You come home one day to find remnants of drywall all over your floors. There are dusty pieces everywhere, and the layers of drywall are exposed like a freshly cut tree trunk. When you look for the culprit, he’s hiding behind the couch, tail between his legs, and nose down. He knows he’s done wrong, you know he’s done wrong, but neither of you know why.
Normally, he’s a well-behaved dog, and you’re a good owner. You give him toys all the time. He chews through all of them quickly. You supply him with endless squeaky toys, ropes, sticks, anything the pet store will sell you, but he bites the wall instead. No matter how many distractions you provide or healthy solutions, he gnaws away at your egg crème colored walls. Perhaps your four-legged roommate is secretly an interior designer trying to get you to repaint the egg crème walls, but most likely, something else is going on.
The Root of the Behavior
You’ll probably need a vet or animal behaviorist visit to diagnose the true cause of the problem, as well as make sure he hasn’t ingested anything harmful. But a quick analysis of the behavior can be done at home. Think about what is happening in your pup’s life. Did he just lose a friend? Did he move from a shelter to your home? Was something new introduced into his day-to-day living? Did you go from staying at home to full-time work? Is he a generally anxious dog or unusual behavior?
One possibility is boredom. We’ve all been there. Nothing pleases us; no activity suggestion is good enough, the boredom is impossible to be cured. The same might go for your pup. He needs something to stimulate his mind and a way to use his energy. He enjoys chewing, and it feels good, so he chews the wall. It’s possible your dog experienced being in a cage for a long time or even tied up, and he might confuse his current situation with that one. He thinks chewing the wall is a way out. Have you counted all the four-legged friends in your house? Your dog might have better hearing than you, and he may be chasing mice or other critters in your walls. If you think this is the case, get a pest expert. While your dog has a good nose, the pest removal expert probably will handle it better and most likely not destroy your walls in the process.
Does your dog obsessively lick his paws, gnaw at his tail, get upset when you leave, or has demonstrated other anxiety behaviors? This wall biting might be a new behavior that is saying your pup has separation anxiety or general anxiety. While yelling is a natural reaction to misbehavior, it’s still attention, even if it’s negative. Your dog might feel he isn’t getting enough attention and wants it, even if it’s negative. This might happen if you’ve started leaving him home alone more often.
Eating non-food objects is an eating disorder called Pica. This disorder is possible for both humans and animals. Does your dog often eat sticks, rocks, paper, or fabric? If he does, his wall biting might just be Pica. To learn more about Pica, see your veterinary professional.
Encouraging the Behavior
Getting to the root of this behavior is important. Biting the wall should not be encouraged or ignored like it’s only a phase that will pass. This is a behavior that is not only unhealthy for your dog, but it will cost you a lot of money. He could ingest something harmful, and in addition to damaging the wall, he could get sick all over your house. This one behavior can easily add up a massive vet bill. And even if it’s a wall you were going to knock down eventually anyway, you want to stop your dog from being the contractor for the job.
As mentioned earlier, giving your dog attention could pose a problem. When you come home to this disastrous mess, reprimand your dog calmly by sending him to lay down in his bed. When his punishment is over, welcome him back into your good graces. If he’s new to your house or new to training, talk to a dog trainer to get some tips. You don’t want to give him that negative attention, but you shouldn’t let him think it’s acceptable behavior.
Consider all the possibilities mentioned for this behavior and monitor your dog closely if he has chewed the wall. If he starts acting like he is sick, take him to the vet just in case he did ingest something.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Taking your dog to a trainer or a vet is the best way to handle this situation. You only want the best for your best friend, and a trainer or vet is often it. While we know you love your dog and often are accused of spoiling him with toys and treats, we know that budgeting a visit to a vet or trainer is difficult and costly.
If your budget is tight, assess the possibilities mentioned above. You could consider staying home more often or hire a dog walker so he can interact with someone during the day. If you have the money to drop him off at doggy daycare, that would stimulate him and get rid of excess energy. Get him some interactive or durable chew toys and lay them throughout the house. Crating your dog could be a possibility, but consider his background first, especially if you’re not his first home. It might add more stress than relief and could cause more behavior problems. When in doubt, go to the vet.
You probably didn’t plan to remodel, but your dog may have just given you a reason to start. After you take care of his behavior and visit the vet, you can start knocking down that wall. Your pup will probably want a fancy space of his own, so make sure there is a big window where he can watch the squirrels chase each other outside.