Most dog owners have probably experienced this scenario, or at least a diluted form of it: You walk through the front door, your dog is looking guilty as sin, and as you make your way through the house you begin to uncover the bin bag torn to bits across the kitchen floor, the skirting boards have been gnawed, cables chewed through, or the carpet/lino ripped up.
Destructive behaviour in dogs can manifest itself in variety of forms (typically chewing, barking, biting, digging and scratching) and is generally more prominant in younger dogs while they’re teething and beginning to explore and investigate the different types of items in their environment.
The typical focus and advise for dogs exhibiting destructive behaviour is that they’re lacking mental stimulation and to provide them with things to occupy them like stuffed kongs, chew toys, brain games and scentwork.
Another cause of destructive behaviour that’s often overlooked is stress caused by separation anxiety. The owner leaves the house, the dog freaks out, paces from window to window, barking and then essentially redirecting their anxiety into a self-soothing behaviour in the form of biting and scratching. Think of it like somebody biting their fingernails when they’re feeling stressed.
If this sounds familiar to you, the best piece of advice we can possibly give you is to crate train your dog. It’s both a safer alternative to prevent them from unintentionally harming themselves, and it’ll save your relationship from being damaged by preventing feelings of resentment every time you come home and find more of your house has been destroyed. We’re all human after all.
Just remember, crate training is not the same as putting your dog in a crate and leaving them. They MUST be trained to associate it positively over a period of time, otherwise it isn’t crate training, it’s more like imprisoning. There’s a video on how to introduce the crate on our page, and if you’re unsure about the process there are many videos online, and any reputable dog trainer can teach you.