Bringing a new furry family member into your home is an exciting yet, at the same time, educational experience, to say the least. You and your dog will both be learning the ropes while you housetrain them and work on helping them adjust to life in a new forever home.
One thing you’ll probably want to start working on sooner rather than later is how to stop your dog from eating or scratching at the walls. Otherwise, your forever home can become a home full of damage in places where your dog can’t resist the urge to start chewing.
A lot of the time, your dog will likely be more interested in chewing their toys, but if they’re left for long periods of time on their own or if they’re lacking enough stimulation to prevent boredom, some dogs just love to settle down to a session of scratching at things they’re not supposed to eat, like drywall. Luckily, there are ways to protect your drywall from your dog.
This article will take a look at some of the methods you can use to stop your dog from eating the drywall in your home, as well exploring some of the behavioral causes that could be at the root of your dog’s drywall problems and how to deal with them effectively.
But first, we’re going to look at the following question.
Why Do Dogs Eat Drywall?
Interestingly, your dog could be eating drywall for a number of reasons. This makes it trickier to understand why your dog is eating the drywall in your home, but here are a few of the most common causes behind your doggy drywall damage.
1. Pup Anxiety
If your dog is only scratching or chewing on patches of drywall when they’ve been left at home on their own or when you have multiple guests over, it’s most likely a sign of anxiety.
This can cause dogs to act out with destructive behavior, such as eating or scratching the walls, but there are interactive dog toys you can buy, like the dog toy below, that you can fill with your pup’s favorite treats to keep them entertained while they’re home alone.
Similarly, if your dog is bored due to lack of stimulation which could be the result of not enough walks or not enough interaction with other dogs, they can display the same behavioral traits, including scratching at or biting the drywall.
Showing your dog plenty of affection and playing with them, as well as regular training, can help prevent boredom in your dog and will reduce this type of destructive behavior.
3. They Can Smell Something
Your dog’s heightened senses of smell mean they are capable of detecting things that may otherwise go unnoticed to us humans, so if your dog is scratching at the walls, it could be a sign that they’re trying to get at something that’s behind the walls which you can’t see.
It’s more common in older homes, but vermin could be trapped behind your walls, which can cause your dog to scratch at them, so it might be worth calling in a pest removal service.
Best Methods to Stop Your Dog from Chewing Drywall
Before we go any further, it’s important to stress that while anxiety or boredom are common causes of this behavior, every dog is unique and will respond differently to different types of training and methods to stop them from chewing the drywall in your home.
Reward-based training, for example, is hugely successful with many dogs, whereas some benefit more from a more structured routine that includes crate training.
For other dogs, crate training will only worsen their anxiety, so it’s all about being patient with your dog and finding out what works for them, and not being angry when they act out.
The following are the various methods that aim to help you protect your drywall from your dog by stopping them from chewing on it.
Use Deterrents to Protect Your Drywall
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to keep your dog from chewing on areas of your drywall is to cover it with a light coating of an unpleasant-tasting deterrent solution.
Some successful deterrents that other dog owners swear by include:
1. Bitter-Tasting Apple Spray
This is one of the oldest tried and tested methods for deterring your dogs from chewing the drywall. Simply spray the solution onto patches of drywall that your dog loves to scratch or chew, and they’ll be seriously put off by the taste their tongue connects with.
The downside to this method is that bitter apple sprays may leave some discoloration or staining on the drywall where you spray it, so it might require cleaning off later.
You may even need to repaint the wall or the area where you applied the bitter apple spray due to the discoloration. When you put this into perspective, however, you may consider this a better alternative compared to having to pay to have the damaged drywall fixed.
2. Use Your Own Deterrent Solution
As an alternative to using store-bought solutions to deter your dog from damaging your drywall, you can use an unpleasant-tasting deterrent that you will likely have at home. The worse you make it taste, the less like your dog will be to continue chewing on the drywall.
Vicks VapoRub is a popular option due to its overpoweringly strong smell and taste, which will immediately put your dog off if they go over to sniff the drywall to find a spot to chew on. Just remember, if you’re using VapoRub, to spread it on a little thick so it won’t evaporate.
You could also mix up your own solution, using a strong-tasting ingredient like chili powder and some water, which can be brushed onto the drywall as an anti-chewing solution. This will probably need to be washed off at a later point and perhaps repainted, but it will do the job of immediately turning your dog off when they try to scratch or chew the drywall.
3. Corrector Sprays
If you don’t like the idea of discoloring your wall in the areas where you apply taste-based deterrents, your other option is to use a corrector spray which is another humane deterrent for dogs that will help them learn not to scratch or eat the drywall.
These work to correct any undesirable elements of your dog’s behavior, like damaging your drywall, by emitting a loud hissing sound at your command, which will immediately stop your dog from whatever they are doing.
As you continue to correct your dog’s behavior, they will ultimately learn to associate the unpleasant sound of the air hissing with eating the drywall and will avoid doing it in the future.
However, the problem with this method is that key to your dog being able to effectively learn this pattern is consistency, which means you will need to be in the room to catch them in the act of eating the drywall in order to reinforce that this is negative behavior.
Unfortunately, seeing as one of the main causes of your dog damaging certain areas of drywall around the house is anxiety-based acting out when you’re not home, this means it’s not always the right answer when you’re trying to stop your dog from damaging the drywall.
Have Anti-Scratch and Anti-Chew Panelling Installed
Anyone with some basic DIY skill or knowledge will have a few options when it comes to installing anti-scratch and anti-chew paneling on their drywall.
The first choice you have to make is whether to use a shower surround plastic material, clear plastic guard material, or fiberglass reinforced panels (FRP) to create your paneling.
When it comes to shower surround material, you can opt for a color that ties in with your current wall color so that it matches quite well, or you can go bold with a contrasting color or something that stands out, incorporating it as a feature part of your interior decor.
Plexiglass has the benefit of being easily cut to a customizable size so that it fits your needs (and your walls) perfectly. It’s also relatively easy to install yourself, and it can be attached to the wall with drywall screws.
Fiberglass reinforced paneling is also reportedly easy to cut to size and to clean, as well as also being easy to install, even if you’re not exactly a DIY pro.
Reorganize The Room’s Furniture
You might be sitting there thinking, “but everything in my home is where I want it to be,” but if you also want to protect your drywall from your dog’s scratching, you might want to think about rearranging it for the time being, for the sake of your walls if not for aesthetic reasons.
You should also consider that this alone may not be enough to completely stop your dog from trying to chew the drywall. Putting an obstacle in their way may protect your drywall for now, but they can be quite resourceful little rascals who may need a bit more to deter them.
Contact Your Local Pest Removal Services
One of the more concerning causes for your dog’s behavior, if they’re constantly chewing a specific patch of drywall, is that there could be pests inhabiting the area behind the wall.
Dogs have a highly superior sense of smell and hearing compared to humans, so they will be able to detect anything from termites to rodents or even birds. This can, understandably, drive your dog to scratch frantically at the drywall attempting to zone in on their natural prey.
Unfortunately, this one can only be solved by placing a call to your local pest control and removal services, who will be able to come out and check whether or not there is something behind your wall that your dog can sense, or if it’s simply your pipes making a bit of noise.
Using Chew Toys and Bones as Distraction Techniques
Seeing as another leading cause for dogs destroying drywall is because they’re bored and they’re acting out to get your attention; a good way to protect your drywall is to do exactly that – take their attention away from the drywall in the first place.
There are a number of great chew toys and bones that you can use to distract your dog. For example, these deer antler dog chews below are ideal for nervous or destructive chewers and will last for hours to keep your dog’s attention away from the drywall.
KONG dog toys shown below are similarly successful in drawing your dog’s attention from things they shouldn’t be doing, as they can be filled with your pup’s favorite treats as a tastier alternative to the wall. A personal favorite of ours is to fill the Kong with peanut butter for a delicious snack.
Without these alternatives to focus their gnashers on, your bored dog will undoubtedly turn their teeth to something they can sink themselves into, which might just be your drywall.
Distraction techniques also work well for a puppy who is still teething and chewing on things to relieve the pain. In this case, we found that keeping a Kong in the freezer with peanut butter inside can provide soothing relief to teething puppies thanks to the cold on their gums.
Consider Crate Training
Crate training isn’t for everyone, or every dog for that matter, so we won’t go too much into the ins and outs of it other than to point out that it could be a useful option to consider if you’re trying to stop your dog from eating chunks out of the corners of your drywall.
This is because it can create a safe space for your dog where they can go when you’re not at home, which will also keep them from being able to cause too much destruction while you’re out. After some training, you’ll likely find that you won’t even need to lock the crate! Your dog will go of their own accord once they learn to associate it with being a safe space.
Just make sure that your crate is the right size for your dog and that you leave them with a few toys and a blanket. If you want more information on crate training, there are plenty of well-recommended books and YouTube videos on the subject that you can search for.
Remove Stressors That Cause Your Dog Anxiety or Fear
We, humans, have a number of ways that we can work through and alleviate stress, or at the very least, we can mostly articulate how we’re feeling. Dogs, however, cannot express themselves in the same way, so anxiety often manifests in damaging areas of the drywall.
To protect your drywall from further damage, you can work out what’s causing your dog so much stress that they turn to scratching or chewing on the walls and try to eliminate it.
For example, if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety when you leave the house, go back to the basics with their training and work to build up the amount of time that they are comfortable being left alone for, rewarding them on your return as positive reinforcement.
Develop a Good Exercise Routine
Walking your dog regularly to keep them active is a great way to tucker them out so that by the time you get home, they’re too tired to start chewing on drywall!
Depending on their age and fitness level, the majority of dogs require a minimum of a half an hour walk every day to remain active.
Exercise can help your dogs feel happier and healthier as well as relieve stress and boredom, both of which are common causes of your dog scratching and chewing the drywall.
While this is admittedly not an active method to protect your drywall, it is worth keeping in mind that your dog’s tendency to chew on the drywall could be a phase they’ll grow out of.
It could be solely due to behavioral causes, but another reason for your dog to be chewing the walls is because they’re teething and they’re looking to relieve the pain of their sore gums.
As a general rule, most puppies tend to grow out of the worst phase of their teething by around 8 months of age, at which point they should be left with their adult teeth. So, you may not have to wait long before your pup walks away from the drywall themselves.
Get a Pica Assessment For Your Dog
Although one of the rarer causes behind dogs damaging drywall, it could be worth having your dog assessed by a veterinary professional to see if they suffer from the psychological compulsive condition called Pica, which causes your dogs to eat things they shouldn’t.
This ranges from pebbles to stones, fabric to paper, even feces, and… of course, drywall.
If your dog has Pica, this could be the result of underlying health issues or poor nutrition, so you should consult your vet on how best to treat this.
Don’t Punish or Scold Your Dog
One of the most important things to remember when you’re training your dog is that they’re still learning how to do their best. Your dog always wants to please you and will become upset or frustrated when they’re not, especially as scolding often leads to confusion.
As dogs are unable to connect your shouting with their bad behavior clearly, all this can end up doing is encouraging them to eat drywall, especially if it was driven out of fear in the first place.
Go to a Dog Behavioral Therapist
As a last resort, you might want to think about contacting a dog behavioral therapist or a veterinary professional in regard to behavioral issues if you need advice on how to handle it.
If you can’t get to the bottom of and resolve the issue on your own, they should be able to help you deal with their behavior. In the meantime, you can protect your drywall using one of the methods we discussed earlier, like a deterrent solution or a protective covering.
We hope that you’ve found this article helpful and that your drywall is able to live a long, chew-free life alongside your furry friends and family members.