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I have an 8 month old red merle aussie. She is a quick learner, good with commands. I do work a day job so she is left home for 8 hours on her own.

At first we kept her in our kitchen with a baby gate but early on she found a way to pull herself over the gate and get out. We then tried x-tall gates, furniture behind them, cardboard. Nothing worked.

Then we decided it was time to just train her to have free roam of the house. Some nights we always came home to destroyed household items. Other weeks we would get along well all week. I know it's hard to reprimand a puppy unless you catch them in the act so I would always just show her the destroyed item and give her a stern look and tell her "bad". Days that were good I praised her with love and joy upon getting home.

Then we got her spayed... She couldn't have exercise for two weeks and after about a week and a half we came home and she had gotten up on kitchen counters and ate chocolate and medicine. I felt like an awful dog owner but she was completely unphased by the incident (didn't get sick or anything). I revamped our kitchen organization. Then the kicker was when I came home and she tore carpet COMPLETELY off one of the stairs. We decided then that it wasn't working and she needed to go to doggy daycare twice a week to help. At this point though I was dishing out a LOT of dough to fix our carpet so she spent a week crated during the day. Last week we had a dog sitter because I was out of town for thanksgiving and to make it easier on her/not have to pay someone for any possible destroyed items I told the sitter to crate her during the days.

We got back on Saturday and had the weekend at home with her. I left her inside the house alone for 10 minutes and by the time I got back she had items in our suitcase strewn all over the floor. I'm at a loss of what to do. We haven't started doggy daycare yet because my boyfriend worked from home on Monday and Tuesday but even with doggy daycare on Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm afraid that leaving her home alone MWF won't make a difference. She will still destroy things. What should I do? How do I break her of this idea that if she is alone she can cause chaos? I feel like she is just mad we are gone. She doesn't show any other signs of separation anxiety but she doesn't act like this at ALL as long as we are around.
 

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Welcome to Dog Forum! Sorry you're having such a frustrating time with your puppy. Good thing they're cute. :)

Sounds like she's a puppy who shouldn't have free access to all areas of the house. Why not crate her when you're out? Or leave her in a puppy-proofed room with a door (e.g., bathroom). It's not just about stopping her from destroying your house, it's about keeping her safe. Medications and food can be highly toxic; if she eats things like carpet, material, foam it can cause an intestinal blockage. Treatment for those things will cost as much if not more than replacing / repairing your belongings.

I know it's hard to reprimand a puppy unless you catch them in the act so I would always just show her the destroyed item and give her a stern look and tell her "bad". Days that were good I praised her with love and joy upon getting home.
That's not really doing anything except teaching her that you're unpredictable. You really want to prevent her from destroying anything while she's not supervised.

My "good" dog wasn't out of the crate until she was over a year and even now, she only has access to one room (to prevent barking at the window). At the rate our puppy is going, he may never have unsupervised freedom. ;)
 

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Hi,
Yes, young dogs can be a challenge. Especially smart, high energy young dogs.

She really isn't doing this to 'get back' at you. She doesn't think she can "get away with it because you are gone". She's doing it because she's bored, possibly anxious. For her, carpet and cardboard and newspaper are all the same - fun or calming to tear up when she is bored/anxious; she doesn't assign things value the way that you do. She does these things because in that moment, it's rewarding. You showing her an object she's destroyed and saying, firmly, "No" doesn't impart any useful information to her, except that possibly you don't like that object for some reason. Why else would holding it make you angry? She's certainly not going to associate your displeasure with something she did hours ago. Whether the basis of her destructive behavior is boredom or anxiety, she doesn't need to do it when you are there because you are there.

Hopefully, as she matures she'll outgrow some of this behavior, but in the meantime, management is key, along with training. By management, I mean giving her something else to do while you are gone and arranging your house/schedule to reduce the opportunities for her to engage in this behavior.

As long as she enjoys her crate, I think crating while you are out of the house is absolutely necessary. It may seem cruel to 'lock her up' for such a long time, but most dogs just sleep when their humans are gone (at least, those that aren't otherwise engaged in tearing up the place). If you can come home midday for a potty/play break, or hire someone to do it, that would be ideal, along with a couple of days a week at the doggie daycare, as you've mentioned.

You can make up a frozen kong to give her before you leave, when you put her in the crate. Fill it with her favorite stuff, or half her dinner, yogurt, peanut butter, etc. This will keep her occupied for some time, and hopefully she'll fall asleep once she's done with the kong. Dogs think chewing is a great way to spend time, which is why upholstery and clothing are so popular among bored dogs.

Make sure she's getting daily walks, and training. The training doesn't have to take up hours and hours, 15 minutes a day in 3-five minute segments can do a lot to help keep a dog's energy level under control. You can also get puzzle toys for her to work on, either when you are there or gone.

I'm sure you'll get lots more ideas. Good luck, and keep us posted.
 
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