Did my dog rearrange my house?

Jul 7, 2020

Did my dog rearrange my house?

by Dr. Debra F. Horwitz | Behavior Bits

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After a period of lengthy togetherness, some dogs may get anxious when left alone. If you are leaving your house to do short errands, such as getting food or medication, leave your dog a food-dispensing toy when you leave to hopefully occupy them and decrease their anxiety. When you come home, check to see if they used it and if any food is gone. We talked previously about a toy called the LickiMat™, which in one option to consider. However, in a later episode we will talk about other enrichment toys for you to look into.

Additionally, search the house for signs of “rearranging”. Dogs that are anxious may go and find family members’ shoes, clothes or other items and bring them to the exit door. Other dogs may grab pillows off the couch. This rearranging can be a sign of anxiety at being alone but a video will help you confirm. If your dog is simply happy while playing with these items and perhaps damaging them, perhaps your dog needs more toys to keep them occupied. Either way, if this happens do not scold your dog as they are just reacting to either their need for activity or to their anxiety. And since this happened while you were gone, the scolding is too late for the dog to realize why you are suddenly mad when they are happy to see you.

The best way to know what your dog is doing when you are gone is to set up a device to video your pet. This is also a good way to check for barking and other destructive behaviors.

Do not assume that these behaviors will just go away on their own. Usually they increase in intensity and frequency over time. Early intervention is helpful so contact your veterinarian for additional help.

About the Author

Dr. Debra F. Horwitz
  • Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
  • 2012 recipient of the Veterinarian of the Year
  • NAVC 2012 and NAVC 2014 Small Animal Speaker of the Year

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