PetMD Seal

Destructive Behavior in Dogs



If a medical problem has been confirmed, that problem will be treated first. Usually, treating the illness will resolve the behavioral problem. If your dog does not have a medical problem, your veterinarian will develop a plan to treat your dog's behavior problem. In most cases, a combination of training and medication will be necessary. Medication alone does not usually solve the problem.


For primary destructive behaviors, your veterinarian will help you to come up with a plan for directing your dog’s destructive actions towards objects that are appropriate. This will help you train your dog to chew on the things that you approve of, and prevent your dog from chewing on or damaging the wrong things. Pets that have primary destructive behaviors do not need medication. In combination with this type of prevention training.


Treatment of secondary destructive behaviors will involve a combination of medications and training. Your veterinarian may choose to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help your dog to respond more quickly to the training. You and your veterinarian will also develop a training plan to help your dog learn how to behave in a more appropriate way. Once your dog has learned not to destroy things, you may be able to stop the medication. However, some dogs need to be medicated for anxiety for some time to help them to get over their destructive behavior.


Living and Management


When you first start the training and medication program, your veterinarian will want to talk with you frequently to make sure that things are going well between you and your dog and possible anyone else in the home. It is important that you give medications exactly as directed by your veterinarian. If your dog has been prescribed medication, your veterinarian may want to follow-up with complete blood counts and biochemistry profiles to make sure the medications are not adversely affecting any of your dog's internal organs. Make sure that you do not give any other medications to your dog while it is under the veterinarian's care unless you have first consulted with your doctor.


It is most important that you be patient with your dog while it is learning not to be destructive. This can be a slow process and may take several months or more. Some dogs have more anxiety and reluctance to learn new behaviors and may need long term medication and training until they feel confident on their own.




It is important to start early and to be consistent with training. Early, intensive training, beginning at puppy age, will help your dog to understand what it can and cannot chew on, where it can go, where it can dig, etc. Your veterinarian can help you develop a training program to teach your dog what it is allowed to chew on and where it is allowed to dig. It is also important to expose your dog to all kinds of people, animals, and situations while it is still young. This will help your dog learn how to behave in all situations. Waiting until your dog is older could bring on excessive shyness, anxiety, and/or protective behaviors that are not appropriate for public places. It is also important to watch your pet carefully for any changes in its behavior and to address the changes immediately. Treating medical or behavioral problems quickly makes them easier to prevent and eliminate.



Related Articles

Unruly Behaviors in Dogs

Jumping is used to describe when a dog is standing on its rear legs with its front paws on a person or object

Jumping, Chewing, Playbiting, and Other Destructive Behavior Problems in Puppies, Young Dogs

Undesirable behavior exhibited by dogs between puppyhood and adolescence, such as destructive chewing, jumping on people, and play biting, is...

Anxiety and Compulsive Disorders in Dogs

Compulsive disorder is characterized by a repetitious, relatively unchanging sequence of activities or movements that has no obvious purpose...