My Dog Ate My Shoes! – Part II

In my last post, I talked about the importance of selecting the right dog for you, your family, and your lifestyle, which can go a long way in ensuring a happy relationship between you and your dog. This week, I want to talk some about why dogs so often destroy their owners’ homes when left at home during work or family outing.
Dogs need two things. Direction and company. This week, we’re going to address the issue of company.
Dogs are pack animals. They HATE being alone. Seriously, they HATE being alone. Everyone heads off to work and school, and the poor dog is left alone. They hate that. If you don’t believe me, install a camera in your house. See what you dog does when you leave. Even if he isn’t tearing apart the house, your dog’s face will break your heart. You have work and friends. Your dog has only his family. You’re his everything. If your dog is tearing apart the house, he’s telling you he’s bored, and he’s lonely.
If you search YouTube, you can find videos where dog owners did just that. They installed cameras to record what their dogs were doing when left home alone. Most of the videos are heartbreaking. The dogs are visibly distressed and upset. Imagine leaving a three-year-old child home alone without explanation. Just leave him or her locked in the house alone. What do you think the child’s reaction would be?
Personally, I wish we lived in a more dog friendly world, but that’s complicated by bad dog owner’s who don’t teach their dogs how to behave, something we’ll touch on next week.
Until we do live in a more dog friendly world, there are a lot of tips and tricks for easing your dog’s mind when you’re not around. If you’re up for it, a second pet can be wonderful. Even if it’s a cat, your dog will feel much better not being alone. Our dogs aren’t happy when we leave, but they snuggle together while we’re gone rather than destroying our house.
If that’s not an option, consider crate training or allowing your dog to sleep on your bed while you’re not home. Your dog is comforted by your smell. If you do crate train, give your dog something of yours like an old sweatshirt to keep in his crate while he’s home alone.
My personal preference is crate training. It’s not only a great way to give your dog some security when you’re not around and ensure that your house is in tact when you get home, but it also gives your dog a space that belongs to him even when you are home. In a multi-dog house, we rarely confine our dogs to their crates, but we do use the crates at feeding time to give each dog a safe space to eat in peace.
Here’s a video on crate training from one of my favorite trainers Zack George:
The most important part of successful dog ownership is the same secret to success in any relationship: communication. You have to listen to what you’re dog is communicating, and you have to clearly communicate what is expected.
Next week, we’ll take a look at the importance of dog training in developing a happy, healthy dog.

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