This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!
Imagine coming home from a long day, eager to change out of your work clothes and wash away the stressful day. You can’t wait to snuggle with your pooch while dinner bakes in the oven.
But instead, you enter your home to find a gutted pillow, a puddle of urine, and a toppled trash can. Your dog is at the door greeting you with a smile and a tail wag, but as soon as she realizes that you’ve spotted the mess, she sees your disappointed expression and tucks her tail between her legs.
This is life. Your beloved pooch has turned your quiet and relaxing evening into a cleanup fest. As much as you want to get angry, you can’t resist her ‘puppy dog eyes’ and apology bow.
So, you tell her to come to you, and you shower her with love and understanding. All is right between you two again…until the same destruction happens the next day.
There is hope for this recurring problem. As a dog owner, you can prevent common dog disasters at home while you’re away, but first, you should understand why dogs are disruptive when left alone. It’s not because they want to displease you. Canine misbehaviors are usually due to boredom, separation anxiety (which can lead to signs of distress), or being untrained. The result is one or more of the following behaviors.
Barking – Although you’re not around to hear the barks, your neighbors have to witness your dog in distress.
Chewing – Whether it’s your furniture or your shoes, a bored dog might destroy your property with his teeth.
Dumpster Diving – Some dogs love to get into the trash or rummage for scraps. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Pottying – Even housebroken dogs have accidents wen they’re feeling anxious or if it’s been hours since they’ve been outside.
Running Away – Some dogs become escape artists when given the chance.
- Walk her before you leave. Walking will get her energy out and prevent bathroom accidents.
- Don’t leave her home alone for too long. If you’re gone for more than a few hours, hire a dog walker to drop by while you’re away.
- Leave him with a comfortable bed, blanket, and his favorite toys. A chew toy can keep a dog entertained for hours.
- One of a dog’s favorite things to attack is the toilet paper, so it’s a good idea to close the bathroom door.
- The jury is still out on whether you should say goodbye to your dog or quietly slip out the door. It depends on your relationship with your dog and whether or not she has separation anxiety. One thing you should probably avoid is turning your departure into a highly emotional event. Keep it fuss-free, and give your dog a treat so she associates your absence with a positive reward. Give her another treat when you return.
- Keep him inside, microchipped, and wearing tags.
- Get him ‘fixed.’ Some dogs will calm down after being neutered.
- Get her trained. Your dog may just need training and structure. The unruliest dogs have found success at behavior schools, so it could be time to enroll your dog or hire a trainer.
To make sure your home is intact and your dog is safe when you return, take measures to dog-proof your home before you leave. Consider limiting her to one room until you return—the room that will be the most comfortable and won’t give her access to your precious items.
You can also put up safety gates to stop her from going upstairs and/or to keep her confined to non-carpeted areas. Protect your belongings by closing the doors to the rooms, and putting away anything that the dog might urinate on or chew.
You could crate train your pooch. Some people hear that suggestion and become horrified. They think that keeping a dog for several hours in a crate is cruel. But in fact, dogs often love staying in a crate. That depends on how he was introduced to the crate. The process for training your dog to love staying in a crate will be addressed in a separate post.
Finally, lock away your trash, and store food in a closed pantry out of reach.
Dogs are special pets because they bring joy and warmth into your life, but it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. There will be times when your best buddy is codependent and can’t handle your absence. The good news is that you don’t have to stay by his side every minute or come home to a stressful environment. If you take care of your home and your dog, the rest will take care of itself.
And of course, there are some dogs that never misbehave – like the ones in the image below.
I’m grateful to Jessica Brody of Our Best Friends for this guest post.