If you’re like many dog owners you may keep a mental tab of
all the things your dog has destroyed: remote controls,
cellphones, shoes, glasses, and so on. When you add it
all up it can be quite an expensive tab of things your dog owes
you. It’s unlikely your dog is going to pay you back for
the things he’s destroyed so you should probably concentrate on
making sure he stops eating and tearing up your property.
Destroying an owner’s property has got to be one of the most
frustrating things dogs do.
What can you do to stop your dog from destroying everything
you own? The most obvious solution is to keep your things
where your dog can’t get them. If you’re a new dog owner
that’s not easy at first. Your entire lifestyle has to
change when you get your dog. You won’t be able to leave
shoes lying on the floor anymore. You can’t leave remotes
and other “edibles” on your coffee table -- not for
years. Everything that’s yours is now your dog’s.
And everything that’s your dog’s is now a chew toy.
That’s just the way it is.
The best thing you can do, besides picking up your stuff and
keeping it where your dog can’t reach it, is to make sure your
dog has plenty of his own things to keep him busy. Get
your dog lots of toys and safe things to chew on. Kongs
are good, stuffed animals, Buster Cubes and other toys where
your dog has to think and make an effort in order to get the
treat to come out. All of these things can keep your dog
busy when you’re not home.
Of course, dogs also destroy more than things you leave
lying around. Dogs sometimes dig up sofa cushions, dig
holes in rugs, chew on woodwork, and scratch holes in
mattresses. They do this out of boredom. They do it
for “fun.” They can systematically pull up the linoleum
in your kitchen and call it a good time. If your dog is
enthusiastic about activities like these you may need to
consider crating him while you’re away from home.
Otherwise you may not have a home to come home to.
It may help to increase the amount of exercise your dog is
getting. Tired dogs sleep more while you’re gone.
But, if that doesn’t work, crating can keep your dog out of
trouble while you’re away from home. Even dogs who have
access to a backyard when their owners are away may destroy
things in the house, so crating is sometimes a necessary
If you don’t like the idea of crating your dog you may wish
to consider doggy daycare for your dog. Dogs can spend
the day playing with other dogs under human supervision.
This has the added benefit of giving your dog some extra
exercise so he will be a little more tired by the time you come
The other situation where a dog will destroy an owner’s
property is when your dog is experiencing genuine separation
anxiety. With genuine separation anxiety (which is
different than merely being sad because you’re gone), a dog is
acting out of stress and anxiety and will destroy an owner’s
property -- chew clothing, shred things, etc. This is a
genuine anxiety condition and requires veterinary
treatment. It may even require the help of a behavior
consultant. A dog is so anxious and frantic with this
condition that you will not mistake it for the kind of
exuberance that a dog displays when he is playfully destroying
things in your home.
If it’s any consolation, destroying an owners property is
usually something that puppies and young dogs do. Older
dogs usually prefer to nap. So, if you can make it past
your dog’s first 2-3 years of age your belongings should be
much safer. Eventually you may be able to leave shoes and
remotes out again.