I need some help or advice for my darling daughter's behavior when she is home alone (I work 8-5, so she spends quite a bit of time by herself..We do come home for lunch, and also utilize doggie day care, but its still necessary to leave her by herself sometimes)
Background: My daughter is a 3 1/2 year old chocolate lab who, in every sense of the word is "Gifted". I buy her new toys (you know, to help keep her stimulated), keep her kong balls stuffed, leave doggie dvds on repeat for her-everything I can think of to keep her distracted from my absense.
I was keeping her in a crate, but she barked, howled, and eventually learned to get out (it was a metal collapsing crate, and she began somehow pulling down the collapsable wall and getting out).
I started leaving her out to roam the house-until she chewed the wood molding around door frames, shoe molding, my couch (she completely gutted) digging the floor until she wore holes in the hardwood and destroyed the carpet, and getting into very expensive mischief.
I don't know what else to do! We cant keep her outside (she actually climbs the fence), and I am thinking about leaving her in the basement (where it's cool) but don't know how to contain her! Any ideas? (I thought about one of those chain link kennels and just putting it inside, but they're quite expensive!)
I thank you in advance (and apologize also, I am at work, so if my thoughts are kind of jumping around, its because i start typing and then have to stop!!)
here is my experience with a simliar problem i had with my boy, luke. it's rather long winded, but i've saved this reply to copy and paste.
below are some links i've found to be helpful. it will help you
determine if she might have separation anxiety or if she's being destructive out of boredom.
the bottom of the article has really good recommendations for books, too.
I'll be Home Soon -- by Patricia B McConnell
is a very good little booklet about sep anx. i highly recommend it.
you may also want to talk to your vet about this. they may be able to
prescribe meds to help take the edge off.
there is no quick fix for separation anxiety. it was over 3 months
before we started to see improvements in how luke was dealing with
being home alone. his wire crate only worked by adding extra
security measures so that he could not break out. we got lots of
metal clips (like the ones at the end of a leash) at the hardware
store. we clipped each corner side of the crate frame, blocked the
crate floor pan slide access by clipping the metal handle to the crate
frame, and we heavily reinforced the crate door with the clips. i
also ordered a metal crate pan to replace the plastic one he
luke's anxiety was not as severe as some dogs, where using a wire
crate to contain them can become dangerous as dogs are capable of
hurting themselves trying to break out. with luke, having a hardy
wire crate that he could not easily bend simply by pulling and pushing
on it seemed to help him accept it.
much later, i found additional advise from others, and learned a
plastic airline type of crate is best for safety reasons. the one that
has been highly recommended is the largest one used for the giant
breeds like great danes.
the Vari-Kennel 700 has this type of door:
4 way locking door makes it extra sturdy, and it is really big and roomy.
i did have a Vari-Kennel that was one to two sizes smaller than the
Vari-Kennel 700, which does NOT have the 4 way locking door. all the other
Vari-Kennels have a 2 way locking door. on our old plastic crate,
luke would pull on the crate door until the door popped off the 2 plastic hinges,
and he was able to escape and destroy stuff around the house due to his stress,
so i had to use the wire crate, which is all i had. if i had to do it all over again,
i would not hesitate to buy the Vari-Kennel 700.
back when luke had his problem i didn't know about the Vari-Kennel
700, so i had to use the wire crate. luke did have minor injuries
because of the wire crate. his injuries came from when he was able to
pull the crate door enough to unlock one part of the door and squeeze
out and when he jarred the crate frame enough to have it crumble
inward, and he managed to get out that way. that was before i added
the metal clips on the wire crate. with the clips added, luke
couldn't get out, but i could tell he was stressing, because i'd come
home to let him out, and there would be a pool of drool near the crate
door. so much drool that at first i thought it was urine. also, he
wouldn't touch the stuffed kongs and treats during that stressful
i've heard/read of dogs chipping or breaking their teeth or injuring their nails trying to
get out, but luke never hurt himself that way.
the few times that he did get out of his crate, i only found minor
destruction in the house, not frantic attempts to chew through the
doors, dig his way out, or jump through a window. also, i never had
to force him into his crate. he always went in on his own, and he was
fine with me closing the door. the anxiety would start only when he
could hear me leave the house. i'd stand right outside the house and
hear him barking, and he's not usually a vocal dog.
i got lucky with luke and the wire crate. some dogs get so highly
stressed that they injure themselves over and over again, trying to
get out. luke gave up trying to escape his wire crate, and that is
the only reason he was able to learn to accept and enjoy his crate
time. with a dog that is overwhelmed with stress where there is
constant struggle and self injury, this type of confinement is not a
good idea. a owner with a dog like that needs professional help.
definitely much more than advice on the internet or stories from other
currently luke loves his wire crate, but he also gets lots of stuffed
kongs and yummy treats in his crate. he has lots of positive
associations with his crate now so he almost seems eager for me to
leave so he can get his favorite treats. when he sees me getting
ready to leave the house, he literally runs to his crate, sits down
and wags his tail. also, in his case, it seemed to help to have other
dogs near him so that he is not totally alone. i'm pretty sure we
would've been a 1 dog household if it weren't for luke's anxiety
issues, and i probably would not be the crazy dog lady that i am now.
i had tried Dog D.A.P. Comfort Zone Plug-In and the rescue remedy
solution. neither helped luke, but i have read that it works for some
for luke, the only thing that worked was time and consistency. he fell
into a routine of going in his crate, getting fantastic goodies,
nothing bad ever happend to him in his crate, and i always came home
at regular intervals. it was at least 3 months before i noticed that
he stopped stressing inside his crate. no more pools of drool or signs
of struggle, and he ate his treats.
i think luke might still have a wee bit of separation anxiety, but
nothing like it used to be. we adopted him in 2004 when he was 3
years old. from the beginning was a loving, good boy, but the separation anxiety
was a terribly tough time for me, more so than luke. i
used to get up 2 hours early and take him jogging with me on
rollerblades to get him tired before i'd have to leave for work. i'd
come home for lunch everyday and let him out, then have to put him
back in, and i always tried my best to leave work early. i used to
feel so guilty and horrible for his anxiety, but i tried really hard
not to show my emotions when i'd get home. there were a few time, i
wanted to give up and return him to the rescue. i'm so glad we were
able to get past that part of his life, because i think in some ways,
it really made our bond that much stronger.
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford
I doubt that this is Separation Anxiety.
You didn't say how much daily vigorous exercise she's getting.
Most adult Labs of that age can use 40-60 minutes of daily vigorous exercise -- just walks or playing is rarely enough.
When there's enough, then they're content to doze until you return.
When there's not enough and boredom sets in, wood table legs, moldings, door frames, etc., are rarely safe.
This is probably the number one reason Labs are given up for adoption -- not enough exercise, boredom, and consequent destructiveness. Most Labs are high energy dogs for most of their lives and it has to be dissipated daily.
A helpful exercise is retrieving. We use the 2x12 vinyl "Lucky Dog" (brand) training dummies < http://www.gundogsupply.com/sofknobplasd.html > and my Puff gets an early every morning offleash walk in a nearby nature preserve where about 30X I sling the TD or drop it on the trail for her to go back and get. [HINT: use them ONLY for retrieving, NEVER as a chew toy.]
The "Chuck-it!" ball tosser uses tennis balls for the same effect. http://www.caninehardware.com/produc...t/chuckit.html
Even better than retrieving on land are swimming retrieves -- accomplishes the same thing with 2/3rds the time.
If you lack a nearby nature preserve, do you have a nearby dog park? Or are there fenced softball fields or playgrounds you can use? [ALWAYS take & use poop pickup bags] Or are there neighbors with fenced backyards and friendly sociable dogs that like to play?
If you build into your daily routine daily exercise for your Lab and you, you'll both be happier and healthier.
"A Tired Lab is a Good Lab" -- Socrates
"A Bored Lab that is not Tired is a Royal P.I.T.A" --
"A Dozing Lab Rarely Causes Problems" -- Bhagavad
"A Lab sufficiently exercised has partaken of Nature's own
Prozac and Valium" -- Hippocrates
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
I second Bob's question -- how much exercise is she getting?
How long do you exercise her before work?
i really hope this is not a case of separation anxiety. i just wanted to put my experience out there just in case. i exercised the crap out of luke every morning before leaving him at home alone. i took him running with me, and i was on rollerblades. we would come home, and he'd crash. i'd leave the house, and he would immediately start stressing. physical exhaustion didn't help his destructive behavior, the howling, barking, whining, crying, panting, and drooling for hours (i'd record him). i've had several labs as fosters, too, and they never had the problems that luke had had when i'd leave the house. without a minute of exercise, the other dogs did fine alone. when left home alone, those dogs would relax in their crates all on their own.
i would be so very happy for you if you can find a solution through increased exercise. i really do hope it's not separation anxiety.
"Properly trained, a man can be dog's best friend." ~ Corey Ford
I would also up the exercise and see if that helps. Labs have lots of energy that needs to come out, whether or not you provide an outlet for it. If you don't provide an outlet, they WILL find one, and you probably won't like it.
If that doesn't help then I would stick with Sunjin's advice. I've dealt with mild SA in Peanut (minpin) but was able to resolve it fairly easily by ignoring her (completely) before leaving and directly upon re-entering the house.
Baloo - 5 year old black lab
Peanut - 7 year old minpin
Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue