I have had a lovely day.
This morning I was with fifteen-week-old Cocker Spaniel, Teddy. This evening I was with Bella, a nine-week-old Cockerpoo.
Both puppies have lady owners. Each lady called me because she wants to get off to the right start with her puppy.
Mostly it’s about pre-empting possible future problems. It’s Puppy Parenting, where we go through all aspects of the puppy’s life making sure the best procedures are in place.
I showed both ladies the magic of clicker training and both puppies had learnt to touch a hand on cue within a few minutes.
In a couple of minutes, Bella was walking nicely around the house beside me – no lead yet.
With both Bella and Teddy, one problem is already causing concern however.
They can’t leave their puppies all alone
Cocker Teddy has never been all alone. Wherever the lady goes he goes too. When she goes to work he goes to daycare. He sleeps in her bed with her.
This is very much what I would do as well, with one exception. I would, from the start, have left him all alone for a few minutes every day, shutting the front door behind me.
The time will come when it’s necessary to leave him all alone, so he should be prepared.
Bella on the other hand has only been away from her siblings for a couple of weeks. The lady slept downstairs with her because she was so distressed when left.
When the lady went out and left her for only an hour, poor little Bella went into a total panic. She was abandoned. The lady showed me a video. The puppy screamed and howled, frantically trying to climb out of the pen.
A systematic approach
My approach for Teddy goes something like this, but it’s the same for Bella:
The lady should start by calling him to his pen when he’s sleepy, throwing a little food in. She can use words like ‘Back Soon’. Then she will go briefly out of sight, return and open the crate. No fuss.
Bit by bit she will increase the time she out of sight until she goes out of the front door. First she will come straight back in again and then will gradually extend the time she’s out and leaving him all alone.
She will always associate her departures with something Teddy likes.
Her returns will be quite boring.
While out, she should watch him on her phone, coming back in before he begins to stress.
When the ladies move around their houses, they can shut the doors on their puppies briefly. A gate is a good idea because not so final.
Every time they leave the puppy all alone, they will throw food or a toy on the floor as they shut the door or gate on him/her. Departures trigger something good.
The sooner they deal with this the better. As every day goes by the problem will be harder to resolve.
Just imagine the shock for a puppy of being all alone for the first time in his or her life, in a totally new environment. How good it would be if all breeders isolated each puppy for even five minutes a day, all alone in a crate either when it’s sleepy or with something nice to chew.