How to Deal With Destructive Dogs

February 21, 2013

Do you share your home with “Godzilla Dog” galloping through and destroying anything in his path?  When you leave Fido home alone, do you return to evidence of giant rats having taken over your belongings, shredding paper products and chewing anything in reach?  Destructive dogs create havoc and test their owners’ patience and love at times.  I know, because I live with two of these creatures whose behavior problems defy description at times.

Gator’s many misdeeds have been chronicled in my writing over the last nine years.  Maggie’s – not so much, because she is placed in her crate when we leave the house.    Occasionally, we leave her loose just to see how she will behave, but experience has shown that if Gator misbehaves, Maggie will assist.

We have a solution for Gator’s destructive tendencies, which I’ll address later on.  My first suggestion is to crate train your dog.  That is the easiest solution to any future behavior problems, because what Fido can’t reach, he can’t destroy.

Crazy canines that don’t outgrow their puppy behaviors create problems for everyone.  If you cannot crate train the dog, at least pet-proof your home.

You cannot have a cluttered house if you own a puppy or an adult dog that gets into things he shouldn’t.  Begin with one room at a time and look at each surface from your dog’s level.  If he’s a large dog, consider his height when he’s standing on just his back legs.

In the kitchen, hide the trash can!  Some dogs possess the ability to open cabinet doors.  If your pet is one of those, install child-proof latches on them.  Keep the counters clean and clear.  No need to encourage counter-surfing pets.  Dogs – and some cats – are like human toddlers when it comes to investigating cabinets and drawers.

Area rugs are easily-available chew toys to some pups.  Roll up the rugs until your pet can be trusted with them.

Close doors to all rooms that you don’t want Fido visiting.  Because my house is such an open floor plan, I block my office area with chairs.  Gator has a fetish for paper – especially paper that I have handled.  He doesn’t bother Jim’s office area – only mine.

If your dog chews furniture, purchase a nasty tasting spray that’s intended to keep pets away and is safe for use on wood and upholstered pieces.  Hopefully, that will deter Fido from chomping down.

Secure electrical cords with a product designed to bundle them together.  Then tape the bundles to the backs of furniture when they won’t show.

I used to swear by baby gates for my Great Danes.  Neither Ginny nor Coby would step over them, though could easily have done so.  The gates blocked several doorways in our home.

Clear the counters in the bathrooms.  Nosy pups will investigate everything.  Keep the toilet lid down, so that Fido doesn’t use it for a water bowl.  Toilet paper would also be a temptation.  In our home, we hide it in the linen closets because the cats love to play with it, but I’m sure the dogs would enjoy chewing that up.

Some dogs will attack a sofa or chair when left alone.  Mine have never tried that, but never assume that anything is off-limits to a lonely dog missing his family.

That leads us back to the almighty crate.  If you train a puppy to the crate when he is young, he will love his special “den” and be happy to go there when necessary.  My Harlequin Dane, Ginny, often napped in her crate during the day – her choice.  Maggie associates her crate with treats.  We always give her a small treat when we leave the house, and she is happy to enter her crate to receive it.

Gator is a different story.  Our big boy was crate-phobic.  He broke all his baby teeth trying to escape from it and after two weeks, we gave up.  During his puppy period, we closed him in the garage, which had been pet-proofed just for him.  He gifted us with two basketball-sized holes in the dry wall.  Guess he was trying to eat his way inside the house.

Gator is almost 10 years old and has settled down quite a bit.  However I still don’t trust him with paper products in his reach.  Because he has two large-mass tumors on his side, he wears a cone – or Elizabethan collar – when we leave the house.  This prevents him from chewing on the tumors and destroying the contents of my desk top.

If your dog suffers from chronic anxiety and eats his way through your household objects, talk to your vet about the cone or even medication.  Do not attempt to use the cone without professional advice because dogs can injure themselves with it.

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