Destructive Behavior

Some dogs damage their owner’s stuff habitually. Destroyed shoes, mangled furniture, excavated landscaping, and garbage strewn around the house are maddening and expensive behaviors. No amount of scolding or punishment will help. Simple solutions are hard to find because there are so many possible causes.

A dog who trashes the house only when his owner is gone may have separation anxiety.

  • Suffering from overwhelming fear these dogs simply lose control of themselves.
  • Helping them is challenging.
    • A dog with separation anxiety needs to be patiently taught that his owner’s pre-departure routine doesn’t have to trigger panic.
    • Behavior modification should include short absences that are gradually extended.
    • Antianxiety medications can make a difference.

Some adolescents are slow to outgrow puppyhood.

  • Clothing, furniture, laundry, anything is fair game.
  • Unabashed home wreckers have an abundance of energy because they may not be getting enough exercise or social contact with other dogs.
  • Scheduled vigorous play along with trips to a dog park or doggy day care can make a huge difference.

Garbage raiding is a truly dangerous habit.

  • A dog who swallows spoiled food, bones, and plastic food wrappers can end up on the surgery table or worse.
  • Dumpster diving is actually normal; even well fed dogs are instinctive scavengers.
  • Put a child proof latch on the trash cabinet and sleep well at night.


  • Dogs love soft moist earth.
  • Set your canine excavator up for success by building a nice dirt box on the north side of your house. Make it attractive to your dog by loosening the soil and moistening it occasionally.

Dogs have damaged walls to reach mice behind the sheet rock. Be careful.

  • Rodent baits like D-Con are dangerous. These products contain highly potent anticoagulants that will poison a pet who eats a poisoned rodent.
  • Call a professional exterminator.

Other causes of damage to the home:

  • Dogs have damaged carpet and door frames due to barrier frustration.
  • Territorial behavior can cause damage to windows and drapes during attempts to chase off perceived threats to the home.
  • Dogs with compulsive disorder will mess up a room by spinning or tail chasing.

A lot of this damage is preventable.

  • Toys are great but they need to be compelling.
    • Rotate them to prevent boredom and make them enticing by smearing them with a little cheese or meat spread.
    • Food toys ( or local retailers) are another great way of keeping a hungry dog occupied.
  • Don’t let your dog play with old towels or shoes and expect her to respect your clothing. She’ll follow your example one minute and act just like a dog the next.