Destructive Behaviour In Dogs: How to Identify and Control

Puppies often pass their time by exploring, playing, chewing, and rolling around in their environment.

These activities are considered normal behavior according to puppies. Yet, when these activities keep happening more aggressively, it could destroy how to hold property when this keeps happening recurrently.

It could become a serious problem for pet owners, and to manage this, dog owners should know what destructive behavior is and how to help a dog overcome it. 

How to Identify and Control Destructive Dog Behavior

Destructive Behaviour In Dogs

Dogs never indulge in destructive activities on purpose, in spite, or out of revenge. Like every other human and animal, they often start behaving destructively to relieve themselves from stress and anxiety or exert their excess energy through destructive behavior.

Many common symptoms, causes, and types of destructive behavior are found in dogs. 

Separation Anxiety

Probably one of the most common causes of destructive behavior, separation anxiety is a very common thing found in pets, especially in the ones found as strays or adopted from shelters.

Dogs with separation anxiety tend to display a lot of strong emotion and attachment towards their owner, and they start exhibiting erratic behavior like very strong feelings and reactions when their owners leave the house or greet them very frantically when they come home. 

Symptoms And Types

Dogs exhibit different types of destructive behavior, and their symptoms vary based on the type. The causes and types of destructive behavior in dogs are slightly different.

While there are many reasons why a dog exhibits destructive behavior, there are a few types under which these causes are listed.

Some of the common types include primary destructive behavior, secondary destructive behavior, obsessive-compulsive related destructive behavior, separation anxiety-related destructive behavior, and fear-related destruction.


Symptoms of Destructive Behaviour in Dogs: 

  • Some of the common symptoms to identify destructive behavior in dogs include
  • Chewing and chomping any small thing they could get their hands on
  • Constantly digging holes in the yard
  • Destroying things to get the owner’s attention
  • Constantly eating non-food items
  • Spending time licking furniture, rugs, and other household furniture
  • Licking themselves
  • Protecting its territory
  • Shivering, hiding, and much more. 


When a newborn baby starts teething, it tends to bite and chomp down on everything it sees, despite its material, shape, or form.

Similarly, when puppies start teething, their gums may be painful, and chewing tends to help them relieve the discomfort and pain that occurs from teething.

After the permanent teeth appear, the pain disappears, and hence the destructive behavior caused by it is temporary. 

Phobias And Fears

Sometimes, dogs act out destructively when they are afraid and when they are exposed to the source of their phobia.

Normally, dogs start behaving destructively when their owner is around so that they will be paid attention, and the symptoms could certainly get severe when they are not around to calm them.

What sets off the destructive behavior is their source of phobia and fear. The symptoms of this type of destructive behavior include hiding, shivering, pacing, panting, and others.

Boredom And Social Isolation

When dogs don’t receive adequate opportunities and chances to interact socially with other dogs or their owners, and if they stay alone for a very long time without toys or playmates, they start finding ways to entertain themselves.

The “ways” they find include destruction of property and aggressive behavior, which could lead to the dogs harming themselves or harming their owners or their possessions. 

Play Behaviour

Play behavior in dogs can be cute and fun until it turns aggressive. Normal play behavior, which turns into destructive behavior, includes digging up the ground, chewing on toys and anything they can get their paws on, and shredding things like paper objects, socks, shoes, and other clothing material.

This often occurs when the dog is unsupervised at a very young age and doesn’t have the proper outlets for play behavior.


Causes of Destructive Behaviour in Dogs:

  • Causes of destructive behavior in dogs define the type and symptoms. 
  • While primary destructive behavior has different causes, secondary destructive behavior has different ones.
  • Causes of primary destructive behavior include not enough supervision.
  • Not enough chew toys, 
  • Wrong kinds of chew toys
  • Not having an ample amount of exercise,
  • Not indulging in enough daily activities.
  • Causes of secondary destructive behavior have not yet been determined with clarity, but one cause would be dogs being protective of their territory. 
  • But, being territorial can be both inherited or learned. 

Predatory Behaviour

When your dog is trying to chase mice and rodents behind walls, and underneath floors, it is a result of destructive behavior.

Dogs have the instinct and potential of hunters, and since destructive behavior has some root causes, it should be first identified properly so that the reason behind the killer’s behavior can be identified.

Since destructive behavior in predatory form is very common, it is not always easy to find the root cause of the behavior, and as soon as it is identified, it should be resolved.


Dogs, too, experience frustration when they are confined to a barrier. Dogs can get anxious, leading to destructive behavior when confined to small areas like crates, flight kennels, laundry rooms, or bathrooms.

Barrier frustration can also be a reason for separation anxiety from their early days. Confining dogs can also make them feel arrested. 

Treatment For Destructive Behaviour In Dogs

When a veterinarian analyses your dog and confirms that their destructive behavior is due to a medical condition, the problem should be treated first. If the illness is treated properly, the destructive behavior will vanish slowly.

But, if your dog does not have a medical problem, a method should be developed to treat your dog’s condition accordingly. Normally, a combination of medical treatment and training will be necessary to treat destructive behavior.

Living And Management of Destructive Behaviour in Dogs

Initially, when the treatment program starts, your veterinarian will contact you constantly to ensure things between you and your dog go smoothly.

You must give medications to your dog as per the veterinarian’s orders, and if your dog has been prescribed medicines, your veterinarian would want to follow up with your dog to ensure the medicine is working.  


There are ways to prevent your dog from acting out and getting into destructive behavior early since it is better to prevent than cure.

Start intensive training in the early stages and help your dog understand what it can chew on, what it cannot chew, the places it can go, the places it can dig and places it cannot, and so on.

Exposing your dog to all kinds of people and animals is also important. Your veterinarian can help you with developing a new program for your dog, custom-made for your dog. 


Diagnosis of Destructive Behaviour In Dogs:

  • To diagnose your dog for destructive behavior, the veterinarian will need a complete medical and behavioral history of the dog.
  • By using the dog’s previous physical and physiological health records, patterns can be recorded and observed to know if the behavior is repeated often.
  • This could help in ruling out other reasons and finding your puppy’s exact physical condition and what is the actual reason for its erratic behavior.
  • Normally, your veterinarian must know your dog’s training history, the number of daily activities and exercises they indulge in, and when the destructive behavior started. 
  • It is also vital to let your veterinarian know if the destructive behavior has worsened, improved, or been the same since the day it started.
  • During the physical examination, the veterinarian will check your dog for physical health issues and medical problems that can cause destructive behavior.
  • A complete biochemical profile, urinalysis, and blood count will be ordered to test the dog’s body. 
  • After a physical checkup is done, the dog will be tested for physiological issues. 


What is investigative behavior in dogs?

Dogs tend to damage items in their environment while exploring and investigating, as they are curious animals. Dogs start investigating objects by just pawing them, but after a while, they start exploring them with their teeth and mouths, which can lead to the destruction of objects.

What are some of the causes of destructive behavior in dogs?

Some of the common causes include lack of exercise, separation anxiety, fears, phobias, and confinement.

How is inappropriate punishment related to destructive behavior in dogs?

Punishing your dog excessively after they have misbehaved can lead to destructive behavior since the punishment increases the anxiety levels of the dog, and they starts acting out. 

What are the medical issues that can lead to destructive behavior in dogs?

Medical issues like gastrointestinal irritation, dental issues like gum pain, excessive hunger, and eating non-food items are causes and symptoms of destructive behavior in dogs. 

How does inconsistent feeding behavior affect a dog’s behavior?

When the dog is not fed properly, and its feeding pattern is consistent, it could go on a foraging spree inside the house, destroying the house in search of food. 

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