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Still can't leave puppy alone, any advice(17 Posts)
Posted on here a few months ago about leaving him and the advice was great- to get ready to leave then leave for a few mins and build it up. Have been doing this every day for over a month now and no progress.
He will be five months next week and has still never been left alone for longer than ten mins. When I need to go somewhere without him my brother dog sits. When I wait outside he whines and barks constantly, takes no interest in the huge variety of toys and treats I've offered, feel like nothing is working.
Is it terrible that at nearly 5 months old he has never been left alone? Is this likely to cause more separation anxiety than it would if I just left him to bark it out? Can't stand him being stressed and would feel so guilty leaving him but not sure if it would be better for him in the long run?
We kept persisting and got advice from a behaviourist too. Nothing worked.
We ended up getting a second dog. We can leave them for up to 4 hours now which gives us a bit more freedom.
We were lucky; I know getting a second doesn't always work. But something to consider maybe?
We have been really struggling too though things have been getting a bit easier.
Initially we left pup in the crate but he hated it (even though he will quite happily sleep there overnight!) even though we gave him kongs, treats etc. We decided to try him out of the crate and it has been a bit better.
We were only leaving him for a max of 30 mins but listening outside the house we could still hear him crying/barking/whining etc.
Things kind of came to a head when I had absolutely no choice and ended up leaving him for an hour as Ds had an emergency doctor appointment and I had no time to get a sitter.
Now he seems a lot better and when we left him on Sunday for 30 mins we could hear no whinging/barking when we waited outside the house for 10 mins or on our return home.
Pup is almost 6 months. I’m at the point now that I leave him for 30 mins even if I don’t have to go out, just so he carries on getting used to being alone
Have you experimented with where and how you are leaving him?.
Can he see outside? Mine hates that so I had to put up opaque film on the window otherwise he barks at the wildlife. Mine also gets upset if he can hear cars in the distant as he thinks we are back. I therefore leave a radio on for him but NOT a talk channel as he thinks there are strange humans about. He seems to prefer smooth as a radio channel.
You need to get a camera if you already don't have one and see and listen to what is bothering him. Also maybe look at where you leave him incase he settles in a different place much better. He may still hear you if you are close enough to hear him while you are waiting outside. Get a camera (they are cheap now, I think mine was less than £40) that streams to you phone and leave so that you are not close and see how he reacts and what to.
How are you leaving him?
My dog hates crates so we could never leave him crates, but leave him on the sofa with a chew and he'd be fine. Some dogs stress if they can see outside or have too much space, so need to be crated - in other words, different things suit different dogs!
But remember five months is still very young. You'll have people coming on and saying they should be perfectly trained and happy to be left at that age for hours but in reality that's rarely the case with young puppies!
That sounds really tough. Are you doing the ‘not making a fuss when you go out’ and ‘not greeting him for a bit when you get back’ strategy?
Haha he is an absolute wee star but no where near perfectly trained!!!
He sleeps in his crate next to me at night but hates it any other time, even if I sit right beside him. Have tried crating him and going out and leaving him out in the living room and hall. Never make a fuss when I leave or come back, ignore him until he has calmed down then calmly greet him.
There are windows he can see out of but he barks and scratches at the front door when he's left. Video'd him and he did this the entire time.
He also follows me everywhere I go still and whines if I shut doors and he's on the other side, even when DP is here.
Honestly I would love a friend for him he's so playful, but I have two kids and I just don't think I could provide or have the time for two as I do for one, never mind cope.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place as I'm not sure if leaving him when he's stressed is better or worse than never leaving him long term.
I would try baby gates rather than shut doors as I find my dog tolerates that far more than anything else as he doesn't feel shut out.
We have one in the kitchen and one on DD2s bedroom doorway, he can jump or climb under/break through both. Maybe need better/higher gates
Please don't leave him while he's clearly not happy - dogs have the potential to get really destructive when anxious and you don't want to come back to a chewed house or wee/poo everywhere because your pup can't cope.
Just keep going. Can you cover the crate so there's no outside stimulation too?
If your dog has true separation anxiety you do need to get qualified behavioural advice asap. It can be a long drawn out behaviour to sort out if allowed to go on to long.
However if your puppy just needs to learn to self entertain and relax then there are things you can do without making the situation worse.
Consider when you leave your dog. If the puppy has had a play, training session or been out for a walk and then had a meal - all dogs should at this point learn to relax. Where you chose to do this is up to you I use an open crate you can use a mat on the floor. Pop the puppy on the mat and ignore but drop treats when the puppy is calm and relaxed. Over time the settling on the mat will become a natural behaviour and then you can pop the dog on the mat and leave for a few seconds building up to a sensible length of time.
Initial mat training can be tricky and may be only 1 sec that your puppy is still on the mat but reward that to start with - no clicker no praise just calm giving off treats. Teaching relaxation for a dog is often the hardest thing but the most important for nearly all dogs
Separation anxiety is one of the most difficult things to ameliorate. I second the idea of the behaviourist but also try a specialist vet. Some drugs help some dogs overcome separation anxiety.
I'm going to jump in here with an anecdote because this dog is just 5 months old.
At that age battendog did exactly the same. He paced and howling, barked and cried when left. If allowed he would have worked himself into a real state. I stopped pushing so hard. At 18 months old he can now be left for about an hour, so long as he's been fed, walked, weed etc. He's been slow to get it - and some of this is due to a house in which someone is almost always home - but I think all he needed was time to grow up a bit - and for practice to be very slow moving indeed.
I too worried about SA but it because clearer, as he got older, that he was getting happier and happier with taking himself off into another part of the house to sleep, alone. That gave me hope. We persevered with slowly shutting him other sides of gates, outside bathroom while showering, behind a gate watching me outside washing the car, inside the house while gardening just outside the window, alone downstairs while I left for work and everyone was upstairs asleep. He is getting there and whilst I suspect someone more skilled may have 'got him there' sooner, I am glad I did not push him too quickly and risk him building up experiences of being unhappy when left.
There are folks more experienced than I here, but to me five months old still seems young to be calling a behaviourist and using drugs.
It may or may not be separation anxiety but I think getting some help in would be a good idea.
I did end up having to go down the behavioural vet and drugs route with my whippet but only after having a behaviourist come to my house and writing a detailed report for the vet.
While my boy will always be on the clingy side he has improved so, so much and I’ve gone from not knowing if I could keep him (his behaviour triggered a major depressive episode for me) to him being a joy to have around. I can even leave him for an evening out now
missbattenburg totally agree that this does not seem like true SA to me just a puppy that needs to be trained to relax and be happy on their own.
Blimey drugs is a big step - I have treated many thousands of dogs with separation anxiety and only once had to resort to medication and tbh there were other issues going on
Our dog is now nearly 2. He sounds a lot like yours.
He was very clingy and frightened of being left alone. Our neighbors told us he was howling on the rare occasions he was left alone. He was also losing his hair
I was really upset by the whole thing and invested a huge amount of time into training him to be alone. It probably took 2-3 months. I used this guide:
I would recommend it. You have to persist with the training. If you work from home or are at home with kids you all have to leave the house (sometimes several times a day for very short periods) otherwise it won’t work.
Other things that helped with us:
- getting rid of the crate he hated it
- Giving him access to the sitting room where he can see out the window
- making sure he was well exercised (and tired) before leaving him
- wearing shoes inside (he used to get nervous the minute he saw anyone with a shoe in their hand.
Now he is the perfect dog (IMO). He sleeps almost all day (because he’s well exercised). He’s happy on his own (he often doesn’t greet me when I come back or come and see me when I’m leaving, he also eats and drinks as normal when he’s alone). He can be left for relatively long periods as long as he’s had a good walk and doesn’t need a pee/poo.
I had no idea how much work a dog was. I knew it was a commitment but the training is so much harder than I thought it would be. Worth it in the end though!
Thank you @heidiwine for the link and thank everyone for the advice and personal experience!
I don't think going down the drug route is for us, he is still a bit young I think and since I don't actually have to leave him not sure it would be worth it, but I do want to make it easier for him incase there is an occasion I really can't take him with me and can't get a sitter, don't want to suddenly spring it on him.
I guess we maybe just have to keep persevering, I've put in a lot of time and it's a bit disheartening not seeing any progress, but he's still young as pp have said so maybe with more time he will calm down a bit.
Thanks again everyone