First steps.

Niko is a beautiful ten-month-old Miniature Dachshund. He lives with another pup, a Shih Tzu Poodle mix called Tommy.

Niko panics when his humans leave him alone. He’s even unhappy when just one of them walks out of the room. The company of Tommy is no help at all.

I shall be helping the young couple with their dog for six weeks, and we are going to take it in baby steps.

Niko feels vulnerable and unsafe

From my questions, it seems that Niko simply feels vulnerable and unsafe when his humans aren’t in the room with him.

When they do have to leave him, they have been putting him in his crate. This is where he sleeps at night, but that took nights of leaving him to cry it out until he was exhausted and gave up, something I would never do.

How is the puppy to know that they are ever going to come back? This technique invites insecurity.

A secure happy place

So now we need a ‘safe’ place where Niko is happy to be, to start working on leaving him there.

They can’t leave him freely out of the crate because he would jump on the sofa and already he has injured himself through jumping.

I suggest a puppy pen. This will have another big benefit – they will be able to give the dogs bones and chews separately without the risk of a fight developing.

So their first task is to make the pen the best place in the world for Niko.

Preparing the pen

The couple will very frequently call him into the pen and drop food on the floor. They won’t leave the room. they will do this over and over, and each time they will drop food on the floor in the pen. They will give him his meals and chews and toys in there.

Only when Niko is very happy in the pen will they go on to step two.

Step two

Step two is just for them to turn around and walk away towards the door – then come straight back again. When they leave the will drop food, when they come back and open the pen door they will make nothing of it.

They can start with one person at a time with the other still sitting down. Then both walk away and back again together.

Because he follows them around all the time in the house, I suggest for the first week or so they really establish being able to walk about without Niko following them whilst they are still in sight.

He can watch them from his pen.

We will pick it up from here in our next session.

Breaking trust

When they leave him to go shopping which is once a week (one of them will stay at home for now) mail may come through the door. A delivery may ring the bell. Niko panics even when with his humans, so imagine how unsafe he feels when they aren’t there.

I suggest an outside mailbox. Next time we will work on Nico’s reaction to the doorbell.

A step in time

It’s essential this is done one step at a time. If they now leave him too soon, all the hard-earned trust will be broken.

The next big hurdle will be walking out of the room – briefly. This will be a huge step forward.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help