Do you dread coming home to find your destructive Belgian Malinois has chewed up your favorite pair of shoes…again?
Are you at your wits’ end dealing with the constant barking, digging, and destruction?
You’re not alone.
As an intelligent, high-energy breed, the Belgian Malinois is prone to acting out when bored or under-stimulated.
The good news is there are effective ways to curb these unwanted behaviors through proper exercise, training, and care.
In this guide, you’ll discover 10 simple but powerful tips to transform your misbehaving Malinois into a model canine citizen. We’ll provide actionable solutions to common issues like separation anxiety, chronic chewing, hyperactivity, and more.
You’ll learn how to meet your dog’s needs in positive ways while also establishing boundaries and rules. With a blend of patience, consistency, and TLC, you can help your Malinois focus their drive and intelligence on appropriate, satisfying outlets.
If you want to enjoy a calmer home life with your Belgian Malinois, reduce destructive behaviors, and deepen your bond, you’ll find this guide invaluable.
Let’s get started on the path to a better-behaved Malinois today!
TIP #1 – Make Exercise Your Malinois’ Job
Getting ample physical activity is perhaps the most important remedy for your energetic Malinois prone to destructive behaviors. These working dogs were bred to be on the move! Aim for at least 90 minutes of vigorous exercise every single day.
I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s essential for maintaining your dog’s sanity and your own. Take your Malinois on long jogs and hikes, play games of fetch until your arm falls off, sign up for a dog sport class like agility or flyball. Swimming is also top-notch exercise if your dog enjoys the water.
The goal is to tire out both their body and mind. A dog that gets their ya-yas out is much less likely to take out their pent-up energy on unsanctioned chewing, digging, or other naughty business. I promise, an exercised Malinois is a happy, calm Malinois at home.
Here are some creative ways to exercise your Malinois:
- Play fetch games like frisbee catch or chuck-it. See how far you can throw and watch your Malinois sprint after it!
- Use a flirt pole to simulate prey drive and chasing. Drag the rope around as your dog tries to catch it.
- Sign up for dog sports like agility, flyball, dock diving, or nosework classes. These will mentally and physically challenge your Mal.
- Go on sniff walks around new neighborhoods or trails. Let your dog stop and sniff to their heart’s content, exploring engages their brain.
- Invest in food puzzle toys like the Kong Wobbler that dispenses kibble as it’s pushed around.
- Play hide and seek with treats and toys. Have your Malinois sit-stay then go hide an item, release to go search for it.
- Take your Mal swimming at dog beaches, lakes, pools or ponds. Bring a fetch toy to retrieve repeatedly.
- Allow supervised play time with other active, playful dogs that are safe matches. A good romp with another dog is fantastic exercise.
- Get a backpack or weighted vest for your Malinois to wear on walks. The added weight provides extra resistance.
- Teach new tricks. Training their brain by learning new commands and skills wears them out.
If your schedule makes it hard to meet their needs, consider hiring a dog walker or runner to take them out mid-day. Trust me, it’s a worthwhile investment for your dog…and home furnishings!
TIP #2 – Keep Their Brilliant Minds Engaged
The Belgian Malinois is one of the smartest dog breeds out there. Their lively minds need constant stimulation to stay happy and out of trouble.
Make it your daily mission to challenge your Malinois mentally. Provide interactive puzzle toys that require effort and concentration to earn treats or kibble. Kongs stuffed with frozen goodies are a classic boredom-buster. You can also hide part of your dog’s meals around the house or yard and have them sniff it out.
In addition to physical activity, enroll your Malinois in obedience training or dog sports. The mental work of learning cues, commands, and performing behaviors is immensely tiring for these quick witted pups. Even practicing basic tricks daily helps sharpen your dog’s mind.
And don’t forget to rotate your dog’s toys frequently. Malinois get bored easily with the same old toys laying around. Keep things novel by regularly switching out items and introducing new puzzles, chews, and playthings. This prevents boredom and reduces the likelihood your clever canine will find their own “entertainment.”
Mentally exercising your Malinois may be just as imperative as physical activity when it comes to preventing destructive behaviors. For both your sanity and your belongings, make engaging your dog’s brilliant brain a top priority each day.
Here are some great activities to keep your Malinois mentally stimulated:
|Obedience training||Teaching cues and commands engages the brain|
|Food puzzle toys||Must manipulate to earn kibble or treats|
|Scentwork||Find hidden treats by scenting them out|
|New tricks||Learn new behaviors and skills|
|Foraging toys||Allows natural seeking behaviors|
|Dog sports||Agility, flyball etc make them think|
|Changing toys||Rotating toys prevents boredom|
|Hide and seek||Find hidden toys and treats|
|Training classes||Keeps the mind sharp and focused|
TIP #3 – Use Crates Strategically to Prevent Destruction
While crate training has gotten a bad rap, the proper use of crates can be hugely beneficial for Belgian Malinois prone to destructive behaviors. Crates provide a cozy, den-like safe space for your dog to relax and take naps. More importantly, crates prevent your Malinois from chewing, digging, or barking while you’re unable to supervise them directly.
I recommend introducing a crate early on and making it a happy place for your dog. Place comfy blankets inside along with a favorite toy. Feed them meals in the crate and give special chews or Kongs only when crated. Start slowly, keeping the door open at first while praising and rewarding your dog for going inside.
In time, work up to leaving the door closed for short durations. Never use the crate as punishment! The goal is to make it a place your Malinois feels relaxed and comfortable in. With patience and positive reinforcement, your dog will see their crate as their own private den.
While Malinois shouldn’t spend excessive amounts of time crated, judicious use while you’re away or occupied prevents destructive behaviors from developing. Providing a safe space to settle prevents anxiety and gives your dog a constructive alternative to inappropriate chewing or barking. Used strategically, crates are a invaluable tool for curbing destruction.
Follow these steps to successfully crate train your Malinois:
- Place crate in a central, high-traffic area so they learn to love it.
- Introduce crate slowly. Toss treats inside and praise entering.
- Feed all meals inside the crate to build positive association.
- Give special Kongs or chews only when inside the crate.
- Start with door open, then closed for brief periods before slowly increasing duration.
- Ensure your pup is well-exercised before crating to prevent pent up energy.
- Never use the crate for punishment or force your dog inside. Stay positive!
- Vary crate activities – naps, meals, playtime, chews – don’t just crate when leaving.
Here are some recommended crates well-suited for destructive Malinois:
- MidWest iCrate (single or double) – sturdy, versatile wire crate good for home use
- Impact Collapsible Dog Crate – easy to store, good for travel or tight spaces
- ProSelect Empire Cage – very heavy duty for extreme chewers
- Petmate Ultra Vari Kennel – durable plastic airline-approved crate
- Crown Wooden Dog Crate – stylish furniture-grade crate that blends into home
TIP #4 – Train Your Malinois with Positive Reinforcement
Another way to curb destructive behavior like furniture chewing, separation anxiety, and nonstop barking in your clever Malinois is through dedicated training using positive reinforcement methods. Destructive dogs often simply lack proper guidance and outlets for their energy.
Commit to daily 5-10 minute training sessions focused on reinforcing basic obedience cues and commands. “Sit”, “stay”, “down”, “leave it”, “come” etc. should all be practiced daily. Keep sessions upbeat and rewarding with lots of praise, pets, or food treats when your dog performs the right behavior.
Additionally, sign up for a group obedience class. The mental stimulation of learning in a new environment along with peer pressure from other dogs helps instill good manners. Look for classes that use reward-based methods, not punishment or dominance. Training deepens the bond with your dog and sets clear ground rules.
Mentally tiring out a Malinois by requiring them to listen, focus, and perform simple cues is an excellent substitute for acting out with destructive chewing or digging. Channel that bright energy into earning rewards for appropriate behavior. With positive reinforcement training, you can transform an unruly Mal into an engaged, well-behaved companion.
In addition to basic training, teach your Malinois fun tricks and skills to engage their agile minds:
|Spin||Turn in a circle on cue|
|Crawl||Go under/through your legs on command|
|Balance||Put paws on object and hold still|
|Jump through hoop||Leap through a hula hoop on cue|
|Tidy up toys||Put toys in box/basket on command|
|Bang||Hit paw on surface to mimic knocking|
|Army crawl||Lay down and crawl on belly|
|Roll over||Spin from back to belly on cue|
|High five||Lift paw to “high five” hand|
|Play dead||Lay on side and “play dead” on cue|
TIP #5 – Ease Separation Anxiety by Slowly Increasing Alone Time
If your Malinois tends to act out with destructive behavior when left alone, they likely have separation anxiety. Malinois become extremely distressed apart from their person.
To curb anxious behaviors, implement separation training to slowly get your dog accustomed to solo time. Start with just 30 seconds behind a baby gate while still home. Reward calmness, then gradually increase to 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, and so on over days and weeks. Use puzzles and chews to occupy them.
Once your dog is comfortable being alone for 30+ minutes while you’re home, practice short solo departures. Leave for just 1-2 minutes at first. Slowly build up duration over multiple weeks until your dog can handle a few hours alone without stress.
Regress training if they show greater anxiety or destructive behavior. Expect setbacks and be patient. Punishing separation behavior will worsen anxiety, so only reinforce calmness. Make sure your Malinois is well-exercised and has relieving activities beforehand. Playing calming music or using pheromone diffusers can also help ease stress.
Work with your vet on anxiety medication if needed. Consider professional guidance if you see no progress after 2-3 weeks of training. With time, consistency, and compassion, your Malinois can gain confidence when left home alone without acting out destructively due to stress.
Frequently Asked Questions
This destructive chewing likely stems from boredom, anxiety, or excess energy. Make sure your Malinois gets adequate daily exercise through long walks, games of fetch, or a dog sport like agility. Also provide safe chew toys and rotate frequently to relieve boredom. Use bitter apple spray on furniture and redirect chewing to appropriate items. Obedience training is also key.
Excessive barking when alone is a sign of separation anxiety. Use separation training and very gradually increase the time you leave your Mal alone, starting with just seconds. Provide puzzles and chew toys when leaving to reduce stress. Never punish barking, only reward calm behavior. Medication may help reduce anxiety while implementing this training.
Digging stems from boredom and high energy. Ensure your Mal gets plenty of vigorous daily exercise. Also train a strong “leave it” cue to interrupt digging and redirect to a toy. Limit access to digging hot spots by closing doors or fencing off part of the yard until the behavior improves. Make sure your dog’s environment is stimulating enough.
Choose durable chewing toys made for power chewers. Nylon bones, Kongs, and rubber toys last longest. Avoid plush toys and natural bones they can shred. Rotate frequently to relieve boredom. Also use food puzzles to engage their mind and satisfy chewing urges.
When used properly, crate training gives destructive dogs a safe space and prevents problems while unsupervised. Introduce slowly with positive reinforcement. Give special treats and toys inside the crate only. Start with brief crating periods and work up to longer durations. Make sure your dog is well-exercised before crating.
In conclusion, Belgian Malinois are exuberant, driven dogs that can exhibit problematic destructive behaviors without proper stimulation and training.
However, you can curb chronic chewing, digging, barking, and separation anxiety in your Mal by meeting their needs using positive methods.
Ensure vigorous daily exercise, mentally challenge them with training and puzzles, use crates strategically, and ease separation stress by gradually increasing alone time. With diligence, patience and consistency, you can channel your Malinois’ energy into positive outlets.
Their destructive behaviors stem from good intentions like boredom, anxiety, or lack of direction – not spite. Stay compassionate, reinforce desired behaviors, and provide a structured routine. Soon your spirited Mal will become a dedicated, well-mannered companion, no longer turning to destruction but enjoying a fulfilling life as your best furry friend.