Help! My dog destroys everything, shoes, cables, telephone, felt-tip pens, carpeting or waste bin – everything goes wrong with some dogs. Within a short time, the wild four-legged friends can turn the house including furniture upside down. But why do some dogs destroy everything and how can you unlearn this behavior?
The dog owner is shocked the first time he comes home and the living room looks like a battlefield. When the anger has subsided and the room has been cleaned up again, questions arise: Was this a one-time thing? What do I do if something like this happens again? After such an event, you will not leave the house with peace of mind. If your dog breaks valuables or has to go to the vet because he swallowed something hard, all dog owners know that they have to intervene. But what can you do about it?
My dog destroys everything, first aid measures
Imagine coming home after a tiring appointment, opening the front door and seeing the toilet paper lying around in the hallway, the favorite chair bitten and the contents of the waste bin lying on the expensive carpet. It’s not easy to keep calm and not get out of your mind. That is very understandable. But you will soon notice that there is no point in yelling at the dog or throwing another vase against the wall yourself. That is not a solution and that will only make the situation worse.
It may not be easy and sounds a bit bland, but still: close your eyes, count to ten and take a deep breath. You will notice that you become calmer and that you have better control of your anger. It is better to take the dog for a walk before going to work and cleaning up the rubbish, cleaning the carpet and re-rolling the toilet paper. The walk makes you relax. The dog, who may have gone a little crazy, will also relax. In the fresh air, you can mentally prepare for the chaos. You can calmly think about what steps you can take to improve the situation.back to menu ↑
Can I make my home “dog-safe”?
You can try to make the house “dog-safe” by cleaning up all valuable or dangerous items or smearing them with foul-tasting liquids that will stop your dog from chewing them. But these measures will only help for a while. Also so-called “anonymous punishments” that are suggested on forums as a solution only make the situation worse. Plus, it only works for a while. So do not use “spray equipment” that spray the dog in the face as soon as it comes close to an object. Also, do not use cans that fall on the floor and startle the dog as soon as it touches an object.
Nevertheless, it is better if you do not leave valuables that can easily break lying around when you leave the house for the first time. Clean up your shoes, don’t leave dirty laundry lying around and hide the telephone cables behind the cupboard. This way you can limit the damage that your dog could cause during your absence.back to menu ↑
Investigate the causes
The problem with these “first-aid measures” is that they only treat the symptoms, but do not identify the causes of the behavior. A permanent solution can only be found if you search for the causes in a targeted manner. It is certain that a dog does not destroy everything because he enjoys it. He’s not doing it to tease you either. Behind this misbehavior are psychological or physical problems that put a heavy burden on your dog.back to menu ↑
When will my dog destroy everything?
First of all, you have to ask yourself in which situations the dog destroys everything. When does he have the urge to destroy things? Only when you’re absent? Does he start destroying everything as soon as you leave the house or only after you have been away from home for a longer period of time? To find out, you can, for example, hang a small camera that films the dog during your absence in the living room.
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Destroying out of boredom or by a lack of movement
If your dog only starts destroying everything after a while, he is probably doing it purely out of boredom. Boredom is the number one cause of destroying dogs. Dogs that are not challenged enough, that have too little exercise or too little to do tend to look for “tasks” on their own. They try to satisfy their curiosity by pulling out cables, examining the garbage, or biting pillows. This way they can lose their energy.back to menu ↑
Take care of physical and mental challenges
Whether it’s a sheepdog or a small lap dog, every dog likes to exercise and wants to be mentally challenged. The extent to which the dog likes to be busy depends on the breed, age, and gender. But no dog is made to lie at home all day waiting for its owner. If you have found that your four-legged friend is biting objects out of boredom, you should make sure that your dog has more to do. The dog needs more variety in everyday life. A short walk around the block is certainly not enough. Take the dog for outings in nature, let him walk along with the bike, go jogging with him or let him swim in a lake. You know your dog best and will know what he enjoys the most.
Dog sport for four-legged friends who are bored
In addition to physical exercise, dogs also need a mental challenge. Intelligence toys, quest games, fetching or teaching little tricks are good ways to challenge your dog. He also loses his energy. It is also advisable to visit a dog school.
Register your dog for suitable dog sports and regularly visit the dog school. Agility, obedience, dog dancing, and tracking people – there are various options so that there is a suitable sport for every four-legged friend. Some dogs that were originally bred as working dogs are suitable for training as service dogs or rescue dogs.back to menu ↑
What else you can do
Dogs that are physically and mentally challenged are much calmer and more balanced at home. Even active energy bundles enjoy a little nap in their basket or on the couch after exercise. Take your dog for a long walk before leaving the house for an extended period of time. By then he is already tired and he knows how to appreciate peace and quiet in the house. If you’re going to be away for a longer period of time and you’re concerned, you can give your dog something to occupy themselves with while you’re gone. He will then leave the furniture alone. A box of dog toys, an old blanket or a food ball will arouse the dog’s interest, providing distraction and not destroying everything.back to menu ↑
Destruction through stress and separation anxiety
Besides boredom, there are also other causes such as stress and anxiety. If the camera test showed that the dog immediately starts breaking things up when you leave the house, it could be that the dog has separation anxiety. The dogs get restless before you leave the house. Dogs afflicted with this fear bark, howl and walk restlessly. Sometimes they even urinate when they notice that their owner is going to leave the house without them.back to menu ↑
Ask for professional help
You can solve the destruction out of boredom yourself, but with dogs that have separation anxiety, you need professional help. If you suspect that stress and anxiety are the cause of the vandalism, you should immediately go to the vet, a dog trainer, or an animal psychologist. Their expertise and experience enable them to better assess the animal’s behavior and recommend appropriate professional training for you and your four-legged friend. It will certainly take a while for the dog to get over his fears and you can leave him alone again for a longer period of time without having to worry. You have to be patient and don’t want to go too fast. The experts will give you tips on how to get through this long treatment phase and how to come out stronger.back to menu ↑
Sometimes it is only for a while that your dog destroys everything and this phase will pass on its own. For example, when young dogs change their teeth – which happens between the third and seventh months – they tend to chew on anything they can find. Like little children who put everything in their mouths, some puppies explore the world in this way. Chair legs, cushions, carpeting – nothing is safe. This phase will pass on its own. However, it is better to set limits as early as possible. With loving consequence, even puppies can learn what is expected of them and what things are taboo for them.back to menu ↑
Testing boundaries in puberty
A loving and consistent upbringing is also necessary if your dog destroys everything during puberty. Just like humans, dogs enter puberty. Depending on the breed, they become sexually mature after 6 months or when they are a year old. In this time of hormonal abundance and the generation of new neurons, the dogs are unruly. While some dogs are just a little stubborn and ignore commands, other adolescent dogs test the limits. To get an answer to the question: “How far can I go before my owner gets mad?” some dogs demolish the couch, the shoes or the entire wardrobe.back to menu ↑
It is important that you remain consistent and show the dog that such behavior will not be tolerated. Maintain your commands and reward the dog with a treat if it manages to hold back. In this way, your animal will learn that his rebellious behavior does not bring him much and that he achieves his goal by being obedient. If the dog turns out to be a very persistent case and he is not sensitive to positive reinforcement, it is best to get help in time. Anxiety disorders and aggressive tendencies often begin in puberty. The sooner you catch it, the greater the chance that your dog will go through healthy psychological development.back to menu ↑
What if none of the causes apply?
There are actually dogs that chew on everything and none of the above causes apply. It won’t happen very often in this country, but some dogs are just hungry when they break a blanket, shoe, or pillow. Nothing is safe for dogs on a strict diet: they search kitchen cupboards and the trash because they are hungry and chew objects because they want to chew on something. It is therefore not recommended to let the dog follow a “zero diet” because there are kilos to lose. It just doesn’t work with people. Overweight dogs need low-calorie food, but with all the important nutrients that the dog needs for its health.back to menu ↑
Regardless of the reason, it is important that you are honest with yourself when looking for causes and solutions. Most dog owners want the best for their dogs, but we are not perfect. It can happen that we do not keep the dog completely well due to lack of time, ignorance or because we take too much hay on our fork. It is important that you recognize the behavior and do something about it. It’s never too late to bring dogs (and owners) to their senses!
We wish you and your dog the best of luck!