Pets just wanna have fun! And sometimes fun = ruining your house when you’re gone for the day. All pet owners have been there: You say “bye” to your pal with paws, tell them to “be good” while you’re out, and then arrive home to a shredded couch and a chewed-up pair of shoes. So how do you stop your cat or dog from ruining the house?
First of all, resist the urge to yell at your pet! If they’re ruining the house, chances are they’re simply acting out of boredom or frustration — especially in the case of dogs.
“People come home to find some misdeed and they respond by punishing the dog,” Arden tells . “It’s really just an animal living in a moment, and in that moment the animal is saying, ‘I’m locked up in this apartment, bored, I’ve got a lot of mental and physical energy that I don’t know what to do with, so yeah, I’m going to act like a dog. Can you imagine if I said to you, ‘I have a 5-year-old and I’m going to leave them at home for five hours, it’s fine?’”
So how can dog owners keep their pups occupied for hours on end — aside from hiring a dog walker or investing in expensive doggy daycare?
1. Toys and food: Dogs don’t watch TV, play video games, or mindlessly scroll through Insta Stories once you leave the house. In other words, they’re bored. So give them something to do that tires them out! Meet your new best friend: food-stuffable toys.
“Instead of taking your dogs food and putting in a bowl, why not allow your dog to do what dogs instinctually want to do which is scavenge and hunt,” Arden suggests. “Take their normal meals, put them in three or four indestructible hollow toys, and place them in different areas around the house. Make it a game, and make it progressively more challenging.”
2. Restrict the space: Sure, some dogs want to burn off energy, but other personalities act out because they crave a more confined space — whether it be a crate, a smaller room, or even just a cordoned-off section of the house.
”There are animals that absolutely do better when you limit their options,” Arden says. “Sometimes too many options stress animals out because they don’t know what to do with themselves.”
Pro tip: Don’t bother with Bitter Apple. First of all, who wants to cover their belongings with sticky spray? No one. And as Arden puts it: “Dogs eat feces. So the average dog is going to be like, ‘Meh, it’s stinky but I’ll get through it.’”