I truly hope leaving your doggos alone is not a big deal neither for you, nor for them. Because… Oh My Dog, it was a huge issue for my Italian Greyhound Harvey. He was screaming, crying, wrecking the apartment and then peeing & pooping on the floor.
As we didn’t know where to even start at, we got a home camera (GDPR applies for people only, right? :)) and we could see real time what makes him upset, for how long he cries, and in general, how his whole day looks like.
The first funny thing we discovered is that Harvey had a standard morning routine everytime we left:
- Eat a treat or anything that we gave him before leaving home
- Start wandering around the apartment:
- First the corridor, checking if closet’s doors are locked (yep, we got everything baby-proofed, eventually). Locked L
- Now the doors! Bathroom? Closed… Bedroom? Closed…
- It’s time for a kitchen now! Table? Nothing on it which can be in a reach of a paw… Chairs too close to a table as well… Cupboards?! Nothing.
- And then… CRY. On the sofa of course. You’re not a true iggy if you cry on the floor. It usually lasted for 3 to 7 minutes.
- Lastly, he’d go to his crate, snuggle into his fav blanket and sleep until around lunchtime.
He would never mix up the sequence!
All in all, we knew we must do something about it and do it fast.
After quite a few consultations with professional dog trainers and reading a number of books (btw, strongly recommend these!) we knew – this is not a standard separation anxiety.
Why not? Because, again, we saw his behaviour real time on the camera. He wasn’t upset, expect those few minutes when he was crying. He was wrecking home because he didn’t have what else to do & because he was not tired out enough.
Imagine a teenager locked in the apartment with no smart phone and TV. What would you do?! Fishy stuff, of course!
So we rolled up our sleeves and started working hard:
- Long walks, brain and other active games outside in the morning. Yep, it’s awful if you’re not a morning person. I am not. W.F.U.L. Still did that J
- Handing him smart treats and brain games while leaving home. We wanted to put some extra activities for him so that he gets even more tired out when we are already gone.
- No emotional goodbye’s or hello’s. Just leaving, coming back, po-po-po-poker face. Wasn’t easy for me.
Did that help? Yes. But only partially. Still peeing, still wrecking home.
And then we simply decided to move Harvey out of our bed during the night time. Professionals say, sleeping with a dog might make him more upset while staying alone. I trusted that and after a week of sleeping in a crate next to our bed, he was moved to another room – where he stays during the day.
After one month of sleeping apart, we started leaving him in a crate during the daytime.
Guess what? It was a blast!
He was still crying a bit sometimes but once he got used to a crate being a safe place, he goes there himself even if we’re at home. He sleeps there, we don’t need to even close the door.
There are strong opinions about keeping a dog in a crate. Therefore, you should to make your own investigation and decide what’s the best for your doggo.
The only thing I regret is that I didn’t crate train him since he was a puppy (two more things I regret is in our recent blog post here), we would spare both ours and his nerves :)
So did crate fully solved the sad wrecker’s problem? No, it didn’t. But you know what did? A second iggy :) :) We got Oli less more than a month ago and they’re still building their relationship but there was not a single cry and whine from Harvey since Oli’s here!
Oh, and now when we have Oli, we didn’t repeat the same mistake – he sleeps in a crate together with Harvey during the night as well as when left at home during the day. He already loves their spacious and cozy crate.
Morale of the story? I guess iggies can be very tough to train, they ten to get emotional and pretty destructive when left alone which may lead to damaged home an even worse - broken legs, upset stomach and other health issues.
But there’s always a way to solve this. Patience, determination, education, professional help and decisive decisions (second iggy, haha :)) make miracles happen!
Do you have the same issues? Do not wave the white flag just yet, find a professional, read some best practices and determine to train your doggo to be the best versions of themselves.
In the next blog post I’ll share a bunch of games & activities that keeps Harvey busy while staying alone. Follow us on Instagram to keep up with the newest posts.