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Thread: building up alone time

  1. #1
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    Default building up alone time

    When you are working with a dog to build up it's confidence being alone, should you reward it for showing the behaviour you want when you return?

    For instance, you leave the dog in a pen and take a step away, and return, then go a couple of steps away and return, building up the distance/time before returning. Upon returning, should you reward the dog for not whining or displaying inappropriate behaviours(would the dog then associate this with the owner returning and good things happening)? or should you just continue as though nothing happened(how does the dog distinguish between I didn't bark and nothing happens, and I did bark and nothing happens)? If the dog does show an inappropriate response, such as barking if you take a step away, I assume this is to be ignored until the behaviour stops, and then start the process again? Is there some way of reinforcing the appropriate behaviour without the dog associating the good thing with you being present?

    I understand the theory of getting a dog used to being alone in gradual steps, but I'm not sure how to go about reinforcing the correct behaviour when you are a higher reward than food or toys.

    At this stage if an inappropriate behaviour is being displayed I turn my back and pay no attention until the behaviour stops, then I will face the dog and return to it without really interacting with it. Is returning to the dog enough of a reinforcement for the right behaviour and turning your back enough to signal inappropriate behaviour?

  2. #2
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    I would not reward....you coming back is enough. i would also make minimum fuss on return and even let the dog out with out making eye contact.....Just open the crate ( the reward), move away, no real excitement or anything. keep it all low-key.

    That would be my way.

    I just place a dog in a crate and have them be near initially and slowly place the crate further and further away...initially still see you, slightly out of sight, but still able to hear/smell you and more and more..eventually I would be outside. I also do the leaving routine with out going or with going for a very short period and again with not going and maybe a little longer..totally random, unexpected times
    I do this with all our puppies after their first couple of weeks.......All my dogs are happy when we go out. i really ignore my dogs when i get home....We drive in and we do lots of things before we go anywhere near the dogs. And when we let them out we just tell them to sit and we continue on our merry way doing our chores.....When they are all happily roaming around I will call them and ask them to sit and give them their time.
    I know that quite a few people find this strange, but I think it helps the dogs and I just don't enjoy being run-over by four large dogs, so we want calm greetings
    Pets are forever

  3. #3
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    thanks newfsie

    My pup is pretty good in his crate, he whines a little bit, but not loudly and it's really just a complaining 'aww.. mummy' kinda whine, which I ignore and he soon shuts up and goes to sleep. I'm more having trouble with when I try to leave him in his 'play pen' and I leave the room, he just flips out and whines really loudly, barks, claws at the sides to get out and just gets really anxious. I started off taking steps away and throwing him treats for staying put and being quiet, but I only ever got to a couple of meters away, never out of sight, and when I was around 2meters away I could see he was starting to shake. Sometimes he's better and sometimes he's bad. I'm trying to work with him daily on this so he's not so distraught. He's completely fine if I'm next to his pen, he'll even wander off himself and do his own thing out of sight of me, but if I leave that spot next to his pen it's the end of the world.

    I'm not sure why though, he's only ever in that pen, quite often when we're right next to it, and we only leave momentarily to get a drink or take some plates to the kitchen or something, he's never been left there for extended periods of time. He's got a bed in there and toys and access to outside some of the time(just depends on where the cat is and if we can keep an eye on him). He just seems to flip out if we go out of sight when he's in there.

  4. #4
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    The other thing to do is to have the reward in the pen...........Put your puppy in the pen with the reward, maybe, dinner, breakfast or a Kong filled with special stuff.

    And maybe only use the pen for that. And as soon as you have put pup in the pen with the awesome reward, go out of sight.........But not for a long time initially, short, and longer and longer.

    How old is you puppy? I must admit, I am a little soft on real babies and I start very slow with them. Some of my peers tell me I am spoiling my puppies, but hey, mine turn out OK and secure. There is no Black and white and personally I do not ever agree with people who say you have to do this and this at this time....I flow a little and go to and fro. Sometimes I step back and take stock.......And start again

    Dogs do not get wrecked.......Unless you mistreat them. you can make a couple of mistakes and still end up with a great dog. I would also not like to see my puppy get to shaking. So hence make the pen/crate the best place. the food place and just move away in moments......good luck

    As an example in training...when my katy first had her Surgery, I let her walk on lead and be all over the place post-op............before surgery I have always been very strict as to where my dog should be. but now i have let her roam, no restriction, even pull a bit. Last night I went back a little in training mode. Katy understood instantly, "oops serious now, back to the correct position". So you have some ability to change things and allow things and not totally ruin your puppy/dog. Just be just and reliable. Obedience training, even at a very early age, also gives a dog confidence...they learn and they know/learn about Leadership.
    Happy training
    Pets are forever

  5. #5
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    Thanks again,

    He's 14 weeks now. I have tried him in the pen with a kong and he is momentarily distracted by it, same with bones, but if he notices me sneaking off while he's eating, he'll stop and become focused on where I'm going/went again, or if he finishes the bone/kong. If I give him a bone and leave, then take it off him every time I return, will that help him think that me not being there is ok? I'll keep working at it. I'll try and make his pen as awesome as possible and make myself as boring as possible.

    He's going to puppy school every week and he's going well there, definitely getting more outgoing with the people and dogs there.

  6. #6
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    14 weeks is still very much a baby. You think they've learned something but they seem to need a lot of repeat lessons when young and have extremely short attention spans - you have to work on building up.

    I think you might like to practice leaving and coming back - so much that the dog gets bored with it. Ie give dog the chew, go out the room, come back in, go out, come back in, go out, come back in... avoid making eye contact or talking to the dog directly when you do this. Do a few reps of this then start building up how long you're out, but in a fairly random pattern around a gently increasing average.

    Eg out for as long as it take you to turn around and go back then maybe 1 second then instant then 3 seconds then 2 second then instant etc. Do that for a couple of minutes then sit around being boring for a while then do it again... then tomorrow maybe make your longest time 5 seconds...

    That's for your practice sessions. Also do what ever you have to do - ie if you're out for two or three minutes or whatever you need - do that too, but have a deliberate practice session where you go in and out lots over a period of 5 minutes ish.

  7. #7
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    !4 weeks is still very young, so just keep going...you have plenty of time
    Pets are forever

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