Leaving him at home alone
Here are my top tips for when you have to go out:
- Practise leaving him a few minutes, then ten, and so on. Each time use the same routine; take him out for a quick pee, cover the bins, put his muzzle on, use the deadlock when you lock up, or whatever you normally do. I made the mistake of only locking the security grill when going away for a longer time. My dog now barks when I leave if he hears the grill closing... What I really need is for him to be relaxed and used to me popping out, so I use the same routine all the time now (and he can't tell how long I will be gone!)
- Don't leave him more than four or five hours without someone popping in to let him out and keep him company.
- Take him outside to relieve himself before you leave, and pop a little food in his bowl - even if it's not feeding time - as a distraction. In my experience he goes looking for food if he's hungry, which is when damage occurs!
- Keep a favourite toy which you only bring out when you are leaving; he may learn to look forward to you leaving.
- If you have a cat or small animal, always lock them apart safely when you are out. I use at least two barriers, which can be any of the following: a stairgate, a closed door, the dog's muzzle - so there is no way the dog can hurt the cat when my back is turned.
- Empty or cover the bins when you are out, and close all cupboards, hide all chocolate and snacks - a bored dog will have fun rootling around and causing havoc, until he learns that it doesn't find him anything worthwhile.
- Make the time more interesting for him by hiding treats around the house or around one room.
- Ensure he can see out of at least one window or door, so he can see the world going by. He's a sighthound and loves to watch things happening.
- Make sure his bed is made and he has a favourite toy nearby. He'll probably go back to bed sooner or later!
- When you return, ignore any excitement at your arrival. If he jumps up tell him to get down and/or walk away. After a few minutes of good behaviour, pop his lead on and take him outside, or give him some fuss. However he needs to learn that you going out and coming back is entirely normal and not something to get worked up about.
If when you leave, he still barks and gets anxious, you can turn it into a very positive thing by saying "I'm going out, would you like a treat?" Let him see you get the yummy treat out, and put your shoes on / get ready. Only give him the treat as you open the door to leave. He should scoot off to enjoy it! If you need to use this tactic, leave the area promptly. If he can hear the car revving, or you chatting to a neighbour, he will start to fret again! If you leave promptly, he will probably eat his treat and then find something else to do (often sleeping!)
This page last updated: 25 February 2013
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