Separation anxiety, boredom and teething can all cause your dog to wantonly destroy his bed. It’s expensive, unhealthy and messy. Fortunately, once you’ve figured out the cause, you can teach your dog the error of his ways with kind corrective techniques. Quite often, distraction is sufficient to fix this problem.
Identify the Cause
1 - Keep a diary of your dog’s destructive behavior. Note down the other factors at play when it happens. For example, your dog may only do this when you’re out of the house, suggesting the cause to be separation anxiety. If he only destroys his bed when another dog is about, attention seeking is the most probable cause. If he does it randomly, boredom is typically the cause. If you have a destructive 6-month-old pup, he may be teething, in which case, he’ll have a heightened desire to chew.
2 - Walk Lucky regularly. If his destructive behavior is the result of boredom or pent up energy, tiring him out will reduce the chances of him chewing up the bed.
3 - Observe him for a further week. If he’s regularly walked and still destroys the bedding, you can rule out insufficient exercise as a cause.
Boredom- and Teething-Related Chewing
1 - Give Lucky a varied selection of chew toys. By providing an outlet for boredom- and teething-related chewing, you greatly reduce the chances of him destroying the bed. Don’t leave the chew toys around all the time. It’s important that your dog sees you as the controller of chew toys and that he learns to distinguish between chew time and definitely not chew time.
2 - Put the chew toys in his bed. Give him verbal praise and fuss for as long as he chews the toys. If he starts to chew the bed, withdraw the praise and distract him. By withdrawing the praise you show him that chewing the bed results in positive stimuli being removed. Reward him with praise for chewing the toys.
3 - Repeat the process for 10 minutes every day. With sufficient repetition, Lucky will learn that good things happen when he chews the toys, but good things are taken away when he chews the bed.
Separation Anxiety and Attention-Seeking Destruction
1 - Expose Lucky to the stimulus you suspect prompts his destructive behavior. So if it’s attention-seeking behavior, have a friend bring another dog around. If it’s separation anxiety, close him in a room by himself. In the case of the latter, put some chew toys in the room before closing him in.
2 - Look and listen for signs that he’s chewing up the bed.
3 - Distract Lucky. Try to time the distraction so he’s in the middle of chewing the bed. This helps him build an association between his action and the consequences. Opening the door if he’s shut away or clapping your hands are both effective distraction techniques.
4 - Give him a chew toy. If he ignores it and continues to chew the bed, distract him again. As soon as he so much as looks at or sniffs the chew toy, give lots of praise and join him for a brief play session.
By Simon Foden
About the Author
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.