Dogs have a way of finding mischief, but some seem more intent on destruction than others. Your dog is probably trying to tell you something when he's tearing up your belongings; it's up to you to understand what he needs, and provide alternatives and solutions to the problem.
One of the healthiest ways to curb your dog's destructive tendencies is to increase his daily exercise. Dogs with high energy levels and a great deal of stamina might not be fulfilled by a quick walk or short indoor playtime. You can try jogging with your dog, teaching him to swim or putting a weighted vest made for dogs on his back during hikes to increase resistance and intensity. Consider hiring a dog walker at midday if you can't be home to exercise your dog during the work week. You can also add mental stimulation activities to your dog's day by offering a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter or some other food puzzle games available at many pet retail stores.
Treat Separation Anxiety
Many dogs become anxious when they are left alone. For some, separation anxiety becomes apparent only when they are left for long hours during the day. But for other dogs, separation anxiety causes panic and triggers destructive behavior when they are left for any length of time. Expert recommend that mild separation anxiety be treated by adding mental stimulation activities to a safe environment, such as a stuffed Kong toy or another variety of food puzzle. Make sure your dog is not left for extended hours without human interaction. If your dog shows signs of distress and very severe separation anxiety, such as chewing on himself or harming himself by trying to escape his crate or the house, speak with an animal behaviorist or trainer who can help you implement helpful strategies as your deal with your dog's separation anxiety.
Your dog may be resorting to pulling apart your socks or slippers because he does not have any suitable toys of his own. If you've provided a few chew toys for your pup, consider whether they're challenging to him or boring. High energy-and intelligent breeds, such as Labrador retrievers, border collies, and pit bulls require a great deal of stimulation and strong toys that can stand up to their abuse. Try offering your dog a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter or kibble. It'll be a challenging puzzle for him to get the food out of his new toy.
You can minimize your dog's distraction and temptation by picking up chewable belongings, such as children's toys or items of clothing. Get a trash can with a locking lid if you have a dumpster-diving dog, and close the door to rooms that you don't want your dog roaming through, such as your bedroom or anywhere you have things you don't want the dog to tear up.
Introduce Crate Time
Dogs can benefit from spending short amounts of time confined in a cozy crate while their family is away. Instead of leaving your dog loose and unattended at home, start acclimating him to spending short sessions in a crate or kennel that is large enough for him to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. Eventually, your dog will rest safely and peacefully in his crate while you're away instead of roaming the house looking for things to chew.
Olivia Kight is an experienced online and print writer and editor. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2012, and has worked on education, family life and counseling publications. She also gained valuable knowledge shadowing a zoo veterinarian and grooming and socialize show dogs, and now spends her time writing and training her spunky young labradoodle, Booker.