What did your Great Dane puppy (or teenager) destroy today?

If you are reading this, I am taking a wild guess that you have lost something valuable to your baby shark. Was it the walls? Your Pottery Barn bed frame? A pair of shoes, the remote or your kids favorite stuffie?

Both of us have been there and we are here to help!  Birdie is particularly fond of mail. Figaro lost his mind on the arm of a side chair in our living room. We’d be embarrassed, but the reality here is that this is NORMAL (albeit frustrating) behavior. We’ve learned a few lessons…

If you are looking for some solid, science backed, get a grip on it ideas to stop your Great Dane puppy from chewing on things, destroying your house and eating one more page of 6th grade math, read on…

UP TO NO GOOD

Chewing, digging and destruction are some of the most annoying behaviors because they make you feel frustrated and hopeless. 

Good things these little (ok, not so little) guys are CUTE, right? 

Why are dogs destructive? 

There are three main reasons:

Boredom
Anxiety
Immaturity

Throw in a dose of ‘habit’ and you’ve got yourself a really cute 100lb wrecking ball. 

Your dog is not being stubborn, spiteful or guilty.  

Think of it this way. Take some HUNGRY 5 year olds (the human variety) and put them in a room with several candy bars.

Tell them in Russian (or any language they do not know) not to touch the candy bars, the walls or each other, and then leave.

When you come back, make sure to scold them, in Russian, for having chocolate on their face. Do they look guilty? Do they try to avoid you? Had they eaten the candy bars on purpose to make you mad (even though they don’t like it when you are angry)? Do they even understand why you are angry?

Your dog is a 5 year old in this scenario, except more like a 2 year old because dogs are dogs, not humans. 

RESOLVE BOREDOM

Chewing and destroying things is FUN. It’s also a very calming activity, it makes dogs feel good. 

Dogs that receive enough appropriate mental and physical enrichment are much easier to live with and much less likely to destroy things. 

Here are some ideas: 

  • Feed meals from puzzles like this fun wobble toy.
  • Use everyday moments for teaching and practicing the basic behaviors and obedience skills: sit, down, wait, leave it, drop it, stay, touch, look at me and COME! 
  • Take classes! Obedience, scent work, fitness, tricks and Canine Good Citizen are all great for enrichment and are fun to do together. 
  • Let your dog explore, sniff and run on varied terrain (hills, grass, sand, water, gravel, etc.) on a long leash (or off-leash if trained and in a safe area).
  • Teach a new trick each week, and work towards an AKC trick title to append to your dogs registered name: https://www.akc.org/sports/trick-dog/
  • Teach your dog to search for a favorite toy that you hide. Start with a ‘stay’ command while you hide it and then over time, make it more and more difficult to find.
  • Play hide and seek. 
  •  Encourage supervised destruction of safe things, for example a cardboard box taped shut with a few treats in it, a cardboard egg carton with some bits of hard boiled egg inside, and even letting your dog open their own Bark Box when it arrives! 

Here is a great beginner scent-work video that you can play with your dog:

Think COVID lockdown, but every day of your life. 

If COVID lockdowns taught us nothing else, it’s this. We all learned what a bummer of an existence it is to stare at the same four walls every day and to have very little social or environmental interaction with the world.

Don’t believe for a second that a yard, a box of toys, other pets and a short leash walk are enough! Many pet dogs, especially young ones are chronically under-enriched.

Like humans, dogs need novel and interesting experiences. Boredom is a huge contributor towards destructive behaviors. 

PREVENTION RULES

It’s a lot harder to destroy things that don’t exist.

If your Dane has a particular habit of digging in the trash, chewing up shoes, gnawing on cords or shredding part of the couch, do everything you can to eliminate the temptation!

This requires diligence but it’s important that your Dane not be allowed to continue practicing the wrong behavior. 

While this behavior can eventually go away with maturity, boundaries and enrichment it will not go away fast at all if you continue to let your dog fail.

Crates, gates and supervision are important. 

For locking up cabinets and trash cans, these stick on locks are AMAZING.

This Midwest Homes XXL crate is a great choice, and if you have trouble crate training visit our blog post on the topic.

Supervision is required. If your pup goes after something inappropriate, immediately step in and redirect to something more appropriate.

If you scold or correct after the item has already been destroyed, you aren’t fixing anything or changing the behavior (no matter how good it feels to do).

Pick up tempting items, keeping in mind that some things may actually be dangerous (and expensive) to ingest. Shoes, socks, underwear, food items (especially cooked bones, grapes/raisins, medications, anything with xylitol or food inside of a bag that can become a suffocation hazard) and remotes (batteries are exceptionally dangerous) are common chew toys for Great Danes.

BUT, THE FURNITURE!!!!

Couches, chairs, walls and dog beds explode around Great Danes. 

It’s true. 

Crates and supervision are your friend here, but when that’s not always possible Grannicks’s Bitter Apple spray is a natural, harmless deterrent! 

Some dogs literally cannot resist chewing up a bed. Unfortunately, once this behavior is allowed to develop, it can be particularly tough. to eliminate!

This K-9 Ballistics chew-proof Cot may be the answer!

Here we are HUGE fans of BIG BARKER beds, but for those times when you cannot supervise, those cots are are a good choice to consider. 

I’m also a fan of these simple, cheap couch covers from Amazon to act as a natural deterrent against exploding couches (bonus, they are washable)!

Anxiety is bad for Danes.

Sometimes, destruction is actually a sign that a dog is anxious. Chewing on walls, limbs, blinds, door jambs or baseboards can be a sign that a dog is struggling with anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, some studies indicate a correlation between bloat and stress or anxiety. 

Minimize stress, especially if your dog tends to be on edge, nervy or suffers from aggression, separation anxiety or crate anxiety. Chat with a board certified Veterinary Behaviorist or a behaviorist with credentials for advice. 

TRAINING NEVER STOPS

A lot of destructive behaviors, so long as anxiety and boredom and access are properly addressed, tend to go away with maturity. 

Some dogs mature sooner than others,  so it’s especially important to remember that training never stops

A 6 week puppy primary class is not enough training, keep practicing daily at home!

Consider continuing into intermediate and advanced obedience classes, too. You don’t want to be caught off guard by a naughty. tenacious 9- month old puppy shark with poor socialization, bad habits and weak, unproofed obedience skills. 

Even with all the training, enrichment, supervision and boredom relief in the world most dogs find a way to destroy something at least once (ok, maybe twice…or more…). These things happen!

You’ve invited an animal to live in your human home; be diligent, be patient, be proactive. 

Tell us about the thing YOUR Dane has destroyed!? Use the comments below or join us on social media!

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. We do our best to present the most up-to-date research, however it is up to the reader to make decisions regarding the health and well-being of their dog. We make no claims here to prevent or treat bloat or any other condition related to Great Danes. Find a veterinarian with GIANT breed experience, and chat with them. 

Some of the products we list on our website contain affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase, we may receive a small commission for referring you. We only recommend products that we truly believe in. This commission does not affect the price of the product and is used to fund our content and expenses related to operating this website. 

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