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Hi All,

Looking for some words of wisdom or advise with a recent development with Hally.

Hally is now just past two years old and up until this point, we really haven't had any issues with separation anxiety. We taught her how to be on her own in the crate while we leave the house at a very early age and she got past the whining and crying and all that business fairly quickly. As she got older and more trust-worthy, we got to the point where we stopped using the crate at all and things were going great for about 9 months.

HOWEVER, starting maybe 8 or 9 weeks ago, coming home from work, we noticed that Hally had chewed some shoes that we left by the front door and ever since then, it seems as though she is chewing on and detroying some sort of personal belonging every single day. When we got smart enough to make sure there were no shoes at the front door, she started roaming the walk-in closet in the bedroom and grabbing things from there. Or she'll jump up on tables to grab things there. Today it was a pair of shoes that were in a box hidden in the closet as well as my fiances sunglasses that he left on the kitchen table. Yesterday, it was a pair of new pants that were in the bedroom still in the bag, as well as a book end that weighs6 pounds that we've been using to prop open the bedroom door. The day before, a Costco size package of paper towel.....

I assume that the destructive behaviour is the result of some form of separation anxiety, but I don't know what could have caused it (don't suspect I'll ever really know this) or what I can do to change things now. Nothing obvious has changed in her daily routine but this behaviour has got to stop. I can't come home to see over $100 in things destroyed every day (today it was about $800 worth of stuff) and more importantly, I don't want her getting sick or hurt eating this stuff with no one home. She is on her own through the week all day while we're at work. We have a dog walker that comes mid-day to take her for an hour (the destruction usually happens in the afternoons after the dog walker has come). We don't make much of a fuss when we leave the house in the morning, but we do say a nice hello when we come home...which may be part of it....

Putting her back in the crate while we leave the house could certainly be an option, but I don't really feel solves the behavourial issue. I'd love some advise on that part if anyone has any.

Thanks all!
 

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Naturally, this is just my opinion, but I don't think the behavior you describe is the result of separation anxiety. The reason I say this is that I once had a dog with the very same behavior pattern, and it had nothing to do with separation anxiety.

What I learned was that I had given her too much freedom too soon, and she got bored in the afternoon. She did what any puppy might naturally do, which is to chew stuff up. Being right on the cusp of two, she might be maturing just a little bit late, and is just exhibiting normal puppy behavior. In the case of my own dog, right around her second birthday it was as if someone had flipped a switch and she was "all grown up"! No more destructive chewing! But remember, "They chew 'til they're two."

You might wince at the thought of keeping her crated during the day at this point. What you could try instead is to revoke some of that freedom by restricting her to one puppy-safe room. In my case, it was the laundry room, which was easy to puppy-proof just by removing any laundry baskets with dirty clothes in them. I fixed her up with her bed, her dishes and a couple of toys or a stuffed Kong. After a few months, you could try again with the whole- house freedom. She won't always act that way, really! I think she is just immature. Chewing is normal puppy behavior.

p.s. I noticed that you said things were going great for about nine months. Maybe during that time you were just really, really lucky! Who knows for sure what goes on inside the mind of a young dog. I think Hally just discovered that it's fun to chew stuff up. You just need to take some of that freedom away, at least for the time being.
 

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I don't think what you've described is separation anxiety. Rather, I think Hally's just being a dog! :) Think about it from her point of view: whenever you're home, she's got to keep her mouth off of your shoes, clothes, and other belongings. Now that she's been on her own for a while, she's realized that if you're not home, there's no one to prevent her from chewing on the fun stuff!

It's true that some dogs do get destructive when they have separation anxiety, but the also have some other symptoms I don't think your dog is exhibiting. Hally probably just figures there's no one home to get mad and she's got nothing better to do, so might as well chew on some sunglasses.

I agree with mswhipple--going back to restricting her freedom is the best bet. Crate or dog-safe room, either way. Maybe some new, entertaining and interactive toys too.
 

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I agree with the above. Dogs who suffer from separation anxiety tend to rip up entryways (doors, windows) to try and get to their owner. I think she is bored and chewing things that smell like you. I agree with restricting her access in the house until she gets past this. I'm not sure how much exercise she's getting but if she can get more, that could help, too.
 

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I have a 9 month old vizsla that has always been great at being left in her crate and doesn't whine bark etc.
I often come home and she has pulled the blanket on top of her crate in, or if there are towels on top of her crate she has pulled them in. I didn't put this down to separation anxiety, I think she was just bored. If I leave her with frozen kong, or big bone to chew she doesn't do it. So maybe you could try leaving Hally with some kongs and chews. Or leave a kong made up in the freezer and ask the dog walker to give it to her when they leave her in the afternoon.
 
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