How Can I Stop my Dog from being Destructive?

One of the hazards of dog ownership is potential destruction to your home and belongings thanks to the curiosity of your pet. Shoes, table legs, upholstery, and even dry wall may not be safe when your dog is left alone. Tips for stopping this destructive behavior are listed below.

Determine the Root Cause

Separation Anxiety

Does your dog only destroy items around the house when you are away from home, in addition to escape attempts, inappropriate elimination, and excessive barking or howling? If so, your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety. The best way to solve this behavior is to work with a canine behavioral specialist in order to counter-condition and desensitize your pet.


Next, your dog may simply be suffering from boredom, particularly if it is an active breed such as a Siberian Husky or Beagle. Make sure your pet is receiving adequate mental and physical exercise. Dogs that are “too smart for their own good” often find ways to create their own excitement, much to the detriment of your household items. In addition to exercise, relieve boredom by providing plenty of mentally engaging toys, such as treat-filled KONGs and other interactive items.

Lack of Appropriate Chew Toys

No owner should expect a dog not to chew, as this is an evolutionarily ingrained behavior, one that relieves stress and cleans teeth. Make sure your dog has plenty of appropriate chew toys, such as nylabones or other safe objects. The next time you catch your dog chewing on an inappropriate item, interrupt him or her with a loud noise, then redirect to your pet to a toy that is appropriate and praise him or her profusely.

Improper Reinforcement

When your dog is a puppy, it can be cute for him or her to chew on household items, and may even make for a great photo opportunity. However, if you fail to disrupt your puppy from this behavior at an early age, you cannot expect it to suddenly understand the proper way to behave later in life. Consistent rules and boundaries are crucial when expecting your dog to have good house manners. If needing to retrain your dog, keep your pet in sight at all times so that you can disrupt it any time a household item is chewed inappropriately.

In addition, be vigilant of the items you allow your dog to play with. If your pet has a lot of plush toys and a preference for upholstery, it may be wise to only provide your pet with rubber items to chew on. Similarly, do not be surprised if your dog steals a nice shoe if you have provided him or her with an old shoe to play with.


Bitter Apple Spray

If your dog continues to chew on items that are not intended for him or her, purchase bitter apple spray from the pet store. Spray this non-toxic, bitter-tasting solution on the most commonly chewed items. The awful taste will deter your dog from chomping on that item in the future.