The Importance of Playtime & How to Prevent Dogs from Being Destructive
Does your dog have a favorite piece of furniture to gnaw on? Or have you ever come home to find your shoes have now become your dog’s favorite new chew toy? It may feel like your dog is trying to teach you a lesson (and maybe they are), but in truth, this probably means it’s time for you to train yourself on how to identify what’s irking them or divert the bad behavior.
There are a number of reasons why your dog has become a problem chewer, and much depends on their age and environment. Here are a few of the top reasons why dogs choose to chew on your valuables or otherwise cause a commotion:
- They’re teething
- To subdue hyperactivity
- Because they’re bored
- To relieve anxiety
- Out of frustration
- Lack of attention
- Lack of toys
- They’re not feeling well
As a pet parent, there are easy ways to help train your dog to chew and play in a way that keeps them out of trouble. Part of the secret is setting the stage for success. When your dog chooses to chew on items that are not made for that, they may be doing so to grasp your attention, especially if your dog has outgrown their puppy years. However, puppies and younger dogs, who are keen to “sniff out” their new surroundings, are likely to target anything that piques their interest, like table legs, leather goods and pillows.
If your dog is “acting out”, you can offer them more attention by scheduling some of the following actions:
- Set aside time for play
- Hire a pet sitter
- Crate train them
- Work from home
- Doggie day care
The Importance of Playtime
Playtime provides brain and body stimulation as well as socialization benefits for your dog, while also being a great outlet for releasing energy! As puppies, playtime allows your dog the space to get to know you, strengthen their grip, nourish they’re growing teeth, expel energy and learn about the limitations of their own power.
Dogs are among a limited number of animals who continue to play into adulthood. So even as they grow, their desire to play doesn’t diminish. Limiting their playtime, either by not providing stimulating toys or by not making time to play with them throughout the week, could instigate a slump in behavior. Doing things like playing “fetch” with your dog is a great way to fit in playtime with them!
Pacify & Prevent
Here are some training tools and toys that we recommend to keep your pet happy, playful and pacified:
Plush toys are a fan favorite for all dogs. Not only can they keep your dog occupied for hours, but plush toys are great to play fetch with. Many are developed with sensory features, including squeakers and crunchy, crinkle accents, which also keeps the attention of your dog. Plush toys are a smart inclusion in your pet’s toy box because they can take a beating and last much longer than edible toys. We offer a wide selection of environmentally-friendly plush pet toys, all designed with our mission at heart: “Snuggle. Cuddle. Play™”
In this case, “give a dog a bone” is excellent advice! Dogs love to chew and gnaw on all-natural bones. Not only does it help satisfy their desire to chew, but choosing the right bones also helps fight plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth while promoting a strong, healthy jaw. At Health Extension, we don’t recommend choosing rawhide varieties, as they often contain chemicals from the production process, and can also cause digestion issues. Instead, we offer a selection of all-natural antler chews, which provide a natural source of calcium, glucosamine, iron and potassium.
Natural chew toys and treats are another excellent addition to your pet’s playtime pantry. Sold in the form of bully sticks, our natural chew toys will occupy your pet for hours on end while helping promote tooth and gum health. These varieties are free from any leather, additives, hormones or unhealthy chemicals and are fully digestible, so you never have to worry about gastrointestinal blockages.
There are two games dogs love most: fetch and tug-o-war! You need to ensure you have a durable companion for this playtime favorite, and that’s why we have a wide selection of expertly engineered rope toys. Each is outfitted with uniquely designed rope, ball or pully mechanisms so you and your dog can enjoy hours of tugging time!
If your dog is especially attracted to a certain item or room in your home, you can actively try to prevent them from retargeting that area with our Pet Deterrent Spray. This non-toxic spray is formulated to keep dogs away from treated areas while also adding to the ambiance of your home. Our all-natural formulation includes sensory ingredients such as sassafras oil, cinnamon oil, citronella oil, eucalyptus oil, lemongrass oil, tea tree oil, cloverleaf oil, plant-based citrals, sage oil, fennel extracts, and ginger extracts.
One way to look at it is that dogs are trying (and often succeeding) to communicate with us. They’re telling us what they need or want, and if we can learn how to understand their gestures and behaviors, we can better care for them. It may be easier than you think – all it takes is a little knowledge about canine behavior and body language, some observation skills, and patience. So, the next time your dog starts chewing on your favorite pair of shoes, take a deep breath and try to figure out why they’re doing it. Is there something in their environment that’s causing them stress? Are they teething and looking for something to chew on? Once you know the answer, you can start to correct the behavior.