Is Your Dog Destructive?

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Introduction

Doggy destruction is an issue that leads to extra expense as your precious pooch decides your new sofa looks good enough to eat. Every time you leave the house, a feeling a dread walks with you as the rescue pup you brought home is eying up the fluffy rug on the living room floor.

Dogs have to get their frustrations out somehow and if there are psychological hangovers from an abusive past, its possible your woofer is venting their emotional stress on your furniture and décor. There are select reasons why a good dog becomes a home wrecker and can’t stop munching everything in sight. Dogs can be destructive. Read on to find out why.

Signs a Puppy Can be Destructive

The first sign your dog is a perpetual chewer is noticing your slippers are in bits and the wooden legs of your furniture look like the termites have moved in.

If your new intern is a cute puppy, they’ll feel the need to chew as their baby teeth come out between 14 and 30 weeks. Purina tells us puppies losing their junior teeth may chew more, so rubber and rawhide toys are a great resource.

Puppies seem to have chewing on the brain as they navigate your home finding plenty of things to gnaw at. It’s like a smorgasbord of fun as your Labrador pup gets busy terrorizing the toys they’ve been given - and their pet-moms expensive new shoes. There’s no stop button in this puppy brain as they re-design the coffee table legs and chew on the wicker baskets you keep for storage.

Once their adult teeth come through, your little Lab should be over their chewing obsession - but we warned. The Nest tells us some breeds are destined to be ardent chewers for the course of their life. Golden retrievers, Beagles, Jack Russell terriers, and Australian shepherds are on the wanted list for home décor destruction - as these pooches have hunting and herding in their veins.

Coming back to see your apartment trashed by a chew-mad Beagle is a heart-stopping sight. While you were away they decided to hunt for snow-hares and ripped up your throw pillows and the black and white, fluffy rug. Perhaps they thought it was a rabbit and their genetics went crazy trying to catch it. Some breeds need plenty of inspiration, exercise, and training to keep their paws on the straight and narrow.

You can imagine their tail wagging like mad as they ran from room to room, seeking out anything that looked edible or resembled a gopher. Your bed was on their hit list as the sheets looked totally chewable. Panting and drooling, your Beagle pup had the best of times, barking and tearing the pillows apart. You'd be shocked to know they sky-dived off the bed in pursuit of the toys you left them to play with. When you got home, they went into schmooze mode, play bowing and raising their Beagle puppy paw.

They are still a pup so it would have been better to put things away that might tempt them. Leaving them contained in one room with their bed, water and plenty of toys in an open door crate, will keep them out of trouble and harm. Puppies can chew through anything and that includes electrical wires. Make sure toys and treats cannot be swallowed plus keep all chemical bottles well out of reach. It’s easy to throw one of dads slippers down for your pup to play with but this encourages bad habits. Stick to toys that have no resemblance to fluffy throw pillows or designer shoes.

Junior dogs can get bored and may have an issue with separation anxiety, possibly from the way they have been reared. They could whine, howl and have little accidents plus cause ongoing issues with neighbors.

Body Language

Signs a dog is feeling destructive are:
  • Paw raised
  • Drooling
  • Wag tail
  • Howling
  • Panting
  • Play bowing
  • Whining
  • Digging
  • Barking

Other Signs

More signs your puppy can't stop chewing include:
  • Chewing shoes, furniture and walls
  • Teething
  • Puppy separation anxiety
  • Boredom

History of Why Dogs Love Chewing

If we were to ask why dogs love chewing, we’d have to jump in our time travel machine and have a conversation with ancient mutts. The BBC tells us that around 8 million years ago, the super-great grandparents of dogs became pack animals so they could go after the larger and more desirable prey. Their jaws and teeth became strong enough to devour these bigger beasts. They basically ate more than 70% meat, giving them the title of hyper-carnivores.

It’s thought this is why dogs like nothing better than to chew on a dinosaur-style bone as a memory of the days their ancestor’s hunted big game. Dogs may have been domesticated and now with squishy-faced breeds like the Pug or Japanese Chin, look less likely to be able to hunt big prey with their smaller jaws and teeth.

Human intervention forced evolution to take a step sideways as breeders looked to create their version of the perfect pooch. Some things remain the same, like a mutt's hankering to chew. Perhaps their pet-mom's home is actually a virtual mammoth, from prehistoric times when wolves had the equipment to take on the big guys out in the field. Our woofers may have more cuteness than their ancient relatives but the desire to wrap their molars around anything resembling a bone has held true to this day.

The behavioral instincts of a wolf could still be lurking within your pet Poodle when you decide to leave them on their own. Wolves evolved into a pack society, millions of years past and dogs love being part of a human clan. When you make your Poodle a lone wolf by shutting the front door, a pooch might feel bewildered and left out in the cold causing them to react in a destructive way. We call it separation anxiety but an ancient wolf might beg to differ and label it being lonely without their pack. It’s tricky for a dog that still has DNA ties to the wolf to understand why people leave their pack member home alone.

The Science Behind Destructive Dogs

Since domestication, dogs have been living among humans and taking in their peculiar ways. Their genes have seen some changes and now our psychological pooches can become compulsive and obsessive. Seems like they got a bum deal hanging with our neuroses, acquiring fears from poor breeding systems such as in puppy mills - plus growing up in homes with abuse and dysfunctional thinking. It's no wonder some folks believe we should have left dogs in the wild, as they are medicated with doggy Prozac to help them cope with human society.

If a child starts acting out and chucking things around the home, they are deemed in need of counseling, but when a master Mastiff gets edgy with the towels in the bathroom, they could be at the shelter by the end of the day.

Pet Chatz tells us dogs get destructive when they are under-stimulated and bored. This happens so often when owners leave them for long periods of time while they are at work. The pooch is not exercised enough and starts destroying everything in its path.

Training a Destructive Dog

Rescue dogs that have experienced mankind’s darker side can be prone to destructive behavior. With no previous direction, they struggle to function in a human world. These unappreciated mutts can come into your home and misbehave, not understanding boundaries or house rules.

If a dog won’t stop chewing for whatever reason, Victoria Stilwell, a dog trainer appreciated for her positive training approach, suggests setting up baby gates to create a puppy-proof area where your fur-baby cannot cause any damage. Then, add plenty of interactive toys to play with and make sure the space is close to the hub of family activity. Dogs need exercise and mental incentives, so think of fun things to do with your pooch that takes them away from their destructive behavior.

If separation anxiety is the reason your puppy or adult dog is creating a battlefield in your apartment, you have a tough issue on your hands. Some dog owners regard this as bad behavior without realizing there is an anxiety disorder at play. Puppies look perfect with their fluffy, floppy-eared persona and adorable pup-baby sounds. The truth is their existence before you promised to love them forever may have been a place of fear and anxiety.

Greedy breeders who see dogs as a commodity have no time for words like socialization or due care. Your new pet-kid may be a traumatized ball of fluff ready to kick-off with acts of destruction the minute you leave them at home. Puppies are sure to whine after leaving their doggy-mom but if it keeps carrying on, you know there’s a lot more to this pup’s history than you've been told.

The 21st-century designer dog is a product of back-street breeding where two pedigrees are mated to create a novel pooch, appealing to those who can’t afford a well-bred woofer. Ironically, some of these pure-blood mixes have a higher price tag attached than a pedigree, as it has become increasingly fashionable to own a Schnoodle or Pugle. You could liken this craze to the breeding mania that took place during the domestication of our dogs

Mankind desired the ultimate dog in each breed and now they to want to flood the woofer, gene pool with dogs made to order. Doggy destruction could be inevitable as the mayhem of mixing breeds continues.

If your puppy thinks Armageddon is here and your home is their personal war-zone, do not use punishment methods like hitting or scolding as it will make matters worse. 

Teaching your pup it’s not okay to destroy their pet-mom's robe she left hanging on the bedroom chair should be done with positive reinforcement - not harsh discipline. If your youthful dog chews on shoes, offer them a chew bone or toy instead. Praise your pup for chewing on their bone.

Teach your dog to “drop it” or “leave it” when they sneakily steal one of your Winter boots and re-direct them to a bone or toy. Once again, dish out the praise. It’s important to let them know they are on the right track. Stinky leather and soft chewy slippers are so tempting as they also smell of you.

If your mutt can’t resist the carpet, there are chewing deterrents available that can be sprayed on things they want to demolish. Cuteness suggests a home-made brew like lemon or lime juice that you can put in a spray bottle. It won’t hurt your dog and hopefully, the bitter taste will keep them off the carpet.

When your pup is roaming the house, make sure you are able to supervise. Whenever they head for the sofa legs, gently re-direct them to a chew bone they like. Some dogs both young and old are chewing mad, so constant training and encouragement will eventually stop their destructive behavior.

In regard to separation anxiety, it pays to talk to your vet and work with a trainer who has experience with dogs that take their stress out on your home.

Safety Tips for Puppies Who Love to Chew:

  • Create a safe zone using a room or baby gates to cordon off an area.
  • Supervise your puppy when they are roaming freely.
  • Puppy-proof your home.
  • Use deterrent sprays on items they can't resist chewing.
  • Never hit a puppy.
  • Put away favorite chewing items like shoes.
  • Teach them to chew bones or toys instead of home items.
  • If your pup has separation anxiety talk to your vet and an expert dog trainer.

We Want to Hear About Your Destructive Dog!