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Some Advice Pls: New Hav Owner
Old 12-16-2012, 06:26 PM   #1
Zarika
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Some Advice Pls: New Hav Owner

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!
-Mimi
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #2
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hi Mimi , you seem to be doing a lot right. I think you have inadvertantly trained him to be vocal. Funny you brought this topic up. I just got offline with the author of a great book ,called Don't Leave Me. by Nicole Wilde. There are some good articles on this topic, but I would recommend getting the book. You can get it at Dogwise I think I got mine there, in three days. It has lots of great info. BTW welcome to the forum. I'll be back with an article in the meantime. http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/...alonetraining/
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:00 PM   #3
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Do you leave him in a kennel? I ask because maybe he is used to one and might feel more secure. Do you stand near to the exit to really hear how long he is barking? Mine bark but stop and when they were puppys I left and would stand around outside to get a feel for how long the crying lasted. I think its always much harder with a rescue but I'm happy he found you . I'm not good for training advice but I hope you can fix the problem. Sounds like you are doing a lot to keep him happy and maybe it will just take more time.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Suzi View Post
Do you leave him in a kennel? I ask because maybe he is used to one and might feel more secure. Do you stand near to the exit to really hear how long he is barking? Mine bark but stop and when they were puppys I left and would stand around outside to get a feel for how long the crying lasted. I think its always much harder with a rescue but I'm happy he found you . I'm not good for training advice but I hope you can fix the problem. Sounds like you are doing a lot to keep him happy and maybe it will just take more time.
I have tried leaving him in a kennel. It seems to make things worse. If I leave him in my bedroom, he howls or barks the entire time (I've recorded it and the roommates and the neighbors have mentioned it.) If I leave him in his crate, he not only howls/barks but also seems to panic. He scratches and bites the crated, drools on himself, ect. He doesn't hate his crate. He freely walks into when I am home and naps. And he can be shut into it when I am in the room with no problems. He even does okay with it when he's in the bedroom and I'm in the kitchen. But him home alone in it is a no go. Maybe I should start there? Crate and then walk down the apartment building hall and back? Then progress to walk around the building.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by davetgabby View Post
hi Mimi , you seem to be doing a lot right. I think you have inadvertantly trained him to be vocal. Funny you brought this topic up. I just got offline with the author of a great book ,called Don't Leave Me. by Nicole Wilde. There are some good articles on this topic, but I would recommend getting the book. You can get it at Dogwise I think I got mine there, in three days. It has lots of great info. BTW welcome to the forum. I'll be back with an article in the meantime. http://pawsitivedawgs.wordpress.com/...alonetraining/
Thanks, I will try that book. I'm not sure what you mean by training him to be vocal? Maybe you could clarify that? It definitely wasn't my attention so I need to fix behavior on my part ASAP.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:35 PM   #6
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yeah ,if we answer their barks in any manner, we tend to reinforce that behavior.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:40 PM   #7
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I'm wondering if you could borrow one of his dog friends and leave them together in your apartment as a test. Does being left with a furry buddy lessen his barking/anxiety? We had problems with our first puppy and after we'd had her for two months, we got her a friend and they are always together. We haven't had a problem since. As most Hav owners know, 2 Havs are better than one!
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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Hey Zarika,

I work too and usually opposite shifts to my husband so I normally get the morning shift with our pup Doug who we got at 11 weeks of age. The first week we had him I could not get over his barking!! For such a little guy he has a massive bark. I was really starting to stress about this because whilst I understand Doug needs our love and attention and we are willing to make lifestyle changes to ensure he has a loving home with all he needs, we also need Doug to fit into our lifestyles. And that does mean that we can't be there every second of everyday.

The first few days with Doug I could not even have a shower!!! With the doors to the bathroom shut, fan on and water running I could still hear him as though he was outside the door when in actualy fact he was down the other end of the house. I started to think that perhaps the Havanese wasn't the right breed for us as I too wanted a dog not to yappy. I knew going in that the Havs were social dogs and was willing to be around the home more because of that but knew there were going to be times we both could not be home.

The post that probably encapsulates it all is:

Here's a list of things that worked really well for me:

1. Before you leave, ignore your puppy for 20 minutes. That means no eye contact and no touching. This shows him that he can be apart from you while you're home and be happy. It might be hard at first because he might beg for attention. He will stop doing this eventually, though.

2. When you leave give him an extra special treat that he LOVES and ONLY gets when you are leaving home. Kubrick, for example, gets some boiled chicken and a piece of beef jerky. He gets so excited to get his treats, he's actually HAPPY that I'm leaving. You can also do this with a toy if you don't want to go the treat route. Kubrick, however, doesn't even touch his toys or chews while I'm gone, so you might find that to be the case.

3. Leave a shirt or pillowcase that you've slept in for a week or so in the crate with him. This will give the puppy your scent and will help soothe him while you're gone.

4. Leave the TV or radio on for background noise.

5. When you leave, use a key word. I always said Be Good. This will help him associate this word with you coming back.

6. When you come back, ignore him until he's completely calm. I know this is very hard, especially for the kids since they love to see an excited puppy. But it's better for him in the long run. By ignoring him until he's calm, you're showing him that it's OK for you to be out of the house, he doesn't need you around all the time and being calm gives him attention and love.

I hope some of these tips can help you. My vet and my trainer both told me to do these things and it helped Kubrick immensely! I haven't had him cry and/or bark when I leave in a really long time and you had to have seen what he was like before. He used to do the same thing, knock his water dish over, throw everything around and act very upset with lots of barking and crying.

And in your particular case, I will stress that the crate IS necessary for separation anxiety. It's not necessary for every dog, but a dog that has separation anxiety needs to be in a safe enclosed space. You have to get him used to the crate in small steps. Don't stick him in there for two hours while you're gone the first time, it will only make him nervous. I would start out by feeding him in the crate with the door open, this will help him associate the crate with a good place. Slowly, start to close the door, then lock the door while he's eating. Let him out the minute he is done. When he is comfortable eating in there with the door locked, start to put him in by giving him an extra special treat and locking the door. If he cries, ignore him. Don't leave him in there more than 5 minutes and make sure to be within eye sight the whole time. Don't let him out when he's crying, only let him out when he's quiet and make sure to praise him for being quiet as you let him out. Start to increase the time when you are still within eyesight. Once you see that he doesn't cry at all anymore, start to leave the room (not the house) in small time increments, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, so on and so forth. Eventually he will be fine in the crate.

I can't stress enough how important the crate is for dogs with separation anxiety. It's their safe haven. You can eventually (once he is used to being in the crate) put the crate in an expen and leave the door open with him in the pen. Until his separation anxiety is gone, you can't leave him that much space to roam, it will only make him even more anxious.


Also I make a point when I am home is to not constantly give Doug attention as I don't want the adjustment to be huge when I am not there. This has helped ALOT!! Doug will quite happily play or go outside while I am doing things around the house or watching TV. Whilst he loves to follow me around and play he doesn't need to be at my feet all the time.
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by lanabanana View Post
I'm wondering if you could borrow one of his dog friends and leave them together in your apartment as a test. Does being left with a furry buddy lessen his barking/anxiety? We had problems with our first puppy and after we'd had her for two months, we got her a friend and they are always together. We haven't had a problem since. As most Hav owners know, 2 Havs are better than one!
Thanks everyone for your advice. My roommate actually already has a dog, so we already have two (which is the complex limit).
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Old 12-16-2012, 08:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Tia View Post
Hey Zarika,

I work too and usually opposite shifts to my husband so I normally get the morning shift with our pup Doug who we got at 11 weeks of age. The first week we had him I could not get over his barking!! For such a little guy he has a massive bark. I was really starting to stress about this because whilst I understand Doug needs our love and attention and we are willing to make lifestyle changes to ensure he has a loving home with all he needs, we also need Doug to fit into our lifestyles. And that does mean that we can't be there every second of everyday.

The first few days with Doug I could not even have a shower!!! With the doors to the bathroom shut, fan on and water running I could still hear him as though he was outside the door when in actualy fact he was down the other end of the house. I started to think that perhaps the Havanese wasn't the right breed for us as I too wanted a dog not to yappy. I knew going in that the Havs were social dogs and was willing to be around the home more because of that but knew there were going to be times we both could not be home.

The post that probably encapsulates it all is:

Here's a list of things that worked really well for me:

1. Before you leave, ignore your puppy for 20 minutes. That means no eye contact and no touching. This shows him that he can be apart from you while you're home and be happy. It might be hard at first because he might beg for attention. He will stop doing this eventually, though.

2. When you leave give him an extra special treat that he LOVES and ONLY gets when you are leaving home. Kubrick, for example, gets some boiled chicken and a piece of beef jerky. He gets so excited to get his treats, he's actually HAPPY that I'm leaving. You can also do this with a toy if you don't want to go the treat route. Kubrick, however, doesn't even touch his toys or chews while I'm gone, so you might find that to be the case.

3. Leave a shirt or pillowcase that you've slept in for a week or so in the crate with him. This will give the puppy your scent and will help soothe him while you're gone.

4. Leave the TV or radio on for background noise.

5. When you leave, use a key word. I always said Be Good. This will help him associate this word with you coming back.

6. When you come back, ignore him until he's completely calm. I know this is very hard, especially for the kids since they love to see an excited puppy. But it's better for him in the long run. By ignoring him until he's calm, you're showing him that it's OK for you to be out of the house, he doesn't need you around all the time and being calm gives him attention and love.

I hope some of these tips can help you. My vet and my trainer both told me to do these things and it helped Kubrick immensely! I haven't had him cry and/or bark when I leave in a really long time and you had to have seen what he was like before. He used to do the same thing, knock his water dish over, throw everything around and act very upset with lots of barking and crying.

And in your particular case, I will stress that the crate IS necessary for separation anxiety. It's not necessary for every dog, but a dog that has separation anxiety needs to be in a safe enclosed space. You have to get him used to the crate in small steps. Don't stick him in there for two hours while you're gone the first time, it will only make him nervous. I would start out by feeding him in the crate with the door open, this will help him associate the crate with a good place. Slowly, start to close the door, then lock the door while he's eating. Let him out the minute he is done. When he is comfortable eating in there with the door locked, start to put him in by giving him an extra special treat and locking the door. If he cries, ignore him. Don't leave him in there more than 5 minutes and make sure to be within eye sight the whole time. Don't let him out when he's crying, only let him out when he's quiet and make sure to praise him for being quiet as you let him out. Start to increase the time when you are still within eyesight. Once you see that he doesn't cry at all anymore, start to leave the room (not the house) in small time increments, 1 minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, so on and so forth. Eventually he will be fine in the crate.

I can't stress enough how important the crate is for dogs with separation anxiety. It's their safe haven. You can eventually (once he is used to being in the crate) put the crate in an expen and leave the door open with him in the pen. Until his separation anxiety is gone, you can't leave him that much space to roam, it will only make him even more anxious.


Also I make a point when I am home is to not constantly give Doug attention as I don't want the adjustment to be huge when I am not there. This has helped ALOT!! Doug will quite happily play or go outside while I am doing things around the house or watching TV. Whilst he loves to follow me around and play he doesn't need to be at my feet all the time.

Thanks for all the replies. I can certainly try these things. Do you think I should start at the beginning with the crate? As I mentioned in a subsequent reply, Hobbes is already fine in the crate when I'm home or even just when I'm in the house. He goes into it willing. He naps in it sometimes. He can be shut in it when I'm in the room. He can even be shut in it when I'm in the kitchen and the crate is in the bedroom. So should I start by increasing the time he's in it when he can see me?
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