Destructo Dog!

Updated on April 21, 2010
E.L. asks from Lyons, IL
15 answers

We have a great dog (Hershey, female, shar pei/lab, 6 yrs old) She's been great with our little girl since we brought her home but she has been a little jealous and understandably more protective of the family. She's begun to display some "destructive" qualilites around the house, chewing several holes in our bed comforter when she isn't attended to in HER time, finding any food opportunity she can, tearing into trash, stealing food from the baby, chewing into bags that "might" smell of food ie. the diaper bag, peeing on rugs usually in the nursery, we now close the door at all times. The biggest issue is the mail carrier, she's always barked but now she has destroyed 2 area rugs and yesterday tore a foot and 1/2 hole in the curtains! (she's not neglected in any way) 2 meals a day, several snacks, 2 walks a day when we are able and a large fenced yard to run when the weather is good, semi-regular wrestling matches with daddy. Attention to her has of course changed now that the baby is here but the most I can say is that the 2nd walk may not always happen because my husbands work schedule has changed as well but she is always allowed to run outside in lieu of a walk. Advise on behavior and/or curtains to withstand the attack?! My house is getting trashed but I hate to replace things just to have them eaten!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Well, the day I posted this I came home after running some errands to find the curtain yanked out of the wall rod and all! yippee. We're currently in the process of obtaining a crate to be in when we are not at home and over night which tend to be her worst times, bored I guess (one that fits the budget, doing the craig's list thing) and we've discussed trying to make the time we spend with her more interesting (working on tricks during her walks to earn her treats) since we don't really have more time to devote and making sure she has some quality snuggles after the baby is in bed. She has no interest in toys or "treat hiding" type toys, I tried that before. So that is where we are.....i'll keep ya posted!

Featured Answers


answers from Norfolk on

Can you hire a teenager to give the dog some extra walks? I think she'll settle down once she's adjusted to the baby. You can't judge exactly how jealous she's feeling so never leave her and the baby alone together without very close supervision.

More Answers


answers from Jacksonville on

The general sense I picked up from your entire post is "what can I do to make her happy?"... you serve her. That is what you have always done, right? You may not realize it, but the tone of your post is one of "help me please her".. and I bet dollars to donuts that she KNOWS that is the attitude you guys have toward her. That SHE is the one to be followed and pleased.

Completely BACKWARDS dear. All your problems will be SO much easier to solve once you take your place at the head of the pack. Right now, she is the pack leader. If you and your husband do not behave like the pack leader then she is lost unless she becomes the alpha. And bless her, she is like every other dog... there wasn't an alpha so she became it. They are wired that way.

Find a few episodes of Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer (comes on National Geographic Explorer and you can order DVD's buy books, etc also) and watch them. Every episode has different problems with different dogs in differing situations... but almost every one of them boils down to the same general problem.... the dog is the pack leader.

When you take her on walks, YOU go out the door BEFORE she does. You make her sit before you pet her. You make her wait before she is allowed to eat. You only play with her when YOU initiate it (if she brings a toy and plops it in you lap... put it down and ignore her). You NEVER let her get in your bed. You make her work/show discipline (exercise, follow some simple commands) before you show her praise and affection.

There is absolutely no reason you should be resigned to your home being destroyed b/c she is "out of sorts" and jealous of the new baby. The new baby, right now, is a "threat" to your dog's alpha status... and that is why she is being so destructive... not b/c her routine is messed up or she is bored.

Please do not allow this to continue. Train YOURSELVES how to be the pack leaders (you have to view things from a doglike perspective.. they don't think like people do). Educate yourselves on how to lead. She will fall into line and you will be AMAZED!

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from South Bend on

Sounds to me like she needs good old fashioned discipline! What do you do to deterr her from this behavior? Does she get scolded? Do you raise your voice? You need to let your pet know that YOU are the master, and YOU are in control. From reading your post, i get the sense that the dog thinks she is in control! You may have to invest in a crate, if you don't already have one, and put her in in for 'time outs'. Also, when she destroys something of yours-put her in the crate. Let her know why she's there...put her snout on the freshly chewed up comforter or curtains, bop her ontop of her head, and sternly say "NO, bad dog!", then proceed to take her to her 'time out' spot. This also goes for when she's trash digging. You should'nt have to buy 'dog proof' curtains. The key is deterring her bad behavior to begin with. You are obviously not neglecting your dog, but it sounds as if you are failing to properly punish and guide her. Be the owner here, not OWNED! :) Hope this helps. (P.S. I am a mom of 4, my yougest being 2, and we have a 4 yr. old male Weimaraner...i know of what i speak! Lol.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I would say two things.
One. Boredom. Your attention has shifted, the 2nd walk doesn't happen every day...this is easy to remedy though. Get her a few stimulating new toys, be sure to rotate them. Only bring them out when you can't supervise her (like a special treat). Also make sure you are not overfeeding her. 2 meals and several snacks sound like a lot to me. Extra food - extra energy to burn off. Crating will not help with the boredom, but might give you a break, when you cannot supervise the dog.

The second suggestion is more serious. She is marking her territory and asserting her pack position over the baby (stealing her food, detroying her things, peeing in her room) and maybe even over you. This is unacceptable and setting your family up for problems down the road. You must step up the discipline!
I am a fairly strong believer in the philosophy that from the very beginning dogs must be taught that a young child in the family is of higher position than them and absolutely UNTOUCHABLE. That means no playing with the baby's stuff, not even smelling the baby's stuff (or even the baby), not the diapers, not being allowed in the baby's room and certainly not stealing the baby's food.The baby and the baby's items are taboo!
Go back to basics and give her obedience training sessions (these can be short) a few times a day. I bet that her destruction will end fast, once she is reminded who's alpha. It's hard with a small child, but you have to show you dog her place in the pack, otherwise you will end up not wanting to live with her for much longer.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

When I can't watch our dog, she's in her crate. Dogs do things for simple reasons - does it get them what they want? When she tore into the trash bag or stole food from the kids -- did she get to eat something? Then she was rewarded. If she was doing it for attention - did you give her attention? Then she was rewarded.

I would get a crate and use it. I would put some toys and chew toys in her crate. I wouldn't use it as a punishment. When you can't watch the dog, when you're distracted by other things, when you leave the house, and when you sleep at night - crate train her. Keep up with your walks, make sure she gets some time alone out with you guys where you can watch her. I also suggest tethering her - so she can't leave the room you're in. Set up some boundaries for her. Tether her on a short enough lead that she can't destroy things when the mailman comes.

Have you taken her to any kind of training class? She may really benefit from that. You might also consider getting a bunch of dog treats, and treating her heavily when she's displaying an action you want to encourage. If she's sitting next to your feet just relaxing and snuggling, give her a treat and some praise. If she comes when you call her, give her a treat and some praise.



answers from Chicago on

Sooo many great pieces of advice, but I'll throw my 2 cents in. I have a pit bull that was the absolute spoiled baby before my daughter came along 2 yrs. ago. Although he never reacted in such an extreme behavioral manner as what you're saying your dog is doing, I became uber-disciplinarian with my dog from the day I came home with my daughter. It was more out of fear of not knowing how my dog would react, because he is afterall a dog...amazing how many people forget that simple fact. In turn, I teach my daughter how to treat the dog. I knew it would truly begin when she started crawling and going for him. I was ON TOP of him! My husband would say "You're going to freek our daughter out. You're going to make her afraid of him. The dog isn't going to do anything to her." Whatever...I listen to my own instincts. And thank goodness I do. My dog learned who the Master was. I needed to instill that fear of me in him that he had never known before...but with no harm done to him. He still gets tons of love. He knows his limits with my little girl...last thing he wants to do is jeopardize his little walking snack-dispensing machine...haha. I'm still very aware of the fact that he is an animal. Never, never forget that. You must stay on top of the dog to get the idea through their little dog heads. It will clique. My experience turned out fantastic...and it really took very little time. Stern and IMMEDIATE reaction to the behavior is key. She layes all over him now and sits on him like a horse constantly. If he doesn't want to be bothered, he'll just simply walk away. It's awesome. Good luck in however you decide to handle it.



answers from Chicago on

Try taking her to Narnia Pet Behavior specialist in Aurora. They are great and they can help you figure out what's going on with her and how to deal with it.



answers from Minneapolis on

Sounds like she needs a behavioral specialist or trainer, but you might want to consult with your vet too. Dogs can be very sensitive to changes in the household or schedule. They can actually get anxiety attacks, separation anxiety, etc. I would try behavioral modifications and perhaps crating first, but medications can be an option too. I have an elderly dog that developed anxiety late in life and is on the generic form of Prozac. It's surprisingly inexpensive. I don't think medication is always the answer, but in our case it has helped and since my dog is almost-15 years old, I wasn't as concerned about having to keep her on it long term or potential side effects. One caveat--crating can solve many issues for many dogs, but in dogs with anxiety or separation anxiety it can make things worse. I can't really crate my dog anymore. She freaks out, poops in her kennel and makes a huge mess. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

Don't get mad at the dog since you all changed the game and are adjusting to parenthood. Yes it has been her time but don't expect pets to have cognitive understanding (just like we should expect our children to have a stable glimpse of it until age 8). You have to pay attention to her and establish a stable set of responses that she can count on. Being 6 (oh that is 42 in human years - bet she is older than you and your husband) she will be smart enough to pick up on it in a short amount of time. Second option, find her a living situation where she may have proper training and attention.



answers from Indianapolis on

I'd HIGHLY recommend an animal behavioralist - I know it sounds really silly, like a Dog Whisperer, but we had to do the same thing with our dog who'd been a perfect angel until our son was about 14 months-old. Then the destruction began. It's probably cost us at least $1000 in ruined moldings around windows, blinds on windows, etc. In her case, it's separation anxiety. She HAS to be outside with us or she'll destroy the house.

$150 on the phone with an animal behavioralist recommended by our vet gave us some good guidelines to implement.

Dogs are pack animals that are accustomed to a hierarchy. I'm the alpha according to our dog. Bringing a child into the mix changes that structure and messes everything up, so they try to re-establish where they are in the pack.

Good luck.



answers from Gainesville on

This is relatively normal behavior for a major change in the household. She needs more attention, which with a new baby in the house she probably won't get. What helped our older dogs deal with a new baby was special time with each of them, individually, every night after the baby was put to bed. Yes we were exhausted, but it was worth it. It made a huge difference to them. Between 10 and 15 minutes is fine, but it has to be what your dog wants. One of ours wanted love, the other one wanted to play outside. Whatever your dog values most, give it to her with your undivided attention once a day. Babies love being outside, and a well-trained dog is very compatible with a stroller or baby carrier. If your dog really isn't that well trained, then take the time while you have maternity leave and get some professional training. I know it's one more thing you don't need, I know you're exhausted and how could I possibly suggest you take something else on, but I promise you you will not regret a single cent or second spent. If it's possible, since dogs really need routine for security, develop an iron-clad routine. The walks are, if not at the exact same time, the same route. It's boring for us, but reassuring for them. It can be done. But honestly, I'm a huge believer in getting help from a professional dog trainer; it worked miracles with my husband's older, stubborn, aggressive, spoiled dog when we got married. After about two months of serious behavior modification she was a calmer, happier, animal, and she was a real sweetheart. Good luck.



answers from State College on

You may want to talk to a trainer near you and more exercise can help if she is bored. Also keep track of when she exercises and when the destruction occurs to see if they go together at all. If it was a very sudden change you may want to talk to your vet too, make sure there is something that could be causing it. If she doesn't mind a crate or small room when you are leaving you can do that. Make sure she is acutally going to the bathroom outside and get her out more often and you may want to have her urine checked to be sure there is no UTI, crystals or bladder stones present. Make sure any urine is cleaned with an enzyme cleaner, otherwise she can still smell it and it is more enticing to go there again.

Mental exercise can help too.You can play hide and seek inside with her - if she stays, have her do that while you and your little one hide and then release her to find you, have a treat ready when she does. You can also put her in one room and hide a few toys or treats in another room and then let her find them. A buster cube, rolling ball that depenses treats, or something similar can be great for meal time. It will take her longer to eat and exercise her mind and body at the same time. Spend a little time having her do sits, down and any tricks she knows a couple of times a day and reward her. Also make sure to reward her when she is calm in the house and doing what you want her to do.



answers from Boise on

There are lots of good suggestions on behavioral trainers, etc. In the mean time, you may need to keep her in a crate when you aren't there to watch her.

Our dog started with the destruction (she is older, and this was BEFORE the baby), but she would shred anything plastic, and you had to patrol the house before thinking it was okay to leave. She still might find something you had overlooked. The crate was really the only answer for us, as the tension of "what has she destroyed this time" was too much, and the destruction was usually something that wasn't as replaceable as curtains. It won't solve all issues, but may help in the meantime to finding an answer.



answers from Chicago on

She might need more exercise than she's now getting-- a tired dog is a good dog. (Most dogs will not exercise much when they are on their own in the yard.) Obedience training is also a good idea if there's any way to fit it into your busy schedule. It builds the human-dog bond and gives the dog a chance to use her brain on something positive. I realize this might not be possible. I'm sure your days are already packed full!

I personally think this sounds more like excess energy/anxiety than dominance or jealousy. Her life has changed and she doesn't get as much activity and mental stimulation as she was accustomed to. She's hunting for ways to occupy herself. jmo!



answers from Chicago on

Have you thought about a doggy day care or having a dog walker come and take her on a long walk during the day? Exercise alone probably isn't the answer, but could help. My dogs would come home from doggy day care nice and worn out, always helped with behavior. I agree with those who recommend a behaviorist or at least a very good trainer. A crate may or may not work - one of my dogs must have been abused before we got him because he completely freaked out whenever he had to go in the crate. Trembling, peeing and pooping, and even managed to chew his way out of a wire crate (ouch). Talk to your vet about getting in touch with a good behaviorist or trainer. Good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions