24 Sep 2021

Dog behaviourist on why some mischievous hounds are just bad to the bone

Have you ever looked at your furry friend and wondered why, of all things, must they bury your underwear? Or chew your couch? Or destroy the toilet paper? 

You're not alone.

The weird and (not always) wonderful quirks of canine behaviour are something dog trainer Samantha Eeles deals with every day. 

And after helping an influx of new dog owners through the pandemic, she said there could be many reasons behind a dog's quirks.

"A lot of people bought puppies through COVID but are now experiencing some difficulties," Ms Eeles, owner of Mackay K9 Training, said. 

"Because puppy preschools, that were once super common, got shut down over the past year, a lot of puppies missed out.

"Genetics plays such a huge part in behavioural issues, but the most common ones are digging, chewing and excessive barking.

"Labradors are insane for stealing socks and bringing them to their owners because originally what they were bred for is retrieving items for their owners."

"If you have a dog that likes to steal your socks or bras, some dogs will hide it like they're saving it for later.

"When you're looking at behaviours such as digging, and running around the back yard and that sort of thing … it can be genetics, it could be boredom, but sometimes they're looking for a cooler place to lay."

Leading cause of euthanasia

Some behavioural issues can be mere annoyances or even funny quirks. 

But Mackay veterinarian David Lemmon said issues like excessive barking and chewing were causing a huge problem in Australia.

"Probably the greatest cause of euthanasia in Australia today in the doggy population is behavioural disorders," Dr Lemmon said. 

"Some people just can't live with it [anymore]."

He said it had a lot to do with people choosing an inappropriate breed of dog for their lifestyle. 

"[Sometimes] families are the worst. They'll [buy] grandma a big German shepherd," he said.

"But grandma is 50 kilos and 85 and can't take it for a walk, so it starts chewing the furniture, getting anxious, biting."

Ms Eeles said there was hope for people frustrated by dog behaviour. 

"Instead of looking at [the trait] as undesirable, try and channel it by keeping your dog entertained through [toys] stuffed with food, hiding treats throughout the house," Ms Eeles said. 

"It breaks my heart and that was one of the main reasons we started our businesses.

"There is a way and depending on what issue you're dealing with, there are options out there." 

SOURCE: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-08-22/dog-behaviourist-explains-dog-mischief/100394336

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