Pet Behavior Help Resources
Chewing and digging are normal dog behaviors. But if you’re coming home to chewed shoes, gnawed furniture legs or gouges around the door frame, your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety.
Destructiveness is a common anxiety symptom that can include chewing, digging and scratching household objects around the home. Some dogs will also carry or drag items from one room to another. The damage can range from minor to extensive, depending on the severity of the anxiety.
If a dog is intent on escaping their environment, they’ll focus their efforts on exit points. The dog might chew or scratch at door frames or window sills, or push on their crate door, or try to jump over their pet gate. In more severe cases, dogs have injured themselves in their desperate attempts to escape — even throwing themselves through glass doors and windows.
If these things are happening, it isn’t because your dog is choosing to “be bad”; it is because your dog may need some additional stimulation and support. As with any pet-related concern, a conversation with your veterinarian is an excellent place to start, here are some suggestions that might help alleviate some of the anxiety resulting in an unfavorable behavior.
A dog that isn’t getting enough physical exercise or mental stimulation will look for ways to burn off excess energy. This often means chewing, digging and scratching, especially if the dog doesn’t have a chew toy or food puzzle to keep them busy. Dogs are highly food-motivated (as we all know), so it’s not uncommon for them to paw at trash cans, pantry doors or kitchen cupboards in search of a snack. If the damage is focused in areas related to food, the cause is probably not separation anxiety. Also related to food, an overweight dog on a restricted-calorie diet or a dog with a nutritional deficiency might chew on things in search of calories. Understanding what food is the best food for your specific pet’s needs is a great topic for a veterinarian to address.
Best Friends Animal Society has an excellent collection of resources related to pet behavior. If you would like to learn more about what is available for pet owners, please follow this link.