How to Stop a Dog from Tearing Things Up When Left Alone?

You keep coming home to find your shoes, pillows, couches, and everything in between torn to shreds. Yes, Fido is to blame, and you aren’t happy. If it happens once, so be it, but what if it keeps happening over and over again? Let’s talk about how to stop a dog from tearing things up when left alone.

Give Them Chew Toys

One great way to prevent your dog from shredding your house while you are away is to provide them with chew toys, bones, and other such items.

Sure, they will still chew the bones and rip apart their chew toys, but at least it is not your shoes or couch cushions taking the brunt of the assault.

Some dogs are just very playful, and some dogs are just destruction machines, but if you can direct their efforts towards their toys instead of your belongings, then you’re on the right track.

Use Repellent Sprays

Something that can come in very handy for preventing destructive dogs from ripping your home apart is a repellent spray — there are specialized dog repellent sprays.

These are made to smell very unattractive to dogs. If a dog gets past the smell and chomps down onto something that is covered with this spray, they will likely stop right away. It’s quite an unbearable taste.

While this is usually effective at stopping dogs from destroying things, be aware that your belongings will then smell like this spray. It might not be a horrible smell, but a smell nonetheless.

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

Dogs that are super active and destructive when the owner leaves the house may be suffering from a lack of exercise. In all reality, the majority of dogs don’t get nearly enough outdoor walking time per day.

If you have been home all day and haven’t taken the dog out, when you leave, it probably has a bunch of energy and is bored. Some people also theorize that a dog shredding things when owners are not home may be a sign of anger, an indication that the dog is not happy about being left alone.

A good way to counter this is to provide your dog with lots of exercise and play time. Spend 30 to 60 minutes walking with it and maybe play some fetch.

Burn off the dog’s energy and show it some affection so it will be happy and tired when you leave. A tired dog will probably just sleep until you get back, rather than destroying your belongings.

Gentle Discipline

Something which every dog owner should do is discipline their pet. Now, there is a difference between discipline and severe punishment, so be sure you don’t cross this line.

If you get home and find shredded pillows, and you then yell at the dog, it may just cause the dog to be anxious and fearful of you, while not doing anything to prevent future chewing. It’s a good idea to research proper dog discipline guidelines and methods.

Remove Chewable Items

If none of the above steps and tips help to solve the problem, you might want to resort to removing chewable items from the vicinity.

Removing shoes, pillows, blankets, and other such things from the area, while ensuring that there are plenty of chew toys around will help.

After all, a dog can’t chew your shoes if they’re all in a closet. Put your valuables away if you know there’s a risk of your returning to mangled shoes and pillows.

A Crate/Pen

Although nobody wants to lock their dog in a pen or crate for hours, you might not have any other choice. If you have tried all of the above steps and your dog still chews your belongings when you aren’t home, you may need to keep the dog in a pen or crate when you are not there.

No, the dog is not going to like it and you may feel bad for doing so, but if it’s the only way to save your belongings from destruction, then so be it. In this case, you want to research proper crate training methods, because this in itself, getting a dog used to a crate, is not easy either.

If you don’t feel like a crate is the answer, if you have enough space in your home, designate a room for this purpose. Remove all chewable items, provide chew toys, water, food, and a blanket, and put the dog in this room while you are gone. Having the dog loose in a single room is better than allowing it to roam freely in the whole house.

Time Usually Helps

What does need to be said that in some cases, time does help. Puppies and dogs up to 2 years of age are much likelier to engage in this destructive behavior. More often than not, as dogs age they will grow out of this behavior.


Hopefully, these tips can help save your home from being shredded by your dog every time you leave. If nothing seems to slow down the destructive behavior, you may want to seek some professional help.