Why Do Dogs Tear Up Their Beds & How To Stop It

7 min read

Ruby enjoying a toy on the Ruby Faux Fur Rug luxury dog bed

Why Do Dogs Tear Up Their Beds

There’s one question every dog owner has come across:Why do dogs destroy their beds? We love our pups… but when they tear up the beds, it just makes no sense to us. It seems illogical to the human brain: we would never rip up our mattress! So it can be bewildering and frustrating when our pups do it — especially when it’s a bed we lovingly picked out to maximize their comfort and security.

So, if you’re wondering “why does my dog rip his bed and how can I make him stop?, read on for explanations of why they do it and how you can prevent this destructive behavior.

Why Do Dogs Tear Up Their Beds

Dogs of all ages might develop a bad habit of chewing their beds. Puppies, adolescent dogs, and older dogs will have different reasons for becoming destructive. Before we come up with a strategy for how to stop it, we need to understand why it might be happening. The reason for the behavior will dictate the method for preventing it.

Why Does My Dog Destroy His Bed? 

Energy to Burn/Boredom

When left alone, dogs (like kids) will make their own fun — especially if they have unspent energy. Perhaps your dog is bored while you’re at work, doesn’t have enough toys, or isn’t going on enough walks.

Breed

Some individual personalities and breeds as a whole are more rambunctious than others. For example, Labradors were originally bred as “retrieving dogs” and have evolved with the need for something in their mouth. This often translates to chewing.

Anxiety or Stress

Stress can be triggered by a number of things: a thunderstorm, the vacuum, new people or pets in the house, new sounds and smells, being left alone too long, the list goes on. According to a recent study, 72.5% of dogs experience some form of anxiety. Of that, 32% was found to be noise-related. Stress leads to repetitive, destructive behavior in dogs. It’s similar to how humans bite their nails when stressed: damage isn’t the intent, but it is the result. Dogs are attempting to self-soothe when they destroy their beds, while alerting us that something is wrong. 

Separation anxiety can kick in for puppies used to being with their mother and litter, or dogs that are used to being around their owner all the time. Getting used to a new environment if you recently moved, or for a newly-adopted dog, can cause stress, just as it would for a human. 

Trauma

A previous source of trauma can lead to attempts to self-soothe later in life via compulsive behavior. Trauma can mean being weaned too early from their mother, or previous abuse or neglect. Repetitive behavior like chewing could be a coping mechanism. There’s nothing we can do to change the past for our loving dogs, but we can ensure a safe and loving environment for them for the present and future.

Wanting Playtime or Attention

If you give your dog attention after ripping up his bed, flailing your arms and yelling, he might think it is all a game. Even if you are giving negative attention, a dog in a spunky mood (or a dog that feels neglected) will interpret it as play. Do not get into a tug-of-war over the bed — that signals that the bed is a toy! 

Hunger

A hungry dog is not a happy dog. She may rip up her bedding because she is upset about a delayed or missed meal. Plus, chewing the bed mimics the motion of tearing up meat after hunting, a behavior that is instinctual in domestic dogs.

Insufficient toys

Again, this ties to boredom. The best toys offer physical and mental stimulation, so they will not be tempted to chew their beds. This includes squeaky toys or hide-away treat toys. If your dog is not engaging with the toys you have, it may be time to get some new ones.

Teething

This is more of an answer to “why do puppies destroy their beds” than anything else. While the reasons above may apply to dogs of any age, teething is unique to puppies. Your puppy is growing new teeth, getting used to them, testing its strength. This is a normal and passing phase, so all you can really do is sit back and wait for it to pass.

How to Keep Dogs From Destroying Beds

Now that we understand why dogs destroy beds, let’s brainstorm how to prevent it from happening. Here are a few solutions for how to keep your dog’s bed (and your pillows) safe from harm. 

Train Your Dog 

Once a dog destroys a bed, breaking the habit is easier said than done. But there are many methods to figure out how to keep dogs from destroying beds. You can use rewards to encourage good behavior and distraction to redirect their attention. 

When you catch your dog chewing her bed, say “no,” then offer her a chew toy instead. Praise her and give her a treat when she chews on the toy and stops chewing on the bed. You can also reward her with praise and a treat when the bed is not chewed after being left alone — start in small increments at first. Praise your dog when she calmly lies in bed as well.

Provide a More Appropriate Object to Chew

Give him something else to chew, such as a toy or a dental bone. Your best shot at success is choosing a toy with a similar texture to the dog’s bed. Bring your dog to the pet store and let him pick out a few toys to be sure that you get ones that will keep him engaged and occupied.

Do not purchase something that will be potentially dangerous to swallow. As an alternative to chew toys, dental bones are beneficial for gum health and last several hours.

Create a Calm Environment 

There are several ways to go about creating a calm sleeping environment. Reducing anxiety with soothing music is one technique for how to stop dogs from destroying beds. Move the sleeping area if necessary, away from windows if weather is the stressor. Soothing music or a loop of white noise could help to block out any sounds like fireworks or other dogs barking that may disturb or rouse your dog. 

Dogs are social animals, and being near you may quell their nervous need to chew. Move your dog’s bedding closer to your bed (but not on your bed if you want to maintain boundaries).

Temporarily Take Away Access to the Bed

While this is not a permanent solution, this temporary measure works if you have to briefly leave the dog unsupervised before he is fully trained. However, do not leave the dog without a soft place to sleep for long. Creating a stressful situation for your dog where they don’t have a restful home base can lead to other destructive behaviors based on stress. 

Use a Protective Cover

Cover your bed or the dog’s bed with a protective cover to shield the soft bed underneath. This is especially important if your dog sleeps on your mattress or sofa. An easily replaceable protective cover will save you the headache of getting new furniture, and are convenient for easy washing and replacing. 

Get a Durable Dog Bed

This prevents total destruction, even if they continue to nibble. If your dog targets a certain bedding material, try purchasing a bed with a different texture instead. Having a spare dog bed with fewer frills may be less tempting for a dog with a bad chewing habit. A flat yet supportive bed, like a cushion or a blanket, might discourage the chewing of a plush bed. It also helps to have a spare if the first one is ruined. 

Use a Dog Crate

This is a method commonly used for training puppies when first brought to their new home. Keeping your dog in a crate to sleep, or when you are out, will prevent him from destroying your bed. Give him a dog blanket or a cushion that is extra durable while in the crate — make sure it’s comfortable, as you don’t want him to feel he’s being punished. 

Tips on Preventing Dogs From Destroying Beds

  1. Patience.It might feel like trial and error until you figure out the best solution. Patience alone will not solve the problem, but it makes dealing with it a lot easier. If your puppy is teething, it is important to still train her with positive reinforcement and redirection, but knowing that it is likely just a phase will help keep you sane. Remember, losing your patience will stress out your dog more, potentially causing more chewing. 
  2. Hire a trainer.If you do not have the time or patience, or otherwise have not had success training your dog yourself, consider hiring a trainer to come to your home. Getting professional guidance may be the key to ending the “my dog keeps destroying his bed" cycle.
  3. Speaking of asking for help, reach out to your friends who have dogs.They might have techniques to prevent a dog destroying its bed that you may not have thought of!
  4. Make sure you give your dog food, water, and potty breaks regularly. A reliable routine and life’s essentials will keep your dog relaxed and comfortable.

Conclusion

The truth is, we may never know the real answer to “why do dogs tear up their beds”. All we can do is support them and give them what they need so they don’t feel like they need to. We love our dogs and want them to feel relaxed and stimulated. Animals Matter provides durable, luxury dog beds and pet couch protectors to keep your furniture safe from harm. Our collection includes deluxe companion products such as healthy and organic dog treats, sturdy outdoor dog beds, and more to keep your dog (literally) in the lap of luxury.


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