You leave your dog alone, and systematically find the house upside down? Your dog is a real tornado, even in your presence?
The destructive behavior of the dog is indeed a quite common pathology, especially in puppies, where it is part of the learning process. In adulthood, on the other hand, it is often linked to a malaise or a psychological disorder that needs to be elucidated.
Between shredded 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?
How to re-educate the animal to correct these behaviors in the long term?
What can you 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 to make him stop his behavior immediately?
Afterwards, you will discover the right reflexes to adopt in the face of destruction. First of all, let’s study what not to do in such a situation.
Place your dog in an isolated room
No need to lock up your dog for no reason. Not only will this not correct the problem, but your dog will not understand and make the connection between his destructive behaviour and being locked up. Worse yet, he could develop other behavioural problems.
Of course, it is obviously counterproductive to let him continue. If you go outside, place your dog in an isolated room, such as the bathroom or the garage, and take care to remove all objects that could be destroyed. Leave him toys and his water bowl.
This will help your dog learn to be satisfied with his toys. Even so, your outings shouldn’t last too long if the dog finds himself in a small area. Also remember to bring his basket so he can rest.
Do not punish your dog after the fact.
Getting mad when you come home to discover the disaster left by your companion is absolutely counterproductive. With a relatively poor short-term memory, the dog will have no idea why you are punishing him.
He won’t make the connection between his destruction a few hours ago and your negative reaction when you return home. Worse yet, he will associate your return with an outburst of anger, and will be systematically afraid of you as soon as you return.
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. There is no point, therefore, in punishing him hours later.
The only possibility would be to catch him in the act. With experience, you will be able to detect in your pet’s behavior (round back, lowered gaze…) if he is aware of having done something stupid or not before you even start to fight him.
Don’t start cleaning and tidying up in front of your dog.
If you start to tidy up in front of your dog, he will see this as an invitation to play and will want to play with you while you are bent down to pick up the mess. It’s best to isolate your dog in another room while you get down to cleaning.
Also, putting everything away at first makes you angry. Take some time to take a breath, do a few activities such as drinking a glass of water or washing your hands before reopening the door to the dog. This behaviour on your part will also have a positive effect on the dog’s excitement when you arrive. He will be calmer and less likely to jump on you.
Opt for commercially available solutions
Correcting a behavioural problem in your dog will take patience and time, especially since every dog is different. While there is obviously no “miracle” solution to transform your dog in a few days, some accessories can help.
- The soothing collar: these are “anti-stress” collars that release soothing pheromones for the dog and, after a few weeks, help to calm his anxieties and tranquilize him.
- The pheromone diffuser: on the same principle as the collar, there are pheromone diffusers for the rooms of your home.
Bach flowers: these natural plant-based solutions act on stressed, anxious and jealous dogs.
- Kong toys: these toys are very effective for dogs suffering from boredom; they deliver a treat as soon as the dog rolls it over.
Understand the reasons why a dog destroys everything
Destructive behavior is never innocent, and often hides a malaise that the dog is trying to express. It is therefore essential to go through the “Why?” box.
Ask yourself the right questions: has your dog always behaved this way? Was there a specific event that triggered it? What has changed recently, in his life or in yours?
There are many causes that can explain a sudden change in behaviour or lasting destruction that should stop after a few months.
The adoption of another animal
When you adopt another animal, very often the attention of the whole family is naturally and unconsciously given to your new protégé; a new configuration that can create a feeling of abandonment in your dog and manifest itself in destructive behaviour. As a way of attracting attention.
How to react?
Make sure that your “old” dog participates in all playtime and possible training sessions with the new animal. In addition, keep special moments with him. For example, you can take him for a walk alone.
This way, he keeps his strong bond with his owner and suffers less. Don’t overprotect the newcomer either. It is normal that his young age makes him dominated by the old one. This is a classic behavior in a pack and allows everyone to find their place. Don’t 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 home causes enormous upheaval. And amidst diapers, bottles, and crying, your faithful companion may again feel somewhat abandoned and struggling to find his place in this new family setting.
How to react?
Even before baby arrives, make sure you prepare your dog for this upcoming change. Once the child is home, integrate the animal into everyday life, get him involved in all activities and stroke him regularly to let him know that he hasn’t been forgotten.
On the other hand, don’t make the mistake of ignoring your dog when baby is around and taking care of him when baby is no longer present. The animal will very quickly understand that the cause of this rejection comes from the child, and will risk developing aggressive behaviour towards him.
As a general rule, the dog will be protective of the child and not jealous if you find the right balance. So if you find that your dog has been destroying everything since the baby arrived, ask yourself the right questions and intervene.
Natural behaviour in puppies
It is quite common for puppies to develop destructive behaviour between 4 and 12 months of age, an age when their baby teeth and gums tend to bother and annoy them. As a result, the young dog tends to chew on table legs and other objects within its reach.
This is also part of their learning process and exploration of their environment, as it is with the jaws that they are able to grasp the world around them.
How to react?
Brush your dog’s feet with mustard or other repellent products and give him a bone to chew on. Give him a firm “no” when you catch him in the act of destruction and try to divert his attention.
Also reduce the possibilities by removing tempting objects such as garbage cans. Your attention must also be present when you are outside with the animal. Don’t let it eat or bite anything outside. This reduces the destruction in your home, but also reduces the risk of it getting poisoned outside.
Loneliness and boredom
Generally speaking, the dog is a sociable animal that needs to interact and have fun; some breeds have an intense need for physical activity and are not made to stay alone for too long, at the risk of developing anxieties and frustrations that manifest themselves in destructive behaviour.
How to react?
If you are away for long hours during the day (more than 10 hours), think about placing your dog in daycare, or hiring a dog walker. Also offer your dog a kong toy. Finally, when you come home, make sure you spend time with your four-legged friend.
Other solutions exist, such as adopting another dog. This is a great decision because both of them will be able to have fun all day (or rather, sleep on top of each other), but of course, you’ll have new problems with a second dog to train.
Other outside causes: adoption, moving, trauma
Some external causes, related to the adoption of the dog itself or to a move, may be more difficult to solve, as they do not depend entirely on you, but rather on the dog.
Some individuals are indeed particularly resistant to change, and the slightest small upheaval can sometimes cause anxiety, and thus severe behavioural problems.
How to react?
Respect your dog: know how to leave him in peace when he needs it and give him attention when he comes to you. If the problem persists and you feel your pet is depressed, don’t hesitate to consult a specialist. Moreover, time is sometimes the only remedy. As with a child, it can take several weeks for a dog to deal with a change in his routine.
A dog that destroys everything is not inevitable, but it is still difficult to control because it does so in your absence. Make every effort to provide a comfortable living space when you’re away, and make sure you provide excellent training when you’re 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 natural habitat.
Correct other behavioural problems as well. For example, exaggerated aggression resolved by the training collar sometimes gives the dog a calmer character in your absence, which reduces misbehaviour.