Home
Karen B. London
Print|Email|Text Size: ||
Worst Mess Ever
Coming home to destruction

Leaving a dog alone and unconfined at home works out beautifully for millions of families. People leave to go to work, and return to find a dog who is pleased to see them and a house that is exactly as it was in the morning. However, the experience of coming home to a dog who is pleased to see them AND mass destruction is hardly unusual either.

Often this has happened unexpectedly since steps were taken to prevent such trouble. There are many dogs who struggle to handle the responsibility of freedom in the house and are usually confined, but that’s not always foolproof. Sometimes a dog figures out how to open the door to the laundry room. Other dogs jump a gate that was thought to be too tall. In other cases, there is confusion within the family, with each thinking someone else had put the dog in the proper place for the day. True Houdini dogs seem to be able to break out of crates or other means of confinement, no matter how secure they may seem.

Sometimes the mess that dogs make is a result of thinking that a puppy or adolescent dog has put destructive chewing behind them. Though they do quite well for several days or weeks, one day, they are back to their old habits. For some dogs, a thunderstorm or other anxiety-causing event can trigger bouts of chewing and mayhem. Dogs who are unable to tolerate time alone may cause destruction because they are literally in a panic about being separated from the family, and they are just not themselves in that emotional state. (Such dogs need help to overcome this issue and it’s best not to leave them alone until they are emotionally capable of handling being left alone.)

Sometimes the destruction occurs because something way too tempting has been left within reach. Even dogs who normally allow the house and everything in it to remain undisturbed will chew something amazing just because it’s there. I know of dogs who, understandably, have been unable to resist appetizing steak bones in the garbage, a leather belt and pair of shoes that are usually in the closet, wooden salad tongs that were left to dry by the sink but slipped off onto the floor, and a new couch cushion just begging to have the stuffing ripped out of it.

Over the years, most dog owners have come home to destruction of clothes, food, and furniture, or even a good old-fashioned trash party. What’s the worst mess you’ve ever come home to courtesy of your dog?

Print|Email

Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

photo by djg0333/Flickr

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.

More From The Bark

By
Karen B. London
By
Karen B. London
By
Karen B. London
More in Karen B. London:
Dogs Comfort in Boston
Quality Time Without Other Dogs
The Weather Channel’s Therapy Dog
Learning About Glass Doors
Losing the Dog That Was Your First “Baby”
Well-Trained Dogs Inspire
Dogs' Responses to Familiar Human Scents
Social Roles and Relationships in Dogs
Dog Survived Washington Mudslide
Adam Miklósi is a New Advisor