How To Handle The Situation
It is the fear of every dog owner: coming home from a day’s work or a nice dinner and your whole living room is messed up. The new shoes? Tattered. The carpet? torn in pieces. through the living room. Your magazines? Rendered unreadable.
It is important to know if this is caused by boredom or stress. Your dog is still the sweet companion that is always there for you, do not forget that. It is of no use to vent your anger to respond to your dog’s behaviour. Quietly and if necessary place the dog in his own place and try to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Do you leave your dog alone with enough toys or something tasty to chew while you’re away? If you do then there is a chance that it was a one-off occurrence. Does your dog have all this available or does it happen more than once? Then there is a chance that your dog will have a stress peak during your absence that has to go out of his body.
To reduce the stress, your dog will start to chew all kinds of things quickly. This is because stress-reducing hormones are released during the chewing process. Of course it is better to deal with the source of stress than just to solve the symptom.
1. Does your dog have his own, safe place?
Every dog needs a place where he can and may always withdraw. This can be a dog mat in a corner of the room, its bench, a certain room in the house. It is important that the dog knows that this is really meant for him: if he withdraws here, then you have to dare to leave the dog alone.
A dog that can never come to rest can build up stress, which can be expressed in destructiveness.
2. Has there been a change in the composition of the pack?
Your dog sees your family as his pack. If everything went well in basic parenting, he recognizes his place within your family. There is a supreme boss and there are “side bosses”. A dog may never claim a position over another human member of the family.
If for example. suddenly a member of the pack moves, it is possible that the dog struggles with his position. If the sucker is absent for longer than usual and the other members of the pack have to take care of the dog, a small power struggle can occur.
This can be. expressed in excessive barking to a certain person. It is very important that everyone in the family reacts in the right way: the dog does not decide when he gets attention, but the owners. Of course, a good balance has to be found here.
All too often there is a member of the family that confirms a negative demand for attention: for example, a barking dog is often lulled with a little caress. This ensures that the negative behavior is rewarded and must therefore be avoided.
3. Has your dog experienced an unpleasant experience when your family was absent?
A dog who has had to endure a very unpleasant experience on his own, without the support of his family, can start to show undesirable behavior. Sometimes it is enough to have heard the neighbors quarreling, or loud bangs of fireworks, or the sudden noise of a thunderbolt and thunder.
It is of course not easy to figure this out: a chat with the neighbors can sometimes make much clear. Whatever the experience, it will be a matter of getting your dog to get used to being alone again, and letting him see that being alone is not negative.
Begin by giving your dog access to his own safe place. If this is for example a bench, give your dog a small nibble, close the door and leave.
Come back in 5 minutes later, let your dog out of the bench and behave especially calmly. There is no need to be extremely enthusiastic. You try to teach your dog that just being alone is normal!
You can practice this several times, even in the course of one day, and extend to fifteen minutes.
Make sure your dog can not do anything wrong: remove everything that is not meant for him. If possible, place a webcam. Exit the door and follow your dog’s behavior from neighbors. Go back home calmly when you notice that your dog starts to show very nervous behavior.
After a few times you can practice for example. leave the bench open again. If you work with a bed, you can make it a bit bigger.
Build this systematically until your dog can be alone again for an hour. This does not have to take weeks: on a weekend, you can get a lot done if you act consistently.
If your dog still continues the chewing, do all the steps mentioned above again. Stay patient!
Make sure that there is no too strict ritual in your departure: many dogs start to skip when they see that someone in the family is wearing a coat. Do certain parts of your departure ritual at unexpected moments: put on your coat and go for example in the garden or sit in the chair.
Your dog will learn to not start building stress every time he recognizes certain behaviors. Some owners feel guilty because they leave their dog and compensate this with excessive attention just before they leave.
Focus on yourself, not on the dog.
Do the same when you get home: over-enthusiastic greeting your dog is just what you should not do. Give yourself some rest, your dog will pick this up. If your dog has to pee, you let him out, of course, but this is best without “compensation enthusiasm”.
More Reading: Do you have a challenging dog