Dear Labby 3 Tips for Dog Behavior Issues
We just adopted a young, energetic mixed breed male dog (we think part Lab, part Shepherd). Our vet says he appears to be between 3-4 years old. “Lenny’ is adorable but he is exhibiting some unwanted behaviors including digging and chewing on our furniture.
He has so much energy that we call him “Leaping Lenny”. We take him for a good 15 minute walk every day, rain or shine and we play fetch with him a LOT. Any advice?
Leaping Lenny’s Mom
First of all, congratulations on your new family member and thank you for adopting Lenny. We encourage people to consider adoption instead of purchasing because there are millions of dogs in need of homes. The U.S. Humane Society estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, of whom approximately 3-4 million are euthanized.
Regarding Lenny’s behavior, there are a few things that you can try that may help him adjust to his new home. Good luck and let us know how he does!
- Use exercise as a therapy. While it is great that you walk Lenny every day for 15 minutes, I suspect that it is not enough for him. Active breeds can stand much more intense exercise and are able to tolerate an hour or more of focused exercise each day. Fetch, while fun, isn’t really the exercise that Lenny needs. He needs more structured exercise to help drain some of his energy. Increasing Lenny’s exercise will help him feel ‘worked’ and he should feel less compelled to dig and chew. Furthermore, high intensity exercise releases chemicals in Lenny’s body that make him feel good- like a runner’s high. These feel good chemicals can help curb destructive behavior. Think of this as a natural form of medication! As we (and others) like to say: “a well exercised dog is a well behaved dog!”
- Dog training. We have found that working with knowledgeable trainers can help your dog adjust to their new environment. We are biased toward certified trainers so look for CPDT certifications when possible. Working with a trainer can help you understand how your behavior is influencing your dog’s behavior and that is often the starting point for a well behaved dog.
- Mental stimulation. Like people, dog’s need both physical stimulation (i.e., exercise) as well as mental stimulation. Most dog’s enjoy having a ‘job to do’, (particularly working breeds) and other mental challenges to keep them sharp and focused. We use dog games, special types of exercise drills, ‘find the food’, and other fun activities to fulfill our dog’s needs for mental stimulation.
We will turn it over to our readers too – does anyone else have advice for Lenny’s mom?