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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I just adopted a second dog, a 10-month-old Labrador Retriever mix (named Coco). She, like my other dog (a female Brittany mix named Nutmeg), is a rescue dog.

It appears Coco has separation anxiety. Her foster said that being a Lab mix, she chews on things. In the six days I've had her, inappropriate chewing ONLY happens when I am out of the house. When I'm around, she seems to know what's OK to chew and what not. When I'm not around, freak-out mode begins and training goes out the window.

On the second day Coco was here, she escaped a crate, jumped onto my bed, and peed. I have a more durable metal crate on order but won't get it until next Tuesday.

Another time I left her crated and left the house (for only about 15 minutes), she chewed up a crate pad. This despite having an antler chew in the crate with her - which should have been more appealing than a crate pad. She didn't escape the crate this time, but a new crate pad is now in the garbage, with a big hole in it.

Then today, I left Coco in the house with Nutmeg and went to my front yard to do some yard work (which took about 45 minutes). I came back in to find carpeting on a stair chewed, as well as the edge of a throw rug. Even more disconcerting than the damage is that Coco was doing anxious destructive chewing when NOT alone (another dog was around)!

Strangely, this only happens with indoor confinement. I have left Coco and Nutmeg outside (in a fenced yard, with access to water and a covered porch) for 3-4 hours and no signs of destructive chewing or escape attempts.

Any advice on the situation? Is this separation anxiety temporary due to recently being re-homed, or am I looking at a bad case where I'll have to pay dog behaviorists $300 an hour to deal with the issue?

Leaving the pups outside is OK in the summer when it is warm and dry, but as fall and winter approach, Coco will need to be able to live indoors (including times that I am away) without freaking out and destroying the house. Where I live, winter brings sub-freezing (and occasional sub-zero) temperatures, and dogs need to be inside much of the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Got more info...

An update: I talked to the foster who took care of Coco before I adopted her.

When staying with the foster, she exhibited destructive chewing while crated and left alone. She chewed up crate pads and plastic crate liners when left alone. It appears the separation anxiety is related to being alone (no people around). The foster managed this by having her stay outside much of the time, playing with other dogs.

My current theory is that Coco really has not experienced being indoors and alone very much, and panics in that situation. Unfortunately, the presence of another dog isn't enough - she needs the presence of a person or she freaks out and starts chewing things up.

I've ordered a $350 all-metal crate so I can begin crate training and building up her tolerance for being home alone. In addition, I am going to take Coco to the vet for a check-up and discuss anti-anxiety medication so she can build up a tolerance for being alone (first in a crate - then later in the house).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Update #2

So I caught Coco chewing something she shouldn't while around - the same spot on the stairs where she chewed up the carpet yesterday. I scolded her, then had her do a couple dog tricks to get a rawhide stick (trying to teach appropriate things to chew), and then sprayed bitter apple on the stair spot so if she tries that again, she'll hate the taste...

How long does bitter apple hang around on surfaces once it dries? Is it still an effective dog deterrent then?
 

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More updates...

Today I left Coco outside with my other dog (Nutmeg) and an antler chew, but stayed in the house and did some work. It took about 15-20 minutes, but then Coco started displaying signs of separation anxiety (jumping up on the door trying to get back in). I told her "no" and did not let her in. Then I went out, performed an errand, and came back.

During the errand, I think Coco may have peed herself because she didn't smell good. A bath got rid of the smell, but this episode tells me about how much "alone time" she can tolerate before getting anxious. Looks like we're starting at 15 minutes and working up to the magic 45+ minutes where it gets easier.
 

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First step for you is figuring out if this is a learned behavior or is it true separation anxiety.

When you come home, or leave the house, do you make a big deal out of it? Ever try coming home, ignoring the dog until she calms down? Just go about your business.
 

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First step for you is figuring out if this is a learned behavior or is it true separation anxiety.

When you come home, or leave the house, do you make a big deal out of it? Ever try coming home, ignoring the dog until she calms down? Just go about your business.
I am doing things to discourage excessive excitement upon my return, like not rewarding being jumped on, etc. However, the reason I suspect separation anxiety is because Coco freaks out if left alone, either indoors or outdoors (it's worse indoors).

I don't make a big deal of my departure - just head out the door with no dramatic announcements. When returning home, I do usually let dogs in (or greet them) promptly upon my arrival (but no rewards for jumping).
 
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