Destructive Puppy Behaviour:
How Do I Stop My Puppy From Chewing and Scratching?
Chewing, scratching, and digging are part of a puppies natural instincts but when these behaviours start to affect your home and belongings, they can become a real nuisance. When owners become frustrated with destructive behaviour, many puppies are abandoned. To avoid this outcome, it’s important to understand why puppies chew, scratch, and dig, and equally important to have a strategy in place to curb these behaviours. As a general rule, three key methods for preventing destructive puppy behaviour are exercise, enrichment toys, and energy redirection.
Why Do Puppies Chew, Scratch, and Dig?
There are quite a few reasons why your puppy may begin destructively chewing, scratching, or digging. These include separation anxiety, stress, boredom, hunger, teething, and even health problems. Knowing the root cause of each issue is helpful in diagnosing and preventing destructive behaviours in puppies.
Puppies are likely to form symptoms of separation anxiety when they are young because they are accustomed to life in a litter. If you leave your puppy alone for long periods during the day, this separation anxiety may cause destructive/ disruptive behaviours such as howling, digging, chewing, and scratching at doors. Desruptive behaviours caused by separation anxiety can be managed through a variety of methods, the best of which is enrichment. Others include:
- Use crate training to restrict your puppy while you’re not at home
- Leave a radio or TV playing to distract your puppy
- Invest in enrichment toys which entertain your puppy while you’re out
This may seem surprising for some but stress can be very common in puppies. Being in a new environment with new people can be a lot to take in for puppies. This can lead to destructive behaviours as your puppy attempts to vent their emotions through chewing, scratching and digging. Puppies which have been abused or abandoned are more likely to experience stress. The disruptive behaviours caused by stress and general anxiety can be managed through:
- Provide your puppy with plenty of enrichment toys
- Use crate training to give your puppy a safe space
- Take your puppy on regular walks
- Spend lots of time with your puppy when you’re home
Boredom has been shown to cause depression, anxiety, and destructive behaviours in puppies. Puppies will chew, scratch, dig, and destroy when there is nothing better to do. If your puppy is bored then there are many ways to prevent destructive behaviours. These include:
- Leaving a TV or radio playing on low volume
- Purchase interactive dog toys, puzzle toys, and chew toys
- Take your puppy on walks in the morning before work to tire the out
Puppies lose their teeth just like humans. This process can cause teething pain which may result in destructive chewing. To reduce teething pain:
- Apply puppy approved teething gels to your puppy’s gums
- Provide your puppy with specialised teething chew toys
Hungry puppies will roam around looking for a meal and this may just be your shoes, belt, or handbag. If your puppy is receiving a healthy diet and is still wanting for more, consider altering your puppy’s association with food through enrichment such as:
- Placing low calorie treats in puzzle toys and keep these around the house/ yard
- Redirect your puppy’s energy by giving them lots of interactive toys
- Take your puppy on walks to distract them from food
Remember that puppies are a lot like children. They will act out if they are stressed, lonely, or bored. By monitoring these behaviours and adjusting your lifestyle where possible, you can mostly avoid destructive puppy behaviours.