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Why Does My German Shepherd Destroy Everything?

Why Does My German Shepherd Destroy Everything?

German Shepherds are highly intelligent, highly active dogs who can easily get themselves into all sorts of interesting situations.  Have ever wondered why does my German Shepherd destroy everything? 

This article will give the most common reasons why German Shepherds can be destructive as well as provide some solutions to stop or reduce this behavior.

Why Do German Shepherds Destroy Things?

German Shepherds can destroy things for a variety of reasons.  However, normally their destructive behavior stems from boredom, a lack of training, a lack of exercise, teething or to get attention.

9 Common Reasons Why German Shepherds Destroy Things

Although every dog is different, below is a list of the most common reasons GSD’s destroy things:


One of the most common reasons German Shepherds destroy items is because they are bored.  This is especially true for puppy and adolescent German Shepherds who have more energy that they need to burn off. 

Although German Shepherd puppies will sleep a lot, when they are awake, they need to be engaged with or they will easily get bored and find something to play with (or destroy). 

Bored German Shepherd

Adolescent German Shepherds will be awake more during the day than puppies, and as such will need to have more activity throughout the day to keep from getting bored. 

Although German Shepherds calm down with age, older GSDs still need physical exercise and engagement on a daily basis to keep them happy and from being bored.

If your GSD is destroying things look at how much you engaged with your dog that day, if you have been busier and had less time to walk or play with your pup boredom could be the reason for their antics.

Too Much Freedom

Another big reason why GSDs destroy things is because they have too much freedom and access to items that are easily destroyable. 

Although some dogs can be left unattended and be ok, German Shepherds (especially younger untrained GSDs) shouldn’t be left with freedom over the entire house or apartment while you are out or otherwise occupied.

If your dog can’t get to certain items, they can’t destroy them.  If you can’t supervise your dog make sure they don’t have access to items you don’t want to be destroyed.

Lack of Exercise

Another common reason for destructive behaviors with German Shepherds is a lack of exercise.  This kind of goes hand in hand with the boredom reason. 

A lack of exercise allows your dog’s energy to get stored up, and since GSD’s are naturally energetic, smart, curious dogs, they will start to look for ways to keep themselves busy if you don’t give them an outlet for their energy.

Lack of Training

Another reason GSD’s destroy things is because they haven’t been trained.  Training helps teach your dog discipline, as well as helps them to learn what type of behaviors you deem as acceptable or not acceptable. 

If you haven’t done any training with your dog yet, then your German Shepherd wouldn’t have learned what is expected of them so they are more likely to be more out of control.

To Get Attention

Another major reason German Shepherd destroy things is to get attention.  The saying any attention is good attention is very accurate when it comes to our dogs. 

Your dog is smart enough to figure out that when they take your clothes, shoes, or something you care about you react very quickly.  So, if your dog wants to get your attention, they quickly figure out that taking something of yours is the way to get them noticed.


Teething is another reason why your German Shepherd could be destroying everything.  When your puppy is teething, they will go looking for things to chew on to soothe their gums.  You may even find your dog chewing on furniture during this phase. 

The Puppy Biting Phase

If you have a puppy that is destroying things another culprit could be the puppy biting phase all GSD puppies go through. During this phase, they are likely to bite your hands, ankles and even chew on many of your favorite items.

This phase is normal and your puppy will grow out of being mouthy with age. The best thing to do is to teach your pup things that are acceptable to bite like toys, versus things that they shouldn’t bite like your belongings or you.


Some dogs destroy things because they are afraid.  Sometimes prior negative experiences can cause our dogs to be fearful when reminded of that instance.  For example, some dogs are scared of thunderstorms or certain sounds remind them of a negative experience from their past. 

When some dogs get scared, they get anxious and start looking for something to do to keep them occupied, this is when they can become destructive. 

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is also a reason some dogs destroy everything.  German Shepherds in particular, are known to be a breed that more regularly suffers from separation anxiety when their owners are away.

GSD who have separation anxiety get anxious and nervous when their owners are away.  This nervousness and anxiousness cause them to search for other things to do or destroy to help them pass the time and feel better.

How To Stop Your German Shepherd From Destroying Things

Give Them Plenty of Exercise

One of the main ways to combat a GSD who is destroying everything is to tire them out.  A tired dog will likely sleep instead of hunting for something to get into. 

If you know you are going to be busy, give your dog exercise before you get started so they will be tired while you are busy.  A long walk, fetch, biking, rollerblading, flyball, agility, and Schutzhund are all good ways to give your dog exercise.

Keep Your Dog Mentally Engaged

Another good way of reducing boredom is to keep your dog mentally active.  Physical exercise is only one way of tiring your dog out.  Mental exercises and puzzle toys are also good ways of keeping your dog engaged indoors. 

Since German Shepherds are very intelligent, they need to be challenged mentally and these toys and activities help them engage their minds more than just going for a walk.  Incorporating mental exercises into your play routine will help cut down on boredom and destruction.

Train Them

As stated above, a lack of training can contribution to destruction.  Teaching your dog new tricks is a great way to keep them mentally engage but also teach them discipline as well as your expectations for their behavior.

Training your GSD to shake hands

All German Shepherds should know common commands like sit, stay, and down.  However, it is also fun to teach your dog other commands like how to hug, rollover, army crawl, and how to shake hands after your dog has mastered the basics.

Crate Training

Crate training is a big part of potty training, but also is an important part of keeping your dog from destroying the house when you are away.  If your GSD can’t roam around to get to items you don’t want destroyed, they can’t destroy anything. 

Crating also important for your dog’s safety, especially while they are younger and haven’t learned self-discipline yet.  There are many items that can be harmful to dogs, like certain household plants and chemicals. 

If your dog has access to roam and likes to destroy things they may get into something or swallow something that could harm them while you are away.

Help Reduce Teething Pain

Every pup goes through a teething phase, just like babies do, so we can’t prevent this phase, but we can do things to help with the teething pain. 

Providing your puppy with safe teething toys gives them something safe to chew on to relieve their pain other than your clothes, shoes, and furniture.

Keep Easily Destroyed Items Out of Reach

The best way to keep your dog from destroying things is to keep items that can be destroyed out of reach.  If you know your dog likes to chew up your shoes, maybe keep your shoes in a closed closet instead of out in the open. 

Just do the best you can to remove all items that a dog could be attracted to out of reach and this should greatly reduce the destruction.

Leave Them With Safe Chew Toys

Another good thing to do to keep your dog occupied when you are away or busy is to leave them with some safe chew toys to play with. 

Toys like KONGs are a great option for leaving with your GSD because they are tough enough to not get destroyed and you can stuff treats and peanut butter in them to keep your dog licking and entertained for quite some time.

Don’t Give Any Attention for Destructive Acts

When your dog does get into something (all dogs do from time to time), it is important not to give them attention for those unwanted acts. 

For example, if your dog destroys your shoes, don’t yell, or make a big fuss.  Just calmly remove the shoes and ignore your dog.  Now when your dog does something you want them to do, like downs when commanded, you should go crazy with praise letting them know they did the right thing.

This will teach your dog that destructive behavior will not get them attention but listening to you will.  Over time, they will stop destroying things if they are only doing so to gain your attention.

Remember it is still important to set your dog up for success by reducing their ability to destroy things but keeping those items out of reach.

Reducing Fear and Separation Anxiety

Dealing with destruction caused by anxiety because of fear or separation anxiety will take some patience and time to resolve but it is possible is many cases to at least reduce the unwanted behavior. 

You will need to drill down onto what is causing the behavior so you can better know how to address it.  It is also important not to make a big deal over the thing that causes your dog anxiety, you can’t feed into their anxiety by coddling them.

This article about German Shepherd separation anxiety will help give you some tips on how to handle separation anxiety.  Sometimes, in severe instances you may need to find a specialist who can provide guidance in curbing this behavior, your vet should have some recommendations.

Final Thoughts

Being that German Shepherds are a high drive, high energy breed they are prone to destroying a thing or two.  Understanding the reasons why they destroy everything will help you figure out how to stop this behavior. 

If your dog is destroying thing because of a lack of exercise, give them more physical activity, whereas if your dog is destroying things because they are teething, your need to provide them with some relief. 

Keeping your dog active both physically and mentally, crate training, and putting away easily destroyable items are some of the fastest ways to stop your German Shepherd from tearing up everything in the house.


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