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Ask the Trainer: Why Does My Dog Destroy Things When I’m Away?

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Dear Kevin,
My husband and I have a 2 year old schnauzer mix, Axl, that seems to like to chew on things (area rug, dog bed, toilet paper, welcome mat, etc.) when we are not home. I don’t have the slightest clue on how to get him to stop. Is there anything that we can do other than keeping him locked up or catching him in the act, which is difficult since this behavior happens when we are not home. Also I am 6 months pregnant and I don’t want to have to worry about him chewing on the babies things during the day once I go back to work.

Hey Milly,

With the information you’ve provided it looks like this is happening because Axl is either bored, has too much energy or is anxious. I’m going to provide a link at the bottom that will help you if it is indeed anxiety because I am going to talk about how to prevent a dog from getting bored or having too much energy. Some of the things you may already be doing.

Boredom and having too much energy kind of fall into the same category. Exercise is a must for young dogs and there are two types of it; Physical and mental. By meeting those needs sometimes behavioral issues start to fade away because what was fueling them is now gone. Physical consists of going for walks, jogs, hikes etc. Mental exercise consists of doing things like obedience training, trick training, confidence building etc.

Setting him up for success when you leave is very important. I would utilize something along the lines of a Kong filled with lots of stuff like peanut butter etc. You can even fill it earlier and stick it in the freezer to make it last longer. The idea is to give him things to do that is constructive.

Being two years old, he may not be responsible enough to be allowed out. I know in your question you mentioned you didn’t want to keep him locked up. One option could be a play pen. It’s basically a circle that Axl would be able roam around in but still wouldn’t have full access to the entire house. The other option would be a crate. The most important thing is to put a stop to him rehearsing this unwanted behavior. If he continues to rehearse it, and is enjoying it, he is reinforcing his own behavior which means he will probably never stop.

Thanks for the questions! Here is the link for help with separation anxiety www.dogingtonpost.com/helping-a-dog-that-suffers-from-separation-anxiety/#.UrECsqUSPFI.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

Do you have a tough training question of your own? Click HERE to “Ask the Trainer!”

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  1. Avatar Of Donna



    My dog has gotten out of ever kennel we put her in. When we leave she destroys everything she can. She don’t know what to do. We found her as a few weeks old as a stray. She seems to be a ridgeback mix. She is about 10 mths old.

  2. Avatar Of Renata Cauthon

    Renata Cauthon


    so my situation is similar and different at the same time :
    I rescued a 2 yr old pit Dane mix he had a rough past he was used for dog fights and was on death row a few times but with the help of a handful of women we were able to save his life he has toy aggression and dog aggression ( says the girl that fostered him ). I have had him for about a month now and I’ve seen the toy aggression subside for most of the time he deff does not have it towards me at all I can grab his toys put my hand is his mouth and he has never shown any aggression towards me but is very protective of me . im thinking that it has to do with the fact that he is territorial of what is his and he views me as such now those problems I can handle and improve with ime the prob im having is that he is now chewing the last thing I touch before I leave or before I go to sleep including 700$ worth of Victoria secret make up and my 600$ iphone …. its not normal stuff that u would think a dog would chew on or even be interested in … im at a loss I don’t want to get rid of him bc I love him as much as he loves me but I don’t know how to get him to stop that I think it may be a territory and anxiety mix or something please someone help

  3. Avatar Of Betsy



    I used a puppy training program, it worked wonders!!! Hope this helps some of y’all good luck! c530e4-voztd9t96la184mnbyr.hop.clickbank.net

  4. Avatar Of Dave



    All 4 rescues snooze and protect against squirrels, cats, and the notorious mailman who keeps coming back each day. 🙂

  5. Avatar Of Sharyn Morin

    Sharyn Morin


    When no one is home: 1 dog (chi) gets crated because she is not trustworthy. 1 dog (pom) listens intently and the slightest noise barks uncontrollably and the 3rd dog (pom) just hangs out and barks when the other pom barks but not as uncontrollably.

  6. Avatar Of Jen



    I have two big boys that just sleep while I’m gone. Sometimes they are so sound asleep they don’t even hear me come in. When they were pups though, I crated them initially and then graduated them to having the kitchen to roam in while I was away. It was a decent sized kitchen that was easy to baby gate off from the rest of the house. I just made sure not to leave anything out that they could get into. Mine actually loved their crates. They often went into them to sleep even though they had the run of the house when I was home.

  7. Avatar Of Vickie Patterson

    Vickie Patterson


    My dog takes care of her grandparents while I’m at work.

  8. Avatar Of Delinda DeLinda says:

    My dog plays with her toys while I’m away – the reason I know this is that before I leave, I always straighten up the house, which includes putting all of her toys away. When I return home, her toys are out all over the place, lol. I don’t mind this as it keeps her too busy to have anxiety issues while I’m gone. 🙂

  9. Avatar Of Debbie debbie says:

    my dog bark,s and he watchers out the widow for me and then he greetes mummyyyy at the door space buddy but he does not get into trouble … when I am home is which is all the time as I am disable he love to talk through my legs and I am scared that I can fall and hurt him if i cant see him as I have had a lot of falls and with my back and hip trouble,s

  10. Avatar Of Eilen




  11. Avatar Of Lisa K

    Lisa K


    we are so lucky – neither of my two DOXIES destroy anything or even know how to play with toys (both were rescues from mills. They sure so love to snuggle though!

  12. Avatar Of Kathryn



    My dogs look out the window waiting for us to return.

  13. Avatar Of Florence Mims

    Florence Mims


    I have two dogs, and they pull the sheets off the bed while I am gone.

  14. Avatar Of Rebecca Beck

    Rebecca beck


    He sticks his massive Rottweiler head through the blinds and waits for us, usually falling asleep on the couch, we go through a lot of blinds, we need another set once again so I think it’s time to get curtains!

  15. Avatar Of Jb



    Our dog has abandonment issues so we have never left her home alone. Why do it when she is a member of the family, not being punished!

  16. Avatar Of Joe Sawler

    Joe Sawler


    Our GoldenDoodle Jake is fine while we are away, it’s when we get home that he acts up! Right in front of us, grabbing socks, pillows, anything he can find!!

  17. Avatar Of Linda Bass

    Linda Bass


    I don’t know what my dog does when I’m not at home but I bet she goes under the couch because that is her safe place.

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