According to PreventiveVet.com, toxicity and obstruction are two of the most common emergencies that lead pet parents to take their dogs in for emergency treatment. In 2021, the Animal Poison Control Center received over 401,000 calls related to pet exposure to toxic substances. These substances included over the counter medications, toxic foods like grapes, xylitol, and chocolate, and various household items like cleaners or other chemicals.
When inappropriate substances are chewed or ingested, but they’re not necessarily toxic, that doesn’t mean pet parents are in the clear. A sofa, a toy, a shoe, furniture, or drywall may also lead to a gastrointestinal obstruction, requiring emergency surgery in the range of $3,000 or more.
Pet parents can’t always have their eyes on their dogs, so you’re left wondering “how to stop my dog from chewing stuff when I’m gone?” The answer is simple, and it gives your dog a safe, comfortable, and convenience space of their own where they can be kept away from these stressful and expensive emergencies.
Why Does My Dog Chew Up My Stuff?
Some dogs are curious natural chewers, and for these pet parents it’s not much of a surprise when they come home to a “casualty” of their outing. For other dogs, however, it’s a bit more of a mystery. Dogs who don’t typically chew can get into the habit when left alone – but why? According to The Animal Humane Society, a few of the most common reasons why dogs engage in destructive behavior when left alone are:
Separation anxiety – The single most common reason why dogs might take their frustrations out on your stuff while you’re not around is due to separation anxiety. One of the best parts of having a dog is their loyalty and their attachment to you, but if that attachment is too strong, they can start feeling big feelings while you’re away. These dogs are the ones who will follow you from room to room, they keep watch outside of the bathroom while you take a shower, their greeting behaviors tend to be frantic and a little too enthusiastic, and they might bark or otherwise react when they see you getting ready to leave the house for any reason.
Separation anxiety can occur for a few different reasons. According to Country Living Magazine, some breeds are simply more prone to it than others. On this list are Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers. What do these breeds have in common? They’re renowned for their loyalty or their ability to work in packs, or both – as in the case for the ever-popular Labrador Retriever.
A few other reasons a dog may develop separation anxiety include a change in the family schedule, a loss of a pet or human companion, recently spending time at a pet hotel, or (for those who opted for “pandemic puppies”) they’re not used to spending time away from their owner.
Phobias – Another common reason a typically not-destructive dog may pick up destructive behaviors is exposure to fears or phobias. For instance, you leave your dog home alone regularly while you go out or spend the day at work. During this day, however, a thunderstorm rolls through with particularly loud booms throughout the day. You arrive back home from work and find that the trim around your front window has turned into a pile of splinters on the floor.
This type of destructive behavior might look a little different. Rather than chewing up a shoe or tearing apart a pillow, dogs struggling with phobias while home alone will often target exit or safe spaces of the home. In their frantic attempts to escape the fear, they may even injure themselves apart from chewing or ingesting materials around the home.
- They’re bored – One of the simplest reasons a dog may chew up your stuff while you’re out is just plain old boredom. Pack dogs, working dogs, highly intelligent breeds, and high energy dogs are the most likely to resort to destructive behaviors when they’re under stimulated. The chewing is their way of having a sensory experience and entertaining themselves when they don’t have playmates, family, or interesting enough toys to keep their attention throughout a day, an evening, or even an hour-long trip to run errands.
Investigative behaviors – It’s not just a dog’s teeth that can do serious damage around your home. Breeds prone to digging, like Beagles, Huskies, and Australian Shepherds might engage in destructive behaviors with their teeth or their claws.
If you dropped a couple of pieces of popcorn into the sofa a few days ago, it’s likely it’s a long-gone thought from your memory. However, your dog is a bit keener than that. With their incredible noses, they may be able to catch that lingering scent, leading them to dig, chew, and tear trying to investigate that delicious aroma from the long-forgotten snack.
- Medical issues – For dogs that aren’t prone to chewing, coming home to a surprise mess can be concerning for pet parents. In these cases, the answer to “How to stop my dog from chewing stuff when I’m gone?” could be as simple as a trip to the veterinarian. Health issues like a painful tooth, gum disease, or gastrointestinal irritation could entice them to chew on inappropriate objects while you’re gone. Knowing they’re not supposed to chew, they may refrain from these behaviors while you’re around, but feel free to let loose once you’ve stepped out.
Finding Safe Solutions
When pet parents try to figure out how to stop my dog from chewing stuff when I’m gone, the answer they’re looking for is a safe one, a comfortable one, and an effective one. According to the American Kennel Club, a safe and sturdy crate is one of the best ways to keep your dog safe and comfortable when you’re unable to be with them for any reason. While every pet parent wishes they could be with their dogs all the time, there will be times when you have to be away from your pet for a significant portion of the day, and the crate is a dog owner’s ticket to peace of mind.
According to the ASPCA, a crate is a particularly beneficial solution for dogs that suffer from separation anxiety or certain phobias. Not only does the crate act as a safe space for your dog to be kept away from destructive tendencies, but it’s a comfort tool as well. PetLoverGuy.com explains that dogs are natural den animals, and in the wild they would seek out small, dark, cozy spaces to wait out anxieties or when they’re seeking comfort for any reason. While we no longer keep our dogs in burrows or caves, we do have a convenient, safer, and more secure solution in a handy crate.
When your dog is suffering with a phobia or separation anxiety, their crate acts as an added comfort. Not only are they no longer able to partake in destructive behaviors, but they feel better as well. They’re likely to naturally relax, as they crate caters to their very primal natural instincts.
Save Your Stuff And Keep Your Dog Happy With The Right Crate
Not just any crate will do when it comes to destructive dogs and finding out how to stop my dog from chewing stuff when I’m gone. You’re going to want a crate that’s strong, that’s safe, that’s easy to clean, and that provides the kind of comforting protection anxious dogs need to settle their nerves.
A determined dog with destructive tendencies can really work wonders on a grated style dog crate. These crates have thin bars with spaces in between, which present the perfect opportunity to scratch, bend, or even bite the metal in order to entertain themselves or escape. Not only will this destroy the crate, but it can seriously harm your dog in the process.
An aluminum dog crate with solid walls, a welded internal frame, and overall sturdy construction is a much better bet. This is type of crate that can stand up to dogs with destructive behaviors, and keep them safe, secure, and comfortable even if they’re feeling a little nervous about your leaving.
Destroying a weaker crate isn’t the only concern dog parents have when they’re dealing with a chewer. Dogs with phobias may feel overwhelmed when exposed to big triggers, and this could lead them to try to escape their crate; not knowing they’d be putting themselves in a potentially more hazardous situation. Your crate, on top of being strong with an internally welded frame, should also be marked escape proof. Adding a high anxiety door guard to the crate is often a necessary option to better protect your dogs teeth if they tend to bite at the door. These crates provide safety to dogs, and peace of mind to the pet parents who just want to keep them safe.
Enjoying Quiet Time Inside Of Their Crate
With the crate ready to go, pet parents might wonder just how they could make the crate an even more interesting, cozy, or comforting space for their dogs. A tough, durable, and easy to clean crate pad can provide your dog with a soft spot to sleep or relax while they’re in their crate. For chewers, a standard blanket may simply become another thing to chew, while a sturdy crate pad can provide even more comfort than a blanket without the worry.
If you’d like to put toys in your dog’s crate, it’s important to consider the toys you’re including. Anything that can be chewed, shredded, or swallowed in a moment of stress or boredom should be avoided, and instead replaced with those that are tougher, safer, and more durable. A Kong style toy with frozen treats inside can provide an interesting, safe, and fun activity for your pup while they’re spending some quality time in their crate.
With a strong and trustworthy crate, dog owners can rest assured they will return to a home in the same condition as the one they left. For dogs, it eases anxieties, promotes comfort and relaxation, and ensures a safer experience both pets and their parents will appreciate.