Why Do Dogs Destroy Their Bed?
Learn from a professional dog trainer the 7 most common reason for dogs to destroy their beds and what you can do about it.
If you have a dog, you’re probably all too familiar with this topic. You give your dog a nice, plush bed so they can be comfortable. Then one day, you open the door and see that your dog has destroyed his bed.
This is annoying for a few reasons. First, it’s a pain to clean up the mess of a shredded bed. Secondly, you want your dog to be comfortable, but you don’t want to offer them any more beds only for them to be destroyed. Most importantly, if your dog consumes any of the shredded bedding, that can be a serious medical concern.
So the question is – why do dogs destroy their bed?
Dogs can destroy their bed for any number of underlying reasons. These reasons include puppy teething, natural instinct, boredom, stress and anxiety, and even separation anxiety. If your dog is destroying his bed, it’s important to determine the underlying cause so that you can prevent it from happening in the future.
Since this can be such a complex topic, let’s go ahead and unpack all the reasons your dog may be destroying their bed.
Why Does My Puppy Keep Ripping Up His Bed?
Many dogs may destroy their beds, but younger puppies under six months are likely doing it for one specific reason adult dogs don’t experience.
Puppies undergo a long teething phase that lasts until their adult teeth come in around six months. That’s a long time to deal with severe pain in their mouth!
In order to soothe the pain and inflammation in their gums, puppies will chew various objects, including things like their bed. Since a puppy’s mouth is so painful, it’s understandable that they will chew on anything they can get their mouth on.
If you have a young puppy destroying their bed, try giving them safe and appropriate puppy teething toys to chew on instead. Your puppy just wants to chew to soothe the pain in their mouth, so they’ll likely stop chewing on things they shouldn’t (like their bed) once they have another option.
Why Do Dogs Tear Up and Rip Their Beds?
As we mentioned previously, aside from a young puppy going through a difficult teething phase, many reasons could cause your dog to rip up his bed. Let’s go ahead and dive into those reasons so you can figure out why your dog is doing this and devise a plan to prevent it from happening in the future.
While we’ll dive into why your dog might rip up his bed in more depth below, this video also does a great job of explaining these concepts.
Reason 1: Natural Instinct
Dogs primarily rely on their mouths and nose to explore the world around them. This is why you’ll often see younger dogs put their mouth on various objects and attempt to chew and bite different things. They’re just trying to gather information about the world around them! Dogs are naturally curious creatures, so they want to explore different objects with different textures and scents.
In addition to simply wanting to explore the world with their mouth, dogs have natural prey and hunting instincts. If you’ve ever given your dog a stuffed toy with a squeaker, you know that many dogs like to “kill” the squeaker and then shake the toy vigorously. This is a natural hunting instinct that simulates what they would do in the wild with small prey, like a squirrel or rabbit.
While your dog knows his bed isn’t prey or a small creature, it may start to play around, get carried away by its natural instincts, and continue biting and chewing at its bed until they’ve destroyed it.
Reason 2: Boredom
Just like humans, dogs get bored if they aren’t living a fulfilling and active life. If your dog is bored, he will likely take some of his pent-up energy and frustration out on the nearest object to him, which could mean ripping up his bed. While every dog is different and has specific needs, did you know it’s recommended for most dogs to get at least 30 minutes to one hour of physical exercise daily?
In addition to physical exercise, it’s crucial to provide your dog with adequate mental enrichment. Enrichment activities can improve your dog’s mental state by allowing them to challenge and exercise their brains. These enrichment activities include puzzle games, interactive feeders, snuffle mats, trick training, and more.
If you think about it, these ideas are similar to what’s recommended for people! Most people feel better when they exercise daily, even if it’s a short walk around the neighborhood. Plus, people enrich their brains with daily activities by going to work and solving problems or even reading or finishing a crossword puzzle.
The more fulfilled your dog is by meeting his physical exercise and mental enrichment needs, the less likely he’ll be bored. Making sure your dog isn’t bored is one small way to ensure that he doesn’t tear up his bed out of boredom.
Reason 3: Stress and Anxiety
If you’ve made sure your dog has been physically exercised and has plenty of enrichment toys to work on, but he’s still ripping up his bed, he may be dealing with some stress and anxiety.
Dogs can be sensitive, so if something changes in their household or environment, it can cause them to become stressed and anxious. When dogs feel stressed or anxious, this can often lead to misplaced nervous energy through destructive behaviors, like chewing up a bed.
If you notice your dog is suddenly chewing up his bed, consider if there have been any changes in the household, like travel, a new guest, a new diet, and even new furniture placement. Often, if you can remove the source of stress and anxiety, so your dog is calm and relaxed, he’ll stop feeling the need to chew up and destroy his bed.
Reason 4: Separation Anxiety
Unfortunately, separation anxiety in dogs is quite common and can affect 20-40% of dogs. As much as we love our dogs and want them to love us and enjoy being around us, this can be problematic if your dog isn’t comfortable being left alone at all. Dogs with separation anxiety are overly attached to their people and display distress behaviors when they’re separated, like destructive behaviors, vocalization, and even house-soiling.
If you leave your dog home alone and come home to find that he has completely destroyed his bed, he may suffer from separation anxiety. When dogs feel this anxiety, they often turn that anxious energy to the closest thing to them, which is often destructive chewing behavior.
If your dog is chewing up his bed while you’re gone, consider discussing separation anxiety with your vet to see what you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable.
Why Do Dogs Destroy Their Bed in Their Crate?
If you place your dog in a crate when you leave home but then come back only to find that he has destroyed his bed, he’s likely destroyed it for one of the reasons listed above – boredom, stress and anxiety, or separation anxiety.
If you’ve made sure that he isn’t bored by exercising him and providing plenty of toys to play with before he goes in his crate, then the most likely answer is that he’s suffering from some sort of anxiety. As we mentioned above, dogs are sensitive, and when they feel stressed and anxious, they often put that frantic energy toward destructive behaviors, like tearing up their bed.
Most dogs have to have an outlet for their anxious energy, and when they’re in a crate with nothing else to do, the first thing they’ll do is start to chew up their bed. Additionally, some dogs with anxiety feel safer and calmer inside a crate, but some dogs with anxiety actually become worse when they’re kept in a crate. It’s important to work with your vet or a professional trainer to determine the best option for your dog.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Destroying Their Bed?
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, it can be frustrating and annoying for you to come home and see that you immediately need to clean up a destroyed bed. Plus, it’s frustrating as a dog owner since you’ve spent money on something that’s now gone.
Perhaps most importantly, it can be a serious medical concern if your dog is destroying his bedding. If your dog consumes any bedding materials as he rips it up, he could easily get a foreign body. While some small foreign bodies, like small amounts of bedding materials, could pass on their own, there is a real risk that your dog could require surgery if he eats too much stuffing.
It’s important to prevent your dog from chewing up his bed in the first place, so here are some tips that might help.
Tip 1: Increase Physical Exercise
One of the easiest solutions to this problem of your dog chewing up his bedding is simply to increase the amount of physical exercise he gets. If your dog was chewing up his bedding because he was bored, this increase in exercise should solve the problem. Not only will increasing your dog’s exercise be good for them, but you’re likely to benefit from it too!
Tip 2: Provide Plenty of Toys
Most dog owners seem to have many dog toys throughout the house, but if you suspect your dog may be destroying his bedding because he’s bored, consider adding more thoughtfully chosen toys.
Enrichment-style toys that require your dog to think and use his brain will help prevent him from becoming bored. Puzzle toys, interactive feeders, and even snuffle mats are great options that encourage your dog to think and solve a problem.
Tip 3: Provide Plenty of Chew Toys
In addition to the toys that stimulate your dog’s brain to prevent him from being bored, it’s important to give your dog plenty of chew toys designed for tough chewers and safe for chewing.
Dogs naturally desire to chew, so it’s important to fulfill that need by providing safe chewing options through durable chew toys or even edible chews like bully sticks. If your dog can fulfill his desire to chew appropriately, he’ll be less inclined to chew up his bed.
Tip 4: Leave the TV or Radio On
Some dogs are calm and comfortable at home, and they only get spooked when they hear noises outside. Any strange noise can cause them to become stressed or anxious. Leaving the TV or a radio on when you’re gone will help mask any sounds from outside.
If your dog doesn’t hear the sounds, then he won’t become stressed or anxious. Being comfortable and even sleeping more soundly instead of being started by random noises will help him be calmer and prevent him from chewing up his bed.
Tip 5: Invest in a Durable Bed
Not all beds are created equal, so some dog beds are much more durable than others. If your dog is a chewer, try using a durable, tough, chew-proof bed. These beds often have thick outer layers that can withstand a dog chewing on them.
Tip 6: Use a Calming Pheromone Product
Natural, calming pheromone products help send calming messages to help puppies and dogs feel calm and relaxed in stressful situations. The best part is that these are odorless for any humans in the household that may be worried about a weird smell.
While these may not help your dog if they have severe anxiety, they are an affordable option with no negative side effects that are worth a try that may prevent your dog from destroying his bed.
Tip 7: Consult a Professional
Chewing up a dog bed is a serious concern for all of the reasons we’ve mentioned, so if this is something your dog continues to do, it’s best to consult a professional. Working with a professional dog trainer or even a veterinary behaviorist can help you establish a plan to make your dog more relaxed when you leave home.
Dogs can chew up their bed for several reasons, though it’s likely stemming from either boredom or anxiety. Since your dog could be at risk of a foreign body if they consume any of the bedding material, it’s best to work on a plan to prevent your dog from destroying his bed in the first place.