them with a treat or some of the best wet dog food you have in the house. Dogs respond pretty much exclusively to positive reinforcement.
Use scent deterrents
We use our sight to help us to navigate the world around us, but dogs rely primarily on their sense of smell, and are far less likely to try and investigate items of furniture and parts of the house that are off limits if you use scent as a deterrent.
You can buy scent sprays specifically for keeping pets away from your prized possessions or simply make your own from a solution of water and vinegar, chilli or citrus essential oils.
Make sure there are no medical issues at play
If your dog is soiling or peeing a lot indoors it might be a medical matter rather than a behavioural one. Take them to the vet to eliminate the possibility of incontinence or other medical issues.
Give them access to things they can destroy
Your dog doesn’t know the difference between your £500 designer handbag and a few old socks tied together. They only know that both are fun to play with. And dogs like to play rough by gnawing, biting and shaking their toys as an outlet for their primal hunting urges. When they have lots of toys, either purchased or improvised, with which they can play, suddenly your cherished Louis Vittons don’t look too appealing anymore.
Make sure they’re well exercised
Finally, destructive behaviours often occur as a result of boredom and restlessness. Make sure that you give them plenty of love and attention and exercise them vigorously throughout the day. If you need to leave your home for more than four hours a day, it may be worth looking into a local dog walking service to ensure that you don’t come home to any unpleasant surprises.