If your pooch is exhibiting destructive behaviors like chewing the furniture or scratching at the floor, it can be incredibly frustrating.
Generally, if a dog is destructive, then they are acting out because they are unhappy. Perhaps they are lonely, bored, or unwell. If you take some steps to solve the root cause of the issue, you will usually find that the destructive behavior resolves itself.
It’s never a good idea to discipline your dog in response to destructive behavior, as this will likely frighten them and make the problem worse.
Don’t leave them alone for too long
A common reason for dogs becoming destructive is that they are lonely or bored. It’s important that your dog isn’t left alone for too long.
How long a dog can be left alone depends on a few factors like their age, breed, and temperament. In general, a dog shouldn’t be left alone for longer than four hours and even less than this if they are a young dog.
If it’s not possible for you to be with your dog all of the time due to work and other commitments, then you can make sure they don’t get lonely by asking a friend or neighbor to look in on them during the day or by enrolling them in doggy daycare.
Doggy daycare can be a great way for your dog to get experience socializing with other animals, too.
If your pet is overly anxious about being left for shorter amounts of time, then you can talk to your vet about ways to help with this.
Make sure they aren’t bored
Another reason that a dog might become destructive is that they are bored. Diamond Pet has written an excellent article on pet mental stimulation, with lots of ideas on how you can ensure that your pet is mentally stimulated and therefore as happy as possible.
Some things that you can try are:
- Vary your walking route – A lot of people think that walking your dog is just about exercise. While exercise is important, walking your dog also allows them to get mental stimulation from smelling new smells and seeing new things. Varying your route means that your dog (and you!) can get the most out of their walk. Dogs who have had a mentally stimulating walk are likely to be tired afterwards, which means they are likely to be better behaved if you need to leave them by themselves.
- Daily training – Dogs love learning tricks, and it’s a great way to keep their mind engaged. Even fifteen minutes a day can make a huge difference.
- Interactive dog toys – These are great if you need to leave your dog at home, as they will keep them occupied while you are gone.
Check for health problems
Dogs can also become destructive if they are in pain or feeling unwell. If the destructive behavior comes along with any of these common signs that your dog might be sick, then it’s worth taking them to the vet for a check-up:
- Changes in their personality
- Weight loss or gain
- Coughing, wheezing, or nasal discharge
- Trouble going to the toilet or going to the toilet more often than usual. Change to the shape and texture of their stool
- Loss of appetite
Destructive behavior is also quite common in younger dogs who are teething; they chew to relieve their gums’ pain. If you think teething is causing destructive behavior, then speak to your vet, as they may be able to offer you a medicated gum ointment or other treatment that will help.