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New puppy at home while we're at work

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Hello! I'm new to the forums, and just brought home an 8 week old border collie pup on Sunday 8/2. He is named Basket, and he has totally stolen our hearts.

 

I was lucky enough to be able to take the whole week off of work to welcome Basket to his new home, but Monday is approaching fast and I have a few questions about leaving the little guy home alone. My boyfriend and I just moved to a new home, and one of the bedrooms is tentatively being put aside as Basket's room for while we are at work. Over the week, I have been working on both crate training and practice staying in "his room" while I run out the store down the street. Basket does NOT like being left alone (more so than the other puppies I have raised in the past -- 2 GSDs and a golden retriever) and will carry on with howling and jumping at the door for around 10 minutes initially, then periodically as he "remembers" he's alone. This is getting better with practice, but my heart still breaks for my little pup.

 

At this point, it doesn't seem like SA to me (I had a GSD growing up who had severe SA), but I want to make his time alone as happy/calm as possible. He will be alone for roughly 9 hours a day Monday - Thurs, and for 5 hours on Fridays. We're getting him used to stuffed kongs, bully sticks, and his squeaky toys (I have never met a dog who loves squeaky toys as much as Basket), and he has an astro-turf pee pad in his room (he took to it right away without any coaching.) We also plan to move his crate into "his room" while we are at work -- the crate currently lives in our bedroom so he can sleep near us at night and let us know when he has to go potty.

 

Is there anything else we can do to make this transition easier for him? I'm thinking about picking up a few baby gates to expand his area (his room+kitchen+mud room), because he seems to have an easier time when I don't have to close a door on him. When we're home together during the day, he usually goes off on his own to nap in another room (he's not a super velcro puppy!).

 

It's been so long since the last puppy years -- part of me is sure he'll adjust, but the other part is worried that he's going to be constantly sad and anxious. Does anyone else have experience with this? Any tips?

 

Thanks in advance (and thanks for bearing with the ramblings of an anxious puppy momma!)

 

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9 hours is a long time to leave a puppy that young totally alone, IMO, even if he's trained to toilet in one area.

 

Can you have someone come in to take him out and to play with him for a while each day? If this were my situation, I'd be looking into a dog sitter who can visit.

 

ETA: Guess I should add I did this once, when I was younger with a puppy we adopted when he was 4 months old. I'd never do it again. The puppy was miserable, became destructive alone and developed separation anxiety. Dogs are social creatures. IMO, this is like leaving a human toddler alone. I just wouldn't ever do it again.

 

Would doggy day care be possible?

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If at all possible can you come home for lunch or have someone check on the puppy? If for no other reason than to avoid accidents in the house. Your other option would be to put potty pads somewhere (if your puppy will not be crated), so the puppy doesn't have to hold it 9 hours. I'm not saying they can't on occasion if you're running late or you can't make it home to let the puppy out once a week. It's just not healthy to hold it that long.

 

On the distraction side you can try a frozen kong or safe puzzle toy before you leave just put it in the room and then get your puppy into the room if they don't follow you. Shut the door and don't say anything, as some dogs are triggered by the owner saying goodbye and making a big deal out of leaving. That way the puppy will have a tasty distraction (which is also good for teething) and without you making a big deal out of it will just think it's a weird game.

 

You can also try putting a sleepy puppy in the room. Go for a walk or play a little fetch before you leave to get the dog worn out. You can also play crate games to make the crate a great place to be.

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I agree with the above posters. They say a puppy can usually hold its bladder for as many hours as its age in months (which is iffy but seems to work as a very general rule of thumb), and I go by that as far as how long I'd ideally leave the pup alone for. Obviously sometimes it can't be helped, and you can't always check on a new puppy every two hours, but I would go 3 or 4 hours, max, at that age.

To answer your question/worry about the howling, though...
We left videos on to monitor our pup while he was young when we went out.

-The first time we left Aed alone he barked and howled constantly the whole time (it was maybe 15 minutes we were gone). Same thing the next few times.

-After those times, he would do it constantly for the first five minutes, and periodically after that until we returned.

-After a few times of that, he would just bark periodically while we were gone (meanwhile we were increasing the duration being gone).

-After that, he'd bark periodically for the first five minutes, then stop, and only start up again (for about 5 minutes each time) if he heard a noise.

-Then, finally, he wouldn't bark anymore when we left.

 

The whole process took 2-3 weeks I think. He did not at any point have separation anxiety, and does not now. He was just a barky puppy who wanted to play, not be stuck in his boring little area for a few hours.

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Thanks for all of the input! This is a great board.

 

My boyfriend was just able to fiddle with his work schedule next week so that Basket will only be alone on Thursday. (I can probably come home early on Thursday so he's only home for about 5 hours.) Then, the week after that, my boyfriend will be able to stay with him until Thursday again. We just moved to this neighborhood, so we will look around for a neighbor who might be willing to stop in to play with him for a little while on the days we can't get time off. (Both of us work about an hour away from home, so coming home during a lunch break won't be possible, unfortunately. It also doesn't look like it'll be possible to take him to a doggie daycare, because the only one in the area only accepts dogs over 5 months old, and Basket's not quite there yet.)

 

Chene, I'm really glad to hear that Aed adjusted. Basket seems to have his good moments and his not-so-good moments, but I'm hopeful that he'll eventually learn that barking and howling don't get him anything and that it's much more pleasant to play with his toys and puzzle out his treats.

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Older kids are a really good resource, too, especially right now when they're off school (even come September they probably get home from school quite a bit earlier than you). And because it's summer, I imagine lots of kids are out in their yards right now. Use the chance to socialize Basket and meet some neighbors, kill two birds with one stone! He's an adorable fuzzball, you'll attract attention pretty quickly. Just try to keep him off the ground until he has his shots, of course.

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Poor puppy. Removed from its mother and litter mite and forced into long hours of solitary confinement. Would you do that to a human baby?

 

When are you going to feed him? A pup of that age needs feeding 3times a day?

 

And teaching him that it's OK to per and poo indoors could be a recipe for problem.

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I have a new adult dog (she's probably 2 or 3) and am heading back to work as a schoolteacher in a few weeks, and am having some of the same concerns. This girl is crate-trained and fully housebroken. I've left her alone crated for 7 hours with no destruction or accidents; I'm testing her out for 3 or 4 hours loose in the house right now. Because she came from a hoarding situation and then foster home, where she was crated all day among the other fosters, I think she manages being home pretty well. But even so, I'm considering hiring a dog-walking service to come home mid-day, take her out in the yard, and play with her a bit.

 

Would you consider that option? Around me, it seems to be about $15 or $16 per day for someone to come here, take the dog out for 15 or 20 minutes, and then let her back in. I'm thinking I might crate her in the a.m. when I leave (to keep her used to her crate, which is SO handy!), and then have the sitters leave her loose in the house after they play with her.

 

My big concern is having possibly untrustworthy or unkind strangers come in my house and mess with my dog and my stuff!

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My big concern is having possibly untrustworthy or unkind strangers come in my house and mess with my dog and my stuff!

 

Totally understandable. That's why, especially if you're new to an area, you get some references for a good dog walker or pet sitter and spend the money you need to to make sure you're not causing your wee puppy emotional harm from isolation that could easily have been prevented.

 

Veterinarians and pet groomers, sometimes even pet stores, often will have recommendations for walkers and sitters. I suppose online places like Angie's List or Care.com could provide some options with references.

 

To my mind this is just part of responsible (and humane) puppy ownership, and something that should've been planned for before you brought the puppy home. But you've still got a couple days to be making some phone calls and hopefully finding someone who can help. After you get to know people where you live, maybe you'll be able to find another solution.

 

I pet sit, and for $15 I spend an hour with the pets I watch, which can include feeding, letting or taking them out and playing with them.

 

As someone mentioned, feeding is an issue as well at this age. Free feeding isn't a great way to help house train your puppy, as there's no way for him to regulate his elimination needs. Actually, house training's going to be a lot harder anyway with no one around for that long to help him learn it. Even if he's reliable with the astroturf or whatever you're using now (and I doubt he'll remain reliable at this age for that length of time) do you really see that as a workable solution for a full grown border collie? I wouldn't want to be coming home from work to have to clean that up. Yuck.

 

Honestly, if it were me I'd be calling in sick till I had someone to help with the wee pup before I'd leave him alone that long for even one day.

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It is not ideal for a young pup to be left alone so long but in the world as it is it happens often and they do ok. As far as someone looking in on him, giving him lunch and taking him outside to potty then play I would stick with asking folks at the vet clinic. Often the vet techs make extra money pet sitting. Most have the knowledge and experience to do a better than average job with the pup. Since the pup is going to need regular check up I would visit a couple clinics and find one you like then ask there.

 

When I need to leave pups alone my main concern is their safety. I usually opt for an x pen. It is large enough for an 8 week old pup to sleep on one side and have a potty place on the other. I would be concerned about leaving him in a room unless it did not have any furniture. Nothing to crawl under and get stuck, nothing to climb on and fall off, nothing to chew on that he shouldn't...

I would carefully select the items you leave him have access to. No rope or stuffed toys, no chew sticks or rawhides, no cloth. Maybe a rug to sleep on that is not fuzzy, a kong, a couple toys that he can not chew pieces off. Nylabone makes a gumabone that is not to hard that it will break puppy teeth like some bones but tough enough for him to work on.

 

I would do what you can to ensure he has the maximum time to potty outside and limit his need to go indoors. It simply makes housebreaking easier. maybe that means getting up early to go with him and play and feed him them give him a couple more potty breaks before you leave for work. If you find someone to stop at lunch time to take him out, play feed him and take him out again before they leave that would be good.

 

Right now he has no idea how to be alone. It is a new situation for him, give him things for his mind and body to do and he will figure it out. Make sure he is quiet before you open the door to his crate or room ect so he does not learn that barking brings you or that it gives him play time.

 

Enjoy him, they grow up much to fast.

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I also had a friend at work who crated her pups in her car while she worked. She could go out several times a day to do tiny poop-break walks (five minutes each), and used her lunch break to spend time with the pup. I think this was early spring, before it got too hot. It would probably only work in fall and spring... but I always thought that was a smart trick. The pup got housebroken much quicker, and after a few months could be at home alone.

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When we got Fergie - years ago when we were still working, she was ~10 weeks old. And we did crate-train her.

 

I walked her a short way before breakfast. Then Chuck went to work (~7 AM)and I took her for ~1-mile walk. Then I crated her. One of us came home at lunch and did another 1-mile walk. Chuck returned home ~3:30-4:00 and walked her. I got home later and walked her after she had dinner. And one of us took her out before bed.

 

Luckily, we live close to about anywhere that would hire us back then - 15-minute drive tops.

 

Heck, it kind of matched what we did when we had the kids. Except that I was at work by 6 or so, so I could be home when the youngest got off the bus.

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The problem with crating the pup in the car is you have to be extremely careful of both temperatures and sun.

 

The OP is in MA, and is going to be going back to work next week. Daytime highss in much of MA will average at least 77F through the beginning of September and will fall gradually to an average of about 70F near the end of September.

 

At 75F a car can reach temperatures of 118F inside. I think that's in the sun, and I don't know if it's with windows rolled down or not. I've read recommendations not to leave dog in cars when the outside temp is 70F.

 

I've seen stats saying that in 78F weather the inside of a car can reach 90F when it's parked in the shade, and 160F in the sun in just minutes. Dunno if that's with windows open or closed and I don't know how many minutes. I do know of I'm sitting in a car in the sun with all the windows rolled the whole way down it gets hotter than I'm comfortable pretty darned fast.

 

And how many of us can leave the windows fully open while we're at work and not have a care that the puppy will be stolen or tormented?

 

I understand there are a lot of variables in measuring these temps, and I have no idea how these were measured, or what color the car was or if the windows were closed or cracked open or rolled all the way down. But I sure as shootin' wouldn't be taking chances like that for my puppy, who would be affected by heat sooner than a grown dog, until I knew for sure temps were a good deal lower than 70F for any part of the day, and even then only if I could be sure the car would be in the shade until it's even cooler than that.

 

This might be a viable plan in 6 weeks or so, but I don't think it's at all reasonable now.

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When my puppies have been very small, I did a combination of working somewhat shorter hours, having someone come in at lunch to potty and play with the pup and some days I was able to take the puppy to the dog friendly office. It isn't ideal but my puppies have all adapted easily, like crates to this day and fortunately they mature a lot faster than human infants so pretty soon I was able to work regular hours. I still have someone let the dogs out at lunch when I am not at the dog friendly office. However, previous dogs once they were 9 or 10 months old, didn't have accidents waiting until I returned home.

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I hope that the two of you plan to spend plenty of quality time with your pup when you're not working. I've been lucky to have people that would help me with puppies, but really my biggest concern (aside from the obvious risk of destruction to your house if you leave a bored and lonely puppy loose in one or several rooms) would be that even when you are home you won't have enough time to really make up for all the long hours the pup will spend alone.

 

I have made the take a pup to work thing work, but at that time I was working where we had a private property with private parking and I could leave my van in the shade with everything (windows, doors) wide open.

 

Definitely talk to your vet about any pet sitters they can recommend. The extra expense now will pay off tremendously when it comes to having a happy, well adjusted puppy.

 

P.S. I did have a pup at home when I was working nearby, maybe 8.5 hours. I used a very large crate with a cat litter pan in the back and taught the pup to use that one area of the crate for pottying. I don't remember exactly how old she was at the time, but it worked okay. I was on a farm, so when I got home from work there was plenty of time while doing chores to spend time with puppy training and playing.

 

J.

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Thanks again for the input, I really appreciate it! I'm at work right now, and Basket is (hopefully) handling being out in his room and the kitchen (we put baby gates up to expand his room to the kitchen, but limit access to rooms with furniture (Basket's play room is completely empty, except for his food/water, crate, and toys.) We're going to install webcams soon so I can keep an eye on him from the office.

 

For now, my mom and sister have offered to stop in to play with him and let him out before and after their shifts. He will still be alone for chunks of time, but the day will be broken up with visitors. We've found one neighbor with an 18 year old who loves dogs -- we're hoping to meet her soon, and if she doesn't have college plans, we're going to ask her if she would be willing to babysit him during the day.

 

Of course, we're both very on edge today thinking about little Basket. I suspect that he will sleep most of the day (that was his pattern for all of last week), but it's easy to let worry get the best of me!

 

Re: Julie - we spend all of our time at home interacting with Basket (be it training, playing, or hanging out in the yard), and we have about an hour and a half with him in the morning before work, and all of the after-work hours with him. Neither of us have out-of-the-house hobbies (except for hiking, which is on hold until Basket's plates developed enough), and our friends have been coming to our new house to help socialize. I'm 100% confident that we're a happy/stable home for Basket, we just want to make sure the bases are covered while we're at work.

 

I'm glad to hear others have gone through this with BC pups. The puppies my family raised when I was younger grew up to be happy, social dogs, but we always had two at a time. One of my coworkers is raising an aussie-mix pup, so we've been bouncing ideas back and forth. Can't wait to see the baby this afternoon.....

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I just wanted to post a quick update. I got home from work a little early last night (I left the office at 4 and got home for 5), and my mom was still at my house with Basket (thanks, mom!) She got to the house around 2pm, and said that he did great. It looks like he only used his pee pad, and went outside when my mom came over. (He's also a total angel with his "extended family," but can be a possessed pup with me and dad!) He had dragged a few of his favorite toys into his crate, and it sounds like he napped for most of the day. What a relief!

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I'm really happy to hear that day one went well.

 

And I'm really not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom (I really do want his to work for you & the pup), but be prepared for the very real possibility that the newness of this will ear off for your mother & sister and that what's fun for them now could turn into a chore that they really don't want to be tied down to. That's the advantage to hiring someone for whom it's a job and will therefore remain a commitment. Unless, of course, you can find some poor dog-starved person for whom the very opportunity to spend time with the puppy outweighs any material gain you could ever offer. (I was such a dog-starved kid when I still lived at home with my dog-hating father. I hung around any dog owning neighbors' houses as much as I could until they'd kick me out. :rolleyes: )

 

It's just a good idea to have a backup plan should things fall through.

 

If the novelty does rub off for your mom and sister, be aware that the accumulated stress of loneliness for the puppy could build up. . . . and with it the undesirable behaviors like chewing, barking, SA, etc. that you didn't see on day one could develop later.

 

I'm happy to hear that you're committed to making this work out in the best way for your pup.

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