One of the oldest excuses students have given their teachers over the decades have been “my dog ate my homework”. Dogs do sometimes have destructive tendencies which is why even though uncommon this excuse is plausible.
Dogs engage in destructive behaviour for a number of reasons including anxiety, stress, frustration, teething and most commonly boredom. Keeping a dog happy and stress free is a lot of work for owners! And destructive behaviour can run the gambit of ripping apart a dog toy to chewing large holes in the dry wall.
Happily there’s hope for destructive behaviour! But before you can go about fixing it you need to know WHY your dog is destroying things. Separation anxiety and boredom can not be treated the same way.
How to assess the why:
- How old is your dog? Age can play a big factor in destructive behaviour. Puppies don’t understand why something is or is not a toy so they chew everything. This is normal puppy behaviour and they need to be kept in a safe space when you’re not around to supervise them. Puppy age range for this stage is commonly newborn to 6 months old however I don’t recommend leaving an adolescent dog (6 months-2 years) roaming free in the home either.
- Does your dog struggle when you leave? Barking, pacing, salivating, house soiling, etc. Well then you’re more likely looking at a case of separation anxiety and you should begin working with an experienced trainer immediately.
- Do you own an active breed or younger dog that isn’t necessarily being exercised and exposed to enough mental stimulation? Well this one is most likely boredom.
- If you’re unsure why your dog is destructive then it’s time to consult a professional.
Simple fixes for boredom include:
- Interactive Feeding
- Daily training sessions with your dog
- Daily exercise with your dog that isn’t high arousal based
- Participation in a dog sport class
- Scent work like Tracking
- Doggy playdates if your dog is social
Remember dogs aren’t destructive to ruin your life or out of spite. There’s always a reason and it’s important to analyze the situation from a canine not human point of view and take action to ensure your dog’s quality of life is good. Don’t leave a stressed out pet home, don’t leave a young dog unsupervised with important items and don’t let your pup come up with their own ideas on how to entertain themselves.