Just wondered if anyone can offer me any advice/reassurance about our puppy and his HATRED of being left alone.
He's just over 18 weeks and is practically perfect in every way - comes when called, 95% housetrained, sweet, polite etc. The only problem is that he hates being left alone and it seems to be getting worse.
Even if I just duck out of the room for 3 minutes to go to the loo/answer the door, if he can't hear me he starts to whimper. When we go out he'll bark when we leave and will get absolutely frantic when we get home.
Things I am trying right now:
- Leaving him alone (in the kitchen, in his crate but with the door open) for varying amounts of time each day - from 10 minutes to a couple of hours. Whether I'm in the house or not and when I am both in and out of ear/eyeshot
- Absolutely no fuss when we leave/return so it's not a big deal. I do a few bits around the house when I get back from being out so he knows it's not a big deal, but I have to pay him attention quite quickly as he holds his wees in and can be quite desperate to go (he does have a puppy pad in the kitchen but I don't want to start encouraging him to go in the house again if he chooses not to)
- Leaving him with balls stuffed with food, chicken wings to gnaw on (he only gets these when locked in the kitchen so they're 'high value', his favourite toys. He does shut up when he gets a chicken wing, but only for as long as it takes him to eat it - the instant he's finished he starts to cry again
- Leaving the radio and lights on for him so he's not alone in the dark etc
He's a small dog but not 'yappy' at all - he doesn't make a sound other than when he's alone. Is this something he'll grow out of? Does anyone have any suggestions? I hate to bother our neighbours and it's a nightmare if I go to take a shower and he's howling downstairs!
Is he really tired when you crate him? I have just started leaving our puppy (we got him just over the Xmas period and DH was off for 3 weeks).
I give him a good long walk and play etc so he's bloomin knackered, then he doesn't seem to give a monkeys whether we are there or not. I left 2 hours today while I worked (albeit in another room, but tomorrow will be in the office) I try and not play all day too, sometime leave him with a toy and potter in the room. Training to mentally tire him?
We have always done the same as you, pop in and out of the kitchen during the day, radio on, sometimes we are there when he wakes up, sometimes not, chews, toys in crate. We lift the covers off his crate during the day too, so he can see us, the covers going back on seem to 'signal' to him it's bed time and he crawls in!
Can you keep going in and out of the room, literally for a few seconds until he barely notices? Then extend the time? Click and treat if he's calm?
Sorry - this is our first puppy too so my knowledge is limited [smile}
Thanks for replying. I forgot to say...one of the problems is that he has kennel cough at the moment (not that he's been in a kennel at all - vet said they can get it from the pavement or the park). He's absolutely full of beans apart from the odd cough but we were told not to take him out as it's so contagious.
Usually I walk him at least twice a day and you're right, he is better (though not perfect) when he's worn out. I've been trying to play with him in the garden a few times a day to wear him out but it's not the same. I also do training with him twice a day at least, and he does get time to play by himself with a toy as I work from home.
I do nip in and out but you make a good point that I haven't done it strategically - just when I need to leave the room. Maybe I should build it up. I wasn't sure about rewarding him for being quiet when I leave, I worry making a fuss of him when I come back into the room will mean he's looking for me when I go - or am I over-thinking it?
The silly thing is, he's quite happy to be alone on his terms. I let him out into the garden (my desk faces the french doors so can see him) and he's happy to play out there alone for 15/20 minutes without blinking, so I know he's not scared or worried about being alone - he just wants me to be there on tap for him!
Will definitely try nipping out and building the time up.
Oh, and congrats on your new puppy, sounds very cute and well-behaved already!
You don't have to make a fuss, just click and treat...and again... and again. I used to throw treats into the crate, click treat, hide treats in the bed, click treat. Not sure I even made eye contact, just clicked the calm behaviour.
In the morning, he has to sit before being let out, we don't go to him immediately etc, the stuff you do anyway.
Mine wouldn't be on his own though in the garden - they are funny are they not?!
He is very good, he's a big girls blouse but very biddable! Softie, not independant at all, spends most of his time on his back looking for tummy rubs!
Hope the kennel cough improves, mine had the vaccination with his 2nd set of jabs but I understand it's by no means a guarantee.
Hope it works out, I hate the thought of puppies in distress!!
Thanks, really useful to find out how someone else does it. I've tried googling but I'm doing everything I found on google already! I might try sitting out of sight and chucking the treats in to him with the clicker when he's quiet...he usually behaves when I'm in sight but freaks out when I'm away. He's so cute...he knows he has to sit down to be picked up etc too but he struggles to contain himself so he sits and stares intently and wags his tail so hard his whole bum shifts across the floor (but in his books he's technically sitting!).
And you also mentioned clicking calm behaviour, I think I might be too focussed on 'quiet' and should probably think more about 'calm' so I'll pay attention to that too.
Thanks again, so useful to get another perspecitve!
It sounds like he has separation anxiety which is caused by stress.
He may well get better when you can walk him again, but meanwhile try a DAP diffuser/collar, try covering the crate with a blanket, and build up little and often periods when you leave him. You are doing all the right things, so it should get better with time.
Booboo, thanks commenting, I'll give the diffuser a try, that's a good idea. Also covering the crate, needastrongone mentioned she does this too, I just don't like the idea of him being all cooped up but I think that's my issue, not his! I can only try it...
Tantrums, no, I don't give any of my pets cooked bones but he does get a raw wing from time to time, which I was told is fine?
Piz - I only cover the crate at night, it's uncovered during the day. Seems to help him differentiate and also he can see us milling about during the day. The radio is on during the day only.
Good luck, to be honest I am not good at leaving him and feeling calm even though he seems fine, DH says I am changing my life for him too much, so it's not just you that's finding aspects of the puppyhood challenging!
He's currently curled up asleep in his crate with his view of me obscured by a towel. I didn't cover the whole crate but blocked his view of me, he had a little whine at first but quietened down and I've been poking treats through for him when he's been quiet! Have also been creeping out of the room from time to time, although he's still barking away sometimes. I had to leave him for a meeting and he wasn't barking when I left or when I got back, but he still went nuts when I nipped upstairs to shower this morning - so hard to judge!
We don't cover him at night and he's absolutely fine, he sleeps in the crate at the end of our bed and just hunkers down. Now he's sleeping through we need to try him sleeping in the kitchen which will probably help long term but I worry for us and the neighbours about the sleepless nights when we do that!
Thanks again for the advice, so useful to be able to hear from someone else. And I know what you mean about changing your life but they're so small and needy! Hard to resist.