dog suddenly destroying things

Dog suddenly destroying things: how to stop it?

Do you leave your dog alone, and always find the house upside down upon your return? Is your dog a real tornado, even in your presence? A dog suddenly destroying things is indeed a fairly common behavioral pathology, especially in puppies and that is part of the learning process. In adulthood, on the other hand, it is often linked to discomfort or a psychological disorder that needs to be addressed. Between ragged curtains and cushions, devoured door frames, chewed table legs, and sometimes even droppings all over the house, how do you react to a destructive dog? Can you re-educate the animal to correct these behaviors over the long term?

What to do to stop a dog that destroys everything?

This is usually one of the first questions we ask ourselves. How to react to this real destructive tornado? How can he immediately stop his behavior? In the following paragraphs you will discover the right reflexes to adopt in the face of destruction. First, let’s consider what you should definitely not do in such a situation.

Dog suddenly destroying things: Do not place your dog in a secluded room

You don’t need to lock your dog up for no reason. Not only will this not correct the problem, but your dog would not understand and make the connection between his destructive behavior and being locked up. Even worse, he could develop other behavioral problems.

dog destroying objects

Of course, it is obviously counterproductive to let it continue. If you are going out, therefore, place your dog in a secluded room, such as the bathroom, or the garage, and make sure to remove any items that may be destroyed. Leave your dog some toys and his water bowl. He will thus learn to keep busy with his toys. However, your absence should not last too long if the dog is in a small area. Also remember to bring his bed so that he can rest.

Don’t punish your dog afterwards

Getting into mad anger when you discover the disaster left by your canine friend is absolutely counterproductive. With relatively poor short-term memory, the dog will have no idea why you are punishing him. Above all, he won’t make the connection between his destruction a few hours ago and your negative reaction when you return. Worse yet, he’ll associate your return with an outburst of anger, and be systematically afraid of you as soon as you get home.

This is because the dog cannot associate a present event with a past event, he only understands right from wrong based on your immediate reaction to an action on his part. No need, therefore, to punish him hours later. The only possibility would be to catch him during the act. With experience, you will be able to detect in your animal’s behavior (round back, downcast gaze, etc.) whether he is aware of having done something wrong or not before even starting to argue with him.

Don’t start tidying up and cleaning in front of your dog

If you start to tidy up in front of your dog, he will think of that moment as an invitation to play while you are hunched over to the ground picking up the mess. It is best if you isolate your dog in another room while you get down to cleaning. Also, putting everything away gets on your nerves at first. Take the time to take a breather, do a few activities like drink a glass of water or wash your hands before opening the way to the dog. This behavior on your part will also have a positive impact on the dog’s arousal when you arrive. He will be calmer and less inclined to jump on you.

causes of dog's destructive behavior

Dog suddenly destroying things: The right approach

Opt for off-the-shelf solutions

Correcting a behavioral disorder in your dog will take patience and time, because each dog is different. While there is obviously no “miracle” solution to correcting your dog’s behavior in a few days, there are “tools” that can help.

The soothing collar

There are “anti-stress” collars that release soothing pheromones around the dog and, after a few weeks, help calm his anxieties and reassure him.

The pheromone diffuser

Based on the same principle as the necklace, there are pheromone diffusers for your home.

Bach flowers

These natural plant-based solutions act positively on stressed, anxious and jealous dogs.

Kong toys

These toys are very effective for dogs who suffer from boredom as they deliver a treat as soon as the dog rolls it.

dog chewing a bone

Understand the reasons your dog suddenly destroying things

Destructive behavior is never innocent, and often hides a discomfort that the dog seeks to express. It is therefore essential to go through the possible reasons, therefore you should ask yourself the right questions. Has your dog always behaved like this? Was there a specific event that triggered it? What has changed recently, in his life or in yours? Is the dog’s environment different?

There are many causes that account for a sudden change in behavior to constant destruction mode. Let’s look at the main ones.

Adopting another animal

When you adopt another animal, the attention of the whole family is naturally and unconsciously shifted to your new protégé. This can create a feeling of abandonment in your dog and manifest itself in a destructive behavior, as a way to get attention.

Be sure to involve your “old” dog in all play times and any education sessions with the new animal. In addition, dedicate time exclusively with him, for example taking only him for a walk. He thus retains his strong bond with the owner and does not feel rejected. Don’t overprotect the newcomer either. It is normal that the older animal tends to dominate the younger one. Understand it is classic behavior in a pack and allows everyone to find their place. Do not interfere too much in this process.

The arrival of a child

Similar to the adoption of an animal, the arrival of a child in the house is a huge upheaval. And in the midst of diapers, bottles, and crying, it may be that here again, your faithful companion feels somewhat neglected and struggles to find his place within this new family configuration.

dog playing with a chewable toy

Even before baby arrives, be sure to prepare your dog for this change that is coming. Once the child is home, make the animal part of everyday life, involve them in all activities and pet them regularly to make them understand that they have not been forgotten.

However, don’t make the mistake of ignoring your dog when the baby is around, and looking after him when baby is no longer around. The animal will quickly understand that the source of this rejection is the child, and will risk developing aggressive behavior. As a general rule, the dog is protective of the child and not jealous if you find the right balance. So if you find that your dog is destroying everything since the baby’s arrival, ask yourself the right questions and act accordingly.

Natural behavior in puppies

It’s quite common for puppies to develop destructive behavior between 4 and 12 months old, an age at which their baby teeth and gums tend to make some damage. As a result, the young dog tends to nibble on table legs and other objects within reach. It is also part of his learning process of exploring his surroundings as puppies use their jaw to understand the world around him.

Wipe your chair legs with repellants and offer your dog a bone to chew on. Make sure to clearly react with a “NO” when you catch him in the act and attempt to distract his attention. Also reduce the risk of destruction by removing overly tempting objects like the trash can. Your attention should also be present when you are outside with the animal. Don’t let him eat or bite out everything he sees. This prevention measure will reduce the number of destruction episodes and the risk of the dog getting poisoned.


Loneliness and boredom

Generally speaking, dogs are sociable animals that need to interact and have fun. Some breeds have an intense need for physical activity and social interaction and are not made to stay alone for too long, at the risk of developing anxieties and frustrations which manifest in destructive behavior.

two dogs in the house

If you are away for long hours during the day (more than 10 hours), consider placing your dog in daycare, or hiring a dog walker. Also give him a Kong toy. Finally, when you get home, be sure to spend time with your four-legged friend. Other solutions exist such as adopting another dog. This is a great decision as the two will be able to have fun all day long, sleep on top of each other, etc. but obviously you will have new challenges with taking care of a second dog.


Other external causes: adoption, moving, trauma

A dog suddenly destroying things may experience discomfort related to his adoption, to a move or some form of trauma and this may be more difficult to resolve, as this is not entirely up to you, but rather the dog. Certain individuals are in fact particularly resistant to changes, and the slightest little upheaval can sometimes cause anxiety, and therefore severe behavioral disorders.

The golden rule is to respect your dog and know when to leave him alone when he needs it and give him attention when he comes to you. If the problem persists and you feel your dog is depressed, do not hesitate to consult a specialist. In addition, time is sometimes the only remedy. As with a child, it may take several weeks for a dog to cope with a change in his routine.

A dog that destroys everything is not inevitable, but it is still difficult to control since he does so in your absence most of the time. Go out of your way to provide a comfortable living space for your canine friend when you are not around and make sure you provide him with appropriate education when you are at home. Be both the firm and consistent authority that gives him a living environment, but also the protector that allows him to feel good in his day-to-day environment.

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