What to Do If Your Golden Retriever Is Being Destructive

Pillows, clothing, shoes, oh my! If your Golden Retriever is being destructive and chewing everything in sight, there are ways to curb these behaviors.

Golden retrievers love to chew — and sometimes destroy. By: Nan Palmero

No question, Golden Retrievers are one of the most beautiful and fun-loving breeds. They are intelligent and make excellent family dogs thanks to their friendliness and affectionate natures.

However, Golden Retrievers are also cannonballs of rambunctious energy, particularly in the puppy phase.

It’s not uncommon to have your Golden leap, nip, steal items from anywhere you can possibly imagine and chew, chew, chew. These are mouth dogs, which basically means they will put anything and everything in their mouths.

Shoes, cords, carpet, kitchen utensils, underwear — you name it, they’ll chew it.

It is not fun, to say the least, to come home and find your possessions strewn throughout the house. Or to discover that your couch has been chomped into oblivion.

Factors for Destruction

In the middle of the destruction is your Golden, just thrilled that you’re home and looking completely innocent. (I swear, it was the cat!)

You almost have to wonder if it is even possible for one darling puppy to create such havoc, but I assure you it is entirely possible.

It is important to note that Golden Retrievers are generally not a maliciously destructive breed. This of course can vary depending on how they were raised — an abused dog may have behavioral issues no matter the breed — but as a rule, well-adjusted Golden Retrievers don’t seek destruction. All they really want is to play and run and hunt, and most times that’s what they’re after when they chomp on your possessions.


The first thing to consider if your Golden Retriever is destructive is how much exercise he is getting.

Golden retrievers need a ton of exercise. They are very active dogs with almost limitless energy. When that energy is not expended in positive exercise, your Golden Retriever will turn to other ways to burn off the energy. Namely, he will start chewing on your home!

Positive exercise entails time on your part. Take your Golden Retriever for long walks or jogs, go swimming, play fetch and just plain wear him out. A sleepy Golden Retriever isn’t going to get up to trouble.

Find a dog park or a quiet stretch of road where you can walk safely. Beaches and ponds that allow dogs are great places to burn off some energy; most Golden Retrievers love water and will happily splash around with you for hours.

The key isn’t so much where you go, but what you do. Run, jump, play — those are your real keys to controlling destructive behavior.

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FitBark Dog Activity Monitor


Many pet families resort to using a crate when they are not in the house. This method is hotly debated.

Crating can be a way to keep your possessions safe while your Golden Retriever is young and/or in a training stage of his development. Just be careful — Golden Retrievers are smart, so if there is a way to chew while he is in that crate, he’ll probably find it.

This video shows Ella the Golden Retriever chasing after her human’s favorite boots even when they are not in her closet:


Another way to keep your possessions safe is to use a spray such as Grannick’s Bitter Apple (affiliate link). This spray is designed for pet families to use on their dogs’ fur to avoid biting a healing area, but it can also be used to spray items you wish your Golden Retriever to leave alone.

Test a small area of the item you wish to spray to make sure it doesn’t ruin the color or fabric. The bitter taste discourages your Golden Retriever from chewing on the item.

Golden retrievers are fun, playful, intelligent dogs who will enrich the lives of all who come into contact with them. All they really need is food, water, love and lots of exercise to curb those playfully destructive urges. Chances are, you’ll have the best of both worlds — a happy pup and intact shoes (or pillows, or carpets, or furniture…).

Melissa Smith

View posts by Melissa Smith
Melissa Smith, discussions manager for Petful, has been researching and writing about pet behaviors for several years. A longtime pet lover, she lives in Massachusetts with her teenage son, their cat Harrison and the spirit of their German shepherd named Gypsy. Melissa is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in multimedia design and hopes to adopt as many needy animals as she can.

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