Spite? Guilt? These are just too complicated for dogs, who tend to have a more simple range of emotions, like fear . . . and joy. Dogs are not drama queens. Their ability to live so simply and so joyfully is, after all, one of the reasons we love sharing our lives with them.
If your dog is making a mess of your home while you're gone, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a behaviorist who can help diagnose the symptoms of the problem and walk you through to a solution.
Q. Why is my dog so interested in airing my dirty laundry?
A. Because it smells like you, of course! What could be better than taking every piece of dirty laundry, the more intimate the better, and making a nice little nest out of it? Or chewing it up to release all those wonderful smells? Or bringing it out when your mother-in-law, minister, or boss is over for dinner?
Some dogs love to share, after all, and the exciting chase games that often ensue are lots of fun, too. You don't agree? What a spoilsport!
The list of things dogs have chewed up because they've got their humans' scent on them would be longer than this book. Veterinarians, behaviorists, and dog trainers have heard it all: Clothes (especially women's "been worn" undies with that "not so fresh smell" being the lotto winner), shoes (mmmm . . . leather!), remote controls, and even Barbie dolls seem to be among the more popular items.
Easy solution: Put your things away! And offer your dog chewing alternatives, safe toys that will satiate that all-important desire to gnaw -- especially among puppies who are teething and young adults who are still exploring the world with their mouths.