You come home and there is drywall and dust all over your living room and a gaping hole in the wall. The Victorian molding you love is destroyed. You have been gone all day and the only one home was your dog. You call him over and he comes out of hiding, tail between his legs, head down. You question him for answers and channel your inner Scooby Doo detective. “Who did this? How did it get this way? I need your pawprints, Buster!” But Buster just stares at you. You’re not sure why he chomped and dug his way through your wall, and neither is he.
The Root of the Behavior
Buster might be chomping at the wall for a few reasons. He could be anxious, bored, hear other critters roaming in the walls, looking for attention, or have pica, an eating disorder. He might be an anxious pup, and destroying your wall is one way for him to relieve that anxious energy. Does Buster tend to be a jumpy dog, lick his paws obsessively, or whine when you leave the house or the room? Chewing is a great stress reliever for dogs so he might choose the wall to chomp at. Scratching is also a sign that your dog is stressed. A bored dog might have a routine where he wakes up when you do, has a quick walk before you leave for work, and patiently waits until you get home at night. You can only muster the energy for one more quick walk and pouring the food into his bowl. Today’s demands are tough on those of us who have to bring home the bacon, so it’s no wonder making time for everything you need is stretching you thin. However, the one who steals the bacon off your plate might be bored from a lack of activity and interaction.
A dog’s hearing and sense of smell are exceptional. A dog’s hearing range is twice as wide as a human’s and their nose can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans. If your dog is scratching at your walls or chewing to get through, there might be a mouse or other critter camped out in there. The chances of every owner having a calm reaction to their dog chewing through the walls are not likely. When you come home and give your dog a reaction of yelling, punishing, or sending him to bed, it is still attention, even if it is negative. Your dog might be craving your attention and think this is one way to get it. Pica is another possibility. If your dog is just chewing, but not scratching at the wall and eating the debris, he might have an eating disorder called pica. Dogs with pica ingest inedible objects like drywall, bark, sticks, rocks, or fabric. Was there a lot of debris leftover from your dog’s construction project? If not, you need to keep a close eye on your pup to see if he is indulging in anything else.
Encouraging the Behavior
Making holes in the wall is not good, not only for your design but for your dog’s health. If he’s gnawed through a wall, monitor him closely for odd behavior. It’s possible he has ingested something, he most likely did if he has pica. You want to make sure whatever has been ingested doesn’t hurt him. Some odd behavior to look for might be straining when he has bowel movements, lethargy, disinterest in activities, or refusal to eat or drink. If you are unsure, take him to the vet immediately. The vet can determine how to handle the situation.
You should definitely find out the reason for your dog tearing down the walls. Review the possibilities listed above, and if you can, adjust his lifestyle. If he is anxious, take him to the vet to find out how to make him feel calmer. If you are a busy person and you think he is bored, try to enroll him in doggy daycare a few times a week or hire a dog walker for when you are at work. And now that your dog has opened up the wall, look inside with a flashlight and see if there are rodent droppings or other signs of life. If you suspect Buster is craving attention from you, extend his walks or playtime so you two can bond.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If you’ve analyzed the situation through and through and made adjustments but he is still making holes in the wall, go to the vet. There might be something medically wrong or something you didn’t consider before. You can also get your dog durable toys so when he is alone, he can chew them until his heart is content. Always remember not to yell at your dog, rather be firm without raising your voice. Yelling is never good for your dog or you and it is attention, even if negative. Punish him appropriately by saying “Go lay down!” for example, and when his punishment is over, welcome him warmly. Yes, he destroyed your wall, but we all make mistakes. Consider it a chance to redesign your décor.
Your Scooby Doo detective work might help solve the case for this one. Watch for signs of discomfort after a hole in the wall appears and take him to the vet if you are concerned. Make sure he is emotionally well taken care of and you give him plenty of love and belly rubs when he is a good dog.