Dogs are considered the most genuinely happy creatures on earth. Their entire day is filled with you whether you are there or not. They are waiting for you, sleeping on your bed, watching for you out the window, wondering where you are while they are patiently waiting for you in their crate.
Once you come home it’s all about you. Your attention, your love, your food, your commands, and of course, your time. For an animal that revolves his whole life around you, it can be confusing why he does some of the things he does. If he loves you so much, why is he destroying your shoes? If you are the light in his life, why is he ignoring you when you come home?
Dogs have a very unique way of expressing themselves. Most people believe that dogs have and show genuine emotion such as love and fear and even anger. We understand that when they sit at the door and bark they are telling us they need to go outside. We understand that when we have a leash in our hand and they get a little goofy that they are excited about the upcoming walk. Understanding their more subtle or destructive cues takes a little insight into your dog’s world.
Returning Home Behavior
Some dogs get so excited that you are home after a weekend away they completely get beside themselves with joy. They follow you around and may even be uncharacteristically clingy as you wander about the house. Others get so excited when you first walk in the door, and then leave you in complete peace for several hours. People usually say that he is angry with you for leaving in the first place.
Most experts say their behavior is more about security than anything. You are your dog’s entire world and when for some reason you disappear for a long period of time, and there is a sudden change in his routine, his security is thrown a bit. He is very happy to see you but he also needs a little reassurance that everything is getting back to normal. Some dogs do this by following you around the house until they are sure, and others do this from a more observatory stance. Either way your canine family member is just looking for reassurance and his typical routine to return.
The Canine Garbage Disposal
He knows better and he knows that you know he knows better. However, every chance he gets you see him scampering off with something that you just absolutely don’t want him to chew. He eats your best shoes while you’re in the shower, the corner of the bedspread while you’re getting dressed, and the phone cord while you were talking on it. And you haven’t even made it to breakfast yet. As much as you love him you are contemplating the moral issues of drop kicking him right out the door. You’ve tried everything that you can think of and yet he is still eating everything in sight. He is beyond the age where teething causes chewing but yet he still can’t seem to find his own toys to consume.
There are two key factors in a garbage disposal dog. The first and easiest to solve is a health problem relating to his teeth and gums. If his mouth is bothering him, he is going to chew on everything he can. Start with a vet visit to rule out any periodontal issues.
The more likely culprit of his unflattering behavior is stress and anxiety. Yes, your happy go lucky guy can suffer from stress. Has there been a change in the household such as a new baby, dramatically increased arguing or is someone who is supposed to be there suddenly gone?
For starter, confine him when you can’t watch him, although preferably with you. A puppy gate here can go a long way in simple things like keeping an eye on him while you are showering and watching his every move while you are getting dressed. Often the hurried morning is a higher anxiety period for your dog.
Then begin to address the problem. Make sure there’s an appropriate toy available to him at all times and make a big deal about it when he eats the right things. A sharp reprimand and a quick and immediate discipline is in order when you catch him at the wrong chew toys. You don’t want to stress him more by smacking him, although a rolled up newspaper banged on a hard surface is a quick attention getter. Never strike him with it. He will make it his mission to eat it if you do in an effort to eliminate an already stressful period.
Try to identify the stressor and relax him around the problem. If you can get him comfortable enough around the new baby to lie down even when the baby is crying, you have made strides. If there is tension in the house try to tone down the arguing, or take it to an alternative room. If your dog can be comfortably confined to an outdoor yard, that is the best option, but don’t get so wrapped up in your arguing that you leave him out there for extensive periods of time. Whatever the stressor is that is causing the chewing, try to get him comfortable and relaxed around it. This may take some time, but relieving his anxiety will also reduce the tension in your life as well.
— more in part II of this article, posted tomorrow.
About The Author
David Beart is the owner of http://www.professorshouse.com. Our site covers pets, dog training, finances, family, cooking and other household issues.