Dear Dr. Diane,
I have a Lab mix, how can I get her to quit scratching the carpet? She only does this when we are gone, never when we are home. She has ruined some of our carpet by scratching hole in them. Thank you for your help, I can’t get new carpet until she quits this.
It seems as though your lab is experiencing separation anxiety – as she does this destructive behavior only when you are away. Separation anxiety is very common – dogs are “pack” animals and love being with their family members.
There are a number of ways to ease your dog’s anxiety, fear and distress when you leave. I would begin by leaving her alone for short periods of time with her favorite toys, blanket, bedding, pillow, etc.is to and then returning.
Your departure should not be dramatic – just matter-of-fact. Increase the length of time of your absence incrementally – making each time you are gone longer. Leave her with toys and kongs filled with peanut butter or cheese so that she can actively play with it to get the treat inside.
Another alternative is to keep her crated while you’re away.
Yet another option is to replace the carpeting with tile.
She sounds like a great dog – she simply wants to spend as much time with you as possible! More than likely, she would be extremely happy to spend 24/7 with her loved ones!
Dr. Pomerance is an animal behavior specialist and an expert on topics such as deciding which puppy is best for your family, how to pick out a rescue, and on healing from the loss of a pet.
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