Dog Beds

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Why DO Dogs Rip Up Their Beds?

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Why DO Dogs Rip Up Their Beds? ImageWhy do dogs rip up their beds, plush toys, couch cushions, magazines and everything else fabric or paper? I ponder that as I stand inside my living room that looks like a parade just went through it. A large parade.

I had only left the house a few minutes but that was plenty of time for my terrier mix, PJ, to locate a big package of toilet paper and have the time of her life. Toilet paper drapes the couch and flutters from the dining room table. Half-chewed rolls lay scattered like beer bottles after a frat party.

She is standing in the middle of the mess grinning delightedly.

I make a note to myself: for a young terrier, a few minutes is a long time.

The short answer to why dogs rip things up is it is fun or the dog is bored. But ask the question one more time, why is that the answer to fun or boredom? And now you get to the crux of it – because they are predators descended from predators. This is watered down hunting/eating behavior.

That vigorous head shake that PJ no doubt employed on the rolls of Charmin or that the pup above used to create that room of fluff art is a killing move. I’ve watched dogs hunting use that shake to deftly break the back/neck of their prey.

Why DO Dogs Rip Up Their Beds? Look at wolves ImageThe “brace the front feet and rip upward with a powerful pull of the neck”, which the wolf is about to do here, rips meat off bone or skin off carcass.

It is a deeply primitive, hard-wired behavior in many dogs from Yorkies to Great Danes and it is one I try hard not to trigger during puppyhood, if I can avoid it.

That means no soft, plush toys in puppy crates (and I put toys away when pups start to make these moves as part of teaching appropriate toy play), and no beds in puppy crates. Some thin-skinned, lean-bodied dogs like Italian greyhounds and Dobermans need a soft spot to settle but for them I use artificial fleece which is a fairly safe option and does not give them the thrill of “gutting” the fluff out of the bed.

Now you know.

Author: Sarah

Sarah Wilson, Dog Expert, offers experienced-based dog info with humor. Author of 8 books, seen on PBS, Sarah knows all about dogs. {Pip} is her rescue dog.

10 Comments

  1. Is there any way to curtail this behavior in an adult dog. My pittie rips up the beds (as well as his plush toys). I also have two greyhounds so removing the dog beds is not an option.

  2. Not sure my 12 year old greyhound would want to step onto one of those. Since the pittie seems to like to rip the zippers I’ve recently started spraying Bitter Apple on that part of the bed. We’ll see how long that works.

  3. If that works, fantastic! Worth a try. Respray frequently and that would be nice if it holds. Good luck!

    If not, confining your pit with a Kuranda and giving your greys cushy bedding might work.

  4. Thanks so much for the tips. This is going to be helped out a lot. I never thought of taking the toys away; I just expected that I needed to get toys that won’t be torn up, which really isn’t a training opportunity and why we have one dog that destroys toys in seconds (but the dog beds are now safe from him).

  5. Hi.
    My name is amin. I have a german shepherd 10 month. Whenever i dont let him come out from his big cage (8 meter) he start to tear his bed. I rally dont know what to do. The ground is coold and if he sleep without anything i think it would be bad for him. Please let me know what should i do.tanx

    • Hi Amin – He’s frustrated and turning that frustration on to the bed. I’d remove the bed but give him some toys to shake instead. My Shepherds always enjoyed the big Jolly Balls and they lasted a long time, even with rough treatment. Good luck – Sarah

  6. My pit bull is going on three years old. She’s been a great indoor dog but just recently she’s starting to tear her bed and any shoes she can find. She’s also wanting to sleep at the side of my bed. Just very very different behavior for her. Has me concerned

    • Has anything changed recently?

      New dog food?
      New schedule (for you).
      New pet added or subtracted?
      Human family member added or subtracted?
      New dog moved in near by?

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