Why are Pitbulls So Destructive? 10 Tips For Chewing & More


aggressive destructive chewer pitbull

It’s no secret that Pitbulls are some of my favorite dogs. Pitbulls have an affectionate nature and zest for life that is tough to match. With that loving disposition and high energy comes some potential destructive behaviors when not directed properly.

Why are Pitbulls so destructive? There are several reasons why a Pitbull can be destructive. Boredom, separation anxiety, general anxiety, stress, hunger, health problems, lack of exercise and teething are some of the leading causes. This behavior is not inherent to Pitbulls anymore than any other type of dog.

Pitbulls are not destructive by nature. Like any other dog they can be destructive when their needs are not being met mentally or physically. Yes a Pitbull can destroy something in the home faster and more thoroughly than a Pug, but some of the same underlying issues will be present in both dogs.

I have lived and worked with Pitbull type dogs for over 12 years. In this time I have learned a lot about the behaviors of Pitbulls, how to redirect and prevent bad behaviors, as well as understand how those destructive behaviors develop. 

Stick around for some more in depth information as well as some handy tips and tricks.

Why Do Pitbulls Tear Up Everything?

american bully chester chews and bits rope

As a general rule Pitbulls will tear up everything when not properly stimulated physically and mentally. In some cases however stress, anxiety and health problems are causes. An under stimulated dog, or over anxious dog will find a release for this energy, oftentimes in the form of destructive behaviors.

If you own a Pitbull that is showing destructive behaviors, or a soon to be owner wanting to prevent such behaviors, it’s important to determine the causes. These are some of the most common reasons why Pitbulls will destructively tear up everything.

Boredom

Pitbulls can get bored, especially younger adults and puppies. Left to their own devices a bored dog will find ways to entertain themselves. This often leads to destructive behavior such as digging and chewing.

Pitbulls are high energy dogs that require a good deal of mental stimulation everyday. When not given enough activities during the day destructive behaviors are a way for them to release that pent up need to be doing something.

Lack Of Exercise

Along with mental stimulation, physical exercise is a must for Pitbulls. These dogs are very high energy and require daily walks and other physical activities. It is recommended that you give a Pitbull at least 60 minutes of daily exercise.

When a Pitbull is not properly exercised this pent up physical energy needs to go somewhere. The most common result of under exercising a Pitbull is excessive chewing and digging, but it can also manifest in certain forms of aggression. Mainly towards other dogs and even in some cases strangers.

Separation Anxiety

pitbull profile looking out window

Pitbulls are prone to separation anxiety. These dogs are a very family oriented type of dog and thrive being around their humans. When left alone Pitbulls can become very anxious and this nervous energy will redirect to destructive behaviors and excessive barking.

There are ways to help a Pitbull with their separation anxiety and gradually reduce their stress when left alone. I will cover the various techniques shortly.

General Anxiety and Stress

General anxiety and stress, like separation anxiety, can result in destructive behaviors such as chewing, digging and excessive barking. A loud noisy home, thunderstorms, fireworks, and other triggers can cause general anxiety and stress. Previous abuse is also a very common cause in adopted dogs.

Like all the other causes mentioned thus far, this nervous energy needs to be directed towards something. Chewing, digging, and excessive barking are often the result of general stress and anxiety. 

This too can be corrected to help your stressed out Pitbull find some non-destructive relief and escape from anxiety in general. More to come below.

Hunger

pit bull playing in snow

Monitoring the diet of your Pitbull is important for countless reasons. One being that it may be causing their destructive behaviors. When a Pitbull is not getting enough calories in their diet they will feel hungry or undernourished. This can be a result of too little food, or poor quality foods.

Inconsistent feeding routines as well as new feeding routines like diets can cause feelings of hunger in your Pitbull. There are ways to aid and correct these routines and hunger sensations. More to come below.

When a dog is hungry or feeling undernourished they will chew and eat whatever they can find to try and fill that gap. They don’t know the couch cushion is not food, they are just seeking a full belly, and perhaps a release of the stress caused by hunger.

Health Issues

Destructive behaviors, mainly in the form of chewing and eating things your dog is not supposed to, can be a health issue. Things like dental pain and sore gums will cause more chewing behaviors.

Things like Polyphagia can cause your dog to have increased hunger symptoms. Pica is a condition where dogs crave eating non food objects.

If you suspect some of your Pitbull’s destructive behaviors are caused by underlying health issues consult with your vet immediately.

Teething

american bully chester chewing and biting benebone

Destructive behavior in puppies is quite common. Aside from their massive amount of energy during their awake time, teething is also a common cause. The gums of your puppy are sore when they are teething. Finding relief will come in the form of chewing.

Puppies also explore and learn about the world with their mouth. Finding new textures, tastes, and playthings is a natural experience. There are a few ways to aid your puppy’s learning and relieve their sore gums. Tips in the section below.

Do Pitbulls Need To Chew A Lot?

As a whole Pitbulls do chew a lot and will need a variety of toys and chews to fill this need. Chewing is a natural thing for dogs. There are good chewing behaviors that help keep your Pitbull entertained and relieve sore gums, and then there are destructive chewing behaviors that need to be addressed.

As mentioned in the sections above there are many forms of destructive chewing behaviors. Now that you are aware of what might be causing your Pitbull to be so destructive and tear apart everything in sight, it’s time to find some solutions.

How Do I Stop My Pitbull From Destroying Everything?

pit bull touch flower

There are several ways to stop a Pitbull from destroying everything. Training, exercise, redirection, and addressing potential underlying health issues can all be effective. Finding the root cause of the behavior and addressing accordingly will help stop destructive behaviors in Pitbulls.

Exercise Your Pitbull Daily

One of the best ways to reduce the amount of destructive behavior in your Pitbull is exercise. This will almost always be the cause of the destructive chewing, digging and excessive barking. Without a physical release your Pitbull will find their own way to get that energy out.

Taking 2-3 daily walks of around 30 minutes can give your Pitbull the time to burn off a lot of that energy. Letting your dog just run around the backyard is not enough, they need to be out and about exploring, sniffing and walking at a brisk pace to feel satisfied.

Games like fetch are a great physical activity to incorporate into your Pitbull’s daily exercise routine as well. These types of more intense exercises are fantastic for burning off any pent up energy. I have always said a tired dog is a happy dog, and in this case a less destructive dog too.

american pit bull terrier in a harness

Provide Mental Stimulation Daily

Pitbulls are smart dogs. The high level of intelligence needs to be stimulated by providing your Pitbull with fun activities and challenges. A daily routine of mental stimulation alongside physical exercise will greatly reduce the destructive behavior your Pitbull is showing.

Things like obedience and trick training are excellent activities to help exercise those Pitbull brains. Mixing in training with a physical activity can be even better. Things like agility, fetch, and even basic walks can incorporate basic training commands to add a layer of challenge.

Games such as sniff & search can be fun for the whole family. Hiding your Pitbull’s favorite treats and toys in the house and yard and having them search them out is great for the brain. Adding a “hot or cold” command to help them out will be an advanced version that can make things even more exciting.

Related ArticleAre American Pit Bull Terriers Easy to Train? – 20+ Tips

Crate Training For Separation Anxiety

pitbull under a blanket

When it comes to separation anxiety, I have found that crate training has been the best solution. Both of my dogs have been crate trained for this exact reason. By providing your dog with a safe and comfortable environment they can remain relaxed and calm while you are away.

This will require a little training and some patience at first. Gradually introducing the crate to your Pitbull and making them understand this is a place for relaxation, calm, and some good snoozes.

Not only will the crate produce less anxiety and therefore less destructive behavior, it also controls the environment, so they can’t destroy things in the home.

Never use a crate as punishment. You are creating a space for your dog to be calm and relaxed. Punishment will only introduce stress and fear in your dog, which they will associate with the crate. This will undo all training you have done to create an anxiety free space.

My Top Pick For CratesiCrate Folding Pet Crate

Desensitization Training For Separation Anxiety

Training your Pitbull to understand that your coming and going from the home is no big deal, is desensitization training in a nutshell. By making your leaving the home a non-event, you teach your dog that there is nothing to get anxious or excited about.

This will also take some time and patience to do. Gradually increasing the time you are away from the home from a couple minutes to a couple hours is the progression needed.

Start by simply leaving the home without paying any attention to your Pitbull. No goodbye kisses, “Mama LOVES YOU!”, nothing. You do not want to create an excited state in the dog before leaving them alone. Just leave the house. Wait outside a few minutes. Then return inside without any excitement.

Don’t acknowledge your dog’s excitement, and remain calm and somewhat aloof for a few minutes until they are in a calm state. Once they are relaxed you can calmly reward them. Repeat this process over and over again. 

After some repetition your Pitbulls will understand that your leaving the home is no big deal. This video by Cesar Millan is a perfect example of desensitization training in action.

Resources & ReviewThe Best Dog Training Courses, Books, & Tools

Distraction From Stressful Triggers

pit bulls and amstaff playing

Pitbulls can have stressful triggers that vary from dog to dog. Things like thunderstorms can terrify some dogs, and not even phase others. Finding distractions for your dog during things like thunderstorms, fireworks, loud construction sounds, can all aid in preventing destructive behaviors from stress.

My Staffy used to be scared of fireworks. I lived downtown near an event that had massive firework displays several times each summer. Not to mention Chinese New Year celebrations, and NYE celebrations.

Finding her distractions with fun toys and playing games with her was the solution. I would interact with her and create a fun and playful environment so she could ignore the loud bang noises. I found that after a few sessions she gradually came to not care about the fireworks.

Play dates can also be a great way to take your Pitbull’s mind off things. Having a friend that your dog loves to interact with is a perfect distraction. If you know fireworks or thunder is coming for example, try to setup some time for play.

Games, toys, treats, and interaction with the family can all be a great distraction from your Pitbulls stress triggers. This will reduce destructive behaviors and barking, as well as train them to ignore the triggers with time.

Consider Supplementation

cbd oil dog

Supplementation for anxious dogs can be a solution. When exercise, mental stimulation and training don’t seem to be enough, using a calming treat or pet CBD oil can help.

There has been some great success with calming treats and CBD oil in recent years. Some people swear by it as a method to reduce their pet’s anxiety. CBD oil can also provide additional benefits from skin and coat health to relief from arthritic pain.

There are a variety of chews and treats available to help naturally calm and relax your Pitbull if they suffer with anxiety and destructive behaviors.. Products like PetHonesty premium hemp chews use ingredients like chamomile, melatonin and valerian root in their delicious chew formula. 

I have created a fantastic resource for CBD Oil For Dogs on my resources and reviews page that will break down the benefits and the best brands on the market to consider for your Pitbull.

Resources & ReviewsThe Best CBD Oil For Dogs

Manage The Environment

Controlling your Pitbulls environment is one of the best preventative measures you can take to eliminate destructive behavior. Keeping certain items out of reach will ensure they don’t get destroyed.

Crate training and managing the space where your Pitbull stays is also a way to manage destructive behavior. Giving your Pitbull a place to be where the ability to destroy things is limited, and they can be calm and relaxed.

For puppies teething you really need to control the environment. Make sure your home is puppy proofed and they have access to plenty of toys and chews. Redirect any chewing of things to the proper toys. Never punish, always distract and redirect.

Evaluate Your Pitbulls Nutrition & Calories

dog food bowl on counter

As mentioned above, hunger issues can play a role in destructive behavior, specifically excessive chewing and eating. Take a look at your Pitbull’s daily caloric intake, and the quality of their food. This can be the main reason behind the bad behaviors.

There are some great food options out there for your Pitbull. Yes they will cost a little more than the generic low quality grocery store brands, but spending that extra money is well worth it from not only a health perspective, but even a behavior perspective.

Resources & ReviewThe Best Premium Dog Foods For Bully Breeds

Provide Food Puzzles & Games

Food puzzles and games are amazing for reducing destructive behavior related to both hunger and mental stimulation. These food puzzles and games will engage your Pitbulls brain as well as force them to slow down when eating. Creating a more satiated feeling in your dog.

I personally always have a few frozen Kongs ready to go for my Staffy and Pocket Pitbull puppy. They are great ways to keep your dog engaged in an activity and slow down those fast eating dogs.

Food puzzles like the ones from Outward Hound are perfect as well. There are a variety of difficulties to choose from and they are very affordable solutions. These are sure to keep your Pitbull busy and satisfied.

Consult With Your Vet 

Health issues can be a cause of destructive behaviors. Anything from Pica to polyphagia to dental issues. If destructive behavior from you Pitbull is recent, or they have seemed a little off. Head to the vet as soon as possible.

Consult with a professional and assess what might be causing the destructive behaviors and if treatments for certain diseases or conditions are required. 

At What Age Do Pitbulls Stop Chewing Everything?

pit bull under table

As a general rule Pitbulls will stop chewing everything once they have finished teething. This can range from 6-8 months of age. Adult Pitbulls will still want to chew, but are far less inclined than a puppy. Adult Pitbulls that chew excessively could be under exercised, stimulated, or have anxiety issues.

Teething puppies can seem like little nightmares some days. I am currently dealing with a teething Pocket Bully as I write this. He literally chews anything he can. I know this is to relieve his sore gums, as well as explore his new world. This is normal.

Providing him the right toys and chews will reduce destroying things I don’t want chewed, as well as teach him the correct things to be chewing. Patience and consistency goes a long way in these puppy phases.

What Is A Good Chew Toy For Pitbulls? 

There are many good options for good Pitbull chew toys available. Everything from tough durable Kongs, to Bully sticks, antlers, and Himalayan Yak Chews. Avoid rawhide chews and stuffed toys. These are easy to destroy and swallow which can lead to potentially serious stomach and digestive issues.

I have created a terrific resource page for aggressive chewers. These are some of the best chews and toys available. Most of which I used with my Staffy and Pocket Bully

Resources & ReviewsThe Best 15 Dog Toys & Chews for Aggressive Chewers

Final Thoughts

pit bull puppy smiling in leaves

Pitbulls are not inherently destructive. They are like any other dog when it comes to behaviors like chewing, digging and barking. These behaviors are a result of their needs not being met correctly and resulting in unwanted behaviors.

Though the Pitbull is a very high energy and strong dog. Leaving an under exercised, bored, and anxious Pitbull to their own devices will definitely result in more destruction than say a Pug. Still the underlying issues are not breed specific.

Follow the tips mentioned in this article to identify and address the destructive behaviors. Chances are one or several of the reasons mentioned are causing your Pitbull to tear things up and misbehave.

Hopefully addressing these behaviors with the tips provided will get you well on your way to correcting the situation, or preventing them entirely. Consult with a professional if you feel like things are out of control or you just need that extra help.

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