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Help with leaving 6 month old puppy alone

Discussion in 'Labrador Puppies' started by Hannah G, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. Hannah G

    Hannah G Registered Users

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Hello, my family and I adopted our 6 m/o puppy around 2 months ago. Since then, we have slowly started learning a lot more about raising a puppy, but the one thing that we've been struggling with is crate training, or rather leaving him alone in the crate. He sleeps soundly through the night all by himself in the living room, but that is after weeks of me crashing on the sofa next to him. The first week we had him he actually would nap in the crate all by himself but no longer does so (prefers the sofa now).

    We feed and give him stuffed Kongs in there, treats for going in all by himself, always make sure he's empty and tired before putting him in, but he whines after just a minute of being alone with us in the house and out of his sight (even with spending the night all by himself downstairs).

    He's usually fine and sometimes naps in the crate if one of us is sitting on the couch or moving about in the kitchen (which is a few feet away from the kennel) but we're having trouble keeping him calm/quiet just as we work around the house/go upstairs. Any tips on how to help him? My wife works from home but doesn't have much time to spend crate-training him because of her highly intensive job (he just hangs out in her office all day) and the children usually stay home when we're running errands so Grant is rarely alone, and I really mean less than an hour a month.

    I know you have to slowly build up the time spent alone, but I'm scared that by leaving him alone more frequently will just ruin all of the good associations we've created with the crate. We did have him stay home alone for three hours when he was a puppy but he exhibited some signs of separation anxiety (digging at the crate pan, barking for most of the time, going absolutely crazy when we came home). It's not extreme separation anxiety, for sure, as he's not particularly scared when we do any of our leaving home routines (probably because we don't do them enough with him so he just doesn't remember them yet). However he does whine when we're not there and sometimes whines in front of the door when waiting for my wife to come back after she pops out for a few minutes, unless we distract him with treats.

    The reason I'm making this post is because I'm going on a week long business trip in two weeks and soon my wife will have to drop the kids off everyday to school, which is a 10 minute trip at most. Still, I'm afraid Grant won't be able to handle it since he can barely handle being alone for one minute when we're in the house with him. I'm not sure if its separation anxiety or just him despising the crate, but he just can't relax when alone. I know we could just bring him along, but I want him to be okay with being alone even for that short period of time because in two months or so, my wife will begin working at the office again so he'll start being alone for seven hours a day. A vast contrast to his current situation! I need help with making this transition easier for our family.

    We have the funds to send him to daycare but the nearest facility to ours is 30 min away, and with both of our long commutes we aren't sure that we can drive him there everyday of the week, maybe only twice or so. None of our close friends or family have experience with dogs and can take care of him for the entire workday, and our closest neighbor is a nice little 90 year old woman who I really can't expect to take care of a boisterous puppy. We will definitely hire a walker and everything to hopefully give him some company, but we really need help with letting him stay by himself for just a few hours.

    Anyways, sorry for the kind of long post. Other than this, he's an amazing dog and has already won our hearts completely.
     
  2. lucy@labforumHQ

    lucy@labforumHQ Administrator Forum Supporter

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    Oct 14, 2013
    Messages:
    702
    Hi Hannah, Welcome to the forum!

    How long are you leaving him in the crate at the moment at night or during the day? How are you responding when he whines? It's easy to accidentally teach a dog to whine by accidentally rewarding their noise rather than ignoring it.

    It sounds like you are on the right track, using Kongs to keep him happy. It's normal for dogs to protest a bit, and the trick is to gradually build up the increments of time and to reward the increasing periods of silence. We've got a guide on how to crate train here, which has tips for building up time as well as general crate training information.
     
  3. Hannah G

    Hannah G Registered Users

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    Dec 7, 2018
    Messages:
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    Thanks for responding! Grant is usually left downstairs to sleep from 10 pm to 6:30 am, hasn't had an accident for a couple weeks and would probably sleep longer if I didn't wake him lol. In the daytime, probably for only 30 min. When he whines, I wait a minute or so and then give him a treat after he gets quiet. Maybe that is not long enough?
     
  4. Michael A Brooks

    Michael A Brooks Supporting Member Forum Supporter

    Joined:
    May 26, 2018
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    Location:
    Blackmans Bay, Australia
    I'm afraid the explanation is still not clear to me Hannah. When the dog becomes quiet, how long do you wait before you say Yes/click? And then how long do you wait before you give the treat associated with the Yes or click?

    When your dog is whining what do you do? Do you look at him? Stare at him? Glance at him for even the briefest of moments?
     

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