Almost every dog owner has had to deal with destructive chewing. I mean, I have had to deal with a dog that eats everything including shoes and clothes when I’m gone. In most cases, it is as a result of these three reasons;
Well, owning a pet comes with responsibilities. We take charge of our dogs’ lives and thus we must also meet their needs. In this article, I am going to talk about the above-listed reasons why your dog could be chewing up all your stuff.
Separation anxiety in dogs
Almost every dog owner has had to deal with separation anxiety at some point in life. Well, does your dog cry when you leave him alone? The truth is, this is not an easy problem to deal with. Dogs that are prone to developing separation anxiety have either been abandoned or never been left alone.
For instance, if you have been working from home all this while, your dog might feel lonely and scared when you leave. So if maybe you have just started to go to work, your dog might suffer separation anxiety.
When you have a dog with this anxiety disorder, your neighbors might have a problem with you. This is because your adorable dog will cry, bark, and cause chaos. If you do not handle this problem immediately, it could land you in legal issues.
However, you should not let it get there. You should be observant to notice any signs of separation anxiety. These might include barking, as stated above. Some dogs will start barking and crying when he sees you getting ready to get out.
Dogs are very intelligent. I mean, it will only take you a few days before he gets used to your routine. For instance, he might start barking and causing trouble when you take a shower and get ready in the morning.
Symptoms that my dog has separation anxiety
If you have owned dogs before, I am sure you are aware that they have different personalities. Therefore, barking and crying only do not confirm separation anxiety in dogs. You should be observant of your dog’s behavior.
If you are handling a new dog in your home, this can be difficult to tell. For instance, rescue or abandoned dogs tend to develop separation anxiety than normal dogs. Separation anxiety creates an extreme fear of being left alone.
Some of the symptoms of separation anxiety that you should look out for may include the following:
- barking that gets extreme when you start preparing
- Destructive chewing. Well, your dog might eat your stuff including shoes and other items when you are gone.
- digging into your sofa. Some dogs will dig into your sofa or mattress as a result of separation anxiety.
- Trying to escape. Have you recently come home to a chewed door or scratched on the floor? If your dog has separation anxiety, he could spend the day trying to escape.
What are the risk factors of separation anxiety?
While these symptoms could mean that your dog has separation anxiety, they are hardly a confirmation. Some dogs are more prone to anxiety than others. Dogs exposed to the following risk factors may suffer from separation anxiety more than others;
Absence of their favorite family member
Changing your schedule
Moving to a new home
What can I do to treat my dog’s separation anxiety?
Have you observed some or all of the symptoms of separation anxiety in your dog? If yes, you will need to help him get over the fear of being alone. I must mention that this is not always the easiest thing to do.
There are different treatments for separation anxiety. Most of what you can do is to simply adjust your behavior as well as provide comfort. Below, I am going to outline some of the methods that you can use to curb separation anxiety.
Spend quality time with your dog
If you got a new dog who seems to have abandonment issues, you should set aside some time to spend with him. Every dog owner needs to form a strong bond with him. During this time engage in interactive games and also pet him gently.
Once your dog feels safe and happy with you, he will feel reassured of your love and presence. Even if you have to work, spare an hour or so to play and interact with your puppy before you get to work.
Refrain from changing your schedule
While it can be inevitable to change your schedule, you should have a consistent routine. Well, your dog knows that you wake up at a certain time and leave at a certain time. Now, if you have to go hours before your usual time, then do not make it all obvious on him.
It is going to take him a few days to get used to your new schedule. Of course, you should spend a lot of time with him for reassurance.
Consult your vet
Separation anxiety can become a serious problem if left untreated. If your dog cannot seem to shake off his anxiety, it is probably time to consult your vet. Your vet will recommend medication to handle your dog’s anxiety.
However, these will only help keep your dog calm when you are gone. Therefore, you should think about a more permanent solution to this problem.
Train your dog how to enjoy being alone
Most dogs do not like spending some time alone. In fact, it is scary and also very stressful for them. This is especially if you are handling a rescue dog from the shelter. Well, you can start small by leaving him in the other room with his toys for a few minutes.
Of course, he is going to cry and bark but do not give in. Immediately he stops crying, you can get into the room and reward him for his good behavior.
To train your dog how to be alone, you will have to repeat this process multiple times. The key is not only to train your dog on how to be alone but also to reassure him of safety. Most dogs are scared that something might happen to them when left alone.
Do not leave your dog at home for too long
Dogs are probably the most emotional pets anyone could keep. While this is a great thing, it is also probably why they are so prone to emotional and anxiety disorders. If he has not learned how to be alone at home, then you might face a lot of resistance.
Well, ensure that he has everything he might need when you are gone. For instance, his toys and maybe a couple of treats. At the same time, you should not leave your dog home alone for a long time. You can stay for about 6-8 hours without getting back. However, spending a night out might be a lot to handle for your dog.
Dogs require several hours of physical exercise every day. This is especially because dogs are extremely smart and energetic. Well, if you have recently brought home a puppy, you must include physical exercises for him every day.
When your dog has a lot of energy pent up, he is most likely to engage in destructive habits. It could be that your dog is chewing your stuff because he has so much energy and less to do. Now, I will take you back a little bit to look at their initial behavior.
In the wild, a dog would have to hunt prey which involves a lot of physical exercise. However, at home, you leave him all alone and all his needs are met. Excessive energy is likely to cause
Well, I advise dog owners to take some time to partake in intense exercises with their pup. You can also opt to take long walks with your dog in the morning before you get to work. When your dog is tired, he is not likely to engage in destructive behavior.
If you do not have the time to walk him, you can always get a dog walker to help you. Not only should the exercises be physical but mental stimulation is important. Get him toys to keep him occupied when you are gone. Also, play interactive games with your dog every day.
Boredom in Dogs
Boredom is the leading cause of destructive behavior in dogs. It is closely related to having an under-exercised dog. Well, when a dog has so much pent-up energy and much less to do he is bound to get bored.
When your dog is bored, he will look for something better to do. In most cases, your dog will engage in mischievous and sometimes destructive behaviors. Chewing on your items can become his favorite thing to do when you are gone.
Now, to curb boredom in dogs, you should exercise your dog intensively. Make some time in the morning before going to work. Also, it would help if you took a long walk with your puppy in the evening.
During the day, ensure that you leave him with a lot of interactive toys. These will provide stimulation and keep your dog occupied all day long.
Well, if your dog gets hungry when you are away from home, he could also eat up pretty much everything. Now, sometimes it can be difficult to tell how much food you should feed your dog, especially if you are a beginner.
Consult your vet on the amount of food to give him. This will depend on the age of your puppy as well as the dog breed. Some dogs will eat more food than others. For instance, if you own a german shepherd Dog, he will certainly eat more than a Chihuahua would.
Determine the best and most satisfying dog food and also determine how frequently he should feed.
How to stop a dog from chewing everything
Has your dog been eating your stuff when you are away? You should address this problem immediately. As we have discussed above, it could be separation anxiety, boredom, and lack of exercise causing him to eat items when you are away.
Now, you should spend time with your dog and monitor his behavior. Look for any signs and symptoms of separation anxiety. Earlier in this article, I discussed some of the most effective ways of dealing with separation anxiety.
Below, I am going to list additional ways to deal with a dog that eats everything when you are gone.
Purchase interactive toys
As discussed earlier, boredom is among the leading reasons why your dog eats and chews on your stuff. Well, purchase interactive toys for your pup. You need to ensure that your dog stays busy and entertained when you are.
To add to the comfort, you can leave the TV or music on. Choose relaxing music to calm him down. There are plenty of dog toys that will help you eliminate the chewing problem. Alternatively, you can get him chewable toys, especially if your puppy is teething.
Avoid sleeping with your dog
While cuddling and snuggling with your dog is affectionate, it will also create an unhealthy attachment with your dog. And because you spend almost every minute together, it is going to be rough on him when you have to leave him alone.
Instead, create a safe space for both of you. He should not be sleeping in your room either. It is a great step to teaching dogs how to be comfortable when you are gone.
Don’t say goodbye or hello
It is obviously a great feeling when your dog jumps up and down wagging his tail when you come back home. However, the excitement is also an acknowledgment that he has seen his owner. He is pleased that you are home after a long day.
Whenever you get ready to leave, you probably pet him for goodbye and he knows it. He knows that you will be gone for a few hours and spend the entire day waiting for you. The anticipation can breed separation anxiety.
Instead of the usual goodbye, I suggest you refrain from making it too obvious. Work him out in the morning and leave him focused on food and getting enough rest.
If your dog has been examined with separation anxiety, your vet might recommend treatment using medication. However, behavior modification is key to getting rid of separation anxiety.