Destructive behaviour in adult dogs


Before attempting to resolve a behaviour problem, it is essential to understand the cause.  Always investigate the possibility of a medical problem by visiting your veterinary surgeon.


A variety of adult behaviour problems are associated with excessive chewing and other destructive behaviours:

       Storm or noise phobic dogs may direct destructive behaviour towards walls and flooring in an effort to hide or escape

        Some juvenile or adult dogs show destructive chewing and scratching only when left alone, often as a result of separation related distress

        Dogs may chew and engage in other destructive activities as the result of inadequate impulse control or frustration


        A common source of destructive behaviour in adult dogs is ineffective training and management of play and exploratory behaviour

        Lack of physical or mental stimulation


      There may be a compulsive or obsessive element to the behaviour or it may be used to reduce their anxiety

Dogs exhibiting destructive behaviour habits usually benefit from providing routine and mental stimulation/environment enrichment to help resolve conflicts and tensions.


Punishment is not effective in resolving destructive behaviour problems and may even make the problem worse. Never discipline your dog. People often believe their dog makes a connection when he is corrected or shouted at because he runs and hides or “looks guilty.” But dogs display submissive postures like cowering, running away, or hiding when they feel threatened by an angry tone of voice, body posture, or facial expression. Your dog doesn’t know what he’s done wrong; he only knows that you’re upset.


Destructive behaviour associated with fears, separation distress, hyperactivity, compulsions and aggression need to be addressed in the context of treatment activities aimed at reducing the underlying causes.