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Dog being destructive

How to stop destructive behaviour in dogs

Destructive behaviour in dogs is common and can have many causes. To find a solution, you must first determine what is causing the problem. This could include issues like separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, teething in puppies, or simply boredom due to lack of physical and mental stimulation!

Punishing your dog by yelling at them will not teach them to stop committing to destructive behaviour. It will more likely have a further negative effect by making them feel even more stressed. Instead of scolding your dog, redirect their focus to a toy and reward good behaviour. This helps them learn and reinforces positive actions.

Within this article we explain why your dog may be destructive and provide solutions for each case. Your dog's destructive behaviour can be addressed by understanding the underlying reasons behind it. By identifying the root cause of the problem, you can effectively address and correct your dog's behaviour. 

Dog destructive behaviour
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What are the causes of destructive behaviour in dogs?

Your dog may act destructively by chewing, damaging objects, digging in the garden, or barking a lot. The most common reasons for destructive behaviour in dogs include:

  • Boredom: Loneliness and lack of mental stimulation can trigger destructive behaviour in dogs.
  • Lack of exercise: Not enough exercise or training can lead to destructive behaviour as your dog seeks to release pent-up energy.
  • Inconsistent feeding: Inconsistent feeding or hunger can cause anxiety in dogs, prompting them to engage in destructive behaviour whilst searching for food. You can solve this by keeping to a regular feeding schedule, which will help your pet feel more relaxed and secure.
  • Teething: If you have a young puppy, teething can be the cause of their destructive behaviour as they will be looking for an outlet to chew on to soothe the pain and discomfort.
  • Medical Problems: This can be upper gastrointestinal irritation, dental or gum pains, or diseases that cause hunger like Polyphagia, or Pica – the need to eat non-food items. If you suspect that a medical problem could be the cause of your dog’s destructive behaviour, contact your vet for guidance!

These are just some of the most common examples as to why your dog may be participating in destructive behaviour. If you are unsure of the cause, always contact your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical problems.

Destructive behaviour solutions for an anxious dog

Anxious dogs turn to destructive behaviour to relieve stress from being left behind by their owner, or from certain fears being triggered such as fear of fireworks or other loud noises.

Sometimes dogs who struggle to settle down at night will also become destructive to release endorphins and stress relief. If your dog gets anxious when you leave, try getting a dog sitter and gradually increase the time they're alone. Make sure to leave them with stress relieving chew toys so they have an appropriate outlet for their anxiety and stress.

If your dog’s anxiety is triggered by loud noises or fireworks, set up a cosy den that they can retreat to and feel safe. Playing classical music can distract your fearful pup from loud noises, which is known to be calming for dogs. If your dog is very scared, we recommend talking to your vet. They can help find a solution for your pup's fear.

At WOOOF, we have a number of products that will help soothe your dog’s anxiety. For example, calming puppy soothers that are infused with a lavender scent for a long lasting effect that will really comfort your pet and soothe their separation anxiety. Or you can opt for a Dog Calming Spray to help your dog relax during stressful situations such as firework nights

Destructive behaviour solutions for a bored dog

A dog who is not physically and mentally stimulated enough during the day, will try to find another outlet to meet their needs – like chewing on your furniture or belongings! Of course, one solution is making sure that your personal possessions are out of your pup’s reach. But just doing this will not solve your bored dog’s agitation. Other ways to help stimulate bored dogs include:

  • Providing more exercise:  Encourage your dog to sniff and explore on their walks so they get a good dose of sensory enrichment. You can also take your dog to a park and use a Chuckit! Ball Launcher so they have the challenge of running faster (and further) to retrieve the ball.
  • Giving Enrichment Toys: Treat Dispensers are fantastic to engage your dog in mentally stimulating play as they attempt to retrieve treats. The new Pupsicle Toy can entertain your bored dog for longer, reducing their stress, anxiety, and boredom.
  • Taking part in daily dog training:  Learning can be tiring for dogs too, not just humans! Making sure your pup takes part in daily dog training can help to tire them out whilst teaching them crucial skills.
Dog looking bored on bench
Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

Destructive behaviour solutions for teething puppies

Teething can cause pain in your poor pup’s gums. That’s why teething puppies will often start chewing to relieve the discomfort. To avoid your new puppy chewing on something they shouldn’t, it’s important to provide them with an appropriate outlet to soothe them.

ZippyTuff Teethers are great for puppies with sharp teeth. They help puppies chew and feel better when their painful teeth are bothering them. These chew toys are perfect for dogs of any age and come in cute shapes like Bunny, Elephant, Duck, and Anchor.

Alternatively, the popular KONG dog toy brand has added the new Puppy Tyre to the KONG Classic Puppy line. The Puppy Tyre is made with a special rubber for puppies under 9 months to help with teething gums. This makes it the pawfect outlet for your little fur baby’s destructive chewing habits! As your puppy grows, they can then graduate to the larger KONG Puppy toy.

Pay attention to the good chewing choices your teething puppy makes, and ensure you praise and reward them.

Destructive behaviour solutions for Medical Problems

If your dog's sudden destructive behaviour is unusual, it's crucial to schedule a thorough vet check to rule out any underlying health issues. If they are experiencing pain, this can cause them a lot of stress and that could be why they are resorting to being destructive.

If your dog is acting out because of a medical problem, your vet can recommend treatment to calm them down.

Dog in Cone after visiting Vet
Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

Preventing destructive behaviour in dogs with WOOOF

At WOOOF, we team up with the very best brands that create dog products with the aim to fully enrich our dog’s lives. Dog enrichment is vital in preventing destructive behaviours from occurring, ensuring our beloved furry friends are getting enough physical and mental stimulation.

See below for some of our most recommended dog enrichment products to alleviate anxious and destructive behaviour in dogs.

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