Two dog beds, three cushions, one comforter, dozens of rolls of toilet paper, a paperback book and a pair of prescription swim goggles: Bella the Boxer has quite a resume when it comes to chewing.
“She started with toilet paper, and we thought it was relatively harmless,” says Bellas owner, Ellen Galvin, 44, of Portland, Ore. “We were less amused when we found the sofa cushions destroyed.”
To protect your house from your dog, trainer Gary Cassera, of Balanced Dogs in Marlton, N.J., offers two options. “You can use a crate or baby gate to contain your dog to a certain room or area of your home,” he says. “Or you can make sure your dog gets enough exercise.”
If you choose to use a crate, the general rule for young dogs is to crate them no more than one hour per each month of age. “This has to do with their ability to control their bladder and bowels,” Cassera says. “For older dogs, the most important factor is that they have already released physical and mental energy that would cause them to naturally want to sleep.”
Cassera says dogs need daily physical activity. “Take them out and walk, bike or rollerblade,” he says. “Or play search games inside the house. Get their energy level from 100 percent to about 20 percent before you leave them alone.”
When it comes to cats, destruction usually involves scratching. “Its natural for cats to scratch,” says veterinarian Colin Chaves, of Fort Bragg, Calif. “Get them a good scratching post.”
Cats also need exercise, which Chaves says often is overlooked. Cats exercise by playing or chasing treats.
“When animals sleep 12 hours at night, they can be bored during the day,” Cassera says. “They dont have email or Facebook. They have what we provide. If you dont exercise them or give them toys, they might chew your curtains.”
Galvin is seeing to it that curtains dont make Bellas list of destroyed household items. “We knew her behavior was our fault; she wasnt ready to be left home alone,” she says. “Now we crate her, take her with us on dog-friendly outings, or check her into dog day care.”