Why Does My Dog Destroy Things When I’m Gone?


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There is nothing like coming home to your sweet dog… until you see the destruction. Couches, shoes, garbage, and even wall molding can be a victim. Sometimes, dogs that suddenly destroy things when their families are away wind up at shelters. But that’s not fair at all. No one wants to keep replacing items their dogs have damaged. Yet, training is a part of having a dog that can’t be ignored. So, why does your dog destroy things? It could be for several reasons.

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Reasons Dogs Suddenly Destroy Things

Remember, dogs can’t speak our language. They can’t tell you what’s going on through words, but a dog that is destroying things is leaving a clear message. You just have to figure out what that message is and then you can respond appropriately. In most cases, it’s about more than just getting your attention. Here are some of the main reasons dogs cause destruction when they’re alone.

Puppy Chewing Shoe


Puppies are notorious for chewing. Their teeth are coming in, falling out, and coming in again. All this causes a puppy to need to chew, just like a human baby. Some dog parents think, ‘fine, when they’re not a puppy, they will stop.’ Yet, if you allow the habit to form, your puppy will keep chewing on inappropriate items for the rest of their life.


Dogs get bored! Regardless of breed, all dogs need exercise and mental stimulation. If you’re not providing enough of either, your dog will find something to do on their own. But you may not be happy with the results. Bored dogs are more likely to suddenly destroy things they shouldn’t.


Unfamiliar situations can cause stress for puppies and adult dogs. This could be a one-time situation like a dog walking by or something more serious like moving to a new home. Dogs don’t know how to handle themselves in stressful situations. So, they resort to chewing, digging, or scratching to calm their fears.

Dog chewing on cat tree

Separation Anxiety

This is the most extreme type of destructive behavior. Dogs with true separation anxiety will do some pretty intense things. I’ve heard of dogs jumping out windows and eating drywall when their loved ones leave.

Tips for Coping with a Destructive Dog

How you handle your dog’s destructive behavior depends on why they’re doing it in the first place. If you suspect your dog suffers from separation anxiety, you may need the help of a certified professional positive reinforcement dog trainer. They can help your dog overcome their fears and stop the destruction. For puppies and dogs suffering from boredom, you have some easier options.

More Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Both mental stimulation and exercise will help dogs be too tired to chew. Mental stimulation includes things like puzzle toys and training that makes your dog think. This can prevent your dog from suddenly destroying your belongings.

Appropriate Choices

Make sure your dog has access to appropriate toys that they can safely chew on. Praise them if you notice them deciding to chew on a toy rather than your couch. Then, when you’re gone, they will be more likely to make the right decision.

Dog Destroys Stuffed Animal

Visit the Vet

In rare cases, chewing could be related to health problems. Older dogs might gnaw on things if their mouths are in pain, much like when a puppy is teething. This could be a sign of gum disease, swollen gums, tartar build-ups, or infections. So, make sure you discuss the chewing problem with your vet.

Remove Access

Putting your dog in a crate if they are crate trained prevents them from making the wrong choice. It can save you the heartache of a mess when you get home and possibly save your dog from a trip to the vet for ingesting something they shouldn’t. Crates are great while you’re working on problem behaviors with your dog. However, make sure you never use their crate as a punishment.


Finally, if you are going to leave your dog loose when home alone, proof your home. Put baby locks on cabinets you don’t want your dog to get into. Shut doors to rooms with things your dog may want to chew, such as shoes or kid’s toys. Put the TV remote out of reach or in a drawer. Taking a few minutes to check the room before you leave is definitely worth your time. Just don’t forget to leave some dog toys out!

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Training doesn’t have to be a chore. Let SpiritDog help you make training time a fun, productive bonding experience between you and your best friend! Whether you want to work out bad habits or strengthen good canine manners, SpiritDog can help guide you!

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