Little Buddy is a fifteen-month-old ball of fluff – it’s hard to find his face when he’s lying asleep! He is a mischevous little chap and likes especially to run rings around his gentleman owner who is something of a soft touch.
Buddy is also a happy little dog – so long as he’s not left alone. His greatest attachment is to his lady owner and he likes to know where she is at all times. It is so bad that when they shut the dog gate at the kitchen door before going out, he is attacking their ankles quite ferociously, doing all he can to stop them going. He barks and cries constantly when they are out, and this has resulted in complaints from the neighbour.
The lady feels tied to the house; she can’t even go out for coffee with a friend. She works part time so they have had an au pair for the daughter (and dog!), but this will soon end.
My own dogs are not involved with my comings and goings. They will be pleased to see me when I get home, but not beside themselves with relief. They are secure and confident that I will come back eventually and that it’s no big deal when I leave. They do have each other, of course. Buddy however is with someone 24/7, and he sleeps in their bedroom.
The first step is to get him used to staying alone behind the gate in the large kitchen so that the only time he’s shut in the kitchen isn’t when they go out. He will then be used to losing sight of the lady whilst knowing she is still in the house. To help to get him secure in his own company, in this circumstance I feel they should slowly wean him away from their bedroom at night, out onto the landing, and eventually leave him in the kitchen. If he can happily stay all night away from them in the kitchen, that would be great progress towards staying happily for a couple of hours during the day in the kitchen when they are all out.
They need to plant a lot of ‘red herrings’! Picking up keys and going nowhere. Putting shoes on and going nowhere. Walking around with handbag and going nowhere. Going out one door and coming in another, gradually increasing time spent outside the house. When they go out for real they should be ready in advance – then just go!
Little Buddy has control of a lot of things in his life – when he eats his food, where he sleeps, when he gets attention, when he plays, when he goes outside and when he agrees to come back in! But he hasn’t got control of comings and goings. As trusted ‘leaders/dog parents’, his humans should be able to come and go as they like – they are not accountable to Buddy.
They will need to take things very slowly, but ultimately this should be a big relief to Buddy.