Destructive dogs?

posted 3 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
842 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

@SouthernGirl:  I know you say finances are tight, but you need to find some behavioral training for this dog ASAP. Also, is he only destructive when you two are not around? If so, he probably suffers from seperation anxiety and there are things you can do to alleviate his anxiety. 


I am of the mind that a pet is a member of your family and a lifetime commitment. Babies fuss and carry on and you can’t just give them back. You learn to deal and understand that things can improve but it will take work and a lot of patience. Don’t give up on this dog. You took this responsibility on and you guys need to see it through, through the good and the awful. It’s still only 7 months old so I’m not overly surprised at it’s behavior, especially if it hasn’t attended any socialization/behavior classes. Good luck!

Post # 4
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@SouthernGirl:  7 months is till young enough to retrain.  It sounds like he was really bored.  What kind of stimulation does he get during theday?  Or is he left alone for hours?  Maybe doggie daycare would be a good idea to wear him out during the day.  There definitely needs to be consistent training regading his things vs. your things and it won’t be effective if he’s alone with your things all day because he’s destroying them with no consequences.  Can either of you take a week or two off work right now?  A week of consistent training may also help.

Post # 5
1892 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Does he have enough toys bone ones to keep him occupied? 

Post # 6
8678 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

You need to deal with the older dog and the younger dog’s interactions. You need to train your pup to know what is okay to put in his mouth and what isn’t. I have a black lab who ate everything, but once he realized that he was allowed to chew on his toys, he stopped. Constantly reinforce that toys are good. Praise him like fucking hell when he chews on his toy or picks it up or even takes it from you — treat him like he just singlehandedly saved the entire planet. Make a huge production and a huge deal out of him having any toy. Constantly treat him this way when he picks up an “okay” item and scold him when he has anything that is forbidden. He needs to learn that his things, and your things. Your things are off limits under any circumstances.

They will learn. Labs are very smart.

Post # 7
789 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@TattedNYBride:  Amen to the pets being part of the family.  Too many people just give up on pets when they become inconvenient!  

@SouthernGirl:  I have a 5 y/o boxer mix who was crate trained from the moment I adopted her, and my 1.5 y/o mastiff mix was also crate trained.  The older dog was able to be left alone with free roam of the house at 9 months, but my younger dog still cannot be left to roam the house freely.  Because he is too large for even the largest crate he has a baby gate which keeps him in a spare bedroom where he has toys and blankets.  To get your dog used to the crate try putting really delicious treats (something special and different, like little bites of hot dogs, Kongs stuffed with peanut butter, etc. into the crate with the door open and letting your dog go in on his own.  Gradually work up to closing the door but only briefly.  Continue this until he can be left for short periods of time.  Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!  Make sure he gets a ton of exercise and play time.  Also, 7 months is still VERY young, if you can’t watch him like a hawk at least make sure anything you don’t want in his mouth is out of reach.

I agree with the other commenters that a session with professional trainer is a necessity. Most are around $100 for a 1-2 hour in home session, and you’ll likely get a lot of great ideas out of it.  Has he been to puppy school or obedience classes?  Those could be very helpful as well.  

Post # 9
10384 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

One-on-one trainer = cheaper than replacing all that stuff he has destroyed (in the long run).

If you can’t afford 1-on-1, look into group sessions to supplement at your local humane society (ours is basically like a community college for dogs – tons of classes with well-qualified instructors!). Look around and see if you can find a private trainer for less than $300/session to help – it shouldn’t cost that much in Alabama, that’s crazy!

Sounds like he has had traumatic experiences with the crate – I bet that’s definitely feeding into his anxiety. How long have you guys had him? If this is his second home in 7 months, it can’t be long. He’s probably still adjusting to the changes! Sounds like he has also chosen you as family alpha, so it is really likely that he’s having a hard time when you are gone, especially!

Post # 11
729 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013


We have a boxer who still gets confused for a puppy because of his small size (the runt) and his ENERGY! He chewed through an entire couch and chewed countless other items. With your dog’s young age I wonder if he’s still teething? Otherwise he is probably still trying to figure out his place with the older dog around. I would recommend praising him when he plays with his toys, getting him “intelligent” toys to challenge him and also hiding toys. We only leave out 5 or so toys for my dog and change them up every few weeks so they’re “new” again to him. We always leave a Kong or an intelligent toy. He used to be crate trained but now we just leave a baby gate for places he shouldnt be in. We put chairs on the couch so he can’t climb up. It sounds like we’re still doing a lot of work but he doesnt chew anymore and it’s so worth it. He”s such a good guy. He was just a little rascal before…

Post # 12
1633 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

Have you tried gating them in separate places? He might be more likely to chew on toys if he doesn’t have to compete for them. Like say the older dog has the run of the house and he’s gated in the bedroom while you’re gone (or wherever room is safest). Each has half of the toys. Just for now until they learn to share toys.

Post # 13
6789 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!

@SouthernGirl:  Does he do this only when he is home alone? He may have separation anxiety. You might want to crate train or try one of those “calming jackets.”

My puppy went that stage around the same age. Once I started crating her when I was gone, it was a little rough at first bc I would come home to a messy crate every day. She eventually got used to being in her “house” and now we have absolutely no problems.

I should add, she ate a 2’x2′ section of my rug. She ate the legs off of my coffee table. So many purses ruined. The bottons from all my coats. The list goes on and you. You’ve got to get the pup in a kennel and they will learn eventually.

Post # 14
1574 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Does he get enough exercise? My old dog (a pitbull/boxer mix) was incredibly destructive if she didnt’ get enough exercise. Ideally, she got a few miles of walks a day, split into two walks. I also made sure to spend plenty of time with her. My two current dogs, adn previous dog all benefited greatly from individualized dog training. I tried to do dog classes (which were cheaper) with our pug, but it didn’t have much impact on him. The dog trainer I used for the larger dog I found through the pet store (it’s just a local place) I go to. Then for the two dogs I have now I found throuh friends.

Post # 15
2593 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

You’ve gotten some great advice.  Couple things I want to add though….

First, a seven-month old lab is going to have LOTS of energy.  Letting him out in the yard for fifteen minutes before you leave isn’t even going to come close to taking the edge off his energy levels.  Most dogs will not self-exercise enough (or at all) when left to their own devices in a yard.  Get up an hour earlier, and take him for LONG walk.  At this age, he is really too young to be running on-leash (this is considered “Forced exercise” and can be really stressful on the joints until the growth plates have closed).  Or play fetch in the yard until he’s too tired to chase the ball any more, (invest in a Chuck-It, if you don’t already have one).

He may have had a bad experience in the crate…a friend’s dog got terrible diarrhea and messed in his crate…it was all over the crate, all over him….he WOULD NOT use the crate any more after that, and would escape from it any way he could.  When they tried a different type of crate, he was fine with it again, (I believe they went from wire-sided to one of the solid, plastic varikennels, but it may have been the other way around).  If you decide to try crating again, I would get a different type of crate than he is used to, and go back to square one as far as crate training, (he’s in there for only five minutes, then you let him out, etc.).  Also, dogs do go through a couple fear-periods as they mature from puppy to adult, where stuff they were okay with before suddenly becomes a scary monster to them.  One of these is from four-to-six months, which sounds like about the time your dog started developing his crating difficulties.

Keep your departures and arrivals low-key.  Give the dogs a treat or a toy that they only get when you go away, (such as a PB-filled Kong), and leave while they are distracted.  When you get home, don’t thow an “I’m home!” party…greet the dogs calmly, (make them sit/stay if they are too excited), and do something else for a few minutes.  When they are calm, THEN take them out.  Making a big deal out of you leaving and/or coming home puts too much focus on “Ohmygodshe’sgoneandisnevercomingbackevereverever!” and “Ohmygodshe’shomeshe’shomeshe’shome!”

Also, invest in some new toys.  Get some that are just for normal play, but that are made for tough chewers, (but do keep an eye on them…we fostered a lab mix puppy who eventually destroyed even the sturdiest of toys we provided him with).  And purchase some puzzle-toys that are meant to stimulate your dog mentally.  These are ideal for when you’re gone, because they will keep his focus on the toy while you are gone and make the time pass faster.

I know training is expensive, but if you are having issues, (and if he’s destroying couches, that’s pretty serious), a one-on-one trainer is probably going to net you better results than any Petsmart trainer, (some of them know their stuff, but many of them are great for teaching the basics and not much else).  You can’t really afford a trainer, but you can’t really afford to have him destroying another couch, another pair of shoes (or six), putting more holes in your walls….

Someone already said it, but a tired dog is a good dog.  You need to wear this boy out before you leave, and give him things his attention on while you’re gone.  You could try separating the dogs, but if he really has separation anxiety, (he might, considering he was alone for such long periods of time with his previous family, and has gone through a rehome, but true separation anxiety isn’t as common as people think and is often just a bored dog entertaining themself), this could make his problems worse.

Hope this helps you out!

Post # 16
229 posts
Helper bee

Adding on to what PPs have said, if it IS separation anxiety, you can try using Rescue Remedy. It’s an herbal tincture that comes in either spray or drops form. My friend’s dad (who is a vet) uses the spray every time their boxer is left at home alone, and apparently it’s made a big difference. 

Also, going on long daily walks, or otherwise having lots of exercise/play time will help burn some energy. Dogs can often become destructive if they’re agitated because of lack of stimulation and exercise. 

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