I know that some people think that a dog cannot "get mad" at their owner, but I don't know what else to think! I adopted my lab mix in June 2006 and he has been beyond perfect in all areas except one!

He was house-trained the day that I got him, is calm/gentle, never barks, doesn't chew, behaves, is very "trainable," and is the most loving dog anyone could ever want.

The only problem is that when I come home from work (he has full reign of the house while I'm gone and it has never been a problem) and on the rare occasion where I have to go somewhere (e.g. hockey game, dinner, etc.) that evening, I come home and he's taken something off the counter or table and chewed it. Maybe it is a miniature football helmet or a pair of cheap sunglasses, but the fact is that the "item" has been sitting there at least all day, if not longer, and he's not bothered it! It's only when I come home, walk/feed him and then leave shortly thereafter that he behaves this way!

When I get home, he KNOWS that he's in trouble because he doesn't meet me at the door and I find him on the third floor of the house (he's rarely up there unless I'm up there) with his tail wagging and this "uh oh!" look on his face! Eventually, I find what he's chewed and I take it to him and tell him "BAD!" and then he goes and gets in his bed until I tell him that he can get out.

My issue is this. He never been crated (I don't even own one) consistently and the only time he's ever in one is when he goes to the groomer. I don't want to go to the expense of a crate when I wouldn't use it often enough to warrant the expense. But I have to get out after work or at night on occasion and cannot go home EVERY night even though I usually do because I love spending time with him! If I'm going to a friend's house for dinner, I usually take him with me (he's THAT good that he's welcome in other people's homes). If I have to make a quick trip to the dry cleaner or supermarket, I take him with me (if it is too hot outside, I leave him at home and don't risk him being in the car even for 10 minutes). What can I do to prevent him from this type of behaviour?

He's NEVER chewed anything while I'm at work or when I'm at home! It is ONLY when I come home, walk/feed him and then leave shortly thereafter. By the way, he REMEMBERS the objects that he's chewed. I still have one-half of the sunglasses that he destroyed in August '06 and when he sees them, he goes immediately to his bed without me even saying anything (he saw them in a drawer... I don't keep them to taunt him), so I know that the object/event is still etched in his mind!

Any advice?