Destroying Owner's Property  

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 solution.

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 home.

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.