In previous posts I have told you how we had some 'issues' when leaving Tjido alone. First he would bark at us when we entered the toilet (and closed the door), or if someone left the house (me, Joost or who ever was visiting) and leaving him alone was unthinkable.
For the first two problems: well he got over the fact we closed the door of the toilet. But he will still wait close by for you to come out. When people left we gave him treats and praised him so he's now happy with people leaving the house, although treats are still in the picture.
BUT HOME ALONE! That was tragic.. for us.
We tried crate training, but didn't really work (today I know why..)
So when we finally decided to really make a schedule and get over our own anxieties, and we did the following:
(how we came to this method, I will explain below)
- Take Tjido for a nice walk so he can relieve himself, play & get tired.
- Back home prepare a Kong or a chewy thing.
- Turn on a recorder or a camera (we later installed the webcam to record)
- Leave the house for 10min. Come back without a big fuss.
We repeated this 2 to 3 times a day. First few try-outs we gave him dry meat. When we came back he was still chewing, so it was fine.
We then went to 15min, and had a small peeing accident, but no barking. We freaked out a bit, but decided to continue training and started using the Kong (as well as getting the video recording app on the computer). From 15 we went to 25 the next day.
When we got to 30min we decided to keep this a few days instead of continuing increasing. We realized that he wasn't barking and he actually fell asleep. Again, after a few days we increased yet again to 40min- 1 hour and latest to 1 hour 15min. Second try on this ultimate record, he peed in the house again. But we now had footage! He looked quite relaxed playing with his toys, lying down and then he just had to pee. So yeah, his bladder is not that controlled apparently.
- Take a breath, make a schedule and take the big step!
- Try and get a recorder, camera or whatever, this helps allot to assess your dog's behavior when you are gone and can help you relax as you can see when things go well (or bad..).
- Remove the Kong from your dog when you get back, so he keeps longing for it and understands that it is a great thing that he gets when you leave/ are away.
- Read how to stuff a Kong properly; there are many recipes on the internet, and some as simple as peanut butter + kibble pushed hard and peanut butter to close it off.
My biggest tip would be to get over your own anxieties. I read the very helpful book of Patricia McConnell I'll be home soon Her website. This helped me to understand that ours wasn't a lost case of separation anxiety, but just a very sensible dog that has to learn slowly how to be alone. It was through this book I realized why crate training didn't work either: Tjido likes his crate but not when closed, because when we closed it, we would leave the room. Now we know we should have added the kong and build it up from there.
I know that every dog is different, but that's why you should get as much information as possible. Also like Veronica pointed out, there are always facebook groups and forums or other ways to talk to more experienced people with your specific breed. In this case Icies are known for being cry babies when left alone. Follow your instinct as well, you know your dog best!