Leaving a puppy alone

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Leaving a puppy alone

This is a discussion on Leaving a puppy alone within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; I would like to start leaving Poppy on her own for very short periods, so I can pop to the shop or something - at ...

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Old 05-11-2011, 02:30 PM
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Leaving a puppy alone

I would like to start leaving Poppy on her own for very short periods, so I can pop to the shop or something - at the moment I feel like a prisoner in my own home! I can't leave her in the car while going into shops as we live in the Middle East and daytime temps are in the 40s now.

How do you go about leaving her? If she starts howling/whining, does this mean you've pushed it too far?

I am really worried about her becoming a barky or whiny dog, as it's something I don't like (and also they are quite strict on barking dogs where we live). I do realise not to reinforce it by returning to her while she is barking, but how long might you have to wait for a gap in the barking and how big a gap should it be?

The only room which can be sectioned off is the kitchen. She has a crate which is in there, but for some reason I feel it would be better if she had the run of the whole kitchen, rather than being locked in her crate.

I am picking up two baby gates tomorrow which I can use for this.

Please can someone advise how you go about leaving her - I have watched Kikopup's video, but am unsure about how quickly you progress. Do you do it lots of times per day, or just once a day, and how much do you increase the time for each time? Do you wait until she starts howling/barking before you think about going back in (waiting until she's quiet obviously)?

She is approx. 3 months old, a rescue and she can hold her pee in overnight for about 6 hours, but in the daytime she soils in the house if I don't take her out every couple of hours.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:50 PM
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I wouldn't leave her longer than she can hold it in the middle of the day if you can help it, only because it will set back your potty training and be more difficult for you. We leave our 4-5 month old puppy in the bathroom at home alone during the day at work, for 5 hours max most days. She does whine (and sometimes bark) initially, but will settle down after 5 minutes. We leave her with her crate, toys, water, and a tasty treat just as we are putting her away. This is totally fine to do. I'm not sure if it causes her to bark more. She has gotten more barky since we adopted her at 3-4 months old, but I don't think it's due to whining in the bathroom as much as growing older, settling into the house, etc.

You shouldn't feel trapped because of the puppy, but I do know what you mean!
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:54 PM
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Thanks seebrown. Our bathroom is quite small and also from watching Kikopup's tutorials, it seems to be inadvisable to have a room that is 'only for when the humans go out and leave you'. Is that how you found it - if not, how did you get around it? Does she not have negative associations with the bathroom? Did you build up the time gradually, and if so how long?
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Old 05-11-2011, 03:03 PM
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Actually, we kind of treat the bathroom like a crate, so she always wants to go in for a treat now. We have really delicious treats (duck jerky) that she only gets for going into her crate in the bathroom. We also give her a Kong filled with canned food, which takes awhile to get through. So, when leaving for the day, we open the bathroom door and say "go to bed." She runs right in her crate, and we give her the treats and shut the bathroom door. Once her duck jerky is gone, she'll whine for about 5 minutes, but then she'll stop. Her Kong is always empty when we let her out.

The kitchen would be fine too. Our kitchen is very small and we have a few bathrooms, so it's easier for us to use the bathroom. We also put her in the bathroom for short time periods as well when we need to clean the house or have her out from underfoot (she always gets a treat for going in the bathroom). If you read the crate training sticky, we're kind of treating it like that, only the crate is in the bathroom and we don't shut the crate door. We're basically working up to crate training at this point, and with crate training, your puppy will bark and whine if you leave for long periods, but the allure of food consistently (and training games in the crate) seems to eventually phase out the barking/whining.

I read your other thread, and you're doing a great job! Just be consistent and patient. And breath!
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Old 05-11-2011, 11:16 PM
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I'd say it's definitely a good idea not to give into every whine and bark. It's best to just let them calm down on their own or they learn that whining gets you to come back. If you're trying to implement this, then any pause in her whining can be rewarded by your presence and/or a treat.

Try leaving her in the sectioned off area while you are at home. Not for the whole day of course, but just for a little while so that she gets used to this space and doesn't associate it with you leaving. Also, try to make this space a place where she wants to be. Leave a yummy bone or rawhide treat for her to chew, and leave her there with a couple of toys.
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Old 05-12-2011, 02:28 AM
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Thanks guys. Not had a productive morning so far. First of all, I fed her inside her crate in the kitchen. Then, while she was eating, I carefully shut the door on her - she immediately went absolutely nuts, biting at the door, digging frantically, chewing the plastic, howling, in a real panic. I eventually gave in as I was worried she needed to go pee, so I took her outside and she didn't do anything.

Now she won't even go in her crate at all, for the first time since we had her - she was picking bits of breakfast gingerly out of it and eating them outside the crate. I can't persuade her in now, although I haven't pushed it too much.

Yesterday I prepared 3 kong toys of various types with peanut butter and froze them. I threw one into the back of the crate and she wasn't interested (this was the first time she'd had a Kong).

I have been spending some time shut in the kitchen with her this morning, as it's where I'd eventually like to leave her when we go out, whether crated or not. She won't settle in there like she does when I am here on the computer in my office - she goes looking for things to gnaw on etc.

I pulled the frozen Kong from her crate and gave it to her to try and stop her gnawing the oven - it turns out she doesn't like peanut butter at all. So I've washed all 3 Kongs out and will need to find something else to fill them with.

Then, when we were chilling in the kitchen, the doorbell rang and I had to shut her in there while I went to answer the door. She immediately started crying and the meter reader had turned up (to read our electricity meter in the kitchen) so of course I had to open the door while she was still crying, again reinforcing this behaviour.

My gut feeling is that she is not the sort of dog who will ever be happy in a crate. But I am also worried I will not ever be able to leave her alone in the kitchen, because I can't work out what she likes to do and I'm worried she'll choose to gnaw on the kitchen units instead of her bones.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:24 AM
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OK so I eventually got her to like going in her crate again by leaving random bits of chicken/sausage in there. But while she was eating the sausage during the last session she peed in the crate!

Also, toys she will play with in the lounge, she won't touch in the kitchen. She doesn't seem to settle in the kitchen so easily, maybe because it has no windows she can see out of or something. But it's the most dog friendly room in the house.

I am this close to giving up.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:50 AM
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Does your kitchen have a door, or is it open plan? I'd say take a break from the crate and concentrate on settling puppy in the kitchen.

If it has a door, put puppy in and close the door. Sneak back to the door when doggy barks/whines and bang the door. This gives the dog a fright and a bit of a telling off but they don't know it's comming from you.

It sounds mean but the basic premise is that the dog barks and scratches at the door because it wants it to open. It's not barking and whining at you, or expecting you to hear it, it's just trying all it can to make the door open as the door is that's preventing it from getting to you. If the DOOR tells it off for barking at it, it will stop

I read this in "The Dog Vinci Code" which is a FAB book that is focused on positive reinforcement - this is the only "correction" type action it's used.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:16 AM
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It's the only room in the house with a door that is pup-proof ish (the rest of the house is open plan).

I've been shutting her in there for short periods this morning, and letting her out once she is quiet for a few seconds (normally after 3-5 minutes).

Now she hates the kitchen even more, despite me also spending lots of time with her in there today doing some games, so it's not just a room she gets left in. She is much more reluctant to do much playing in there at all though, I don't know why. The Kongs I thought she hated suddenly peak her interest if in the living room.

She has also become extra clingy!
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:37 AM
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Your anxiety about her could be being communicated to her and she's responding. If you put her in the kitchen while thinking "oh boy, she hates this, she's going to freak out, oh no" she'll feel that tension and she'll freak out. Try adjusting your feelings to (even fake) positive ones. "This is going to be FUN" "She's going to have a great time with her Kong!" "Time for a lovely nap" etc.

Do you talk to her much? I talk all the time. I just chatter on about what's going to happen and how good it'll be. If I want them settled down, I talk in a soothing type tone, if I want them to do something they aren't keen on, it's all jolly. They'll usually look interested, even though they haven't a clue what I'm on about. Don't use a worried tone "are you going to like this?", use a jolly hockey sticks tone "here we go, play time with Kong! You're going to sit on your blankie and here's Kong and I'll come back later and we'll go outside" Blah blah blah.
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