Pet Expressway for Dogs

Why Dogs Can Have Destructive Behavior

Why Dogs Can Have Destructive Behavior

Although many animals are given up for adoption due to life’s circumstances i.e moving, financial issues, death of owner etc behavior problems are also very common reasons for dogs being surrendered to animal shelters every day.

Topping the list of behavior problems that influence people to give up their dog’s are Destructive Behaviors.

In a nutshell, dogs can be destructive in order to

  • Reduce stress
  • Anxiety (fear)
  • Excess energy
  • And Inquisitive drive.

Remedies literally range anywhere from medication, to desensitization to confinement to exercise to keeping a tidy house!

Understand The Origins To Solve The Problem

Therefore, in order to solve the problem of destructive behavior, it is vital that you understand the origins of the behavior. For any behavior, if you can identify a logical reason why it occurs, then you can use find a successful solution to control the behavior.

If you are thinking of giving up your dog because he destroys things in your home, we encourage you to read on and then, either make adjustments on your own or seek advice of a dog trainer or canine behavioral counselor.

If you are thinking of adopting a dog who was given up for destructive behavior; it’s best to understand why the dog behaves this way in order that you can be prepared.

This article does not give detailed solutions. However it does provide some tips to send you in the right direction.  It is not meant to train, rather explain this all too common problem in homeless animals.

Reasons for Destructive Behavior

Separation Anxiety

This is probably one of the most common reasons for destructive behavior in dogs. Dogs with strong attachment issues or whom were never left alone and suddenly find themselves in that situation due to or lifestyle change tend to have this condition.

Symptoms include excessive barking, uncontrollable urination and destructive behavior such as chewing and digging to escape to find you. This is an issue for a behavioral consultant as it involves desensitizing your dog slowly and gradually to being home alone in a setting they can cope with.

Attention Getting Behavior

Some dogs will exhibit destructive behavior as a means of getting attention. This occurs when an owner unwittingly pays the most attention to his or her dog when they are misbehaving.

This can happen if an owner has a very busy lifestyle or just is not that interested in the pet. Because the relationship between the dog and the owner is one in which the dog does not receive enough positive attention, the dog will develop ways to attract attention, even if it is negative attention. Destructive behavior follows.

This problem can be eased and reversed if the owner develops interest and/or makes lifestyle changes with the dog in mind. Also, doggie daycare may help to relieve pent up energy and create positive relationships with other humans.


Puppies chew a lot to relieve the uncomfortable feeling of teething. They have 28 baby teeth which fall out and are replaced by adult teeth by age 6 to 7 months. During this time, puppies can have destructive behavior.

If they are chewing inappropriate objects, providing plenty of appropriate things to chew on and keeping a tidy, puppy proofed house will go a long way in solving this problem.

Prey Drive

Odd reason, yet a reason for destructive behavior in dogs. If a dog detects perhaps a mouse in the house, he may destroy baseboard or walls in an attempt to pursue the creature. It is just instinct. Dog crating when you are not home and supervision when you are home will go a long way in solving this issue.


Some dogs like to dig and chew and shred things when they play. Play of this nature can cross the line over to destructive behavior. This is especially common with puppies and adolescent dogs who are unsupervised. Once again, proper supervision is integral to controlling this problem.


In some cases dogs who are under exercised and left to their own devices can exhibit destructive behavior in order to burn off natural energy. This is usually linked to lifestyle issues .

Examples are dog owners who work a lot and of dog owners with with a busy family dynamic that does not include the dog. Lifestyle adjustments and creative options such as dog walkers or dog daycare can help in this case of Destructive Behavior.

Snooping Around

This form of destructive behavior relates to Play Behavior as well as Boredom Issues. The dog begins to investigate his surroundings and finds something interesting. He may begin to play with his new found treasure and subsequently destroy it.

Often times snooping around or investigatory behavior can lead to the dog chewing something dangerous or a destroying an important or precious family item.

Here puppy proofing comes in handy. Keep your shoes in the closet and anything of financial or sentimental value out of the reach of the dog. Also, double check dangerous household items such as electrical cords, chemical cleaners etc.

Being Afraid

Phobic responses to thunderstorms for example, can motivate a dog to want to escape. In this case, the dog access most likely be destroying window sills, door frames etc. in an effort to find safety.

This form of destructive behavior is more geared to being solved with medications during the event and systematic desensitization to reduce the phobic response. This is a solution that is best addressed with a dog behavioral counselor or you veterinarian.

Lack Of Access

Often times when dogs are left alone at home they are gated in a small room or put in a crate. This can cause barrier frustration in some dogs. Anxiety can develop and in turn destructive behavior. This often has a link to separation anxiety but could also be attributed to boredom.

Proper exercise and desensitizing the dog to being alone are both tools that can help ease the transition of being alone.

Clearly, understanding the origin of destructive behavior will help determine how to control the problem.

If your dog has this problem, help is out there. Contact your veterinarian or behavioral consultant.

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Keith Byrne

Keith Byrne

From an early age Keith has been around dogs. He has been involved in dog grooming, dog walking, dog sitting and dog showing as well as voluntary work in animal shelters. His aim is to help all dog owners especially newbies learn about dogs and care for them in a loving, caring and fun way.


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