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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone - glad to be a member here :) The issue at hand is generally a pro, but I am worried it can turn into a con.

I adopted my first dog Diva on December 21st (tomorrow will be 9 days in). She is a Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix (approximately 1.5 yrs old) and the experience so far been a beautiful life changer. I love Diva with all my heart and is as close to a child as my 22 year old self can have.

As I do freelance work from my apartment (1 bdrm/1 living room), I am able to spend a lot of time with Diva which has helped us bond extremely quickly. It's heartwarming seeing how she looks at me with so much love and devotion. She is extremely affectionate and gentle, and has zero aggression - haven't even heard her bark once.

Points to be made:

  • Diva has slept on my bed with me every night since coming home. I don't mind it at all (even when she wants to lick me in the middle of the night).
  • She always likes to be in the same room as me - if I go in the bathroom or bedroom alone, she whines the majority of the time which breaks my heart. Same goes for when I leave home without her. I've noticed that she only eats when I am home.
  • When I get home, she's intensely passionate and once I sit down, she licks my entire face/hands/everywhere she can get to as if she hasn't seen me in years. She eventually loses steam in those moments.
  • She's always up for cuddling/sitting on my lap/having me pet her. Licking has gone on for 10 minutes straight before.
  • If I'm sitting in bed without her, she either stands to have me pick her up or gets on the bed herself (latter being recent).
I guess I'm just worried that my being so lenient with Diva at home is contributing to what's becoming separation anxiety. It doesn't seem like she's had a previous owner and I am nervous that her spaying on January 6 will be frightening for her.


Any input/advice would be greatly appreciated. Diva has completely taken my heart and I want to be the best pet parent for her in the long run.


Thanks,
Mark

Video: https://instagram.com/p/xIjrN7DIH9/



 

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Pax was the same way when I got him and I had a work situation that allowed him to be with me almost every day...all day. At home he is a velcro dog...which I like, but...

Now at a year old, I am working on separation anxiety issues with him. I can't leave him alone without destroying something inside or in the back yard...like the deck. My advise...get her used to being alone and learning that it is NOT a bad thing. If you are with her 24/7 it will only get worse. Being a good owner means making sure that she is comfortable and relaxed in ANY situation and not dependent on you or anyone else.

Wish I would have started sooner!
 

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It's quite natural for 'second-hand' dogs to develop a very strong attachment to one member of the household. The first few weeks in a new home can be sort of a behavioral anomaly for a dog because they are simply so shellshocked-- first by a shelter atmosphere or their transition to a foster home and then by the upheaval of their upheaval when they are again rehomed.

While you can expect a chihuahua mix to some extents a 'velcro dog' its also important to establish healthy separation behaviors. It's not about being tough or standoffish to your dog so much as it is about making alone-time equally rewarding. It helps to have 'time-release' rewards like edible chews (bully sticks, himalayan chews, antlers, raw meaty bones) or puzzle toys (kongs, wobbling food dispensers, treat-dispensing balls, buster cubes, etc).

In the training/behavior section you'll find more stickies on separation, crating and the like. It sounds like the dog is so far a blank slate, so setting good habits, not solving separation anxiety, is you priority right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@Pax I'm starting to go out for longer periods of time (yesterday was 4 hours) - I guess the whining is just something I have to learn to tune out as opposed to feeling guilty. Thanks for sharing!
@Kelly582 Thanks! I'd like to go with her to some training sessions and I'm looking forward to reading more on this forum.
 

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To toot the horn of our own behavior section, I'd recommend you look in your area and see if there is a trainer that teaches purely based on positive reinforcement methods. There are a lot of trainers out there with many methodologies, from the likes of Cesar Milan to people like Victoria Stilwell and Emily Lartham who accomplish the same things without choking, intimidating or injuring themselves or the dog in the process.

It can sometimes be tricky to track down PR trainers. Some people like to think that they are, but often turn to confrontational methods in the classroom such as intimidation, shouting, smacking, misuse of the Martingale collar, etc. The behavior section has some pretty good articles on weeding out a positive reinforcement trainer from your local selection.

I've had the most success questioning trainers over the phone with neutral questions like "What would you do to help us with loose-leash walking?" or "How can I get my dog to stop jumping on me?" Their responses usually speak greater volumes than anything written up on their website. Some would approach this with force-free but scientifically proven methods. Others prefer to pretend that they are in a wolf pack, neglecting, of course, the fact that zoologists train wolves with PR training ;)
 

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Congratulations and welcome! Diva is precious. She's going to bring you much happiness for many years.

Last spring, I adopted my Miles, and he had some separation anxiety issues though he's getting much better. One suggestion would be to leave her for short periods periodically through the day, and be sure to make each entry and exit as non eventful as possible. Be very calm and don't make a fuss. When you come back in, ignore her until she settles down. Reward her when she's calm.

I have learned a tremendous amount just reading about lots of folks and their dogs. This really is a terrific site. :)
 

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Hi Mark! Diva is lovely (great name :D. ) My dog, Betsy, is a Welsh Springer Spaniel, she came to us as a rescue 3 years ago aged about 4 years old. Right from the start, like you, we allowed Betsy to sleep in our room, have free reign of the house, she too was a bit whiney when she was left, hardly surprising as she was originally abandoned :(. she followed me everywhere - still does to a certain extent - I stayed with her constantly for about a week then one day I went out several times, building up her time left alone gradually from 5 minutes to about an hour, I continued to do this over a period of a couple of weeks. It's great that you work from home (my husband also works from home) but you do need to go out without Diva sometimes, so it's worth practicing alone time with her. Looking forward to hearing more about her as time goes on :)
ETA I really like Victoria Stilwell, she's very much in to positive training, look her up online.
 

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I also recommend that you read "Love has no Age Limit" by Patricia McConnell. It's a very helpful and readable guide for bringing home a shelter dog.
 

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It sounds like your dog is acting out behaviors that you do not approve of, such as the massive lick upon your return home.

There is something called small dog syndrome where behavior that wouldn't be tolerated by a larger dog is tolerated by a small dog because it seems either cute or harmless. This is often things like food aggression, dominance behavior, excessive barking, territoriality, etc.

I think a lot of what you have going on is the opening stages of small dog syndrome.

Decide what behaviors you disapprove of and begin training to address these. It will make for a healthier happier life for both of you.
 
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