I have a male boxer who just turned 2 (people) years old. He is fairly well-behaved when I am around, and almost never chews inappropriate objects orotherwise gets into mischief.
When I leave him home alone, however, he is almost invariably destructive. I am a student and am never away for more than 4-5 hours, and usually 2 hours or less. I have generally left him in a crate where I could more easily control his ability to destroy things. After he turned 1, I tried letting him have the run of the house, but he destroyed things regularly, so I returned to the habit of putting him in his cage again. Since then, every few months (hoping that he has matured enough to be left out of the crate) I have tried again and again to let him stay outside of the crate while I am away. Each time, however, he destroys something.
He usually only destroys one item and then goes to sleep. I know that he knows he is not allowed to destroy the things that he does because he always seems nervous when I return (as if he knows he's in trouble), and he never attempts to destroy things while I am home.
My understanding is that his stress and anxiety at being left by himself is related to me often greeting him excitedly when I come home, and him therefore getting the message that it's good to be together (and correspondingly bad to be apart). I have tried to be neutral upon arriving home for the past few months, but this technique is either not working or it is working frustratingly slowly.
Is there something more that I can do to help my dog not destroy things in my absence?