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Ask the experts

Dogs are simple


Dogs are simple. They live in the moment. If it feels good, do it. If it tastes good, eat it. Many dog owners put too much emotion behind their dog's behavior.

Equating the dog's behavior with dominance, spitefulness and other human emotions is being misinformed of correct canine behavior.

If it feels good …

When dogs are anxious or have pent-up energy it feels good for them to chew on the carpet, scratch at the walls or to do other destructive behavior.

When anxious, it is common for them to make themselves feel better by urinating or defecating makes them feel physically more comfortable.

They are not getting revenge for being left alone at home when they chew up the rug or urinate on the floor. They were anxious about being home alone and they did what comes naturally for them.

They live in the moment. If you come home and punish him by yelling or spanking him for the mess, he will not associate his destructive behavior that occurred hours or even minutes before you got home. He will connect your return home with the punishment. This will make him more anxious the next time he is home alone, unsure if your arrival home will result in a loving embrace or erratic yelling or worse.

If it tastes good ...

If you leave food within reach, when unsupervised most dogs will take the opportunity to enjoy the tasty snack. They do not know it's wrong to take food from the countertop. They are opportunistic.

If given the chance to eat from the trash or take food off the table, do it!

Sure, their body language can make them appear guilty upon your arrival home, but not because of what they've done in your absence, but because of your history of being upset with them!

They hear your voice tone and observe your body posture and know you are unhappy and possibly dangerous. They then avoid your eye contact and slink away with that shamefaced look of guilt for doing something bad or wrong. Leaving you to believe they know why you are scolding them. In reality all they know is, you may be dangerous!

Dogs are simple. They do not carry grudges or seek revenge on you when you leave them home alone. They will take that opportunity to eat things left within reach, chew on things to relive tension or anxiety or just because it's fun.

If you are continually coming home and finding your dog has gotten into something. Scolding him after the fact will not stop him the next time he has the opportunity.

Use management to keep him safe. Put the trash in a cabinet, a baby gate in the kitchen doorway and keep food out of reach. Many dogs that habitually get into things end up in the hospital with an obstruction or sick from something eaten. Don't let this happen to your dog!

Tip of the week: Increasing your dog's daily exercise can help reduce destructive behavior. Daily walks are a must for an energetic dog! Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the lead trainers are graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.