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Destructive behavior


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I have a rather small problem with my parents' pet kelpie. She is ~13 and has taken up a nasty habit of destroying things you normally wouldnt see a dog destroying. We have had dogs in our family, longer than i have been alive, yet never seen this happen.


Gizmo destroys mats. As in rugs. Just last night she destroyed her own trampoline bed and now sits in the hole on the concrete. ??


She can sit there for hours scratching and scratching mats to literally shred them. She is an outside dog on a rural property so she can go wherever she wants, whenever she wants and do anything she likes.


Any ideas why she is doing this?

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Usually dogs are destructive when they are bored. Is she getting enough direction and enough play time with her owners? Dogs are pack animals and love to be with their "pack" and they love to play and spend time. They also like direction from their "pack leader".

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Okay, '50 acres' isn't mental stimulation. She's a herding breed. She needs things to do, not 50 acres of land with nothing to do in it.


She needs toys to keep her challenged, to replace the hours of daily work she'd naturally, instinctively, be doing elsewhere.

Exactly. She is bored and she is telling you she is bored. Like children who do not get the mental and emotional stimulation they need, they will destroy things too in an effort to get attention. The dog needs things to do and play time with her pack or pack leader.

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It doesn't matter how much space the dog has, she probably knows that space really well and so it is no different than a small flat to her- it's still boring!


You need to give her more mental stimulation throughout the day.


It's is nothing to do with you needing to be her pack leader- that is an old and incredibly vague view of dog behaviour. In the study of animal behaviour, it has been shown that dogs 1) don't interact with us like with other dogs 2) don't form 'packs' in the scientific sense of the term (their behaviour compared to wolves is very different) and 3) in groups of dogs, there is no clear leader between dogs. Dog behaviour is too fluid and relationships are too dynamic to pin down one clear leadership position. Relationships change in different contexts and in the presence of different resources.


I would feed her in kong toys (glazed with peanut butter, frozen over night and tied to a solid base) so she can spend longer eating and figuring out how to get the food. Also, use some of her food for hand feeding as rewards in training. She's a Kelpie and, by all accounts, very trainable. Have some fun with her

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with most of what you have said drum, however I do believe that dogs recognize rough 'packs' (which is why my clinic runs puppy classes in groups of 5-6, the natural size of a typical 'pack') and form a rough hierarchy but yes the rigid dominance theory is quickly losing favor..


Mouse your dog is bored and you do need to enrich your dog's environment, some ideas are: bones and chewing devices like kongs, DAILY and if possible twice daily walks to different areas (off property) on an extendable 15m or so lead, socializing with other dogs (day plays with friends dogs, doggy daycare, spending the day in another friend's garden), hunting for food eg hiding or scattering meals around the same small area, encouraging digging in allowed areas, providing sturdy toys (divided into a few groups and rotated daily).. and considering another dog would help immesurably!!

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