Why Do Dogs Chew Everything When You’re Gone?

When you’re at home, Rover is everything you ever wished for in a dog. He’s obedient and respectful. But when you’re at work, his evil twin emerges.

Each day you come home, you tally up the destruction … today he chewed the remote control into a gnarled piece of plastic, and there’s a bite out of your slippers. And the list just keeps getting longer and longer. Why is your normally happy and obedient dog pulling this Jekyll-and-Hyde routine?

There are a lot of possible reasons, with sheer boredom ranking right up there. Without you there, life for your pooch just isn’t that entertaining. So he makes do with your stuff, and you aren’t there to restrain him. A dog does not differentiate between a remote control and a chew toy. Both are chew toys to him. What he does know is that you react in an unpleasant way when it’s the remote control and remain calm when he goes for the chew toy. So, naturally, he’ll wait until you’re gone before tasting the forbidden fruit.

Another reason why dogs chew everything in sight is simple curiosity. Puppies and juvenile dogs explore the world with their mouths. They explore by taste and texture. In addition, a puppy may chew around teething time. The action of chewing may help relieve the discomfort associated with the eruption of new teeth. The behavior may abate as the dog grows older but some breeds seem predisposed to chewing (Labrador retrievers, for instance).

An added attraction may be the fact that your scent is on many of these items, making them that more attractive than some impersonal chew toy.

Crating or strategically locating your dog in a part of the house with expendable items is one possible solution. You may also try to enrich your dog’s environment with food puzzle toys, flavored Nylabones®, or treats strategically hidden around the room.

In addition, chewing may be an attempt to relieve anxiety, for example, during a thunderstorm in a thunderstorm phobic dog. This problem is relatively easy to diagnose; if your house is chewed up only after thunderstorms, then the cause of the chewing is relatively clear. Furthermore, your dog will probably react fearfully during storms even when you are home.

Separation anxiety is another serious cause behind chewing. Highly dependant dogs may feel abandoned when their owners are away, and may chew when alone to relieve anxiety and stress. Chew marks near doors indicate “barrier frustration,” in which the dog is trying to break through the barrier to find his way to you.

Dogs that chew as a result of separation anxiety often show other signs of this condition. They may follow you from room to room, doting on you excessively. Some dogs with separation anxiety panic when they are unable to follow their owners around from room to room. If you suspect separation anxiety to be the cause of your dog’s problem, contact your local veterinarian. You may need to institute an independence program to modify his behavior