Separation Anxiety vs. Boredom
As a trainer, I receive quite a few questions about destructive dogs and how to find a solution. The first step is to determine what is causing your dog or puppy to chew furniture, walls, destroy their crates and sometimes even cause injury to themselves. Is it a case of separation anxiety or is it simply boredom stemming from lack of exercise and stimulation?
The first question I normally ask is what breed of dog it is and how much exercise they are getting. A working breed needs not only physical exercise, but also mental stimulation or they will act out in boredom, usually finding something in your house to entertain themselves with. A wired puppy left alone in a crate is bound to cause some trouble as well because their energy has not been drained prior to crating.
My next question is if the dog is screaming or barking incessantly. For a puppy to cry and/or bark initially for a few minutes when left alone is normal. Even some adult dogs still complain a little when left. However if the crying and barking continues for the entire time you are away, coupled with panting, soiling the house or destructive chewing of furniture, doors or walls, then your dog may have separation anxiety.
There are a few ways to work on separation anxiety in dogs and puppies. I recommend seeking the help of a qualified dog trainer if the owner has not dealt with this issue before. Sending your dog to doggie daycare can definitely aid in the treatment of separation anxiety, especially for severe cases where the dog cannot be left alone at all.
Daycare is not a solution however and you must work on leaving your dog alone at home for short periods of time and slowly build up their tolerance to staying home alone longer. A tired dog is automatically going to be a little calmer so a good walk or run is encouraged. Busy toys can also help keep your dog occupied while you are away.
Most cases of separation anxiety are able to be managed and sometimes fully resolved. A trainer can help assess your dog to determine the severity of the case and help you through the steps to resolve it. If your dog is simply acting out of boredom, increasing their exercise and adding a trip to a daycare like Doggie Playland might be a good solution!