You need to stimulate your dog’s mind and body on a daily basis. Bored dogs tend to get into trouble. You can decrease dog behavioral problems by following these simple techniques.
This winter has been brutal for many American across the United States. Oklahoma has had its fair share of ice and snow this year. Along with bad weather comes school and business closing and cabin fever! I don’t know about you, but my dogs suffer from cabin fever also.
These easy tips will help decrease dog behavioral problems through environmental enrichment. I wish I would have known some of this information before Dharma chewed up three leather couches!
How to decrease dog behavioral problems:
- Exercise: I have always said a tired dog is a good dog. Not only is exercise important to keeping your dog healthy but it can help decrease dog behavioral problems especially in puppies and young, highly energetic dogs. However, dogs with anxiety issues must engage in high-intensity endurance running (moderate pace for 3-5 miles) to benefit from exercise.
- Social interaction: Dogs are pack animals and were bred to interact with their pack, which includes their human counterparts. You can decrease dog behavioral problems by providing some type of social interaction on a regular basis. I have a multi-dog household, so my dogs are constantly interacting with each other. If you have a single dog household set up a playdate with a friend or family member’s dog. Dog parks are also a good outlet for social interaction. My youngest Weimaraner, Dharma, also enjoys playing and interacting with the clinic cat so interaction with other species can also be beneficial
- Visual and hearing: I leave the television on for my dogs when we are gone. In fact, there is a new television network just for dogs. In the clinic, we have a radio playing in the boarding area. I find that classical music soothes the savage beast. Allowing your dog to see outside through a window or door is another good visual stimulus. However, I would not recommend this on dogs that reactive to seeing people or other animals as this can lead to more bad behavior, especially excessive barking.
- Smell: Hide and seek with food treats or toys is an excellent way to keep dogs busy. Toys can be enhanced with different scents by placing them in the dirty clothes basket or spraying them with animal scents or essential oils. Chamomile and lavender help to calm dogs and peppermint and rosemary can stimulate them.
- Oral: Food toys! I highly recommend dual purpose toys that release tasty food treats when the dog interacts with them. For my dogs, I stuff sterilized beef bones with canned food and freeze them to keep them engaged for a longer time frame. Kong, Magic Mushroom, and Everlasting Treat Ball are a few items I sell in the retail portion of my clinic.
Dogs get acclimated to olds toys and will show a disinterest in them so it’s important to provide new, novel toys. In fact, they are attracted to new toys. It’s important to rotate their toys daily and even vary the color and scent of the item. To help maintain novelty, I recommend removing toys and reintroducing them every 5 days. You should provide 3 items/dog/day. I’ve got to go shopping for some more toys.
By following these simple environmental enrichments you can decrease behavioral problems in your unruly dog!