Leaving my puppy

Posted by cspina
Jan 10, 2008
I have a 10 month old Sheltie, her name is Gloria. I have her crated for up to 10 hours a day while I'm at work. She has no problem going into her crate in the morning. I've tried leaving her out by herself on short trips to the store. In the beginning it worked great, however, over time she became destructive, even putting a whole in the drywall. Since she's in the crate all day, I don't like having to put her back in when I leave to run to the store. I purchased a baby pen so she has more room to roam. I can leave her in there for several hours, with plenty of toys. I noticed over time she first started to rip open her bed, and then last night she started shredding the carpet. I'm concerned about leaving her in the pen now. Should I just put her back in her crate when I leave? On the weekends, I like to give her more space, so I don't really want to do that, however, I can't afford to keep replacing things in my home. Can you give me any suggestions? I also have a 5 year old cat that she loves to terrorize. I've begun using your techniques on keeping Gloria away from my cat. I just started so I'll let you know how well she's adjusting.
Posted by Todd
Jan 10, 2008
Hi there and thank you for your question

The problem Gloria is having may be one of two things. The first is simple she gets bored being left alone and is trying to find ways to amuse herself. The second is separation anxiety.

I will deal with the first possibility first because it is much simpler to fix. Firstly try and move the pen over a surface like linoleum or something that she won't be able to damage as much, this is a short term fix. Now being a sheltie she is both very smart and very energetic. Dogs like this require a huge amount of
exercise and she should be getting 30 minutes to an hour of solid running, walking and swimming a day. As i say a tired dog is an obedient dog, the less energy she has the less destructive she will be.
At the same time try and give her chew toys and other toys that she can keep herself amused with for a prolonged period of time. Kongs are great because they are very hard to break and keep dogs busy for hours.

Okay now if the problem is separation anxiety then there is a different way to deal with it. This is what i recommend to anyone with this problem.

The goal that we are aiming for is to reduce your dog's anxiety through conditioning it to associate being left alone and outdoors as a good thing. Here are a few tips and techniques that you may find useful.

No.1 Arrivals and departures

Keep your arrivals and departures very low key. Try leaving Gloria alone for at least 15 minutes when you come home. Just ignore her. If she calms down then show her some attention.

No.2 Do not respond

It is important that you do not respond to Gloria when she starts acting up. This is inadvertently rewarding her for poor behavior and will not help. If your dog starts barking or whining then ignore her, no matter how difficult that may be. Do not even make eye contact.

No.3 Attention

Only give her attention when she is lying down or relaxed and not actively seeking attention (by barking for example). Do this by calling Gloria over and making her sit before petting, etc.

No.4 Contrast

Gloria is probably having difficulty accepting that sometimes she is going to get all the attention and other times none (like when you are at work). You can help this problem by ignoring Gloria for 6 hours a day on the weekends. You can feed your dog but that's it. The idea is that she will think "What's the big deal when my owners are gone, even when they are home, they still ignore me".

No.5 Exercise

30 minutes before you leave home walk your dog for 15 minutes at a fast pace. If your dog is tired then it will have less energy to be a nuisance with.

No.6 Crate/Kennel

You could get a dog door put on your door to the backyard. Place a crate inside the house so that when your dog goes through the dog door she can only get into the crate. This has worked effectively for some people.

No.7 Clothing

Try giving your dog something of yours with your scent on it. This may allay its fears when you are not with it.

No.8 Sit-stay and down-stay

Practice these exercises in particular as outlined in the SitStayFetch book. These exercises require your dog to respond to you for longer and longer periods of time, so should be good for its discipline. Once you have her staying for 10 minutes or so, then try moving out of its sight for a brief period of time.

Review the "Secrets to becoming the alpha dog" bonus book, this is vital for you. It will help immensely with getting your dog to respond to you in a variety of situations, such as when you are walking it.
A method that is often very successful is to list all the things that trigger Gloria off in the morning. This may range from something simple like picking up the keys, to the shower, the cereal box or the clothes that you wear.
Put the list in order of what she responds the least to and what she responds the most to. Eg from something that may get her pacing or a small whimper, through to something that makes her get very anxious.

The trick is to use these triggers to desensitize her behaviour.
Use the lowest trigger item eg the keys first. If it is keys pick them up, carry them around the house and then put them down. When you first pick them up make her sit and relax. Wait until you see her ears dip a little, her nose to drop, her tail to stop wagging and her breathing to slow down. The second she relaxes reward her with attention and petting. Rewarding her relaxation is very important.

Use the first stimulus a few times a day. When she has got used to being relaxed with the first item use the next trigger up on the list. In this way you move towards the more anxious triggers.
Make sure you use the triggers in a way that will not make the dog more anxious. It will take time to do this.

You may also want to set up a radio on a time trigger. Get the radio to come on 10 minutes before you come home. Soon the dog will relate the radio to you coming home. As she does this you can extend the time the radio is on, which can help calm her down.

If the problem continues to worsen you can always get some advice from your vet on other medications. There are natural options like D.A.P and rescue remedy but many of these cases require heavier drugs to egt through the first stages.

Good luck, be patient and i am sure with time she will be great

Kind Regards
Todd Field
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 11, 2008
Hello cspina and Todd:

I read your posting and Todd's response and I am very upset.
What is the point having a dog if you keep it in a crate for 10 straight hours and ignore it when you come home and practice all those Alpha techniques against her AND LEAVE HER IN CRATE FOR 6 MORE HRS ON THE WEEKEND AS WELL!!

Have you thought this whole thing standing on dogs point of view? They are our family members, don't they deserved more freedom and interaction with human members? They need more fun and more stimulations both physically and mentally, especially working dogs like yours. What you are suggesting sounds like an abuse to me.

If you have errands to do, take Gloria with you. Please spend more time with her and try to understand her before you implement those Alpha techniques. She needs your attention. She is being bore and under challenged. Dogs are social animal so please play a lot with her on the weekend without putting her in a crate, which is not fair for Gloria who spends all weekdays in a crate.

Thank you.
Posted by Todd
Jan 11, 2008
Okay ill try and explain some things here.

Firstly if you read my reply i suggested two possible causes of the pet problems the first being lack of exercise etc
Secondly separation anxiety (one of the two possible causes) is a very serious problem. Many owners need a lot of coaching to get them through this. What i recommended works and has for a number of other people.
Ignoring her is not cruel. What would be cruel is to let her stress more and more with her situation, becoming more and more anxious. Then her owners may get so frustrated that she is neglected or put in a shelter....this is what i term "cruel".
I am trying to provide solutions to the problems i am presented with. I do appreciate feedback and criticism. I was hoping that the owner would be able to tell me what they think the problem is more likely to be.
Yes it may well be attention and boredom but i would not be providing a full consult if i did not address other possibilties.

Thank you for your criticism it keeps me from getting relaxed with the advice i give.
Posted by cspina
Jan 11, 2008
I understand your point clearly. I do not want to leave her in her crate all day, however, since she's still a puppy it would not be safe for her to be left alone in the house. She goes into her crate with no problem. Once I get home, she's out until I leave for work the next day. I do take her on my errands, but if I need to leave the house when I get home from work, I didn't want to put her back into her crate, that's why I purchased a baby gate. I've inquired about the age when I can leave her in the house alone and I've been told not until at least 18 months to 2 years old. When I've left her to roam the house she's chewed electrical wire. For her safety it would be best to keep her contained. I feel your sympathy as well, I certainly don't want to keep her in a crate for 10 hours, but for now I believe it's best for her. We spend alot of time together playing outside and going for walks. She is certainly not attention deprived. Thank you for your concern.
Posted by cspina
Jan 11, 2008
Todd - Gloria and I get alot of exercise every day. We spend about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours at the park when I get home from work. She loves to retrieve her kong toys and it's also a great opportunity for her to socialize with other people and other dogs. She absolutely loves our walks together. I'm trying to give her a little more freedom on our walks, and I've attached a 30' lead onto her leash. Throughout the walk I keep calling her to me. I'm not completely comfortable with taking her off her leash completely. I'll drop the leash but I'm always just a few feet behind. I appreciate all your input because Gloria is very important to me. I want to do what is best for her and to have a dog that is happy and well behaved. I like the idea of not making a big deal when I come home. That completely makes sense to me. She goes into her crate with no problem. All I have to say in the morning is, "it's time to go and lay down" and she goes up the steps into her crate. I give her plenty of toys and bones to keep her occupied. The crate is never the issue ... she appears to be very comfortable in there and feels safe. I would like to give her more freedom in the house when I'm not there, but it's not time. I'm going to use your technique with not making a big deal when I leave or come home. I want harmony in the house between Gloria and my cat and it's just not there yet. I don't feel my cat is in danger, Gloria just likes to nip at her paws, never wanting to really hurt her.
Posted by Todd
Jan 11, 2008
Brilliant. Hopefully ignoring her when you come home and time will help. If she does seem to get more anxious you can try and put in place some of the other ides. But keep up the good work and i am sure things will go great.

Good Luck