Hey Adam, my little dog has been chewing on my journals. I get very upset and angry when she does that! Yet, once in a while she would get on my night shelf and surprise me with yet, another chewed journal!
Adam: Dogs repeat behaviors that are rewarded. The behavior that's being repeated in this case is chewing the journal.
But doesn't she get it how upsetting it to her mama? I get angry with her every time when I find my journal destroyed! I don't see how this can be rewarding to her.
Adam: Firstly, chewing is a stress relieving activity. So, her chewing your journal could very well be an outlet for her anxiety.
Second, if a giant angry man stormed into the space that you are in, and started screaming in a language that you can't understand, how could you know what he is screaming about? Wouldn't your first priority be your safety?
Hmmmm this is the first time that I am curious about my Chichi's motivation for chewing my journals. Hearing that she may be anxious and found an outlet to relieve her stress makes me see it from a different perspective.
Would you say that if I find a different way for her to release her stress, she may leave my journals alone?
Adam: Not always- but if you replace the journals with something that she likes more, it would help. Dogs are creatures of habit. She loves those journals. I am guessing that you put a lot of energy into them and she probably (ironically) is doing this to be closer to you.
Wow. I write in my journals a few times a day. And usually when I write, it's my time with myself, when my Chichi doesn't get attention.
Adam: Bingo! The good news is you know she can't help herself and you know how to safely store your journals. There is a way for her to understand that the journals are off limits, but that could take hundreds of training exercises in catching her when and only when she is in the act of chewing a journal(Or making them repulsive in any other sense). If she starts to see that chewing on those things is not rewarding, the behavior should stop.
I like how you said: "things" vs "journals". I assume you said it because for her a journal is a "thing" like any other thing. She doesn't know its significance to me except for that it takes my attention a few times a day. What is the best thing to do when I catch her chewing on my journal?
Adam: I like to think of how dogs naturally teach each other in the dog park setting. If a dog is displaying unwanted behavior to another dog, the other dog will remove itself from the situation. Generally, after being left alone, that dog will begin to wonder what it can do to get what it wants.
Back to your Chichi: I am guessing that she values attention over everything else. So when you are angry with her, it is technically rewarding, as she is getting attention.
Wow again. So I am rewarding her by being angry with her?
Adam: In a sense, it is very likely.
There is a long, drawn out way to teach her to avoid your journals.. But as dogs are constantly observing our needs and altering their habits for us; I like to do so as well in situations where it isn't too much of a cost for me(i would just keep them out of reach)
Also, I've never seen a tired dog chew a journal! if a dogs doesn't have enough of an outlet in nature, it will find one in your home=0)
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