You come home after a long day, and you open the door to find that your pillows have been chewed to pieces, your houseplants have been dug up, and your precious Fido is nowhere to be seen! So did your dog destroy your house because he’s mad at you for leaving? Does Fido have the power to be spiteful?
According to Marty Becker, author of the book Why Do Dogs Drink From The Toilet?, spite and guilt are not part of a dog’s emotional range. In other words, Fido’s not destroying your stuff to get back at you for leaving him alone all day. So why do dogs chew things up and make a mess? The answer is simple: they’re being a dog! Barking, chewing, and digging are natural, normal behaviors for dogs – it’s wired into their DNA. So Fido has no idea these behaviors are ‘bad.’ Your dog isn’t chewing because he’s mad at you, he’s chewing because he’s stressed about being alone – and chewing is a natural stress reliever for dogs. And when you come home and start yelling and screaming about the mess, Fido has no idea why you’re angry because he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. Chewing is a normal behavior for him.
However, he does know that you’re mad about something, which is why he hides in a corner. Instead, give him something else to chew on. When you leave the house, give him a rubber chew toy with some peanut butter on it. He’ll see your leaving as a reward, and will be so busy demolishing the toy, he’ll leave your stuff alone. And exercise is key! A long walk before you leave will burn off the energy your dog would have spent destroying the couch cushions.
The bottom line is this: Dogs aren’t drama queens. Fido isn’t trying to upset you by destroying the house. If you catch him chewing your shoes, correct him firmly, but without yelling, and give him an alternative. Then praise him for doing the right thing. If you’d like to go further, check out the book Why Do Dogs Drink From The Toilet? by Marty Becker.