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Howling when I'm out(9 Posts)
I did separation training when my dog was a puppy and she's since been fine being left home alone. I never left her more than a few hours and she'd play with food-based games while I was out (I have pet cameras set up to check she's ok).
Earlier this year she was poorly, so she wasn't left alone for several months. If I needed to go out, she went to daycare or friends/family so they could keep an eye on her.
She's now well again, so last week I had a Dr appointment and was out for an hour. She howled by the front door, paced back and forth, and wouldn't play her food games. She didn't settle once during the hour. It was heart breaking.
Since then, she's been really clingy - always wanting to sit on my knee and following me around.
Will the same separation training I did as a puppy work again now she's an adult? i.e., putting coat on, taking it off; picking up keys, putting keys down; leaving house for a few seconds, ignoring her when I come back in; not making any fuss leaving or coming back in; gradually increasing time I leave the house for?
Or do I need to do something differently with her now being so clingy/an adult?
Should I stop letting her sit on my knee? I think she's doing this to try and stop me leaving her.
My dog used to be ok as a puppy then had to be admitted to the vets for several days a few times. After each vet admission he became very scared and had anxiety around us leaving him which was understandable really as we had abandoned him in the scary vets .
I just went back to basics on the leaving front, gradually increasing the time etc and he is now back to being left alone for up to 3 hours.
Sorry to hear she is anxious. Yes, I'd do what you did with her as a puppy. She just needs gently reminding that you are coming back. The picking up keys, putting on coat and not going anywhere, etc. will help her desensitise her and will stop her anxiety levels rising when she thinks you might be leaving. I've been through something similar and simply repeated our puppy training as you suggest. I would also allow her to sit on your knee when she wants to
The main things that worked for us were:
- absolutely no fuss when returning home. Returning home is not a big deal! I had to actively ignore mine until she had settled down after a minute or so. I miss the welcome home excitement but it's necessary to avoid her becoming worried when I'm gone.
- rinse and repeat the leaving cues many times for many different short durations until you can jangle your keys and she doesn't bat an eyelid. Same with putting your coat on, getting your bag, etc.
- perhaps use the food based games/activities periodically while you are also home at the moment so she doesn't jsut associate them with being alone, at least while she is anxious about it.
Good luck, am sure she will be ok.
Thank you, both - that's really helpful advice.
I'm glad you said let her sit on my knee because it just feels too cruel to ignore that
If she's feeling more anxious or stressed since being ill/the change to her normal routine, I would imagine she's coming to you for comfort and because she loves being close to you, not because she's trying to stop you leaving good luck with going back to basics, let us know how she gets on.
Oh yes, that makes more sense actually. Ahhh my poor girl - my heart breaks for her. I wish I could just tell her I'll always come back!
I'll do this for a while and will come back to let you know how we get on.
It's awful isn't it that you just can't make them understand that you aren't abandoning them and you will be back.
Yes it really is awful The howling was like no noise I've ever heard from her before - she sounded so distressed. And I thought I knew every bark, whine and grumble she makes.
Yes, the training would be a good place to start. She responded well to it from what you know, so she should pick it up again. Lots of love, attention and reassurance for her and I'm sure she'll be back to herself. Poor wee lass.