We’ve been there. In our time with our three dogs (and bonus 4th when we take care of my sister-in-law’s) we have had tons of possessions destroyed. Our dogs leave a trail of tattered shoes, blankets, clothes, etc in their wake. We love them to pieces but my gosh.
There is a spectrum of destructive behaviors and they generally all fall under a broad category of “separation anxiety”. While some dogs are escape artists and absolutely will not and cannot be contained (looking at you huskies) we are going to specifically concentrate on helping your dog learn better separation behavior.
These steps are going to help your dog feel more comfortable being left alone at home.
- You’ll need a dog crate. If your dog has shown any kind of destructive behaviors they will need to be crated. You can check out the ones we recommend here. You might also get a bed- however your dog may destroy this bed if they are particularly destructive.
- You’ll need a shock collar. We recommend this one.
- You’ll need yummy treats. If your dog has a sensitive stomach their kibble will do.
- Use a leash to guide your dog into their crate and reward with praise and a treat.
- Lock them in and if they are quiet immediately reward with praise and another treat.
- If they whine or cry, correct them saying no and a light buzz on the shock collar.
- Repeat steps 4-6 another 10 times.
- If their behavior isn’t improving, come back later in the day for another 10 repetitions.
After a couple of days of training like this you should be able to leave them alone in their crate. If they are upset before you leave give them buzzes from the collar to help them chill out. If they are calm you can reward with treats.
Eventually, you will be able to say “crate” and your dog will go to crate on command. They will also enjoy being in their crate because it is comfortable and safe. Many dogs will start to prefer being in their crate.
By no means is this the only way to crate train nor the only way to prevent destructive behaviors due to separation anxiety. This is the method that finally worked for us.
Let me know what you think about crate training, or anything else, in the comments below!