Did your sweet doggo develop a grudge against all the household items?
Do you come home to chewed up shoes?
Or ruined furniture?
The change is so drastic, that you wonder,
“What happened to my dog?”
Keep reading to discover:
- 3 exciting ways to exercise your dog.
- 7 reasons why your dog is being destructive.
- 10 proven tips to stop your dog from destructive behavior.
- A surprising new way to use toys to feed your dog.
- And much much more…
Why is my dog suddenly being destructive?
Your dog is suddenly being destructive because of boredom. They also do it because they’re anxious, scared, or have medical conditions. Other reasons include hunger, not enough exercise, or the need for attention.
7 reasons why your dog is suddenly being destructive
If your pooch has been dismantling the throw pillows while you weren’t looking then they’re bored.
Dogs with nothing to do will often find ways to entertain themselves.
“Hmm… What to do until my hooman gets home?”
There are 3 reasons why dogs get bored:
- Barren environments.
Dogs love a routine but they can also get bored if there’s not enough stimulation.
Take for example…
Boredom in training
Have you seen your dog respond less to training commands?
But if you switch up the reward, there’s renewed interest?
This is why positive reinforcement training uses low and high-value treats.
These are treats that your dog likes (low) and loves (high).
Trainers use low-value treats as a reward for something the dog has already learned.
While high-value treats are for learning new tricks or commands.
Having different kinds allows the trainer to keep the dog’s interest and keep them learning.
Anxiety is your dog’s response to something they’re scared of.
It also happens when your pooch knows that their fear is going to happen.
Knowing when your dog is anxious is important.
According to the AKC, here are the signs to look out for:
- Excessive barking.
- Destructive behavior.
- Repetitive or compulsive behaviors.
- Urinating or defecating in the house.
It’s also important to know what makes your dog anxious.
Acorn Animal Hospital tells us that there are 3 types of anxiety:
Jumping at loud sounds is normal. I do it all the time, especially if I don’t expect it.
But dogs with sound anxiety will see loud sounds as threatening.
They will start shaking or panting when there are noises such as:
- Car horns.
- Vacuum cleaners.
My friend had a dog named Princess who experienced anxiety during New Year’s Eve.
My friend adopted her from a family who couldn’t keep her anymore as they had lots of dogs.
The first time it happened, my friend left the dog alone to celebrate at a relative’s house.
When she got back in the morning, Princess had left about 3 puddles of pee in the house.
And had managed to climb up the stairs. Something she didn’t do before because she got scared of high places.
Every New Year’s Eve after that, Princess would start shaking when it got dark.
She no longer peed but would hide under the sofa or beg to go in her hooman’s room.
So my friend would wrap her in a blanket and hold her close during the night.
This happens when your dog gets super stressed when you’re not around.
Separation anxiety behavior looks like boredom but there are a few key differences.
Dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell recommends using a surveillance camera for monitoring.
The first 30 minutes of your absence is important.
If your dog does these, it’s a clear sign that your dog has separation anxiety:
- Excessive barking.
- Destroying household items like furniture.
But bored dogs will go to sleep for a while. Then start chewing or vocalizing when they wake up.
Puppies must have a positive experience when socializing with other people or animals.
This prevents anxiety in the grown-up dog.
According to Blue Cross UK, the socialization window happens when the pup is between 3 and 12 weeks old.
But if there’s no proper introduction to new experiences, the puppy may grow fearful or anxious.
Older dogs who didn’t have a lot of positive interactions are harder to socialize with. So go slow and steady with them.
Counter conditioning teaches dogs another way to respond to their fear. And desensitization involves gradual exposure to their trigger.
The techniques above will help your dog overcome his anxiety.
Note: It’s normal to feel stressed in new environments. But you can help your dog by giving them a positive introduction to it.
You might also be interested in: Top 10 reasons why dogs grab your arm
#3: Not enough exercise
This is an important activity for your dog’s health.
Sedentary dogs are at risk of obesity.
Because the dog’s overweight the condition can lead to:
- Liver disease.
- Insulin resistance.
- Cardiovascular disease.
But did you know that if your dog doesn’t have enough exercise, it also changes their behavior?
They get bored. And remember reason #1?
Bored dogs will find ways to entertain themselves.
So take your dog on daily walks. It will help you too.
“How will walks with my dog help me?”
Drake Barret, the dog parent of Brees, says that walking her has made his health better.
When Drake first started taking her on walks, he had trouble keeping up with the pup.
But as time went on, it became easier. Now he treats walkies as his workout.
In fact, research has determined just how much dogs can help us move.
The researchers did a study on 43 pairs of dog owners and non-dog owners.
They required the participants to have an activity tracker and a diary for 3 weeks.
The results showed that dog owners walked 22 minutes more than non-dog owners. And walked 2760 extra steps per day.
And according to the CDC, exercise time like this decreases:
- Blood pressure.
- Symptoms of PTSD.
- Feelings of loneliness.
- Cholesterol & triglyceride levels.
Further reading: My dog freaks out at night – 7 reasons
#4: Your doggo’s exploring
Dogs use most of their senses to explore their surroundings.
But they might damage things as they investigate as dogs like to paw at or chew stuff to see what’s inside.
This behavior is most common among puppies.
It’s part of their development stage where they learn about the world.
But between us dog parents…
Investigative behaviors are one of the main qualities of a narcotics dog.
Observe your pooch and see if he does the following:
- Nose in the air, sniffing.
- Head raised, ears erect.
- Nosing or sniffing urine or poop.
- Sniffing face, anal or genital regions of other dogs.
- Walking or running with a sniffing nose to the ground.
- Crawling forward, moving head from side to side, sniffing.
There are other things to consider, of course.
But you can encourage dogs with investigative behaviors using the following:
- Give treat-filled puzzle toys.
- Scatter treats around your lawn.
- Hide toys/treats around the house.
#5: They want attention
Sometimes our dogs only want our attention.
And they’ll take it in any way they can.
Even if it’s a scolding.
“Ooh, hooman speaks to me when I chew stuff.”
“I’ll do it again, so hooman talks to me.”
In this way, it becomes a learned behavior for your dog.
Even pushing your dog away will reinforce it.
And without proper correction, it will get worse.
Want to know how to stop attention-seeking behavior?
Keep reading till the end!
You might also like: 11 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Wraps His Paws Around You
#6: Your dog’s hungry
The destructive behavior might be an irregular feeding schedule.
A hungry dog can be desperate enough to go searching for food.
Dogs are natural foragers. But this study terms this behavior as scavenging.
This means that dogs eat food left behind by humans.
Or food manufactured from animal by-products.
Don’t let your dog follow their natural instinct to scavenge for food.
Keep a regular feeding schedule.
This will let your dog know when to eat.
“How do I know how much to feed my dog?”
VCA tells us that the general formula for average dogs is:
30 x weight in pound divided by 2.2 (or kg) + 70 = daily calorie needs
For example, a dog that weighs 62 pounds needs:
622.2 = 28.18
30 x 28.18 = 845.45
845.45 + 70 = 915.45 calories/day
Once you’ve determined the answer, look at your dog’s food bag.
You’ll see how many calories are inside 1 serving.
But, this formula is only a basis for the amount of food to give to your dog.
There are other factors you need to consider such as:
- Health conditions.
- Exercise frequency.
Consult with your vet on the ideal amount of food based on the factors above.
#7: Underlying medical conditions
Sometimes, destructive behaviors are dogs are a sign of serious health conditions.
We don’t always know how to understand doggy speak but we can look at how they act for clues.
The following conditions may be the reason for the destructive behavior:
According to PetMD, thyroid hormone imbalance can cause destructive behaviors in your dog.
The thyroid is an organ that produces the hormones in your dog’s body.
The whole body’s affected if something wrong happens to it.
Hormonal imbalances can manifest on your dog’s skin:
- Hair loss.
- Ear infections.
- Dull, dry coats.
- Skin infections.
- Darkened or thickened skin.
Your dog can also have anemia, high cholesterol, or gain weight.
Upper gastrointestinal irritation
This refers to inflammation of the stomach or intestines that your dog experiences.
According to the VCA, this happens because of:
- New food.
The 2 most common signs are vomiting and diarrhea.
Dogs will appear lethargic.
Dehydration can happen if the signs continue to happen for more than 24 hours.
This happens especially in puppies.
Their adult teeth have started to grow out.
And the process is itchy and painful for them.
They want relief so they chew your stuff.
The chewing usually ends when your puppy turns 6 months old.
In the meantime use durable chew toys to redirect their attention to the right objects.
This will help your dog from developing a preference for household items. Which is dangerous as discussed in the next part.
This is a serious health disorder where dogs eat non-food items.
These have no nutritional value.
It is a habit that they can develop because of the following:
- Compulsive disorder.
- Nutritional deficiencies.
Warning: Pica can result in poisoning and gastrointestinal obstructions in your dog. Consult your vet immediately if your pup shows a preference for eating non-food items.
Take note of the progression of the behavior.
Has it grown worse or less after you first noticed it?
What’s your pet’s activity level?
What and how often do you feed your dog?
Answering these questions will help your vet determine what caused it and the best way to treat it.
Reading recommendation: 13 reasons why your dog licks his paws at night
How do I stop my dog from being destructive? 10 proven tips
A well-exercised dog is a happy dog.
With regular activity, your dog releases feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphins.
This keeps them relaxed and content.
This makes them less likely to take it out on your furniture.
If your dog has a lot of energy, you can look into doing dog sports with them:
In this sport, owners will throw a toy into the water. The dogs will have to leap from the dock into the water to get it.
The dog with the highest or longest jump wins.
Dog lure coursing
If your dog likes to chase anything small, here’s a sport for them.
Dogs will have to chase and follow a white plastic bag tied to a mechanical line over a field. The bag will move around in unpredictable patterns.
The fast and accurate dogs win this game.
The participants have to conquer a whole course of 15-20 obstacles in the least amount of time.
This sport requires stamina and intelligence on the owner and the dog.
Most dog-handler teams will train together for 1 year before participating.
Note: Consider your dog’s health and exercise needs before deciding on a sport. Consult your vet before doing anything.
#2: Behavioral training
This type of training teaches your dog more than just following a verbal command. This helps correct certain issues in your dog like:
- Leash aggression.
- Excessive barking.
- Resource guarding.
- Destructive behaviors.
But before choosing behavioral training, take your dog to the vet for an examination. This will rule out any medical condition that might be the cause of the destructive behavior
“How do I choose a professional?”
According to the ASPCA, there are 4 types of dog professionals.
They tend to have varied training education and experience.
Their sources include:
- Other trainers.
- Animal shelter work.
- Seminars on dog behavior.
- Specialized training schools.
Certified professional dog trainers (CPDTs)
The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) certifies these trainers.
To become a CPDT, the trainer has to have:
- Recommendation letters.
- Passed a standardized test.
- Done the required working hours as a dog trainer.
They have to abide by an ethics code. Their training also doesn’t stop as they have to continue earning education credits.
Applied Animal Behaviorists
They went to school to specialize in animal behavior. They have earned degrees or even Ph.Ds.
Applied animal behaviorists are experts in:
- The normal behavior of your dog.
- Behavior modification techniques.
- Teaching owners how to understand their dogs.
They are veterinarians who had more education to specialize in animal behavior.
Veterinary behaviorists have to complete a residency term and pass a qualifying exam.
They can also diagnose medical conditions that cause your dog’s destructive behavior.
Knowing the different dog professionals will help you make the right choice.
But remember these:
- Choose a professional who has good qualifications. You can ask about their credentials when you talk to them.
- Having specialized academic training means they will charge. But they have more expertise than others.
- Ask yourself, “How serious is my dog’s problem?” “Is my dog causing harm to other people and myself?”.
#3: Plenty of enrichment toys
Enrichment toys provide mental and physical stimulation for your doggo.
It makes them use their problem-solving skills. And it satisfies the need to chew or lick stuff.
But remember to get a variety of enrichment toys for your doggo.
You can use them for training, rewards, and some quiet time to yourself.
There are 4 kinds of dog toys that you can use:
- Plush toys.
- Chew toys.
- Dental toys.
- Interactive toys.
Watch this video for in-depth ideas on how they can help improve your pooch’s behavior:
#4: Keep a strict feeding schedule
Let your doggo know when they should eat.
To do that, stick to a regular feeding schedule.
And DON’T leave food out for your dog.
That is free-feeding and it’s dangerous for them.
It increases the risk of obesity because your dog always has access to food.
With free-feeding insect, scavengers can go to the free-for-all feast in your dog’s bowl.
So if your dog doesn’t finish their food at the appointed time, take it away.
You can also use toys to give them their meals.
Take, for example, a Kong toy.
Step 1: Measure out your dog’s daily food ratio.
Step 2: Take out ⅓ of the dog food and soak in enough water or broth to cover it.
Step 3: Once the dog food is soft, plug the small hole in a Kong toy with some peanut butter or cheese and put in the dog food.
You can also cover with cling wrap to prevent the liquid from trickling out.
Step 4: Freeze the stuffed Kong for 4-6 hours or overnight.
Step 5: Take it out at your dog’s feeding time and run it under the tap for about 2 minutes.
Step 6: Put some peanut butter or something that your dog likes on the big hole of the toy. This will entice them to lick. This is optional as most dogs will still try to get the kibble out.
Step 7: Give the Kong to your dog in their crate or in their “safe space”.
You can stuff the other ⅔ of the kibble in other Kongs and give it to your dog at the appropriate times of the day.
Or you can give it using their food bowl.
This will help dogs who don’t like to be alone or those with anxiety.
The chewing calms down your dog by releasing endorphins.
Now you can go out the door without your dog crying their head off.
#5: Redirect their attention
Redirection teaches your dog to give their energy to the appropriate objects
And not your furniture legs.
Here’s how to teach it:
Step 1: It’s best to do this technique with small puppies. Once your dog starts to chew, say a phrase that indicates negative behavior like “Uh-oh”.
Step 2: Remove the item from your dog’s mouth and insert an age-appropriate chew toy.
Step 3: Give enthusiastic praise to your dog.
Warning: Be careful. Some dogs may have a problem with resource guarding and snap at you if you take toys out of their mouths.
Talk to a certified animal behaviorist if your dog does this.
They will recommend effective techniques to correct resource guarding.
#6: Anti-anxiety medications
If your dog has anxiety, medications will help them calm down.
Once their stress has lowered they’ll respond more to your direction.
Rather than panicking at the sight of their trigger.
But remember these are not quick fixes. You will still need to provide behavioral training.
Your vet will determine if meds are the best course of action for your dog.
According to PetMD these are some that they use:
|Alprazolam (Xanax).||Moderate to severe situational anxiety.|
|Amitriptyline.||Separation anxiety or generalized anxious tendencies.|
|Clomipramine (Clomicalm).||Separation and situational anxiety.|
|Dexmedetomidine (Sileo).||Situational anxiety (noise phobias and aversions).|
#7: Dog-proof your house
Prevent your dog from doing destructive behaviors by making it difficult for them to do so.
Pair these with redirection training in tip #5.
- Leave only durable chew toys for your dog.
- Give them toys that are different from household stuff.
- Don’t leave items that dogs can chew or get in such as trash cans.
- Keep your pooch in their crate or in a gated area when they’re unsupervised.
And remember that chewing is normal behavior for your pup.
Be patient with them and provide the correct outlets for their energy.
#8: Schedule attention time
Sometimes dogs chew things because they know that it gets your attention.
And for them any attention is good even if it’s negative.
So schedule positive attention time for your dog.
You can do the following things:
- Go on walks.
- Learn new tricks.
- Let them eat their favorite food.
#9: Use chewing deterrents
These deterrents come in spray form. They don’t taste good which keeps your dog from chewing.
According to the ASPCA, introduce your dog to deterrents by letting them taste some on a cotton ball.
This allows them to learn that it isn’t good and items with that smell will not taste good, too.
Here are some that you can buy:
- EverJoice Dog Not Here Spray.
- Inscape Data Pets Deterrent Spray.
- Grannick’s Bitter Apple Liquid Chewing Deterrent.
#10: Supervise your pup
Do this especially if your dog’s still learning what things are appropriate for chewing.
Keep them near you by using a crate or a leash so they won’t wander around the house.
And of course, give them a chew toy to help spend their excess energy.