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Discussion Starter #1
The day I've been dreading arrives this Thursday - I have to attend an all-day work meeting, which means Beau is going to be home alone for the first time since we've had him. (About two months, now. He's 8 months old.) My wife leaves for work around 10:00 am and gets back home around 3:00, so he's going to have to survive five whole hours all by his lonesome. And this is a dog I call "glue stick," cause he sticks to me every second. I'm hoping he'll just cry for a bit, then settle down, which is what he always does when I get out of his sight for more than a few minutes.

Anyway, I bought a gate so he can safely roam free in the kitchen/family room, and he will have access to the fenced yard. Maybe he'll settle down and sleep the day away in his crate, but I have my doubts. I'm going to be a nervous wreak that day, but there's no choice, and the day had to come sooner or later.

I'd appreciate any tips that you found helpful to keep your furry friends calm and occupied when they had to fly solo for the first time. I did get him an "Everlasting Treat Ball," which I figure I'll put in his crate on the day. (Is that a guilt offering, or what!) Any reassuring words or success stories to help ME stay calm would be welcome, too.
 

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If he is going to be able to roam in the living room/kitchen, you should double check there is nothing within reach that is easily destroyed or could hurt him. Have you left him alone by himself for any short periods of time? Our older dog was almost three before she stopped destroying things while we were gone and felt safe leaving her out of her crate. Captain is always crated when we are gone, and Midge still gets crated occassionally if we'll be gone for more than a couple of hours.
 

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Have you biult up any time away from him before now?
I trained harley, from about 10 weeks, to be away form me, to build up until 8 hours away time. this was before I was even going out.
 

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Teddy began going to work with me every day as soon as I brought him home (at about 11 weeks). The first time I had to leave him to go to a client's office, it was for about 4 hours. I forget how old he was--3 months, maybe? Anyway, I left him in his crate with the door latched. I made sure his favorite toys were in there (but choosing only the ones that he couldn't choke on). He cried when I left, but was asleep when I got home and didn't even hear me come in (some watch dog, eh? LOL).

By the next time I had to leave him, he and my cat Mickey were getting along so well that I thought I would just close off all the rooms I didn't want him in and leave him and the cat loose in the dining room/kitchen area so they could play and keep each other company. I left the crate in the dining room with the door open (secured with a carabineer clip so that it couldn't accidentally get closed and latched). There was some crying when I left, but I just ignored it. When I got home, he cried. He always cries when I get home (sometimes even if I've just come back from the bathroom, he cries like he hasn't seen me in months). But he was fine.

He's been left at home without me another three or four times since then, for varying lengths of time from 5 to about 8 hours, and each time, the crying has become less when I leave. The last time, I stood on the other side of the door for a few seconds and didn't hear a peep.

He doesn't like being left behind, so we need to work on my exit strategy. The room I keep them in is where the door is, so I can't just put up a baby gate to block him. I need to teach him not to rush the door.

He is almost 9 months old now, and doesn't seem to have any separation anxiety issues like I was afraid he might. I think the way you're doing it is the best way. Leave him for 4-5 hours, let him discover that he's not being abandoned, and after a few times, he'll get used to it. Or at least he won't cry when you leave.

Good luck - but don't worry too much. He'll be fine.
 

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I agree about the crating. If he has never been left and you dont know how he will react then it will be safer for him and your house to crate him.

Personally, i like to teach dogs how to cope being left alone even if i could physically keep them with me all the time. I will leave them for errands, trips to the mailbox, lunch with friends, etc just so they get used to it. It is not so tramatic of an event if it happens all the time to you or him. Spending every second with a dog and never leaving them is a great way to make a dog have seperation anxiety! :D
 

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Personally, i like to teach dogs how to cope being left alone even if i could physically keep them with me all the time. I will leave them for errands, trips to the mailbox, lunch with friends, etc just so they get used to it. It is not so traumatic of an event if it happens all the time to you or him. Spending every second with a dog and never leaving them is a great way to make a dog have separation anxiety!
Can not agree more...

It is better to start early, especially with a "velcro dog" :rolffleyes:.

I would feel much safer leaving him in the crate if he was never left before alone and free-roaming in the home.

You might try using weekends to start training him to stay by himself - go out for an hour twice a day, than prolong the periods to see how is he reacting and than take it from there :)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for all the input. I agree that leaving him in the crate is the way to go. I tried it today; he started crying when I closed the front door, and was still crying 15 minutes later when I returned. Will he settle down after a while? I sure hope so. He didn't even touch his peanut butter-filled Kong, which he normally loves. I'm going to try to repeat the excercise for short intervals over the next couple of days to prepare him for Thursday.

So how do I keep him from associating the crate with what to him is a most unpleasant situation?
 

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Uh oh.... I think you need to crate this dog for a certain length of time even when you are home. He needs to learn that he has to cool his heels and that he should not expect to be able to be with you all the time.

If you keep going this way, you could create a dog who has separation anxiety.
 

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Well, the fateful day came and went, and guess what? We lived to tell the tale!

In the end I decided not to crate him, but left him in our tiled kitchen/family room area, which is the most puppy-proof area in our house. I had two days to get him used to staying behind the gate with me still at home, but working out of his sight in my office. He mostly tolerated this and slept, though he did cry for me occasionally. I also made a few quick trips to get him acclimated to being all alone. He pretty much cried through these. (He can really wail!)

He got a brisk walk and lots of high-energy fetch in the morning before I left. I had to leave first, which was good - he's calmer if he doesn't see me go out the door. When the time came for my wife to leave, she distracted him with a treat and quietly slipped out of the house.

Fortunately, my work meeting ended early, so Beau ended up being alone only for about three hours -- perfect for a first go-around.

I listened at the door when I came home, and all I heard was the radio I had left playing in my office. (Figured having a familiar soundtrack couldn't hurt.) His greeting was maybe a little more enthusiastic than usual, but he didn't seem distressed or wild. He didn't have an accident or destroy anything, so I'm calling this a rousing success!

BTW, he loves the "Everlasting Treat Ball," which works exactly as advertised. He pushes that thing all around gnawing away while attempting to get to the embedded treat; it's an expensive item, but it keeps him happily occupied for a long time. I'm keeping it in reserve for next Tuesday, when he will have to endure a full five hours. But I think I can assume he'll get more comfortable with being alone each time we do this. I sure hope so.

A round of treats for everyone!
 

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awesome

Awesome and congrats! I do the same thing when I have to leave my puppy. He never liked crates or pens and is much happier in the kitchen area. :)
 
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