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Health & Wellness

How to stop your dog from being destructive

Help your pups be their best selves

Dogs, like humans, show emotions. Since they can’t talk, they express their emotions differently. One expression is destructive behavior. Veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough explains what bad dog behavior could be telling you about your pet’s mood. 

What does destructive behavior look like? 

Dog chewing is normal and healthy — it’s different than being destructive. Destructive behavior is when your dog is chewing on something that may be bad for them or off limits like furniture, beds, walls and curtain blinds or ripping fabric. Not only is this habit frustrating for you, but it can be harmful for your pet if they swallow something they’re not supposed to or injure themselves.

If your dog is showing other anxiety-related behaviors, like panting, vocalizing (howling or excessively barking), pacing or drooling, the next behavior could be destructive.

Why is my dog being destructive?

When trying to understand a dog’s destructive behavior, check with your vet to see if it’s because of an underlying health issue. Otherwise, the destruction could be because of these reasons: 

  • Anxiety, phobias or fear, like separation anxiety, noise phobia or confinement anxiety
  • To play or investigate
  • Boredom or isolation (your dog may need more exercise) 
  • Hunger
  • Teething when puppies (which is normal)

How can I prevent my dog from destroying things? 

We know how much you want to protect your dog (and your house). Follow these steps to make sure they’re always safe: 

  • Meet their basic needs for attention and exercise
  • Use activities like food puzzles to stimulate their mind
  • Practice behavioral training like obedience, agility or playing with other dogs
  • Invest in safe and interesting toys to keep them entertained
  • Maintain a predictable routine so they are comfortable
  • Give positive reinforcement when they show good behavior

When your dog is in the middle of destroying something, calmly try to redirect their attention to appropriate chewing items like toys. Keep in mind that destructive behavior may come from anxiety. Never punish a dog for destructive behavior, as it will make their anxiety worse. 

Are certain dog ages or breeds more destructive than others?

Any dog could be destructive, but certain pups are more likely to struggle than others: 

  • Younger dogs
  • Anxious dogs
  • High energy breeds whose needs are not being met

As pet parents, it’s our job to make sure our dogs express themselves in healthy, safe ways. With these tips, you’ll be able to better understand your dog’s behavior. 

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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