Puppy raising is NOT easy! “Teenage” dogs – dogs between about 7 and 18 months of age – can be especially difficult. So what are you supposed to do when your puppy is acting like a total brat – destroying stuff whenever you leave her in the crate?
In today’s Ask a Behavior Consultant, we’re tackling this problem. Do puppies get mad at us? Do they act spitefully? How do we fix it?
My 10 month old puppy gets mad when I leave and put her in the cage so she grabs whatever is in reach and destroys it even though my other dog is in there too to keep her company. She only does it sometimes, not every time though.
– Troubled Pup
If you’re dealing with a troublesome teenage dog, be sure to check out these other resources for extra help:
- My Dog is Chewing Up the Whole House
- My friend Sue Brown’s excellent book on Teenage Delinquent Dogs
My Dog Eats Everything. How Do I Protect Him From Himself?
- My Dog to is Uncontrollable Around Other Dogs – Help!
- My Dog Barks Non-Stop in His Kennel – What Should I Do?
Is this puppy actually mad at her owner? Or is there something else going on?
In this case, the pup is apparently distressed when left alone. We can guess that pulling stuff into her crate and chewing it is probably either boredom-killing or self-soothing behavior (or both). That’s usually what chewing is for puppies.
As far as we know it, dogs don’t act out of spite. They don’t do mean things because they’re mad at their owners (though it can seem like it sometimes)!
Either way, our response is the same. Our job is to help this pup feel happier about being left alone so she doesn’t feel the need to chew.
How to Keep Your Puppy Happy When Left Alone
No matter why the puppy is chewing while home alone, our response is the same:
- Give your puppy appropriate chew toys. This is the biggest thing, really! Clearly your puppy wants to chew and shred while you’re gone. I’ve got a whole list of puzzle toys and chew toys here.
- Teach your puppy to be alone. This is hard for some puppies! Your pup might be chewing and destroying things because she’s upset about being alone – so try to teach her to like being alone.
- Remove things that your pup could chew on. This is called management. We’ve got to prevent your puppy from practicing the behavior of chewing on non-toy objects! If your puppy can’t reach anything to chew on, she might not feel better. But your stuff will be safe.
- Exercise your puppy properly. 10-month-old pups can be really crazy! Consider daycare one or two days per week, longer morning walks, light jogging (ask your vet first for a young dog), agility class, nosework, and trick training.
- I personally enjoy doing a bit of nosework with my dog, a run, a hike, and/or some training every day – at least two of the four.