How to Combat Obsessive Behavior in Dogs

Dogs are amazing companions. They’re loyal, protective, silly, cuddly, smart, and loving, but sometimes our furry friends get stressed and that can lead to obsessive behavior. Stressed out dogs can damage their surroundings, inflict harm on themselves and be a danger to other pets and even their human family, so the sooner you can help your dog calm down the better.

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Destructive Behavior

Left to their own devices, dogs can cause plenty of damage to a home. Chewing through furniture, gnawing at doors, ripping up carpets, scratching the walls, and destroying shoes, clothing and bags are all ways that a lonely dog will seek to relieve his distress at being separated from his human family.

Shouting at your dog and punishing him when you get home, only adds to his stress levels and makes the problem worse.

Before you go out, make sure that your dog has enjoyed a good run around to burn off some energy.

When you’re out:

  • Leave soothing music playing.
  • Play a recording of your own voice (reading a book or magazine).
  • Put out worn clothing bearing your scent.
  • Leave him toys to play with, especially ones that you can put treats inside.

Long lasting chews will give your dog something to get his teeth into instead of taking out his frustrations on your furniture. Thick meaty bones and elk antlers are both good choices.

If you’re a vegan, bones might not be an option for you, but you can safely use elk antlers from certain suppliers because their animals aren’t harmed or exploited in any way. You can take a look here to find out how elk velvet antler is harvested.

Self Harming Behavior

Some dogs become obsessive lickers when they’re stressed or bored, and they lick over and over at the same spot on their body – usually on their paws and lower legs. The result of the licking is a hot spot or an acral lick granuloma. Your dog’s licking wears away the hair on the hot spot and then the skin, leaving exposed raw flesh that’s prone to infection. These spots can cover an inch or two or they can be much bigger.

Hot spots are the devil to deal with and require supreme vigilance on the part of dog owners. As soon as your dog starts to lick, you have to physically stop him. Distract him with food, a big old belly rub, or a game out in the yard.

When you can’t supervise him – at night, or when you leave the house – your dog will need to wear an Elizabethan collar or pair of leg sleeves to prevent licking.

Sedation is an Option

If you’re unable to get your dog’s destructive behavior under control, you can try natural sedatives to help calm your dog. Chamomile, valerian and oat straw supplements can all be used to gently relieve your dog’s stress and calm him down.

Getting control of your dog’s behavior takes understanding and persistence, but it can be done. If you can’t manage to deal with your dog on your own, get some help from a local dog trainer that has experience with obsessive behavior.