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Rebecca, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16831
Experience:  Veterinarian for more than 30 years
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my dog a saluki causes damage by chewing and tearing items

Customer Question

my dog a saluki causes damage by chewing and tearing items when left while I go shopping about 2 hours. He is a rescue dog approx. 3 years old so I do not have any history.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Rebecca replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to hear you are having this problem with Dobby. I am a veterinarian, and will do my best to help.
This could be "separation anxiety", a dog that did not learn to be by himself when he was young, and is destructive in the anxiety caused by his being alone.
Or it could simply be he is bored when alone and looks for something to do.
Does this only happen when he is left for 2 hours? If you are gone less than that, it does not happen?
You could try leaving interactive toys with him when you go, such as the cubes that drop treats or pieces of kibble randomly when played with. You could get a Kong toy and stuff the hollow center with peanut butter or spray cheese and freeze the whole thing. It can take a dog an hour to clean out the inside of a frozen Kong.
Confinement may be necessary; is he crate trained? Or is there a small room you could keep him in with his toys while you are gone?
In more serious cases of separation anxiety, there is medication that helps such as clomipramine. These are prescription, and would require a vet visit.
Another treatment is to leave and come back for different periods of time. If he is OK if left only 30 minutes, practice that for awhile, and gradually increase to 45 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half, then 2 hours. If he learns that you come home and reward him with a special treat, or a walk, if he has not been destructive, he can be trained to be left for longer periods. It helps to work with a dog trainer, or a veterinarian specialized in behavior problems, to learn the technique.
Dogs learn best when you are proactive, preventing the unwanted behaviour, than by your being reactive, and doing any punishment or negative reinforcement, for unwanted behavior. If he is yelled at or punished in any way when you come home and find the destruction, all he learns is that when you come home after 2 hours, he is in trouble. Keeping things out of reach, or confining him away from the types of things he choses to destroy will be helpful.
Please let me know what other questions you have.