Destructive behaviour in puppies


A common reason for owners seeking canine behavioural advice is destructive behaviour.  All puppies and dogs engage in varying amounts of exploratory and manipulative behaviours that may become misdirected into destructive activities.  The chewing and digging activity is inappropriately directed towards valuable personal belongings or things that may be harmful to the dog.












There are two stages of normal teething. This will usually occur between the ages of four to six months and again at eight to ten months. During teething, chewing is essential for dogs.


Often the puppy will chew anything and the chewing may appear frantic to the point of making the gums bleed. Chewing will often concentrate on things that a puppy finds soothing and whilst puppies are eager to please, the discomfort they feel during teething will often mean that they will chew anything. It is during this period of chewing that puppies can develop long-term bad habits and become very destructive, so it is important to spend time managing this period of learning to prevent problems later on. Ensure that you have a variety of toys and chews available that can be offered to him so that he learns what he is allowed to chew.


Puppies need a significant amount of daily chewing.  Chewing provides stimulation, exploratory outlets, psychological benefits, metabolic and digestive effects and a variety of other functions.  If the puppy has inadequate exercise and social stimulation, chewing and digging activities may become problematic. 


Prevention is the key to successful control of destructive behaviour:


  • keep puppies under a watchful eye, guiding their choice of chew items

  • young dogs require a significant amount of social stimulation and opportunities to play

  • daily play, exercise and social attention appear to reduce tensions associated with destructive behaviour

  • Puppies should have daily reward-based training activities

  • Basic training including coming when called, leave, wait and stay all help to improve a puppy's attention and impulse control abilities, as well as enhancing their responsiveness and connection with the handler.




Socialisation - this does not just mean other dogs.  It is designed to help a new puppy get used to the world around him. If you would like to read more about socialising your puppy and a checklist please see the link here - Socialisation