quick! should I go home and check on my dog?
September 22, 2015 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Today is my new dog's first day home alone. Should I go home and visit during my lunch break?

We adopted a lovely and sweet 6lb, 3 year old chihuahua a little over a week ago. We adjusted our schedules to be home with him during the day for the first work week we had him, but today is his first day all on his own. He's had the run of the living room overnight since we had him and been fine (we tried keeping him in one of those pens on the first night, but he just hopped right out), so I'm not necessarily worried about him getting into mischief, but I can't help but worry.

I work reasonably close to my apartment, and can be back there to check on him in about 20 minutes. Of course this would make me feel better, but is this just going to make his transition to getting used to being home alone harder? My boyfriend has a shift job and we do not anticipate the dog being left home alone all day more than ~2 days a week. He's wee-wee pad trained, so I'm not worried about him making a mess (and I gave him a good walk this morning to stretch his legs).

What do you think?
posted by cakelite to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
Oh, and here's the little bugger: http://imgur.com/uBlqhJf
posted by cakelite at 9:30 AM on September 22, 2015 [8 favorites]

Doing it once shouldn't make a huge difference and if he did make trouble you may be able to get to him before he causes any more of it.
posted by griphus at 9:30 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

How long would he be home alone if you don't go and check on him? I don't like to leave my dog for more than 8 hours, so if I have a long workday I go home for lunch. For me it's less about the separation anxiety (I think he's mostly just asleep when I'm not there) and more about making sure he doesn't go too long without food or a potty break.

If you're not worried about those things and you don't have other evidence (i.e. lots of whining and acting out when you leave) of him being upset, I don't think that you going home will affect how he feels about being there alone - and it would help soothe your anxiety :) Congrats on the new pup!
posted by jouir at 9:33 AM on September 22, 2015

I would go home at lunch every day this week and next. Then taper off to every other day and so on, depending on how it goes.

Also, when you approach your house, wait a bit and see if he barks or is otherwise carrying on. He'll appreciate the visit, and it will give you a better feel for how he is adapting to being on his own.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:34 AM on September 22, 2015 [10 favorites]

He is just so terribly hideous, isn't he?

I think you should, if only to make you feel better. You matter too. Also, think about setting up a camera to see what he's doing while you're away; I've done it in the past and it's a real eye opener, and so entertaining ;)
posted by the webmistress at 9:34 AM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:35 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I don't see any harm in this. Can you peek in the house without alerting the dog to your presence? If so, try that first.

Telling a story on myself:
In 2004 when we got our puppy, I set up a webcam to watch the dog once we started leaving it alone. We had taken vacation and worked hard to train her. At some point I stopped being able to see the dog on the camera. The timestamp was changing, and there was a shredded puppy pad on the kitchen floor where the dog was confined. I freaked out and assumed the dog had choked to death on the plastic of the pad. I told my office I had to leave, and took the subway home. It took me nearly an hour and my heart was beating when I arrived.

The dog was fine. The stupid web cam software had stopped updating the image but had continued to update the timestamp.

I stopped using the puppy cam after that as it caused me too much anxiety.
posted by terrapin at 9:42 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks! I think I'm probably going to go visit him. Just to clarify, I live in an apartment building and there's no real way to sneak up on him, he can tell when it's me heading up the stairs. :)
posted by cakelite at 9:56 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not a dog owner, but if it's his first day all alone for your entire work day, I'd definitely visit him. I know people who stop home on their lunch break to let their dog out every single day. I don't know how long your work day is, but maybe this visit should be a regular thing if it's not difficult? At the very least, stopping home today will give you a chance to make sure he's adjusting to the alone time.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:22 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

A webcam or two could calm your nerves so you can check on your phone/web browser. Can pick up one for under 50 bucks on Amazon.
posted by edman at 11:05 AM on September 22, 2015

It might be a good idea to visit as a transition instead of one big chunk of time at once.

I don't think it will hurt.
posted by christiehawk at 11:14 AM on September 22, 2015

Final update: he basically made me feel like I'd interrupted the most awesome nap of his life.
posted by cakelite at 11:28 AM on September 22, 2015 [52 favorites]

The best game to play with a dog at home that is not in a crate:

* Put the dog in a bedroom, where he can't see the kitchen or living room.
* Hide multiple small treats with good smells where he can reach them but can't easily see them. Behind tables and chairs and so forth.
* Release the dog and walk out the door.

The dog will spend time finding the treats, which occupies their mind, and this can become a fun habit. Every now and then, just pretend to hide some treats but still go through all the other motions. Keep the fuzzy ones on their toes.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:07 PM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes to go find the treats! You may have to play this on "easy" mode a few times while you are at home for your dog to get it. Easy mode is just putting some treats out around on the floor and teaching your dog to "go find the treats."

After he learns "go find the treats." Move on to hiding them in more difficult spots. I do this every day when I leave and my dog is happy to see me go! It is also a great way to reinforce a stay. Now that my dog has stay down, he is required to do a sit/stay in the kitchen while I hide treats in the living room. I grab all my stuff, release the stay, and am out the door!
posted by ephemerista at 1:01 PM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

When our dog was a puppy we used a webcam and it was great peace of mind to be able to check it during the workday. It also helped clue me in once when she had serious digestive issues and was stuck in her kennel.
posted by reeddavid at 5:40 PM on September 22, 2015

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