BY WARREN ECKSTEIN
Pets that go through the wastebasket, open drawers, and paw through your files need more than just stimulation. Their inquisitiveness can also do damage, but I must stress that this is strictly unintentional delinquency. Typically, the overly inquisitive pet isn’t destructive at all, but just very intelligent. He isn’t satisfied with run-of-the-mill toys, he learns quickly, and he demands novelty. This syndrome occurs more commonly in the pet who previously has had company during the day, one that has been encouraged to have an active mind and a lively personality but is now alone, either because both owners are working or the kids have gone off to college. The pet’s routine hasn’t changed yet, though, and he paces the house, looking for involvement with people or events.
I once knew a poodle whose owner didn’t believe in banks. The dog ate close to three thousand dollars she left in her bedroom drawer while she was at work. This very bright poodle, like other inquisitive but bored pets, already knew all of the basic commands backward and forward and needed some mind expansion. The solution to his problem was advanced education. Without it, he might have continued to direct his energy toward more destructive outlets.
An advanced program may involve learning a difficult trick, a new command, or a new exercise. Backyard hurdles and high jumps are wonderful for expending energy, and they offer a terrific challenge to any pet. A variety of cardboard boxes and paper brown paper bags might be just the thing to pique your cat’s interest.
There are many deterrents on the market that work well; even some of the methods I recommend on the radio show are great in terms of correcting the behavior. But remember deterrents and corrections are only a temporary solution. Any real improvements must come from your understanding of why he’s getting into things and from the application of an appropriate therapy that will present him with an alternative.