Coming back to a house your dog has destroyed is devastating, infuriating, and maddening. So no wonder that many of you go onto Google and type “how can I stop my dog chewing and destroying.”
Luckily, you can get on top of this very difficult situation. Here are some tips on how.
Understand what’s going on
If you want to stop your dog from trashing your house, you have to understand why he's doing it. Let’s have a look at the two main types of chewing and destroying dogs get up to when you’re out.
1. “Just for kicks” destruction
Sometimes dogs destroy things because it’s fun.
Chewing, dissecting, ripping, shredding, and destroying are all things dogs naturally enjoy. These behaviors may seem abhorrent to us, but in the dog world, they are totally normal.
Destroying things seems perfectly natural to them. They are not trying to get back at you for going out. They were only having a party while you were gone.
There’s no malice. It’s just boredom.
2. Anxious home alone destroying
Anxiety causes the second type of destruction. Here the dog is most definitely not having fun. He’s in a blind panic. And his panic drives him to destruction.
As with the partying dog, he’s not doing it to get even. He’s doing it because he’s freaking out. He may feel better for it, or it may be he’s only trying to dig an escape hole to find you. But he’s not doing it because he’s mad at you for going out. He’s doing it because he’s petrified.
How you fix the destroying is going to depend on which of these two types it is. Which is why it’s essential you work out which it is.
But how do you do that? Let’s look at the signs that it’s more likely caused by anxiety than boredom.
You know it’s anxiety destruction when:
- It only happens when you’re out.
- Even if it happens when you’re home as well as when you’re out, the destruction he does while home alone is on another level.
- Your dog often destroys around windows, doors, or other points of exit.
- Your dog is damaging himself in the process.
- When you see it, you know this is more than a dog passing time.
- Your dog also barks too much while you’re gone, or you come home to pools of drool, wee, or excrement.
Any of these 6 signs may such it’s panic, not partying.
You don’t have to be able to check off all these signs. Even just one or two may indicate your dog is destroying due to anxiety.
So what can you do if it is anxious destroying?
When you search on Google hoping to find a way to stop the destruction, I’m pretty sure you’re looking for a way to stop it right now. But sadly, there is no quick fix.
You cannot stop an anxious dog from chewing/destroying until you stop the anxiety. You can’t train him not to do this.
The behavior is coming from an emotion. And to change the behavior, you need to change the emotion.
Sure you might be able to contain the damage, with an indestructible crate maybe. Unfortunately, though, these crates usually make your dog’s anxiety worse.
If they are indestructible, something usually has to give, and your dog’s teeth, nails, and mouth definitely aren’t indestructible.
To stop this situation, you have to get your dog under his anxiety threshold. The only way to do that right now, today, is to stop leaving him by getting him a sitter or taking him to daycare.
I know, that’s crazy! You can’t do that! But remember, the longer this goes on, the worse this whole situation is going to get.
So please, try. Even if you can leave him for one day, less a week next week, that’s a start.
Meanwhile, don’t fall for the lure of the indestructible crate. If you must leave your dog, then consider:
- Dog-proofing a room – that means making the room safe for him. Take out as much as you can that will be harmful to him to destroy. I know that means floors and walls are still fair game but do what you can to make it as safe as possible.
- Using confinement space. Like the above, getting your dog out of a crate and into a smaller, safer space using baby gates or an x-pen.
- Talk to your vet about short-term anxiety medication.
The chewing will not stop until the anxiety stops. If you can work out how to stop leaving him, you can halt the destruction today.
What does your dog get up to when you’re out? Share in the comments!