A new puppy (or dog) should have CONSTANT companionship for the first few days (at least) while he/she is adjusting to the new home. After all - the puppy/dog has NO idea that this is his new home. All he knows is that he's been yanked away from everything he's ever known and plopped down in a new place - he doesn't know if it's temporary or permanent; and of course, is going to be unsure. He will need LOTS of reassurance and love.
I'm often asked how many hours a puppy can be left by himself. A lot of that depends if he is the only puppy or not.
IF there is no other dog/puppy in the home, then I would say 4 hours a day is the MAXIMUM time (TOTAL HOURS...not just "at a time") he should be left alone. And that is only after a LOT of work getting him used to being alone, and avoiding "separation anxiety." A puppy is a baby, and needs supervision, companionship and love. If you work full time, then it's not fair to the puppy to be left alone 8 hours a day. And, by the way, it's going to be MUCH harder to housetrain the puppy, too. It's a very selfish person who works 8 (or more) hours a day) and brings a baby puppy into the home where he will be alone (and lonely) for such a long time every day.
IF the puppy will have the companionship of another dog, particularly of a littermate, or another similar-aged, similar-sized puppy, then being left alone for longer hours might be excusable.
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~*~ How to Deal with Separation Anxiety by Eliza ~*~
One of the biggest reasons people have a hard time helping their puppy overcome separation anxiety is because most 2 legged animals can't see the situation from their new puppy's point of view. They don't understand that the barking, crying, tinkling or other desperate behavior is the only way a dog can express his anxiety and fear of being separated from his family.
Imagine this: how would you feel if you suddenly were dropped off in a foreign country where you didn't speak the language, had no identification, no phone, no money, no car or house keys. Imagine being totally dependent one person for your survival. How would you feel if they drove off in a car and left you sitting in the middle of nowhere wondering if they would ever come back?
I had this experience, and it gave me an insight as to the vulnerability of our beloved dogs for whom we are literally the sun, moon and stars. We are their universe, their life support system.
Since I work at home, most of my time is spent with my little Greta. Everything is great when we are together, but the moment I would go away, she would start barking, whimpering, and even tinkling. Since I gave her so much quality attention, I took her behavior personally. I thought she was punishing me and acting out. I did not understand that it was my responsibility to have patience and to gently get her used to having a few hours of alone time each day.
Day 1: In the afternoon, I put her behind the baby gate with her toys. I gave her a special treat and said "Good good, shhhhh," "Good good Shhh" and put my finger to my mouth. (She already knows that means quiet). Then I went into the other room.
If she started to whine, I would stand at the end of the hallway and say, "Good good, shhhh" and walk away.
After :30 minutes I opened the baby gate, gave her a treat, and took her for a nice walk.
Day 2, and 3. I did the same thing but added fifteen minutes to the time.
Day 4, I put her behind the gate for an hour and during that time, went in and out of the house.
Day 5, she was doing so well, i put her behind the baby gate during the afternoon and went to the gym for an hour and a half. When I got home she whimpered a little, but did not bark. I rewarded her with a treat and then we spent some quality time together.
Since that time, I have made sure that she has a 2 hour time out each day behind the baby gate. I try to be as consistent as possible and continue to give her a treat before and after when I return.
I also found that if we are traveling together for a week, that I have to RE habituate her to the program again. I can't expect her to not be upset if she is suddenly left alone for hours when we just spent a week together. The key here is to remember you have to spend a few days building up to a two hour time period, every time you break the pattern and are around the dog non-stop. Dogs live in the now, they don't remember what they did last month.
I have also noticed that for the first time, Greta will go into a different room and take a nap. If I stay up late, she will go into the bedroom ahead of time and go to sleep. She would have never done that before, so it tells me her time behind the baby gate is giving her a little more autonomy !
If this seems like a lot of work remember it is worth it to teach your dog correctly and to help her/him feel more comfortable. They will be a lot happier and so will you !
by Amber Harvey (Mom of Dobby & Toki)
We just started 'separation training' yesterday... what a heartbreaking exercise! The boys were fine yesterday for 10 minutes, so today I upped it to 12 -- they whined for most of it :( But I know this is going to be a slow and steady process. I wanted to let you know, if anyone has access to a computer with a webcam or webcam in general and a smartphone, they can buy an app for $5 that will allow you to hook in to the feed from the computer.
Basically I set up my laptop on the dining table facing the kitchen area (where we will be keeping the boys when we both have to leave) and begin a camera feed. I then pretend to go out (say bye to the boys, tell them 'mommy will be right back' and then I unlock/open/ and lock the door--to simulate what will really happen), then I sneak back into the bedroom and watch a live feed of the kitchen from my phone.
I think it is definitely worth the $5 (I have seen some wi-fi baby monitors go from $150-250) to have access to a live camera feed at all times when you are away, just to make sure there aren't any emergencies.
The particular program I used is called iCam (you have to pay to use it on your phone--but can watch from the internet for free).
I will do all I can to help other puppy owners set this up/troubleshoot (as much as I can). The great thing about iCam is you can also watch it through a browser for free -- and anyone you give the login information to can watch (we gave the information to the grandparents).
I have yet to do the training today (had to make a commissary run) but earlier in the day I played some Enya for the boys (I listen to her when I am stressed and need to relax) and they went to sleep (and slept very well). I am thinking about putting on her playlist again when we do the separation training.
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