5 Reasons Why Your Dog Loves To Tear Through Paper

Calling all pups who love paper!

dog wrapped in toilet paper freestocks.org / Pexels

Dogs are playful creatures, which is one of the many reasons why they steal our hearts, along with our socks, shoes, and sometimes, even the items in our trash bins.

If you’ve ever wondered why your hallway looks like a graveyard for ripped tissues, it turns out that our canine besties are hardwired to shred.

Here are 5 reasons your dog loves to tear through paper:

1. It mimics behavior in the wild

The act of holding down tissues or a roll of toilet paper taps into a dog’s killer instincts. Holding down the paper and shredding it is similar to a dog holding down its prey and taking it apart as a meal.

@mypetfriendlystay Dominic loves to help us open presents and even cards in envelopes. He pulls apart the paper and then waits for more. *always watch your dog if they are shredding paper* #dogfacts #classymotherpupper ♬ Texting on the Phone - White Noise Collectors

RELATED: Dog Trainer Shares 5 Things That Will Not Cure Your Pup's Separation Anxiety


A dog in the wild would hunt and eat other smaller animals, tearing meat from the bones. This might seem gruesome, but it’s all part of Mother Nature — Everyone needs to eat.

Since dogs have been domesticated, it’s more likely that they eat delicious kibble for their meals, or if you're my dog, homemade chicken and rice because you refuse to eat kibble.

Yet their DNA still dictates a lot of their behavior, which is why they dig through the trash for tissues and toilet paper rolls to rip apart.

2. Dogs shred paper because it smells good

Another reason dogs tear apart tissues, toilet paper, and napkins is that those products hold a scent (and a taste) after being used.


A dog’s sense of smell is their biggest advantage. Your dog has over 100 million sensory receptor sites in their nasal cavity, compared to the 6 million that humans have. This means they can smell 1,000 to 10,000 times better than we can.

When our dogs pick apart our discarded tissues, it’s often because they like the way they smell.

Dog covered in shredded toilet paper lightman_pic / Shutterstock


3. Dogs shred paper to self-soothe

According to the American Kennel Club, another reason that dogs tear paper is anxiety.

When a dog is feeling nervous, they often act out, which might mean they get into things they shouldn’t. Destructive chewing doesn't mean your dog is bad; it just means there’s some underlying emotional factor at play.

Giving your dog appropriate chew toys, like rawhides, can curb this instinct. Teaching them the command for “Leave it” is another way to get your dog to drop whatever is in their mouth that you don’t want them to have.


RELATED: 5 Things You're Doing That Hurt Your Dog's Feelings Without Realizing It

4. They're bored

Dogs aren’t that different from us. They might have four paws and fur coats, but they also experience a full range of emotions, including depression, anxiety, and boredom.

If your dog isn’t getting enough mental or physical stimulation, they might turn to the trash bin to see what they can chew.

Make sure your pup is getting their needs met by walking them, socializing them with other doggy friends, and giving them so many snuggles.


5. It's fun

Another reason that dogs rip paper is simple: It’s fun for them.

They like the texture of the paper, and tearing it apart makes a cool sound and offers them a sensory experience.

For the most part, paper shredding is a harmless way for a dog to enjoy themselves, yet in some cases, it can prove dangerous.


When animals eat objects they aren’t supposed to eat, it can be a sign that they have pica, which is a medical condition that makes them crave non-edible items, often because of anemia or a zinc deficiency.

Ingesting a little bit of paper isn’t a big deal, as it will move through their digestive tract fairly easily. But if your dog eats excessive amounts of paper, that could present a bigger problem.

puppy eating paper Joice Rivas / Pexels


If a dog eats a lot of paper, it could get stuck in their digestive tract and create a blockage, which requires surgery to fix.

There are practical ways to stop your dog from eating paper products, like getting trash cans with lids on them and making sure the floor of your house is clean.

To direct your dog’s attention away from chewing, make sure they get lots of play, lots of love, and lots of toys to sink their teeth into. 

RELATED: The 12 Plants That Dog Owners Should Never Have In Their Home Or Garden

Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers social issues, pop culture and all things to do with the entertainment industry.