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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone!

I hope you are all well and trust that you are staying safe.
I hope you can help me a little on this great forum.....and I'll try to keep it brief!
I've never had a dog but have always wanted one....my wife has had a dog and is not too keen on getting one (since we both work). My eldest kid (12yrs) has been asking almost every day for a dog for 6 years and my 5yr old is now following suit...so....fast forward to today, we've decided to get a new member of the family!!!

Challenge is that we can't decide upon which breed....I've done a ton of research online (50+ hrs) and the variability of information is crazy....

Here are our criteria in priority order:
  • Child Friendly
  • Low separation anxiety - must be able to stay home alone 2-3 days a week from 8-5pm (my wife and I both work) - the rest of the work week, we'll do doggie day care
  • Low shedding / Hypoallergenic to a degree (I have asthma)
  • Low / medium exercise requirements (long walks, playing in the average sized back yard)

Here's what I need help with:
  1. Is a puppy the right way to go or is it better to get a 1-2 year old who has already been trained? One of our friends is a trainer and she has volunteered to take our new addition for 1 month and train the little one in all of the basics if needed.
  2. Breed choice....we've narrowed it down to the following
    • Havanese
    • Coton de Tulear
    • Miniature Poodle
    • Bichon Frise
I know that this is a Havanese forum, but I've been super impressed with everyone's impartial (most of the time) advice on other breeds!!

Any advice / guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Best.

Sam
 

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Hi! I’m sure people here will have lots of good advice, and I’m no expert but happy to share my own experience with two of the breeds listed. I have an almost 9 year old Havanese who we brought home at 11 weeks, and my mom had a miniature poodle for 13 years until he passed away last year (I also grew up w a standard poodle, but they are very different in many ways, not just size!) as far as adult vs puppy, the benefit of an adult is that they are a fully formed being, and you know what you’re getting—good, bad, and ugly! Doesn’t mean they will be perfect by any means, but it’s harder to predict for a puppy, even for amazing breeders who do a lot of early socialization and careful placement. That said, I love training, and I like having my dog trained the way I want it trained— some people really encourage things like face kisses or jumping or eating from the table or whatever, and often one person’s adorable is another person’s annoying when it comes to behavior! It can be harder (not impossible) to change those things later. Everyone has their own pet peeves around behavior, and things that are more important to them, so whether you get an adult or a puppy, you should try to think about what those are for you.
  • Child friendly: I think both can be great with kids, and this is easier if you get an adult because you’d already know how they are in different situations. Two things if you’re getting a puppy 1) ideally finding a breeder that exposes them to kids in early socialization so it’s not totally new when they come home 2) even more importantly, training your kids on how to interact with puppy. A good puppy kingergarten is more about teaching the people than the dogs, and kids in particular need to learn what is and isn’t appropriate (and awesome that you have a trainer friend to help, but would definitely suggest training class for the family too so you all learn how to interact with the
  • Separation anxiety is a tough one, because any dog can get it, regardless of breed. Training to avoid separation anxiety in a puppy is critical (teaching them how to be alone) and we had to do a lot of it with ours, because he developed an a lovely habit of howling like a wolf (seriously- head back and everything) as his main separation anxiety symptom. I think he was prone to it, but if we’d known what we were doing and started desensitizing him to short absences when he was little, it wouldn’t have gotten so bad. Every dog is different, but i do think Havanese are very people-centered dogs and generally don’t like to be left alone for long periods. I think it’s possible to have a dog and work full time, but have a walker or someone to come play with/walk/interact with the dog midday is important for their happiness and their little bladders! We are home all the time now bc of COVID, but previously had a walker come on days when he’d be alone for more than 4 hours or so. I don’t think it’s specific to Havanese though— my mom’s mini poodle also didnt love being left alone, and I know of dogs of just about any breed that have experienced separation anxiety. This is a place where getting an adult could really help— ideally you’ll know more about their personality, if they’re coming from an in home foster (harder to tell w a shelter dog). That said, after COVID i think there are going to be a lot of anxious dogs around as so many ppl are going back to work and school after being home 24/7. We’re about to start retraining on absences to support the transition, though we still try to leave him when we can!
  • No dogs shed less than poodles, though Havanese are definitely on the lower side. I have mild dog allergies and am not allergic to my Havanese, except when he rolls around in freshly cut grass, but I have a friend who is allergic to him.
  • I think exercise is a place where the breeds can be very different, but it also of course depends on the dog (sorry that is my responde to everything! I have met both higher energy and lower energy Havanese (and think some ppl on the forum have extremely high energy dogs) but I have never met a low energy poodle. My mom’s dog was going on 4 mile walks every day and still needed to play fetch in the yard for at least a half hour when he was 13, up until the week before he died. He was extremely high energy, even for a poodle, but I’d say poodles generally need quite a bit of exercise. My Havanese is pretty chill and doesn’t need w on of exercise— he gets walks every day, and still loves to get out his zoomies and play on the beach, but is also very content being lazy. He definitely needed more exercise when he was younger, and went to the beach w a walker every day.
Hope this helps... curious to hear what others think!
Lisa
 

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Hi! I’m sure people here will have lots of good advice, and I’m no expert but happy to share my own experience with two of the breeds listed. I have an almost 9 year old Havanese who we brought home at 11 weeks, and my mom had a miniature poodle for 13 years until he passed away last year (I also grew up w a standard poodle, but they are very different in many ways, not just size!) as far as adult vs puppy, the benefit of an adult is that they are a fully formed being, and you know what you’re getting—good, bad, and ugly! Doesn’t mean they will be perfect by any means, but it’s harder to predict for a puppy, even for amazing breeders who do a lot of early socialization and careful placement. That said, I love training, and I like having my dog trained the way I want it trained— some people really encourage things like face kisses or jumping or eating from the table or whatever, and often one person’s adorable is another person’s annoying when it comes to behavior! It can be harder (not impossible) to change those things later. Everyone has their own pet peeves around behavior, and things that are more important to them, so whether you get an adult or a puppy, you should try to think about what those are for you.
  • Child friendly: I think both can be great with kids, and this is easier if you get an adult because you’d already know how they are in different situations. Two things if you’re getting a puppy 1) ideally finding a breeder that exposes them to kids in early socialization so it’s not totally new when they come home 2) even more importantly, training your kids on how to interact with puppy. A good puppy kingergarten is more about teaching the people than the dogs, and kids in particular need to learn what is and isn’t appropriate (and awesome that you have a trainer friend to help, but would definitely suggest training class for the family too so you all learn how to interact with the
  • Separation anxiety is a tough one, because any dog can get it, regardless of breed. Training to avoid separation anxiety in a puppy is critical (teaching them how to be alone) and we had to do a lot of it with ours, because he developed an a lovely habit of howling like a wolf (seriously- head back and everything) as his main separation anxiety symptom. I think he was prone to it, but if we’d known what we were doing and started desensitizing him to short absences when he was little, it wouldn’t have gotten so bad. Every dog is different, but i do think Havanese are very people-centered dogs and generally don’t like to be left alone for long periods. I think it’s possible to have a dog and work full time, but have a walker or someone to come play with/walk/interact with the dog midday is important for their happiness and their little bladders! We are home all the time now bc of COVID, but previously had a walker come on days when he’d be alone for more than 4 hours or so. I don’t think it’s specific to Havanese though— my mom’s mini poodle also didnt love being left alone, and I know of dogs of just about any breed that have experienced separation anxiety. This is a place where getting an adult could really help— ideally you’ll know more about their personality, if they’re coming from an in home foster (harder to tell w a shelter dog). That said, after COVID i think there are going to be a lot of anxious dogs around as so many ppl are going back to work and school after being home 24/7. We’re about to start retraining on absences to support the transition, though we still try to leave him when we can!
  • No dogs shed less than poodles, though Havanese are definitely on the lower side. I have mild dog allergies and am not allergic to my Havanese, except when he rolls around in freshly cut grass, but I have a friend who is allergic to him.
  • I think exercise is a place where the breeds can be very different, but it also of course depends on the dog (sorry that is my responde to everything! I have met both higher energy and lower energy Havanese (and think some ppl on the forum have extremely high energy dogs) but I have never met a low energy poodle. My mom’s dog was going on 4 mile walks every day and still needed to play fetch in the yard for at least a half hour when he was 13, up until the week before he died. He was extremely high energy, even for a poodle, but I’d say poodles generally need quite a bit of exercise. My Havanese is pretty chill and doesn’t need w on of exercise— he gets walks every day, and still loves to get out his zoomies and play on the beach, but is also very content being lazy. He definitely needed more exercise when he was younger, and went to the beach w a walker every day.
Hope this helps... curious to hear what others think!
Lisa
Thanks so much Lisa! I really appreciate the insights and your POV. Great advice all round!
Sam
 

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I've had 4 Bichon Frise and currently have a Havanese.
I have 3 nephews with bad allergies to dogs/cats. They stayed with me at my house many times when I had the Bichons. No one ever had any allergy problems with my Bichons. Rarely would you ever find a hair from them anywhere. My Havanese sheds much more and the kids with their allergies are now young adults. They have not met Shadow yet(thanks to Covid) since they live 1600 miles away now. So I can't really comment on that.
Bichons tend to be sturdier. Mine ranged from 14lbs. to a big boy who was 25lbs. My Hav is only 10 lbs., full grown at 4 years old today!
All of my dogs were fond of children although I don't have any. My Hav is especially fond of children. He is very gentle with the little ones.
Shadow, my Hav, was 10 months when I got him. He had never been alone in his life. Always with people/other dogs so we had big separation anxiety issues to deal with. I am retired so I am home quite a bit. He has never been left for more than 4 hours and that is rare, mostly he is alone for 2.5 hours a day. I think that puppies are less prone to separation anxiety if you start leaving them alone from the start.
My first Bichon I got when I worked full time and was gone for at least 8 hours a day. He did not love to be alone but he was always fine. He was a very easy dog in many ways. Loved to walk, run and play til he died at 18 years. He never had separation anxiety issues.
My yard at my current house is pretty small. Three of my dogs have lived here over the last 25 years and the yard is big enough for these little guys. They can chase a ball and run a bit. Although my yard is fenced, my boys have always gone for walks with me. We really don't use the yard much. They have always liked to be out seeing the rest of the world so that is what we do.
Only one of my dogs was a puppy when I got him. It seems that the best adjusted dog was the one I got as a puppy. He adapted to my life and it was fine with him since my life was the only one he ever knew. I think I'd go with a puppy if I could do it again.
Best of luck in finding the perfect dog for you and your family.
 

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One thing that I did not see discussed so far was grooming requirements. Havanese need regular grooming. I am not sure how Havanese grooming compares to the other breeds. I thought poodles require more but not sure. If you are not grooming yourself, you will need to have someone else do it which is an additional expense. Even puppy cuts need to be brushed and combed regularly, although they are less work than full coats. So this needs to fit into your budget and schedule also.
 

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Any non-shedding dog is going to require grooming probably every 6 weeks. It depends how you want them to look. A few of my Bichons were kept in longer puppy cuts that were cut every 6 weeks with brushing every 2 days. My last Bichon was kept in a show cut. He went every 2 weeks to the groomer.
I have known many Cotons. Their hair needs are similar to Havanese. If you want to keep them in puppy cuts, every 6 weeks.
It might be very hard to find a Coton breeder since they were pretty scarce 3 years ago, unless you know a breeder.
 

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Any non-shedding dog is going to require grooming probably every 6 weeks. It depends how you want them to look. A few of my Bichons were kept in longer puppy cuts that were cut every 6 weeks with brushing every 2 days. My last Bichon was kept in a show cut. He went every 2 weeks to the groomer to keep him looking beautiful.
I have known many Cotons. Their hair needs are similar to Havanese. If you want to keep them in puppy cuts, every 6 weeks.
It might be very hard to find a Coton breeder since they were pretty scarce 3 years ago, unless you know a breeder.
 

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Your trainer CANNOT train an 8-week or 10-week old Havanese in One Month. It takes a long while to housebreak any Toy Dog breed and that includes the smart Havanese breed.

It, also, takes continual repeated training to train and then keep the dog trained. I don't know what your Trainer plans are for training. Plan on 10-months to 12-months to have a trustworthy housebroken dog if you are very consistent with training. The best way to do that would to first train them to to use an indoor potty tray.

You should adopt an older dog and let your Trainer work with the older dog for One month.

A large medium size Poodle - not a Toy - would be a good choice. Their hair doesn't mat and while they need grooming every two weeks to a month ALL groomers know how to groom a poodle. They also do OK when left alone during a work day. I grew up with poodles and owned one a medium size Poodle who lived to be 17 years old. I re-homed a tiny toy poodle to my mother - who I thought at the time when I go her to be The Cutest Dog In the World. Larger dogs are easier and quicker to train. Toy dogs take patience and consistency to train.

Havanese are called Velcro Dogs because they want to be with people and don't do well left from long periods of time. An 8 to 5 job starts earlier than 8 and ends up later than 5. You'll need someone to come in mid day to let the dog out, walk them and play with them for a short while.
 

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TIP ABOUT DOGS AND KIDS.

You should get a dog if you are wanting a dog. Don't get one for the kids. Their interest in a new dog or puppy will last a few weeks. They'll love the dog but they have other things their more interested in doing and the older they get the less interest they'll have.
 

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TIP ABOUT DOGS AND KIDS.

You should get a dog if you are wanting a dog. Don't get one for the kids. Their interest in a new dog or puppy will last a few weeks. They'll love the dog but they have other things their more interested in doing and the older they get the less interest they'll have.
Excellent advice. The kids are NOT going to be the ones walking the dog, potty training the dog, or doing anything “non fun” like grooming, butt baths, nail clipping, or taking the dog to the vet.
 

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Excellent advice. The kids are NOT going to be the ones walking the dog, potty training the dog, or doing anything “non fun” like grooming, butt baths, nail clipping, or taking the dog to the vet.
Sound Advice and yes, we're basing the decision to get a dog on my wife and my's willingness to have one and take care of a new family member long after the kids have left home.
 

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One thing that I did not see discussed so far was grooming requirements. Havanese need regular grooming. I am not sure how Havanese grooming compares to the other breeds. I thought poodles require more but not sure. If you are not grooming yourself, you will need to have someone else do it which is an additional expense. Even puppy cuts need to be brushed and combed regularly, although they are less work than full coats. So this needs to fit into your budget and schedule also.
Understood - our current plan is to take the little one to the groomer every 2-3 weeks.
 

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Honestly, I don't think that any dog, of any breed should be left home alone 8 hours a day without someone at least coming by to let them out to relieve themselves in the middle of that time.

And no puppy of ANY breed can be trained in a month. Or two. Or three. And even if they could, You (meaning your family need to know how to work with the animal. The training has to be learned together. It really is not "plug and play". Training is incremental and development, just as it is for a child. It takes at least a year, in my opinion, close to two, to have a really reliably well-trained family-member house pet for the next 15 years.

Other than that, all the breeds mentioned are lovely. Cotons have the most difficult to manage coats. (most prone to matting) and are also the most expensive (due to rarity). I think any of the would fill a similar niche and you will find different people who defend different ones as their favorite choices.
 
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TIP ABOUT DOGS AND KIDS.

You should get a dog if you are wanting a dog. Don't get one for the kids. Their interest in a new dog or puppy will last a few weeks. They'll love the dog but they have other things their more interested in doing and the older they get the less interest they'll have.
You know, I adore Piper but these first 2.5 weeks i've had with her made me finally understand why my parents never gave into me and my siblings daily begging for a puppy 😂. Thinking back on 9-year-old me swearing up and down that I would do all the work of taking care of the puppy - LOL yeah right!
 

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Honestly, I don't think that any dog, of any breed should be left home alone 8 hours a day without someone at least coming by to let them out to relieve themselves in the middle of that time.

And no puppy of ANY breed can be trained in a month. Or two. Or three. And even if they could, You (meaning your family) needs to know how to work with the animal. The training has to be learned together. It really is not "plug and play". Training is incremental and developmental, just as it is for a child. It takes at least a year, in my opinion closer to two, to have a really reliably well-trained family-member house pet for the next 15 years.

Other than that, all the breeds mentioned are lovely. Cotons have the most difficult to manage coats. (most prone to matting) and are also the most expensive (due to rarity). I think any of the would fill a similar niche and you will find different people who defend different ones as their favorite choices.
 
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I LOVE my Otto but it is SO much work and the separation anxiety is more than I EVER understood it could be. He's 10 months old now and has really struggled with it, I am sure because we were all home with him all the time when we got him until just recently. Daycare helped as did a couple of good trainers along with meds and a behavioral vet. Now he's sleeping in the gated-off kitchen while I type this but the second I get up from my chair he'll be looking for me. I think he'd totally freak out even with the meds if I left him all day, not that I need to, but they are SO social, I think it would be a big struggle. Can't speak to the other breeds, but I'd say you need a dog walker or daycare for that long a stretch.

As for allergies, my husband is mildly allergic to some dogs and has no problem at all with Otto. My son has severe seasonal allergies and I am really good about wiping Otto down after every outdoor walk so he doesn't bring pollen in. So far so good. He doesn't shed at all, thankfully.
 

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I LOVE my Otto but it is SO much work and the separation anxiety is more than I EVER understood it could be. He's 10 months old now and has really struggled with it, I am sure because we were all home with him all the time when we got him until just recently. Daycare helped as did a couple of good trainers along with meds and a behavioral vet. Now he's sleeping in the gated-off kitchen while I type this but the second I get up from my chair he'll be looking for me. I think he'd totally freak out even with the meds if I left him all day, not that I need to, but they are SO social, I think it would be a big struggle. Can't speak to the other breeds, but I'd say you need a dog walker or daycare for that long a stretch.

As for allergies, my husband is mildly allergic to some dogs and has no problem at all with Otto. My son has severe seasonal allergies and I am really good about wiping Otto down after every outdoor walk so he doesn't bring pollen in. So far so good. He doesn't shed at all, thankfully.
Explain how Otto is expressing anxiety issues to the point of needing medication? Is Otto destructive? Cries? Barks?

We're retired, are home a lot but come and go for errands, to socialize with friends, work in the yard. I have an office in a small building outside the home. Patti's Daddy has a work building he spends many hours a day doing projects. So, Patti was often left alone for short to long bursts of time in her ex-pen as a puppy. Later when she was trustworthy and knew to go potty on her indoor potty tray, we left the ex-pen door open and left her roam in and out in a room that gated off from the rest of the house.

I don't know if Patti cried when we left her as I didn't have a camera set up. She was and is always Super Excited when any family member comes homes.

However, when we moved to a condo in the mountains for the summer - I have security cameras in the house and can observe her when we leave her alone.

One day we went hiking and we put her in the master bedroom with the door closed with access to water and her potty tray. Patti was 6 or 7 months old and trustworthy about using the potty tray in that one room.

While hiking I checked the security camera and she was crying and barking and did that the entire time we were gone, which was several hours. We are connected by a wall to our neighbors. Fortunately, their teenage son slept through Patti's tearful crying.

The next time we tested Patti. Instead of closing MB door, I left it OPEN but GATED OFF. Turned on the TV and gave her some yummy treats and plenty of toys. Patti stayed on the bed. She slept off and on. Played a little. And occasionally would give a couple of Woofs! Woofs! when she heard a noise outside.

After that one time - Patti never cried for barked again unless there was something that got her attention. I think, Patti figured out we were coming back and leaving the door open with music or noise helped. Plus .... Knowing she was getting a special treat when we left and returned may have helped.

Patti is a stereo-typical Velcro Havanese and moves from room to room when I move. Right now she's asleep on our bed as I type this. A little while ago she was asleep under a table in a room where I was working on a puzzle. If I'm not here she goes to my daughter, husband or the grandkids. Sometimes she gets tired of following me around and will decide to lay in the hallway until she figures out where I'm going to land permanently and then will move to that room.​

So...I'm wondering how Otto expresses his anxiety?
 

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Explain how Otto is expressing anxiety issues to the point of needing medication? Is Otto destructive? Cries? Barks?

We're retired, are home a lot but come and go for errands, to socialize with friends, work in the yard. I have an office in a small building outside the home. Patti's Daddy has a work building he spends many hours a day doing projects. So, Patti was often left alone for short to long bursts of time in her ex-pen as a puppy. Later when she was trustworthy and knew to go potty on her indoor potty tray, we left the ex-pen door open and left her roam in and out in a room that gated off from the rest of the house.

I don't know if Patti cried when we left her as I didn't have a camera set up. She was and is always Super Excited when any family member comes homes.

However, when we moved to a condo in the mountains for the summer - I have security cameras in the house and can observe her when we leave her alone.

One day we went hiking and we put her in the master bedroom with the door closed with access to water and her potty tray. Patti was 6 or 7 months old and trustworthy about using the potty tray in that one room.

While hiking I checked the security camera and she was crying and barking and did that the entire time we were gone, which was several hours. We are connected by a wall to our neighbors. Fortunately, their teenage son slept through Patti's tearful crying.

The next time we tested Patti. Instead of closing MB door, I left it OPEN but GATED OFF. Turned on the TV and gave her some yummy treats and plenty of toys. Patti stayed on the bed. She slept off and on. Played a little. And occasionally would give a couple of Woofs! Woofs! when she heard a noise outside.

After that one time - Patti never cried for barked again unless there was something that got her attention. I think, Patti figured out we were coming back and leaving the door open with music or noise helped. Plus .... Knowing she was getting a special treat when we left and returned may have helped.

Patti is a stereo-typical Velcro Havanese and moves from room to room when I move. Right now she's asleep on our bed as I type this. A little while ago she was asleep under a table in a room where I was working on a puzzle. If I'm not here she goes to my daughter, husband or the grandkids. Sometimes she gets tired of following me around and will decide to lay in the hallway until she figures out where I'm going to land permanently and then will move to that room.​

So...I'm wondering how Otto expresses his anxiety?
Sorry, I guess I don't get notifications if someone mentions me on this site anymore. I just saw this. We leave Otto in what was the kids playroom, now more his room than anything else! We do have a camera in there which notifies me if he barks or if there's movement or whatever. There is a baby gate so he can't leave that room but my trainer said give him access to the whole room instead of a penned-off area as we had planned to do, and did for the first few months.

Otto will stick his head through the bars in the gate and bark or whine continuously. He paces along the inside of the gate, barking, panting, never settling. It's terrible to watch on the camera. The trainer would be on FaceTime on my iPad which I'd leave in there with him, and we'd leave the house and she'd watch him and tell us when to come back. We did this at a huge expense for months before that trainer and a second trainer as well as my vet suggested a behavioral vet and meds.

He is getting SO much better. He can be alone now with us in other parts of the house which is huge. He still struggles when all of us leave, but we're working on it.

Hope this helps.
 

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Sorry, I guess I don't get notifications if someone mentions me on this site anymore. I just saw this. We leave Otto in what was the kids playroom, now more his room than anything else! We do have a camera in there which notifies me if he barks or if there's movement or whatever. There is a baby gate so he can't leave that room but my trainer said give him access to the whole room instead of a penned-off area as we had planned to do, and did for the first few months.

Otto will stick his head through the bars in the gate and bark or whine continuously. He paces along the inside of the gate, barking, panting, never settling. It's terrible to watch on the camera. The trainer would be on FaceTime on my iPad which I'd leave in there with him, and we'd leave the house and she'd watch him and tell us when to come back. We did this at a huge expense for months before that trainer and a second trainer as well as my vet suggested a behavioral vet and meds.

He is getting SO much better. He can be alone now with us in other parts of the house which is huge. He still struggles when all of us leave, but we're working on it.

Hope this helps.
I see Otto is around 10-months. Very young and it sounds like he's learning you will come back. Do you leave a TV or Music on? I'd read it was good to leave the TV or music on when they were puppies and you left them and I did that from the beginning. Except I didn't do that when she was crying when we left her the first time in condo. Now I do. Maybe it helps? It helps in deflecting outside noises for sure.

It is terrible to watch them cry on camera. We have audio and video and it's possible for me to Talk to Patti over the camera feed but I figured that would Really Spook her :eek: and have never tried it.
 

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I used to leave music on but he didn’t seem to care at all so I stopped. Maybe I’ll start that again. I had read that too.

Yes, our camera does that too but I agree, that would really freak him out!
 
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