Destructive Dog – Tips For Preventing Damage


A destructive dog can be an expensive friend. Everyone knows that puppies like to chew. But perhaps one of the greatest shocks to many a new Labrador owner is just how destructive these dogs can be. Especially as they grow bigger and stronger but are not yet mature.

Labradors are very ‘mouthy’ dogs. They love to hold and carry things in their mouths, and they often have chewing down to a fine art. Some Labs continue to exhibit a great enthusiasm for munching up anything in sight, until around their second birthday. Part of the problem is boredom,  and a dog left alone for long periods may be more likely to set about dismantling your property

Dogs are not selective about what they chew. And a ten month old Labrador with his adult jaws and teeth, can do an horrific amount of damage in the space of a few minutes if given sufficient opportunity. I have seen entire car interiors wrecked in this way. Some years ago one of my own Labradors destroyed and completely devoured both front seat belts of our car whilst left alone in it for a few minutes.

Find out how to cope with a destructive dog - tips and help

Stop Destructive Dog Chewing

Putting things away is a good place to start,  but it won’t avoid damage altogether. It is amazing how much mess a bored dog can make in a relatively empty room. Dogs will chew skirting boards, rip up flooring and some will even scrape and chew plaster off the walls. One of the things you can do to help alleviate this obsessive need to chew is to provide your dog with more entertainment.

Best Chew Toys For Destructive Dogs

We love Kong toys for keeping our Labradors entertained.

The Kong Extreme

Our top choice of best chew toy for destructive dogs has to be the Kong Extreme*(paid link).

(paid link)

It has all the properties of the standard Kong toy, but in an even tougher more durable material. Simply fill it was treats, paste or even some of his dinner, pop it in the freezer, then give it to him to chew on. Many dogs will enjoy knawing their Kong toy even when it’s empty, but for the best effect for most Labs try filling it with something they love.

The Zogoflex Hurley Toy Bone

West Paw Design’s Zogoflex Hurley*(paid link) is another big hit for destructive dogs.

(paid link)This large bone shaped toy is designed with destructive dog chewing in mind. It should stay in tact despite your dog’s best efforts and keep him happily occupied too. It comes in a range of sizes, with the large being best for Labs. It also has a choice of colors, so you can pick the one you like best.

The Goughnuts Indestructible Dog Toy

Goughnuts are a big hit with many Lab owners, because they are designed for the most ferociously keen chewers. In fact, Goughtnuts claim that their toy is virtually indestructible*.

(paid link)They don’t make this claim lightly, backing it up with a lifetime guarantee. The ring is made in a series of layers. If your dog manages to chew through the green outer layer to access the red inner one, then simply return the toy for a free replacement.

Toys Alone Probably Won’t Solve Destructive Chewing

Chew toys will help to keep your dog occupied and reduce the need to chew on other things. However, it will probably not on its own, solve or avoid a chewing problem. Young Labradors will still chew if left alone for any length of time.

Best Way To Stop Destructive Dog Chewing

The only guaranteed solution to destructive Labrador behaviour is to restrict the dog’s access to anything you value,  and that includes the fabric of your home. If you have to leave a young dog on his own, make sure he is crated or when young confined in a puppy proof pen.

Fortunately dogs don’t view confinement in the same way as people, and if properly introduced to it, have no objection to being crated appropriately. I crate puppies when I go out, until well after their first birthday. A dog in a crate cannot chew anything but the toys you leave there for him.

Many of the problems people ask me about, including housetraining regression and destructive behaviour, are a direct result of too much freedom. However, there is potential for crates to be abused, and it’s important to recognise that you cannot leave puppies in a crate for long periods of time.

The Proper Use Of Dog Crates

Dogs left alone for hours on end in a crate may become distressed and are likely to howl. Check out our crate training article for more information.

Adult sized Labradors need big crates. The dog must be able to stand up without banging his head, to turn around comfortably, and to sleep stretched out on his side if he wants to.

If you work, or are going to be out for several hours, then you will need to arrange for someone to let your dog out and walk him or spend time with him. If you cannot do this, then the only alternative is doggy day care, or a proper outdoor kennel and run. Destructive chewing is no joke,  but it is a very avoidable and normally a temporary problem.

De-crating Your Labrador

By the time your Labrador is two, he will probably have lost all enthusiasm for removing the contents of your cushions, and will happily sleep for a couple of hours whilst you are out. You will be able to leave your precious things lying around once more and fold your crate away, until next time!

If you think you are ready to stop using your Labrador’s crate, then check out this article for some great advice on de-crating.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

More information on Labradors

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(paid link)The Labrador Handbook looks at all aspects owning a Labrador, through daily care, to health and training at each stage of their life. The Labrador Handbook is available worldwide. You can buy The Labrador Handbook from Amazon by following this link(paid link). If you do, The Labrador Site will receive a small commission which is greatly appreciated and won’t affect the cost to you!

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. Hi Pippa,
    Your site did hep with some useful tips for us as new Labrador owner. Our white Lab 8 months now is a heavy chewer. We hates the crate so we leave him in a pay pen at nights. He was doing good till now but last few days he has been ripping his own bed. We replaced the first when he totally ripped leaving the filling out. We got his another which he ripped it too. Can you advice what do we do to him to stop ripping and tearing things?

  2. Could someone please help? I have a 15 month old black lab. He is a chewer even thought he gets lot of exercise and attention. Winter is coming and I have not found any outside dog houses for him for when he needs to stay outside some. Please could someone give me an idea on what to do? I know he would chew plastic or wood dog houses. I would not be able to trust him with those. Surely someone has had the same problem. What to do please? Help! I can not leave him in his outside cyclone fenced kennel without being protect from the winter elements. He would chew a blanket up in a heart beat. I need something that is totally chew proof that he can retreat to and stay warm. Thanks for anyone’s help. Cathy

  3. Our black labrador puppy called Jen she chews the furniture and the walls we have got a a lot of chew toys we also play with her, she is only left in the study that has a dog gate only for 2 hours when we are both working I only work 3 days a week for 2 hours which are Mondays,Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 am to 10 am so she is never left to long and I take her out for walks 3 to 4 times each day so she doesn’t chew as much.

  4. Hi Pippa,

    I hope you can help. We have a (nearly) 2 year old who has destroyed my furniture. He has chewed about 12 times since we got him at 14 months. But twice in the last 2 days and its been bad!.

    He didn’t appear to have been trained in much before we got him. Would a crate be suitable. He is left Am and PM with an hour or 2 dog walker in the middle

    I feel he will hate it as much as I would in doing it but we rent and we really need to solve this issue 🙁

  5. So what advice would you have for a lab who is going to be 6 years old and has chewed through his crate, chewed through all his Kong toys, and still is destructive. We have tried everything you’ve mentioned, everything our vet has recommended and this lab is still destructive. I’ve had labs all my life but never one like this. Any suggestions?

  6. hiya, My dog is bella she is a black Labrador she is just over 1 year old, her nick name is bella the destroyer. I cant think of one thing she hasnt eaten ( daz washing powder, saw dust, straighteners, hair dryer, makeup brush, clothes, lamps, letters, driving licence, photos, her bed and the clothe dryer witch was turnd on at the wall and am so shocked she isnt dead) from day 1 she has always destroyed everything in her path. She is toilet trained and she stays in the crate (witch dosent help anything as she pulls things in and sticks her paws through to get something to chew and destroy , i have no Ida how she dose it) anyway me and my family love her lots but this chewing thing is getting to much she is soooo giddy and we have to think about the bigger picture, we really dont want to get rid of her but she is really leaving us no other option, we are constantly yelling at her and i want her to be happy, can someone pleas give me some advice im 14 and im scared that we will have to rehome her.

  7. We have a black Labrador Retriever that just turned a year old a couple of weeks ago. He is Crate trained and has done great in that area. We started putting him in his crate the day we brought him home. We used the partition 2 section it off to make it small when he was little and now that he’s big he uses the whole crate. He really likes his crate. He often goes in there by himself just to lay down and relax. I think his crate is what he thinks of as “his den”. He does sometimes have an accident in the house but I blame that on myself or the children. He’s only done it when we get busy and forget to take him out. In the past when he has had accidents in the house he doesn’t use the restroom on the floor….NO… he has to pee or poopnon the couch or on one of our beds which I totally do not understand . Anyway he sleeps in his crate at night, & We leave him on the back porch during the day while the kids are at school and I am running my daily errands. When I come home I will put him on his leash and take him out. We leave his toys on the back porch while we’re gone, but it never fails whenever we come home he has usually torn up something. He has pretty much ate our back porch…. which is a pretty big porch by the way. He’s torn the siding off of the back of our house and chewed up many items inside and outside of our home. We have bought him toys and bones which he loves but he always shreds them with his teeth.. he doesn’t just chew on them he eats them. We’ve learned to not buy him stuffed animal toys because he destroys them. We cannot even put a bed or a blanket inside his crate because he will shred it. He doesn’t stay in his crate long at all. He goes to bed when we do which is around 9 o’clock and we let him out when we wake up around 6:30 in the morning. He doesn’t use the restroom in his crate. He does very good with that but he does tear up a lot of stuff. He’s very VERY hyper. We let him inside our home to play and sit with us in the living room everyday…… usually multiple times a day. I hoped he would lay around with us…maybe take a nap while we watch a movie or something, but NO… The dog doesn’t take naps! The only time I’ve ever seen the dog lay down and sleep( besides during the night while he’s in his crate) was during the summer when he would get really hot playing outside. We would take him to the pool with us to play in the water. He was terrified of the water at first but then became more comfortable. When we would come in from the pool we would let him come inside with us. He was so hot that he would lay onot top of the air vents and sleep.
    While he’s in the house he’s usually running, or jumping around on the couch hitting everybody in the head with his tail which really hurts by the way. We have to put him in his crate while we’re eating. Even if we’re just eating a snack sitting on the couch we have to put him up because he goes crazy trying to get our food. He jumps on top of our kitchen counters and takes food off of them. He acts like he’s always starving. We do not give him people food we only give him dog food. The crazy thing is he will let his dog food sit there in the bowl for hours sometimes a day but goes crazy when he sees us eating something. He always tries to take our food but acts like he doesn’t want to eat his dog food. He always ends up eating his dog food but he doesn’t go after his food like he does ours. We feed him once in the morning once in the afternoon and once at night. Should I be feeding him more?
    Do you think we need to spend more time with him outside so he won’t be so hyper or is this something he will outgrow? We can’t let him go outside alone because we live on a main road. I’m scared he will get out of the backyard somehow into the front yard…we don’t want that to happen it would be devastating. We do take him off his leash and let him run around outside in the backyard for hours at a time while we’re out there with him. Even the hours of exercise doesn’t Tire him out. The dog is a ball full of energy. He loves playing Fetch, eating anything, and chewing up anything he can find. He is a very smart dog. He catches on very fast…He knows a few commands and tricks which took him no time to learn. He ,sits, lays, plays fetch, jumps, and can do a couple of more trips. I know our boy is super smart, very sweet, and a great dog. We just have to get him out of this hyper, eating everything, and jumping on everyone and everything stage. please help us…… any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    L. Head , Alabama????

  8. Hi, I’ve recently adopted a 2yr old lab mix and I have a feeling that she’s younger than we were told for various reasons. One being that she would literally chew any and every thing. So far she has gone through Christmas light wiring, radio, dining chair, couple pairs of sneakers, broom, paint sponge and now the power supply adapter for my slomins security system. I take her out at least 3 times a day and let her off the leash so she can run and play fetch and chase squirrels which she’d do for over an hour. The kids also run and play with her. She’d then come in the house, drink her water and rest for about half an hour then she’s back to destroying my house. My husband got her for me to help with my anxiety but I’m afraid she’s causing even more anxiety because I have to hide the things she destroys because it’ll make my husband angry since it’s now something else to replace. I need help, is there anything I can do to stop this excessive chewing? She has at least two of the toys you’ve listed above, so that’s not working. Is there a repellent of some sort? Anything?

  9. Does anyone know of a good re-homing site for Labradors? We agreed to take on a Chocolate Labrador who’s owner was ill and unable to looking after him probably. We already have a five year old Border Collie. The labrador is 13months. I’m afraid it hasn’t worked out at all. My husband is nearly 75 and I will be 70 in January. I think we are just too old to give Teddy the exercise and attention he needs to be a happy and contented dog. He bullies the other dog and is destroying our home! He chews anything he can find and takes things off the worktop in order to “play” with it. Up to now he has destroyed TV remotes, my mobile phone, shoes, socks and my glasses! I love dogs and am a very patient person but I am at my wits end as to know how to deal with Teddy. He is making both my husband and I very unhappy. I feel he needs younger owners, with perhaps older children, that can run him everyday. He needs owners that have a bigger garden than we own. We wish to have him re-homed but want him to go with kind owners that are prepared to love him and give him the exercise he needs. Any

    • Do you still have the dog? and where are you .A friend of mine is looking for a young Labrador.She has previously had a male chocolate.

  10. We have a lovely 14 month old Lab. We also have a 5 year old small dog and the two get along just fine. The Lab however is chewing the house apart and has taken to barking from about 4am until let out. Even then he will resume barking at 5am or 6am or both, just for fun. He gets a water spray and hates that, but still continues. The damage (so far running to at least £2000) and the barking is driving me insane and we have tried everything we can.
    The question is . . . . will having the Lab neutered have any effect of his behaviour? I know this sounds drastic for a real thoroughbred youngster, but the problems are having a seriously detrimental effect on the family and we would hate to have to give him up.

  11. I have a two year old Labrador and recently he is crying a lot and chewing cushions from the sofa. He hasn’t been neutered so could this be a hormonal problem? We are at our wits end with his naughty and destructive behaviour.

  12. Hello, I have a 7 month old male chocolate lab, he has always been a little bit of a monkey (getting the sponges out of the sink and chewing shoes etc) and always finding ways to escape out the graden which we always fix. we have two other labs as well which are both 3 and we never really had many problems with them, i understand it can sometimes be boredom but they are never left for very long, we take them all to my days monday to wednesday as me and my partner work long hours so that way we know they are not left in on their own but no matter what we do the chocolate one always seems to cause trouble, his latest has been that he ripped all the pictures off the wall in the hallway where they was kept as my dad popped out for 30 minutes . Is this something he will eventually grown out of or is there something else we can do as he doesn’t seem to respond to positive reinforcement.

  13. My 3year old lab has just started chewing at a door frame she ate as a puppy…. Also, she has become destructive by chewing up every bed she has,running off with my shoes,any bits of rubbish and digging huge holes in my garden….i recently got another lab solelly for company for her whilst im at work in the day as i was afraid she was lonely, in the weeks since this is when she has started to chew…the whole digging has been going on for a while now. She understands what she is doing is wrong and runs off and hides after she has done it.. I can understand a jelousy issue butbi treat them no differently if anything she is the one who tends to get the extra treat when they are being given. Ive even allowed her to “live” in the kitchen overnight and whilst im out rather than being put in the back room , so I’m pretty confused about it and getting rather fustrated with her naughty behaviour now 🙁

  14. Hi, my chocolate lab is now 6 months old and she has been great since I first got her at 8 weeks, some hyper turns now and then just normal puppy stuff. I have crate trained her from day one and over the last couple of weeks I have left her out of her crate. She has again been great and has the full run of the house when I’m at work. I have someone come in for feeds, playing etc and she has chewed nothing but her toys. Was just wondering if in your opinion this could change as she gets older or if you think that this is just what she is like (which would be fab :-)). She hasn’t chewed or destroyed a thing in my house since I got her I’m feeling very lucky.

  15. Is crate training the only way to toilet train my 11 weeks old labrador??
    I want him to enjoy the freedom yet be obedient. How to toilet train a labrador puppy without a crate?

    • Hi there,
      Crate training is not the only way to toilet train your labrador. You can do it without a crate but it takes longer and I don’t recommend it which is why there are no articles on this approach on this website.

      You will need to be very vigilant in putting your puppy outdoors at frequent intervals and will need to put newspaper or puppy pads down at night for your puppy to wee on. Once he has better bladder control you can dispense with the newspaper at night and he will hopefully wait for you to get up before emptying his bladder.

      Obedience is a separate issue and is only achieved through training

      Good luck with your puppy 🙂

    • No Karan, labrador puppy’s bites are not poisonous. Also, one month old labrador puppies are still with their mothers. They are not ready to leave their mothers until they are eight weeks old. Pippa

  16. My just 2 year old has suddenly started destructive chewing when left. Her routine has not changed as since 6 months old she has been left 8 till 5 with a dog walker coming to take her out at lunch. She was crate trained from a puppy till just over a year when left and overnight She is left with kongs and toys but has taken to chewing the furniture which she wouldn’t touch if we were at home. This has just started in last couple of weeks. The only thing I can think of is to go back to putting her in the crate unless you can suggest any other options?

    • Hi Julie,
      Re-crating your dog will nip this in the bud, but it would also be helpful to try and work out what might have triggered a recurrence of chewing in a dog this age. Boredom or anxiety are often the culprits

  17. we rescued a lab about this time last year up until about a week ago we have had no problem with chewing but she has just started to chew! we have an open fire and chews the logs and sticks, (even tries to get them off the fire!!!) also anything hard plastic. she is destructive of tennis balls and not content till they are in bits if we dont get them in time. she as plenty of toys. we work from home so are about all the day so its not because she is left any length of time. she does it when we are with her to, just steals something from somewhere and starts. also she is not an only dog as we have another older lab. any ideas?? she is three so not a puppy/junior. thanks

    • Hi Sarah, if she is chewing things while you supervise her then you need to agree on some rules. You can teach a ‘leave that’ command to use when she approaches items you don’t want her to have, and a ‘give’ command to get her to hand over your stuff. I’ll try and get some more information up on these soon. Pippa