How to Stop Destructive Dog Behavior

destructive dog behavior

A Destructive Dog can be Frustrating.  Here are Some Tips on Stopping Destructive Dog Behavior

It’s pretty normal behavior for young puppies and young adult dogs to chew as a way to explore new surroundings and environments. With young puppies, it’s like a newborn baby that’s teething to relieve persistent pain caused by incoming adult teeth. Adult dogs chew as a way they keep their teeth clean and jaws strong.

As many dog owners find out the hard way, chewing can become destructive for dogs looking to fend off boredom or relieve anxiety and frustration. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety often chew when left alone and chewing often intensifies when they are left alone.

Many dog owners struggle with curbing destructive dog behavior with both puppies and adults. First, we must look at why the dog is being destructive in order to find an effective solution for resolving this behavior.  Recently, we worked with a Miniature Dachshund that had a rather unusual explanation for being a destructive dog.

Top Reasons for Destructive Dog Behavior

destructive dogBoredom – Boredom is the number one cause of many problem behaviors, particularly chewing and destructive behavior.  Many dogs will seek an outlet to relieve frustration and lack of attention which quickly leads to chewing and destructive behavior.  We often see dogs that are left unattended in a fenced back yard that will chew on wooden decks, gutters, siding in addition to digging and destroying landscaping. Dogs left in crates or kennels for too long will often begin to chew and destroy bedding, bowls and the kennel itself.

High Drive, or Hyperactivity – Drive and hyperactivity can cause destructive behavior because the dog is always full of energy, and is seeking an outlet for the energy.  Curbing destructive behavior with overactive dog requires two unique steps in order to be effective.  The first step is to provide the dog with enough physical exercise in order to make them sufficiently exhausted prior to leaving them alone. Secondly, you will need to provide adequate mental stimulation to challenge them mentally.  Hunting, games and other challenges can afford the stimulation that you need to keep your active dog from being destructive.

Separation Anxiety – Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety often panic when left alone and will bark, pace, eliminate in inappropriate places, destroy walls, doors, etc., in an attempt to get back to an owner or satisfy their frustration.  Separation anxiety is an issue that can be resolved, but severe cases will likely require the help and advice of a professional dog trainer.

destructive dog chewingAttention-Seeking Behavior – Dogs can often be destructive in an attempt to get the attention of their owner. Owners often reward this behavior, thereby reinforcing the dog’s attention seeking behavior.  Previously, I worked with a dog owner who was dealing with a Sheltie that was destroying toilet paper in the house.  The Sheltie would regularly grab the toilet paper from the roll and drag it all the way to the front door of the home.  After working with the owner I learned that a previous trainer had told her to call the dog to come and reward the dog anytime that the dog was chewing on the toilet paper.  The owner had, so the dog simply learned to grab the toilet paper and run to the front door, where the treat bowl was kept, to get his treat.

Phobias – Phobias of noises and strange people can often cause destructive behavior in the home. The dog might become afraid when hearing loud noises, such as thunder or fireworks and begin to destroy doors, walls, or objects, in order to attempt to hide.  Strange people coming to the door or walking by the house, while you are away, may also induce a fearful response and cause destructive behavior as well.

How to Stop Destructive Dog Behavior

Dog Proof Your Home –  Put away any items you feel are valuable or important to you that your dog will be able to reach; you will need to do this until you feel safe  that your dogs chewing habits are focused on the items that you have provided for them to chew on. Keep  shoes, socks and other clothing put away.  your dirty laundry left out in a hamper and books left out on your coffee table are perfect targets for your dogs chewing problems. Remember it is up to you to train your dog, they are like a child they must be taught right from wrong!

puppy chewing destructive dog behaviorProvide Chew Toys – Be sure your dog or puppy has plenty of his own chew toys, edible chew bones, rawhides, Nylabones, Kongs or other size appropriate toys.  Don’t give you dog a bunch of toys at once, give them just a few and keep the others stored away.  If you leave too many toys lying around on the floor at once, you dog or pup will quickly believe that anything on the floor is “fair game” to chew on and as you know, this is where shoes and other things are often left. Provide your dog with new toys occasionally so that they don’ get bored with the same old toy. Be sure to inspect toys regularly and throw away any damaged toys to make sure your dog or pup doesn’t ingest small parts that may come off.

Supervise Your Dog – Be sure to supervise your dog while you are at home to ensure that any inappropriate chewing or destructive behaviors do not go unnoticed.  While you are away, a crate can be a great place for you dog to stay and relax.

Train Your Dog -Remember your dog what is appropriate behavior and what is not, this is your responsibility. If you simply don’t have the time or patience for training your dog or puppy you should look into employing the help of a professional dog trainer.Professional dog training will cost, but can be far less expensive than the damage to your home and belongings.

At Highland Canine Training, LLC, we specialize in rehabilitating behavior problems and helping dog owners resolve problems with their dogs. If you need help or advice in treating dog behavior problems such as destructive dog behavior, please feel free to call us at 866.200.2207 or email us at We offer free in-home evaluations and offer affordable and effective solutions to all dog behavior problems. This article is the fifth in a series of information on Treating Dog Behavior Problems. Be sure to follow the links below to learn more about the topics in this series.

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