Excerpt from The Big Book of Simple Solutions
If you have a puppy, spend the time now to keep her need to chew from becoming a chewing problem. To help prevent separation anxiety and related chewing, gradually introduce your dog to the concept of being left alone. Start by leaving her for only five or ten minutes at a time. You need to teach your dog that you will always come back.
Slowly increase the amount of time you’re gone, and be sure your dog has toys to keep her occupied. If she has a couple of favorite toys, consider making them even more special by giving them to her only at times when you’ll be gone. It can also help to leave the radio or television on so she’ll have the comfort of human voices.
When you leave the house, do it matter-of-factly, and when you return, ignore the dog for the first few minutes after arrival. Making a big production out of leaving or arriving gives the dog the idea that being alone is bad and your return is exciting. Instead, you want her to view arrivals and departures as routine. Fun things, such as going for a walk or being fed, should be postponed until you’ve been home for a little while.
It’s also important to teach your dog early on that she can’t get attention any time she wants it. If you are busy and your dog is bugging you for attention, it’s okay to put her in her crate for a nap while you finish what you need to do. Instead of petting her or playing with her every time she asks, first require her to perform a command, such as sit or down. This technique is called “learn to earn” and establishes your leadership.
If your dog is younger than two years of age, consider crating her or leaving her in a safe room or a dog run whenever you can’t be there to supervise. Dogs this young are rarely capable of being reliable in the house. It’s your responsibility to keep them from getting into trouble. A dog who always receives a scolding when her owner returns home will simply become more and more anxious every time she’s left alone. A dog who’s confined, however, is unable to get into trouble and, thus, is less prone to anxiety.
Whatever the cause, chewing is not a behavior that your dog will magically outgrow. She needs your guidance to learn what to chew, and spending time with you is the only way she can learn your rules.