How to Stop a Dog from Destroying Things When Left Alone

Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Physical Exhaustion

Engaging your dog in regular physical exercise is crucial to their well-being. But did you know it’s also a powerful way to mitigate destructive behavior? Dogs with pent-up energy are more likely to get into things they shouldn’t, and that’s when furniture gets chewed or trash cans get raided. A tired dog is a happy dog, and a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.

Examples of Physical Exercise Activities:

  • Extended Walks: Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of walking daily. This not only helps in expending energy but also provides much-needed stimulation from the environment.
  • Fetch Games: A rigorous game of fetch can be a quick way to tire out your dog. You throw the ball, and they do all the running.
  • Dog Parks: Socializing with other dogs can be another way to wear them out. Plus, it provides social stimulation that adds to their overall happiness.
  • Agility Training: If you’re up for it, agility courses can be a fun way to get both mental and physical exercise in one go.

By integrating these physical activities into your dog’s routine, you’ll help manage their energy levels, making them less likely to engage in destructive behavior when you’re not around.

Mental Stimulation

Physical exercise isn’t the only way to keep your dog well-behaved. Mental stimulation is equally important, especially for intelligent breeds that can become bored quickly. Boredom often leads to destructive activities like digging, chewing, and other unwanted behaviors.

Examples of Mental Stimulation Activities:

  • Puzzle Toys: Toys that dispense treats or require problem-solving are excellent for keeping your dog’s mind occupied.
  • Training Sessions: Spend a few minutes each day teaching your dog new tricks or commands. This not only stimulates their brain but also strengthens your bond with them.
  • Scent Games: Hide treats around the house and encourage your dog to find them. Their natural sniffing instincts can provide great mental stimulation.
  • Interactive Play: Toys like tug ropes can serve as both physical and mental exercises.

By providing mental engagement, you’ll help your dog stay occupied and reduce the chances of them getting into trouble when left alone.

Crate Training

Crate Training Basics

Crate training can be a fantastic tool for managing destructive behavior. When done correctly, a crate becomes a safe haven for your dog, offering them a place to relax and feel secure. Introducing your dog to a crate should be a gradual process to ensure they associate it with positive experiences.

Steps to Introduce Crate:

  1. Initial Introduction: Place the crate in a common area and let your dog explore it. Leave the door open and place some treats or their favorite toy inside.
  2. Short Stays: Once they’re comfortable going in and out, begin closing the door for short periods while you’re still home.
  3. Incremental Time Increase: Gradually increase the time they spend inside the crate, always ensuring they have something enjoyable to keep them occupied.
  4. Positive Reinforcement: Use praise and treats to make the experience positive. Never use the crate as a punishment.

Crate Training for Destructive Behavior

Crate training can be specifically tailored to curb destructive behavior by offering a safe and controlled environment. This is particularly effective for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety or have a tendency to chew or dig when left alone.

How to Use Crate Training for Behavior Management:

  • Safe Space: Ensure the crate is comfortable, with a soft bed and a favorite toy or two.
  • Consistent Routine: Stick to a consistent schedule for crating. This helps your dog understand that the crate is part of their daily routine.
  • Pre-Crate Exercise: Engage in physical and mental stimulation activities before crating to ensure your dog is tired and more likely to rest.
  • Short Crate Periods Initially: Start with shorter durations and gradually extend the time as your dog becomes more comfortable.

By making the crate a positive, secure place, you can minimize destructive behavior and create a happier, more well-adjusted dog.

Separation Anxiety Management

Signs of Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue in dogs, manifesting in various ways that can range from mild to severe. Recognizing the signs early can help you address the problem before it escalates.

Common Signs Include:

  • Destructive Behavior: Chewing furniture, digging at doors, or tearing up household items.
  • Accidents in the House: Urinating or defecating inside, despite being house-trained.
  • Excessive Barking or Whining: Vocalizations that occur mainly when the dog is left alone.
  • Pacing or Circling: Repetitive behaviors indicating stress.
  • Escape Attempts: Trying to escape from confined areas when left alone.

Managing Separation Anxiety

Managing separation anxiety involves a multi-faceted approach. Employing various strategies can help ease your dog’s stress and create a calmer environment.

Strategies for Managing Separation Anxiety:

  • Gradual Desensitization: Start by leaving your dog alone for short periods and gradually increasing the duration. This helps them get used to being alone.
  • Calming Aids: Products like ThunderShirts, which apply gentle pressure, or calming pheromones, can help soothe anxious dogs.
  • Environmental Management: Provide a comfortable and secure area for your dog when you’re away. This could include their crate or a designated room.
  • Distraction Techniques: Interactive toys and puzzle feeders can keep your dog occupied and divert their attention from your absence.

For more detailed tips on managing your dog’s outdoor excursions, consider checking out 10 things you need to know before hiking with a puppy.


Q: What are some common signs of separation anxiety in dogs?

Common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include behaviors like chewing up furniture, urinating or defecating inside the house, and excessive barking or whining. You might also notice your dog pacing, circling, or attempting to escape confined areas. Each of these behaviors signifies that your dog is feeling stressed when left alone. Recognizing these signs early on can help you take steps to alleviate their anxiety.

Q: How can I prevent my dog from destroying things when left alone?

To prevent your dog from being destructive when left alone, focus on three main strategies: providing physical and mental exhaustion, crate training, and managing separation anxiety. Engaging in activities like long walks or fetch games helps burn off excess energy, while puzzle toys and training sessions keep their mind engaged. Crate training offers a safe and secure environment for them to relax. Addressing separation anxiety through gradual desensitization and using calming aids can also significantly help.

Q: What are some calming aids that can help reduce separation anxiety in dogs?

Calming aids can be a lifesaver for dogs struggling with separation anxiety. Some effective options include:

  • ThunderShirts: These provide gentle pressure, which has a calming effect on many dogs.
  • DAP Collars and Diffusers: These release calming pheromones that can reduce anxiety.
  • Herbal Supplements: There are various natural remedies available that can help soothe an anxious dog.

Q: Can CBD oil help reduce separation anxiety in dogs?

Yes, CBD oil can be effective in reducing separation anxiety in dogs. Research suggests that CBD can help rebalance stress hormones and promote a sense of calm. Administering CBD oil according to the veterinarian’s guidelines can alleviate symptoms of anxiety, making your dog more comfortable when left alone.

By implementing these strategies and understanding the signs and remedies for separation anxiety, you can create a more harmonious environment at home for both you and your dog.


*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

Recent Posts