/ Leaving a puppy alone

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Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
Hello all

We have a ten and a half week old pointer cross (she's a pointer crossed with another pointer :-)) called Lotta. She was a little younger than we initially realised when we first got her (6.5 weeks) but she's settled in a treat, and whilst she's driving me up the wall with her puppy antics, she's fundamentally being pretty amazing - sleeping through the night, going outside for most of her toilet activity, happily spending time in her crate, learning that people aren't for chewing on and cats aren't for chasing, etc. She also has a range of toys, including stuffed kongs. Don't know whether I should be worried that a catnip toy seems to be her preferred choice... :-)

I work from home most of the time, so I'm able to be around for her. There are going to be points over the next few weeks where I'll have to be away all day, and for some of those Mr TC can't be around either. She'll either be looked after by one of our parents or will be attending doggy daycare, but the latter only for half days.

My question is this: how long did you leave your puppy for, and were there any disastrous side-effects?

N.B. she'll be starting puppy training next week, and we're just starting on short walks.

<sits back, awaits barrage of useful advice and the odd bit of condescension... >
mark s - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: we left ours from 7-30 till 16-00.just make extra fuss when you get home
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Its hard to tell as some puppies cope with seperation anxiety better than others. It sounds like you have Lotta well catered for whilst you are out so I suspect she will be fine.

One thing I would say though is it could be useful to get her used to being left alone during the daytime for extended periods. Start short and slowly build it up. We can leave our one for a few hours at a time (has had a 5 hour stint on boxing day). We just shut him in the utility room with his bed, a large bowel of water and a couple of pigs ears and a toy and leave the light on. He can wander about should he wish (although I suspect he sleeps once boredam sets in) and there is nothing to destroy...which is key ;-) I always give him a decent walk beforehand and one on return as well.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers:

Hmm, that's pretty much my thinking - after all, I can't be with her all the time for the next ten years or so... (as my dad suggested I should - how very helpful!) I've been crating her and working elsewhere in the house for an hour or two at a time, and she gets left for a couple of hours here and there at the moment. She's in the dining room (we don't have a utility room and the kitchen isn't big enough) but I'm thinking that removing the books from the lower shelves of the bookshelf would be a wise precautionary measure (easier to do that than tell her off once she's chewed a first edition mountaineering book or somesuch!)
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: My dog was never left alone for a full day- half day at worst with lots of toys. He never once chewed something he shouldnt have. Doggy Day Care (although pricey) was amazing for him and his social development. Id drop him off at 8am, my boyfriend would collect him at 5 and he'd be totally zonked in the evenings. His best buddy was a rotweiler.
Did you know, (empty!) plastic milk cartons and wooden spoons are loved by teething puppies too (with supervision).
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

She has a milk carton - she's very fond of it :-) She also particularly likes spiky massage balls.

Our local daycare will only do half days for puppies under a year old, so she'd be left for a maximum of half a day. When she's spent time with my mum's working cocker it's been great to see her hurtling around and playing - social contact is definitely the way forward!
Wainers44 - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Yes start with short periods and dont make too much fuss about it. Ours took a liking to chair legs and the occasional door frame while we were out to start with, oh and howled a bit!! Not sure if I should admit it, but we used to leave the radio on for him so the house wasnt totally silent (ok thats probably wierd!)

They do get used to it very quickly.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:

Nope, not weird - radio use is widely recommended!

That said, we have thick walls and a dodgy internet router so either the router crashes or the DAB signal wavers - you've reminded me to get a cheap analogue radio today.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:

Door frames would be bad, as would the carpet - it's a rented house! The carpet is covered in plastic sheeting so that seems to have solved that problem. She ripped up the last lot but has left this lot alone. She's discovered a penchant for gaffer tape, mind...
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Oh yeah I used to leave the radio on for him too. Radio 2 and Terry Wogan... I hope he liked it.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

I've been trying to brainwash Lotta with Radio 4 :-)
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Radio 4 is for old people. <awaits flaming>
Moley on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
I would utilise a dog cage (I think you mentioned you had one?) but the cage has to be somewhere nice for the dog to go into, so it thinks the cage it it's own little personal space/home. It mustn't ever be used as the 'naughty corner'! This is presuming the dog is house trained and unlikey to mess the cage? If it goes in the cage every night or after walks etc. when it is tired and wants a nice quiet sleep it should take to it and settle down when you are away for a few hours. Also no temptations in the cage for it to be naughty - like ooooh lets chew this sofa or destroy these cloths about the house!
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Moley:

Yep, she has a crate and she's hanging out in there at the moment (of her own volition!) She gets crated (with the door closed) for a couple of hours a day, but the door isn't closed overnight as she isn't fully housetrained yet.
Ava Adore - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

I have no useful advice to barrage you with so will instead go with....

....are you sure you're doing the right thing having a puppy when you can't be there for her 24/7?

;-)

Yours condescendingly with a smiley :-)
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Ava Adore: Why would she need to be there 24/7? Granted, whole days are not suitable but thats not the problem here. From experience half days with sufficient exercise and stimulation produced a very happy, sociable dog.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

Ava's joking :-)
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: I didn wonder with the wink, sorry Ava! Naughty...
Wainers44 - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: We wasted 6 months trying radio4 on a Springer....it just did not compute! He preferred music, loud normally.

Oh and I just remembered he once ate his way right through the matress aka cushion that was on the sofa bed in the conservatory, but that was only once so you will probably be fine...

It takes them only once to perfect the "no, you are surely not leaving me here...alone...cold...lonely...in this dangerous house.." type puppy eyes look, so be ready!!
Wee Davie - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

I was at home most of the time for Brodie's first 6 months. He's crated and has been used to it since we first got him.
What we got recommended to do (by various crate training advice websites) was to gradually build up the time being left alone.
At the start he used to howl and would pee his crate. This was quite/ very worrying for us but he got over it. It probably took a month or more of trying leaving him for an hour, a couple of hours or slightly more.
One top tip we tried to stick to was- don't make a fuss as you leave. Just go without acknowledging him. Same when you get back in e.g. with shopping we'd put it away before letting him back out.
It's tempting to make a fuss as they are so cute but it just excites them and can cause more anxiety.
He's now totally cool with being left and sleeps like a log for hours.
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Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:

She does have music too :-) We've just got a rocking chair (as a restoration project) and it's in the dining room - she 's a bit baffled by scary furniture that moves!
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Wee Davie:

That's good - sounds similar to what we're doing. We're giving her lots of attention but we're also doing things like making a big fuss of the cats and not her, so she knows it's not all about her. I just need to be brave about building up the time she's left, I think.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. Between this and DrunkenBakers' thread earlier in the week, I feel reassured that we're on the right track. Makes me feel a little better about the moment on Wednesday where I rang my mum on the brink of tears of exasperation - I suspect that in some regards it really *is* like raising a toddler...
Wee Davie - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

I was shocked about how much worry goes into bringing up a pup! Had dogs all through my childhood but my folks would have dealt with any of the difficult sides to it.

If I could have done anything different with ours-

a)I'd have not gone to him overnight when he was crying- big mistake.

and

b)been a bit firmer with him overall. He's very bright and very quick to learn, but he probably learned very early on that he could make demands on us and also could often choose when he would do certain things to command.
They're not daft Pointers!
nniff - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

What made life a great deal easier for us was a dog flap so that he could go in and out and not stress out about house training. The radio is good - Radio 4 for continuous background voices and to mask/blend in with pattern of life noises from outside that might set him off barking. As our confidence grew that he would not chew everything, we gave him the run of most of the house so that he can see what's going on at the front. His preferred position these days is a window sill!

As far as chewing is concerned, we got one of those big cotton rope knots and wired it to his bed so it was always there. These days, he just has a go at it first thing in the morning to clean his teeth. Works very well, that does.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to nniff:

We can't do dog flaps as a) it's a rented house so we can't cut a hole in the door, and b) we have the cats to consider. I can see how it makes sense in other circumstances though! It'll be a while before Lotta gets the run of the house as we're following a lot of advice on managing her with the cats - for instance, one oft-repeated piece of advice that seems to be working okay so far is that we put her on her lead to take her from the the kitchen/dining room (there's a babygate on the kitchen door) along the hall and to the door, so she can't chase the cats. It means the cats are a bit more relaxed, and Eric even comes to investigate when Lotta's being calm or sleeping.

Eeeh, puppies, it's a minefield!
TheDrunkenBakers - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: left my 5 months old for the first time yesterday for about 6 hours. He was absolutely fine. In the cage when we left and no mess or problems afterwards.

Plus he hasnt filed for divorce or sued us for neglect yet so he cant be that bothered.
obi-wan nick b - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
....That said, we have thick walls and a dodgy internet router...

I misread that as doggy internet router and thought OMG they're barking mad and have set up doggy wifi...
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

That's good news! I think Lotta's a bit young (i.e. not fully housetrained yet) to be left crated for so long, but we'll get there. At the moment when she's been left for more than an hour, she's been free to roam round the dining room but tends to end up in her crate. We'll get there...
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to obi-wan nick b:

It hasn't yet come to that!
Wee Davie - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

I heard that dogs don't have much of a concept of time, so if there's no-one to be hanging around with they just sleep happily. Could be a load of nonsense, but it makes me feel better! I often get back in to find ours hasn't woken up. Gave me fright the first few times though- thought he'd carked it!
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Soooo, do we get to see puppy pics??
Ava Adore - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:
> (In reply to Ava Adore) Why would she need to be there 24/7? Granted, whole days are not suitable but thats not the problem here. From experience half days with sufficient exercise and stimulation produced a very happy, sociable dog.

I was indeed joking, JD. Not very well - sorry! :-)
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

Here's the little devil earlier this week (excuse the hand): http://www.flickr.com/photos/c_j_d/8426893220/in/photostream

It was a rare moment where she was standing still...
Chris the Tall - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:
> (In reply to Tall Clare) Oh yeah I used to leave the radio on for him too. Radio 2 and Terry Wogan... I hope he liked it.

That's tantamount to cruelty - ours insists on 6music !

nniff - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

Ah yes, Eric. As I think we have discussed previously, our Eric recognises pain and suffering only as a useful tool for subduing dogs. Mac (the dog) therefore had his rights explained to him by Eric at a tender age. These lessons are periodically reinforced. Between lessons, Mac is obliged to act as a pillow and as an ear cleaning service.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to nniff:

Alas, Milly has beaten Eric into submission so Eric is most definitely not a fighter - her response when attacked is to roll over on her side. Not helpful...
Jamming Dodger on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Cute :)
I want one.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:

You've missed your window - on Wednesday I was all for giving her away...
Al Evans on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Jamming Dodger:
> (In reply to Tall Clare) Radio 4 is for old people. <awaits flaming>

You mean people over 10?
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Wainers44 - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to Jamming Dodger)
>
> Here's the little devil earlier this week (excuse the hand): http://www.flickr.com/photos/c_j_d/8426893220/in/photostream
>
> It was a rare moment where she was standing still...

....you wont leave me....you couldnt leave me....look into my eyes.....
Ava Adore - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Al Evans:
> (In reply to Jamming Dodger)
> [...]
>
> You mean people over 10?

I was brainwashed into being a R4 listener (it looks "cooler" to say R4) from early adolescence as it's all my mum would listen to and she had the radio on all the time.
MJ - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:

I've been trying to brainwash Lotta with Radio 4 :-)

A quick Google found this: -

http://www.dogcatradio.com/

andy - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: ours is 2 and a half now - and has been left in her crate, door shut, overnight and when mrs a's at work (9-1:30) more or less since we had her (so maybe 10 weeks old or so).

She used to occasionally wee in her crate (still does very rarely) but we've never had anything chewed. Mrs A working part time and only three days a week, plus a season ticket to Bolton Abbey car parks (the dog walker's friend), and the fact she can now go running with me, means she's alseep most of the rest of the time!
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to andy:

That's reassuring. Now Lotta's at that sort of age I think I just need to be braver about putting her in the crate and leaving her there, knowing she's already wee'd, etc.
andy - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: We did used to put half newspaper and half bed in the crate, although to be honest it was pretty rare she had any accidents. The main issue was her taking a while to become housetrained full stop - it felt like centuries at the time, and we had tears and tantrums, but in practice it was probably a couple of a months where she had frequent accidents. Mrs A's tendency to anthropomorphism kicked in at this point, as Izzy was clearly "doing it on purpose"...
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to andy:

I empathise - I get grumpy with Lotta but then have to remind myself that a) she's still really small (though she's growing at a near-suspicious rate of knots), and b) we've only had her for a month, quite a bit of which was rather snowy and thus not ideal for housetraining.
Murderous_Crow - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Hi TC. Just a thought specifically on the housetraining: you say you don't leave her crate shut at night as she's not fully housetrained. What I've done in the past, and is working well for my current pup is the following:

Late eve: Put the pup in the crate and shut the door after the last wee break of the day. Set your alarm for a little while before you KNOW she's going to need to go again. You can eke out the time she spends shut in the crate gradually, progressing eventually to say just 11pm and 7am wee breaks. But for now while going all the way through the night is hard for her you'll need to take her out at intervals. If she can't hold on for long, you may need to be up every 2-3hrs at first. This seems like a huge pain, but is much less hassle than allowing the pup the chance to bark / howl for attention, which will rapidly become a real nuisance for you. You basically have to pre-empt her distress.

Take her out to the garden and basically just stand there. Don't let her interact with you or with things out there at all (it's not a bad idea to put her on a leash for this). As soon as she's finished her toilet, reward her straightaway with verbal praise and a small food treat. Timing of the praise is key: eventually she will understand she is being rewarded for going in the right place. Some trainers recommend using a trigger word while she's doing her bit, which can help if you're in a rush. Personally I always feel it's a bit too daft :)

The other thing to do is watch her like a hawk in the house. If you can catch her in the act of doing her business in the house, the best thing is to make a loud noise (my partner's scream has been very effective lol) to shock her and stop the flow. Don't do any more punishment than that, it really is enough. Immediately run her outside and give lavish praise when she continues in the proper place. It shouldn't take too long for the penny to drop. You can speed this process up by only gradually allowing access during the day to the wider house i.e. the bit you're not currently in. Your safety gate is a massive help here.

If she has an accident in the house get it clean with a good enzymatic cleaner or soap and water then some sodium bicarb solution. This removes the smell so it won't become a habitual toilet spot. And make an effort to feed her and chill out in the area she toileted, this will help her to know that that area is classed as 'den' too.

Just a thought. Lol.

Luke
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Bimblefast:

Hurrah - we already do most of this!

The moronic people who rent houses out nowadays tend to think that cream carpets are a good idea, so we want to avoid accidents at all costs reallly. For when we do, we have special stuff from the pet shop for cleaning up.

As I mentioned earlier, she won't have unfettered access to the wider house for quite some time - that's about managing her relationship with the cats, who were there first.
Ava Adore - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare:
> (In reply to Bimblefast)
>
> that's about managing her relationship with the cats, who were there first.


Pecking order:

Milly
.
.
TC (home all day)
Mr TC (not home all day)
.
.
.
Eric
.
.
.
.
Kids
.
.
.
.
House plants
.
.
Bugs
.
.
.
Amoebae
.
.
(many many steps below = Lotta)
Murderous_Crow - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Ha, yeah, we have cream carpet too. Doh! If you're quick and thorough it won't stain permanently though, and you might have to accept that she'll have a few accidents along the way. Personally I think interrupting her is a really powerful learning opportunity - on one hand when you praise her going outside it reinforces that that is a *good* thing. But it doesn't tell her that going in the house is bad. Interrupting and following up straightaway with a demonstration / reward for the right behaviour gives her a chance to learn that going in the house is bad, without any unnecessary trauma.

I hear you about the cats. It's a question of socialisation, so regardless what behaviour is demonstrated - excessive chasing, play, fear or aggression - the principles are pretty similar. I'd start with the pup feeling super-chilled out, so toward the day's end sit on the floor with Lotta, and give her plenty of slow strokes / massage (sounds bizarre but it's relaxing for dogs too). This is really good for bonding, plus it gives you the chance to associate a word with this feeling, which you can use to calm her in stressful situations.

Have a leash and collar on her. Get your partner to bring one of the cats in and just let the two of them be in the same room together. Keep a firm hold of her collar, and make a warning noise (like a growl / bark) if she tries to get up. Pull her back down, and resume slow strokes. Other than the stroking, don't interact with her: have the telly on, and talk in normal tones with your partner. After a while, so long as she remains chilled out you can bring the cat a bit closer (poor cat may feel a bit freaked by this, but it is necessary). Keep these 'exposures' brief but frequent, and gradually up the ante. Once the pup is used to being around the cat while simultaneously 'chilled', you can allow her to perhaps stand - with a firm grip on the leash. Let her sniff but don't allow any sudden movements toward the cat (just go back to the previous stage, with her being made to lie flat).

For my latest pup (7-month old rescue, terrified of new people) I've done something quite similar, and it's working well. He's become calmer and far friendlier to new people since coming to live with us in early Jan. Our only problem now is ongoing separation anxiety - common in rescued dogs and thankfully fairly mild in his case - touch wood.
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Bimblefast:

Good call on the cat training, but the advice we're following has a few steps before that stage :-) If Lotta kills or seriously injures one of the cats she'll be at the RSPCA awaiting rehoming before the end of the day, so we're being very careful as we don't want that outcome for her or the cats.

We're already doing the interrupting/praise thing, with positive effect.
ceri - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: As a pup, I would have thought you should be OK to introduce her to the cats quite quickly. At that age they tend to think everything is another dog. I know my friends' pup (collie x retriever) treated the cats the same as their collie. (cats can easily move away, as they don't actually want to play with a puppy). She also drops toys in front of the sheep to try to get them to play with her!
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to ceri:

It's not quite that straightforward. We're following advice we're happy with about it, and everything's progressing well.
Wainers44 - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: Cat lessons first, and then the fun of anti sheep lessons next!!
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Ava Adore:

There's a picture waiting on Facebook for you :-)
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Wainers44:

There are some jacob (brown/white splodgy) sheep in the field next door and she's absolutely baffled by them! But yes, proper sheep training...
Tall Clare - on 01 Feb 2013
She wasn't convinced about this afternoon's walk: http://www.flickr.com/photos/c_j_d/8435944724/in/photostream

One thing we've found really helped, if anyone else is struggling with a lively dog, is to keep going with a (furry covered) hot water bottle. Lotta has hers refilled twice a day - she's currently baking her head on it.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Tall Clare: She's beautiful. I suspect (but don't know) that she will get darker in her mottled areas as she gets older. We were told this about ours and it definitely happened to him.But maybe that was specific to his parents both being more solid in colouring.

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