I work full-time and live alone. I recently had to crate my dog after she destroyed the carpet and other things in my apartment. She's doing fine now, although she doesn't enjoy being in the crate all day. I have a dog walker who takes her out at midday. My problem is that I feel guilty whenever I have plans in the evening after work. If I get off at 5 and meet friends at 7, I might not get home until 10. That means she'll be in the crate for over 12 hours. I feel like that's torture, so I make excuses to not meet friends. Do you have any suggestions that can ease my mind? I hate to use my dog as an excuse to not be social, but I just feel terrible thinking of her cooped up all day!
Crating your dog all day because she has separation anxiety is not only an inadequate solution to the problem of her being destructive; it is cruel. You need to find a trainer—look on a local pet listserv for recommendations—to help you work through this. One short walk at midday is not enough exercise or company for your pooch. Maybe there is a doggie day care facility where you can drop her off several days a week. She will get activity and socialization and come home tired and satisfied. On days when you are socializing, and you are entitled to a social life as much as your dog is, see whether you can come home first and give her a good walk. If not, hire a neighborhood kid to give her exercise, food, and companionship on the days you aren't coming home until late. All this will take effort and money, but that's an obligation you incurred when you got her. By keeping her in solitary confinement, you are punishing her for your choice to have a dog.
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