Hi everyone, please bare with me. This might be a bit long. The summation is that I'm having problems with separation anxiety and I need advice.
I had a beautiful borzoi for almost 14 years. She went with me from elementary school, came to college, and came with me to medical school almost 1000 miles from home. I lost her this fall to a very rare cancer.
After spending some time grieving, I decided I needed another dog in my life. I currently go to school in the suburbs of Milwaukee, but I anticipate that in 1.5 years I will be returning to the East Coast, most likely to a city (DC, NYC, Philly, Boston) for residency. With that in mind, I decided that while I love big dogs, I would get a small dog for now, and if the situation allowed it, I would add another borzoi to the pack in due time. I tried to do my research, but apparently I read the wrong things. I looked for a small, trainable, intelligent dog who wasn't yappy. (I live in an apt. and likely will for the near future, esp in NYC. Not yappy was very important to me. The most impt thing). I looked at animal shelters for breeds/mixed breeds of dogs that fit those characteristics. I read that all of those things were true of the Havanese. So, I saw one at a shelter in Il. I went and met him, thought about it for a few days and went back and picked him up.
He is a rescue from a puppy mill but he's young (8 months) and the shelter had him for a month, so he wasn't in the mill long.
I have had him for almost a month. In most ways he is progressing beautifully. He was initially a very, very fearful dog. We are working on socialization and basic obedience. He is much less fearful. (although not even close to what I would call a "normal" dog yet.) He potty-trained like a breeze. Almost too well actually, I was hoping to liter box train but he prefers the outside. We are working on come and he now knows sit. He is very smart and very curious. All in all, he's made a much bigger improvement in such a short time than I was expecting.
His biggest problem is separation anxiety. I read several different sources, but nothing mentioned how often these dogs need to be around people. I can have very long days (and probably will until retirement). Not ever day is long, but some are. I had a dog walker for my borzoi, but I quickly saw that wasn't going to cut it for him attention-wise. No problem, I'm willing to make things work; That's what being a dog owner is about. So, a classmate's mom lives in the area and she watches my classmate's dog in the day. Well now my dog goes to her house during the week. He LOVES to play with her cocker spaniel and terrier and tolerates her other dog. I drop him off before going to the hospital and pick him up on the way home. She is home all day. Takes him for a walk, ect.
I walk him about 20 minutes in the AM. (I already wake up around 4 to do this, longer walks in the AM aren't very feasible). After dinner we either go to the dog park or walk for another 15-30 minutes. I suspect these walks could be longer, but it is cold in Wisconsin in December. This is after a day of playing with the cocker. (They have a fenced yard that the dogs have access to anytime they wish.)
The problem is, I need to be able to leave him alone for a bit. I need to be able to run to the grocery store or to the gym or go out to dinner and drinks with friends without him barking nonstop the entire time and I can't. I'm not expecting him to be alone hours a day, but a few hours at a time once a week and maybe an hour a day. He's alone for a second and he barks non-stop. The barking is a problem b/c I live in an apt. I'm not sure how to help him with this. I don't think it's a boredom thing. Like I said, he essentially goes to "doggie daycare" five days a week. He gets two walks daily by me. I also spend time working on basic training (short spurts throughout the evening.) He sleeps with me at night. We are planning on joining an obedience class in January.
When I leave, I leave him with the radio on. I leave a kong with PB. I leave his favorite toy. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Again, I'm not expecting him to make it for hours and hours at a time (although that was a characteristic I was trying to get) but I need to be able to go to the gym or the store or out for a few hours without worrying about is it too early in the AM for all the barking, will the neighbors be annoyed, ect.
In short, he is with people between 20 and 23 hours a day. But I need to be able to leave him for those 1 to 4 hours. Ideally, I would like to be able to leave him for longer stretches, but I now understand this isn't a breed that can handle that so I'm resigned to that fact and I have made adjustments for it.
He really is a great addition to my life. I just need a little help getting him over this hurdle.
Thanks for reading such a long post!