Not what you were expecting to hear? You might find that situation rather boring, but that is exactly the point. Wouldn't you love for your departures and returns to be boring? If your dog struggles with being alone, departures and returns might be anything but boring right now. They might be anxiety filled, frustrating, emotional, and costly.
Many dogs who do not know how to act properly when they are alone resort to destructive behaviors while on their own. Some dogs impale themselves trying to escape, others eliminate on your rug, and others destroy your property. Some dogs do this because of true separation anxiety, but most do it because of boredom and lack of supervision. Your dog simply figured out that shredding your pillow up was a great way to entertain himself and nobody was there to tell him otherwise or to enforce the rules.
Teaching your dog how to be alone is not always a quick process. If you are teaching your dog before he has had the chance to develop any bad habits or separation anxiety, then the process will go much quicker and be much easier. Expect this to take at least two months, and possibly six months or longer if your dog has been struggling with being left alone for a while. Unlike a command such as 'sit', the progress with this will likely be gradual, opposed to instant. Remember to watch for signs of gradual improvement, so that you do not get discouraged while your dog is still learning. Any improvement in this area is worth celebrating and should provide encouragement for continuing the training.
The goals for most of the methods are to teach your dog: how to self-entertain better, how to be more independent, how to remain calm, and how to relax. Your dog also might need more confinement in order to prevent destructiveness and to learn appropriate ways to pass his time. The issue could be anxiety based or boredom based. In either case, Fido would benefit from you providing him with appropriate things to do while you are gone, such as safe food puzzle toys, and food stuffed hollow chew toys.
If your dog already struggles with being alone, and the training is not purely preventative, then you may want to utilize more than one method for teaching him how to be alone. For example, you can teach him how to relax and handle being alone in the crate using 'The Crate Method', while also working on teaching him more independence and self-control using 'The Obedience Method'.
If you are using 'The Obedience Method', then you will also need a long leash, between twenty and fifty feet long. You will also need a resource, such as Wag! Walking's Training Guides page, for how to train obedience commands such as 'stay', 'sit', 'down', 'place', and 'out'. Another good option is a local obedience class that you can attend, where those commands are covered. You might also need an assistant to help you train your dog how to do the distance commands, such as 'down-stay'.
If you are using 'The In and Out Method' then you will also need a camera that will transmit live video feed to your phone, tablet, or other device, as well as a device to view the transmission on. Good options might include: video baby monitors with both a camera monitor and a viewer monitor, video security camera that can be viewed remotely from a smartphone or other portable device, a GoPro and GoPro live viewing application on a smartphone or tablet device, or two tablets or smartphones that can transmit and receive video feed on the mute setting on an application such as Skype or Facetime. You will also need a source of entertainment for your dog while you are away. Good sources of entertainment can include food stuffed hollow chew toys, such as Kongs, durable food filled puzzle toys, and automatic, computerized kibble dispensing machines, that are programmed to reward your dog for quiet and calm behaviors. With all of the methods, you will need patience, perseverance, relaxed body language, and a calm and confident attitude.
He hates to be alone. And when he is he usually is rebellious. For example. He is completely house trained, but I am trying to get him to learn to be in a room without people while people are here. He is screaming and crying. Then I went to try to come him down and he thought he was able to leave. I sat him down and shut the door and I looked through the window and he peed right on the carpet. (We just went on a walk 20 minutes prior). When he is alone he can do destructive things as well as tear open our couch. He is a perfect dog when he is next to me but simply cries until he gets attention.
Hello Mark, Midas needs to be crate trained and crated when separate from you to start with. This will prevent the destructiveness, which can turn into a long term habit if not prevented, and it will give him an opportunity to learn how to be alone safely. The peeing is a sign that he needs to learn to be alone so crating will actually be good for him in that area too. Practice crating him in another room. If he is not familiar with a crate yet, then start by getting him used to one by following one or more of the methods from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Once he is familiar with the crate, if you put him inside and he cries, ignore him for thirty-minutes. If during that time he gets quiet at any point, then go to him, drop several tiny treats into the crate, and then leave again. Repeat this whenever he gets quiet for a couple of seconds. As he improves, gradually wait longer and longer before you go to him and reward his quietness, so that he has to remain quiet for longer. At the end of one hour, while he is being quiet, go to him and let him out. You can increase how long he is crated for as he becomes calmer in a crate. You can also give him a food stuffed chew toy while he is in the crate, right when you first put him in there. If he does not give you opportunities to reward his quiet behavior within the thirty-minutes, then also teach him what the word "Quiet" means by following the "Quiet" method from the article that I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-to-not-bark Tell Midas "Quiet" when you put him into the crate. If he barks after being told that when you leave, then purchase a Pet Convincer, which is a small canister of pressurized air. Go to him, tell him "Ah Ah", which means no, in a calm but serious tone of voice, and then spray a puff of air at his side through the wire crate, near his ribs. Do NOT spray him in the face. After you spray him, that should surprise him a bit to stop the barking. Leave and then if he remains quiet for a couple of minutes, go back to him and reward him with treats without letting him out of the crate. At first work on rewarding his quietness and correcting his barking for one hour straight while he is in the crate. As he improves, then you can crate him for longer and also give less frequent treats. By then his barking should have decreased. You can also give him a food stuffed Kong or other safe chew toy in the crate, when you first put him in, for this. Keep him crated whenever you are gone for at least six months. He is not ready for freedom in your home yet. Preventing destructiveness now will help him be able to be free in your home for the rest of his life later. If he learns bad habits when you are gone and not there to train him, then those bad habits can turn into lifelong issues that limit his freedom for years to come. Confining him now keeps him safe and earns him more freedom later, when he is ready for it. When he is mature enough that you can leave him alone without him destroying things, then you can use his "Quiet" command, similar corrections for disobedience, and similar rewards for calmness, when you leave him in a room by himself out of a crate, when guests are over, to teach him to relax when he is left out. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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