This is quite a straightforward separation case. Two-year-old Fox Terrier Rufus panics when he’s left all by himself.
He came from the breeder to live with the young lady at about eight months of age. Until then he always had the company of other dogs.
He’s never been all by himself.
She had left him from time to time for up to two hours, and then set up a camera. All the time she was out he paced, panicked and cried.
She needs to build up a plan so he becomes relaxed when left all by himself for reasonable lengths of time. To do this requires that he’s not left at all meanwhile.
Again the case is more simple than many. The lady has a good dog day-care that takes him when she has to go out to work one day a week. He’s very happy there.
The young lady’s mother lives just five minutes away and she has two dogs. Rufus is very happy there also.
Another dog will do
With my usual questioning, I asked whether her mother could go out and leave Rufus alone with the other dogs. He’s fine.
So now it’s a matter of working out the very best plan.
Rufus can panic when the doorbell goes, rushing to the door. It’s important that she does something about this. If it rings when she’s out, Rufus won’t feel safe, It’s essential he feels safe when left by himself. For this reason she will also put frosting on the lower part of the window.
The next thing to consider is the pest place to leave him. I prefer the place the dog is already happiest and most relaxed. For Rufus this is the living room on the sofa.
Currently she leaves him in the hallway. This is the main guarding area and the place he’s least likely to feels safe.
Setting up a plan for separation
Having decided where and made the environment feel as safe as possible, there are other things to add.
She can use music or recorded speaking. She can use a plug-in. She may like to try a heartbeat dog to used for comforting puppies.
She needs to add in triggers like picking up her keys and so on.
Now for the slowly, slowly reliable ‘leaving’ sequence. This is the plan which we worked out specifically for Rufus. It won’t be exactly the same for any two dogs.
With the aid of the camera the young lady will always return before he becomes stressed. Initially it may mean only walking towards the gated doorway and not even going through the gate.
With the aid of the day-care and her mother, she won’t need to leave Rufus all by himself at all while she works on it.
I suggested sometimes borrowing one of here mum’s elderly and calm dogs. as an alternative to leaving him away from home.
Stress levels and enrichment
Last but not least, she will do all she can to cut down Rufus’ general arousal levels – he’s an excitable dog by nature. He needs to be as calm as possible in order to be left happy all by himself.
She will reduce his stress levels whilst increasing enrichment. Things involved when using his nose, jaw and brain.