In my capacity as Canine Behaviour Consultant, I met a wide variety of misbehaving (and often misunderstood) dogs and their owners. Very often as I drove to the appoinmtment, normally at the owners own home, I would often entertain preconceived ideas about what I was going to encounter when I got there. Most of my cases were because of seperation anxiety, with the associated chewing, lack of housetraining and lonely barking. Many of these dogs were being left alone all day, from Monday to Friday and often at weekends too whilst their owners did overtime or went out for the day with families etc. The dog had often been bought as a puppy, knowing that it would be left alone most of the time but the family wanted a dog to be there when they came home! (This happens even more these days with the 'I want' society owning dogs even though they do not really have the time or space for them.) So subsequently, poor puppy had been wrenched from the company of his mother and littermates, was taken back to an often chaotic household complete with strange people including excitable children, made a huge fuss of over the weekend and then come Monday, left all on his own in a kitchen (normally) with newspaper down and some food, water and maybe a few toys. Puppy was not supposed to howl. He most certainly was not meant to chew and if he needed the toilet, he should go on the paper! Anyone who has had a puppy knows that they don't have a lot of time for house rules! ;o)
A case example - A young male Boxer who was howling the place down whilst his owners were out at work. He was confined to the kitchen and had made a good job of eating the door frames. He also messed and then he trod it round the floor. :o) He was let out by a neighbour at midday. That may have seemed a reasonable thing for his owners to have arranged but what it actually did was provide the dog with a welcome distraction during the day which wound him up so that when he was shut in again for the rest of the afternoon, he felt even more anxious and lonely! I asked what time the owners left for work and what time they normally got in and worked out that the dog was being left for a total of ten hours including their travelling time! That 1/2 hour at lunchtime that the neighbour gave the Boxer was nowhere near the amount of companionship that poor dog needed! Added to that, when the owners came home, they were tired, just wanted a shower and to eat so the Boxer got a quick walk round the local park and that was it! The owners were of course blaming the dog! I advised them to either revise their working hours so that they did not both work exactly the same hours, or work from home, or one of them go part time or even rehome the dog to people who did not work instead as no way could I give any recommendations if the dog was to continue to be left alone so much. It would have been pointless. Not what they wanted to hear but sometimes I am afraid, I had to be blunt, for the dogs sake.
I ask you, is that any life for a dog? But this is now what many dogs are being asked to cope with and the rescue shelters are now bursting with dogs who are being got rid of for sepration anxiety related problems. If no-one is going to be at home to housetrain the pup then how do you expect him to become clean? If no-one is there to supervise pup how do you expect him to know that he is not to chew or howl? If you are going to be out for more than 4 hours a day, 5 days a week then ask yourselves, is it really fair for you to expect a puppy or young dog to be alone so much? They cannot housetrain themselves. They will howl and bark if lonely. They will chew out of boredom and anxiety. Chewing around a door frame is common as that leads to freedom! They will mess on the floor, not just because they need to go but out of anxiety too! If you are nervous or worried, do you not want to go to the toilet more frequently?
Dogs need better people!