I recently was asked by a reader who wrote into my Ask a Behavior Consultant inbox, “Why does my dog destroy things around the house when left alone after my spouse and I have argued?”
Your dog probably is stressed out by the arguments.
It’s common for dogs to relieve stress by shredding things, chewing, or digging. If your dog doesn’t have any appropriate things to shred, chew, or dig, he’s likely to direct his stress towards other things.
Your pup is sensitive to your emotions – we’ve bred dogs for thousands of years to understand human emotions. When you’re stressed, he gets stressed.
You can help your dog out and save your stuff by leaving him with stuff to chew on and shred regularly. I wouldn’t just do this when you argue – just make it part of your regular routine!
Some of my go-to chewables and shreddabales are:
- Kongs. Here are a bunch of my favorite peanut-butter-free Kong stuffing recipes. I designate one Kong-stuffing day per week and freeze enough to last me. This saves time overall.
- Phone books and Amazon boxes. You can hide treats inside the boxes or, if your dog is a real shredder, just leave them out and your dog will do the rest.
- Antlers and bully sticks. These tasty treats are popular with good reason! I particularly love the options from Farm Hounds (organic, cruelty-free, etc) and Real Dog Box (a subscription box, no need to remember to order).
I personally try to leave my dog with something to chew on or shred every time I leave the house for more than a few hours.
He gets his breakfast this way in the morning and will gnaw on another chewy while I’m at the gym or out to drinks.
Getting in this habit will save your shoes and keep your pup happier!
Of course, it’s also important to pick up your tempting “chew toys,” like shoes and backpacks. Taking away easy targets will make your dog’s choice of what to chew even easier.
Kayla is from Ashland, Wisconsin but lives in Missoula Montana. She holds a degree in biology from Colorado College and has spent years working in zoos, animal shelters, and as a private dog trainer. When not working on Journey Dog Training, Kayla works at Working Dogs for Conservation. She is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant. She shares her life with her border collie Barley.