Beloved family dogs commit a wide variety of “destructive crimes”. As humans we take damage to our property and possessions personally. It is vital that you realize your dog is not trying to punish you dog is not getting even with you. This view will greatly effect the bond that you have with your dog in a negative way. The guilty look that you see is common appeasing language that dogs use with each other. Your dog is asking you to please calm down, don’t get mean.
If your dog knows what he is doing is wrong, and you yell at him or discipline him when you come home; then why does he continue to be destructive while you are gone? Wouldn’t he make the connection that he is getting yelled at for knowingly being bad?. Dogs have a very short attention span. They live in the moment. They do not live in the past. Your dog will never make the connection between what he did while you were gone and the anger you have when you come home. It is best to let your dog go outside until you have calmed down. Once you are over the anger, then greet your dog.
The fact is that dogs are destructive because it feels good to them. They get some reward for being destructive. In order to know what reward your dog is getting you need to know the cause.
Dog boredom. Is he bored while you are gone? Some dogs simply get bored perhaps because they don’t have enough toys, or they are not getting enough exercise. Exercise your dog, and get some interactive toys if you suspect boredom.
Counter surfing. Is your dog taking yummy items off the counter or other surfaces? If you walked up to the counter when no one else was home and found $100.00 that would be great. If you found $100.00 the next time you were there alone that would be wonderful. You would check that counter every time you were home alone. Smart dog. Why should he stop taking what to him is $100.00 bills off the counter when they are free for the taking? This one has an easy fix. Keep stuff picked up and put away. If there is no reward for going to the counter, eventually he will stop looking.
Puppies Chew. They have to in order to set their teeth. They can’t stop it, you can’t stop it. You can however control what your puppy chews on. Make sure he has lots of toys. Some should be sort of soft ( fleece toys, fire hose toys etc), some should be medium hard (rubber toys such as kongs, jax, cuz), some should be very hard (nylabones and other hard nylon toys). If you don’t want your puppy to chew personal items such as shoes, then keep them out of his reach. You can also use a spray such as Bitter Apple or Fooey on things you do not want the puppy to chew on.
Separation Anxiety Some destructive behavior has implications of a serious problem for your dog. If your yard looks like a moon-scape because your dog is digging up your yard, or your dog chewed your furniture and it is down to just a wood frame & springs, your dog is also suffering. If your dog consistently seeks out things to chew that have your scent on them, such as shoes, used tissues, newspapers & paperwork, clothes, remote controls and other items you handle, then your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety. There are some other symptoms of separation anxiety, but they can also be symptoms of other problems they include but are not limited to constantly following you, barking, pacing, a dog that is exhausted shortly after you come home. Intermittent diarrhea or vomiting, or loss of appetite. Separation anxiety can lead to serious health problems for your dog. It is vital that you seek the help of a professional if you believe your dog may have separation anxiety. There are very specific criteria to come to this diagnosis, and proven treatments. Unfortunately separation anxiety is not one you will be able to handle on your own without professional help. Many times anxious stressed out dogs need to be put on a special diet and medication. Will you will need weekly support and help in analyzing progress and making changes to the behavior modification plan as this is treated.
These are a couple of examples of what separation anxiety may feel like to your dog… You are a parent, and someone locks you in the house then lets your 4 year old go out side unsupervised. Your are a 7 yr old, and you are abandoned in a locked building and you don’t know when or where you will be able to get food & water, access to a toilet, access to your family. You can see how painful this is for your dog, he panics and must get some relief from the severe anxiety he is feeling, so he may start chewing, pacing, barking. It is like you chewing your nails, pacing, having a drink, taking a bubble bath, talking it over with a friend, going for a drive or what ever relieves your anxiety.