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I've got a 1.5 year old dog who is getting restless when we're at work which is leading to some destructive chewing. She gets through dog puzzles in no time and frozen kongs within a half hour after her walker leaves them. Any thoughts on ways to challenge and occupy her when we're not around?

Thanks, Ann

  • Do you crate or is she free to roam the house? Is she inside or out? How much exercise or training time does she get before you leave? How much does she get when you get home. I am wondering because, even for very active dogs they should be able to have extended down time without a problem so I wonder if we can alter the situation. – Beth Whitezel Jan 27 '15 at 15:05
  • If chewing is part of the problem, I can only recommend stag bars or bull bars. Most dogs love them because they smell of animal, they can slowly wear them down and they don't splinter – ThomasH Jan 28 '15 at 19:33
  • @BethWhitezel I assume no crating or else the destruction would be contained or none. What about treats? Like an antler, they can chew on those for a long long time – Huangism Jan 29 '15 at 13:56
  • Hi @BethWhitezel. She's in a room (10x12) while we're not home. We take her out for a half hour walk in the morning, when gets a half hour with the walker at lunch and then an hour when we get home. She just loves chewing things, maybe we haven't been good about telling her not to destroy her toys but i'm not sure how. We used to leave her with an antler but now i worry she'll crack her teeth so need something she can gnaw unattended for a while (thanks for the suggestions @ThomasH) – ann Feb 3 '15 at 0:35
  • Raw or smoked butcher bones are great for that and I don't worry about them cracking like I do with the antlers. Sounds like you are doing great with the exercise. Working in some trick training that makes her brain work during those walks will help. It's really likely that she will not chew so much in the next year or so but that isn't a guarantee. She is still a baby dog still... I think 15 to 20 months is actually the hardest age. – Beth Whitezel Feb 3 '15 at 1:08
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A scheduled robot vacuum can provide some interesting stimulus unless they are terrified of vacuums.

Possibly use a gate to contain some of the damage.

There are a variety of automated and or remotely controlled laser toys you can use to occupy attention as well as burn off excess energy.

I also second the goifetch that Veg mentioned.

  • Automated laser toy doesn't sound very safe to use for me. Not just because of Skynet overtaking it and such, but also since you don't know where it's pointing. Or are those specifically made to move fast enough to not damage any eyes it points at by accident? – Mario Jan 23 '15 at 8:20
  • Correct - not harmful: amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Pet-Supplies-Cat-Laser-Toys/zgbs/… - the cat/dog doesn't look at the source, just the resulting dot. – Enigma Jan 23 '15 at 14:27
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Have you tried the find it game? For my dog I often hide food caches (a small collection of kibble, or a medium sized treat) around the apartment for her to find. It's a fun 'puzzle' and since you decide where to hide the rewards, the difficulty level is adjustable. As my dog has gotten better at finding the hidden treats I've had to come up with more advanced places to hide them (inside old shoe boxes, underneath her dog bed...etc.) If you try this technique and your dog is already a bit destructive you might want to be extra mindful of where you hide the treats (so you're not encouraging your dog to destroy or mess up anything else)

For a more high tech solution there are weird robot toys that play with your dog while you're away...something like this: http://goifetch.com/

I want to add that one of the best ways to make your dog less restless while your away is to tire your dog out while you are around. A tired dog is more likely to want to lie around the house while you're away. Good luck :)

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I'll suggest a slightly different tangent - that trying to address boredom through distractions is at best a finite-span solution. There's no toy that'll occupy a dog for several hours. The best you will accomplish is distraction for that initial span when separation anxiety is most likely to manifest.

The real solution to dogs who cause trouble is exercise. A tired dog is a happy dog. Unfortunately with some breeds that can mean quite a lot of walkies. But that really is the root of the problem. If you can manage it, try extending morning walks, or otherwise increase amount of activity. More playing, more running, etc.

We've found a local area doggie daycare once or twice a week works wonders. I've also been investigating cycling with the dog (there are ways of doing this safely, but that's out of scope).

But we definitely notice that less than about 90 minute of walking per day (and ideally 120), and she starts causing trouble. (Can have the odd 'day off' when the weather is bad, but the weekly average is about that.)

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It really sounds like you need to implement a structured schedule with exercise early in the morning then settling down time while you get ready for work. Crate time or a small room while you are away so the dog knows that is a resting period. You should have only chew appropriate things available in that space so crating is really ideal. Then a long training time that includes both physical and mental activities when you get home. When you have a regular schedule like that your dog will learn to rest while you are away instead of being destructive. For chewing while you are gone butcher bones work well because they last, they clean teeth, and provide calcium.

Adding additional automated things while you are not home can be problematic. You don't want to get your dog more excited and worked up you want to encourage a calm attitude while you are away. Chewing is a calming activity, running around chasing things is not.

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