Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own - Hungarian Vizsla Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 07:18 AM Thread Starter
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Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

Hi everyone,

We have a 15 week old vizsla, and have had her since she was 12 weeks old. We are currently trying to work on leaving her for short periods of time (2-10minutes), ultimately being able to leave her for up to 3-4 hours max, however are not having much luck.

Here is the relevant info/background to give a clear picture of where we're at with her:

She has settled in well, is relatively well crate trained (enjoys going in voluntarily, gets treats when she does, sleeps well in her crate at night with the door open, and doesn't need to get up to go to the toilet in the night). We started to close the door once she was comfortable for short periods, and now she can stay in there with the crate closed for an hour or so easily - usually she is resting or sleeping when we close the door. When she wakes up, we leave her in it for up to 5 minutes before taking her out to the toilet, just to make sure that she doesn't get the feeling she's being "let out of jail".

So we began with leaving her in her crate, door closed, and going into another room for a short period and coming back in. She was ok with this at first. We then left her on a few occasions for about 10-20 minutes and she only started crying/whining/becoming anxious after 5-10 minutes. We then read Patricia McDonnell's I'll be home soon and started the steps in that program which involved going backwards and starting from scratch and working on making her feel at ease at the point that we left. So identifying the triggers that may increase anxiety (picking up keys, bag, opening and closing doors, changing clothes, turning on the car etc) and then practicing these at random times throughout the day without actually leaving. We got to the point where we felt she was not noticing the triggers at all, or at least ignoring them, and happily chewing on her kong, or other chew. So we started actually leaving and coming back very quickly (within a minute or two) as soon as we noticed she would stop chewing her toy and become on high alert (as we have an ipad set up and a monitoring app).

Over the last few days we have now tried to leave for a bit longer (5-10minutes) but as soon as we leave she starts barking/whining/crying/trying to escape. So it seems all the hard work we've been doing has just gone out the window! To try to ensure that she doesn't learn that her barking/whining makes us come home, when we come home, we just come in with no fuss, leave her for 5 minutes or so - by the point we come back in the door she stops whining/barking and we only let her out after she has been quiet for at least 5 minutes.

Yesterday we had someone come over and play with her while we left the house for 5-10 minutes just to test whether it is indeed separation anxiety or just "isolation distress" and it appears that she is ok as long as somebody is around as she didn't really show any signs of anxiety when we were gone while someone else was there. Unfortunately we can't really afford to have someone come over and mind her while we are out - and feel that this is more of a bandaid solution, and having read about other people's vizslas, it seems that leaving them at home alone for up to a few hours can be done. Same goes for puppy day care, while we could do this once a week or so, it's not really a viable long term solution for us as we just want her to be comfortable at home on her own. Unfortunately getting another dog is also not an option for us.

We are feeling very discouraged and not sure whether we just need to actually leave her for these short periods of time in the hope that she "gets used to it" and knows that we will come back, (as I mentioned she was ok for 10minutes or so the first few times we left her), or whether we need to back track and start all over again and work up in smaller increments. We are losing our minds a bit as we just want to be able to leave the house for half an hour!!!

Any suggestions/advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2017, 11:46 AM
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Re: Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

I haven't owned a puppy that didn't throw some kind of fit when the door was closed. If I needed to run a errand, or take a shower, I just closed the door. By keeping the crating short they all adjusted over time.
I also didn't wait until they were asleep, every time. Just made sure I gave them a small treat for going in the crate.
My male Cash was the one that protested the most, but he's also the most hard headed one out of the bunch.


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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 09:20 AM
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Re: Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

As TR said - most puppies will throw a fit during crate training, this is normal. It sounds like you are doing everything right. I currently have an almost 4 year old who is crate trained, and an 11 week old we are working on crate training with. What you are describing is normal, and fussing/screaming is part of the process. I find the most important thing in crating is consistency.

We put her in the crate when she stats getting drowsy, when we eat meals, when we are in the shower and can't supervise, etc. These short intervals of being crated help. When our girl fussed, at first we ignored her. With some pups this works, as they realize that they aren't getting a reaction. It worked with our first V, but this girl is rather strong minded. With her we give her a harsh "hush!" or "Enough!" and she grumbles, lets out a sigh (as if realizing she's not getting her way) and settles down. Everytime she goes in the crate, she gets a treat.

When we go to the work in the morning, we have a rotation of treat toys (kongs, and such) that we use (they get a different toy on different days for variety), and this is the only time the dogs get these yummy toys. We fill the kong with kibble, treats, peanut butter, etc (freezing them is great!). I will put on my coat, shoes, etc first, and then go and get the treat toys ready (this way they associate the keys, etc with getting the treat toys, and not my departure). The puppy is now running to the crate waiting for her treat toy.

I am fortunate that I work close to home and am able to come home throughout the day, so I'm home in the morning and afternoon for breaks/play time, and my husband is home by 3:30, so the puppy is only going 2.5 hours in the crate at a time. I am also up nice an early in the morning to give the pup lots of play time/training to tire her out before I head out for work. Sometimes we come home to crying, other times she's lying in there not making a peep. The crying will resolve as she get's used to this routine.

We also leave a radio on in the room with the pup for companion noise. Whether this helps or not, I have no idea, but we've always done it.

Keep it up, and you will get there.



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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-04-2017, 12:57 PM
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Re: Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

I've often wondered which it was that worked for me too. Don't know if it was the last thing I tried, or if they just became conditioned to the crate at that point.


Not all those who wander are lost.

Life is just a leap of faith.
Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.

Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

Thanks for the comments and words of encouragement. Will keep trying.

Just want to ask - do you leave the crate door closed at night even when you're home and your babies are sleeping, or only when you are out/they cannot be supervised.

The last thing I want is for her not to like her crate - is it possible that after enjoying the crate initially a dog can go backwards after having the door closed? Each time I let her out it seems harder to get her back in again until the following day. (Even with treats/praise etc).

Also - just wondering how many council complaints we will get with all her barking and whining as we have close neighbors...
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 08:33 AM
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Re: Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

Quote:
Just want to ask - do you leave the crate door closed at night even when you're home and your babies are sleeping, or only when you are out/they cannot be supervised.
If I'm going to sleep, yes I close the door.
Take your neighbors a nice bottle of wine, and apologize in advance.
If her late night howling gets bad, throw heavy blankets over the crate. It will help muffle the noise.

Not all those who wander are lost.

Life is just a leap of faith.
Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.

Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing, and your attitude when you have everything.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-05-2017, 02:34 PM
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Re: Tips for working towards being able to leave our vizsla at home on her own

Whenever us and our V leave the house, we make sure to sprinkle some treats in the crate before we leave.

When we get home, the first thing our V does is go straight into the crate to enjoy the treats.

Its one of the things we've done, among others, to help make the crate a nice experience.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-05-2017, 08:47 PM
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I have a 16 week old male, and after taking week on leave from work to settle him in, i began leaving him alone during the day (8 hrs or so) in the House with access to outside via the doggy door. And he has been fine. I've never really been a fan of create training and don't use it. I think you just need to have a plan and stick with it, you never stop learning.

I found the key is not to make a big deal of it when you leave, i leave a few treats hidden around the house and outside and it has worked thus far. He did chew on a couple of Cat 5 leads but that's all. And you have done the right thing by trying to get him used to the triggers.

It depends on the personality of the pup, i hear many folks saying don't get a V if you are going to leave it alone for a considerable amount of time during the day, or if you don't spend 4 hours a day exercising/stimulating them... Ideally yeah you would not leave them alone for so long, but people have to work and cant afford day care, another dog or a carer.

It helps if you can spend little time with em before you leave.

You get out what you put in...

I think you are doing everything right and just need to stay the course, they are intense little pups but so eager to please.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2017, 06:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
Ideally yeah you would not leave them alone for so long, but people have to work and cant afford day care, another dog or a carer.
Another alternative is just to not get a dog until your lifestyle better suits their requirements. Nobody has to have a dog and there are two 'people' in the relationship to think of.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
He did chew on a couple of Cat 5 leads but that's all.
I'm glad your pup can tell the difference between a Cat 5 cable (a network cable for those not in the know) and a live mains flex.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
I think you just need to have a plan and stick with it
Having a plan doesn't make reality different. As you have said, most people advise that a Vizsla is not a good breed to be left for extended periods of time. In the UK, a reputable breeder won't sell a pup to someone in your circumstances and they should have a better idea about the breed's requirements than most people. Ignoring that advice because 'you have a plan' doesn't give you a guarantee of success. If things don't work out, it is the dog that pays the price (something we all have to consider when deciding whether to bring a dog into our lives).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
You get out what you put in...
On that we agree.

To the original poster. I haven't been in the same position but from my general experience I would offer a few suggestions.

Firstly, search the forums for posts about crate training. There are hundreds (it is a common issue), some of which may contain suggestions that work for your girl.

My experience of Vizslas is that they can be wilful dogs that are pretty smart. Clearly she would rather be with you than in a crate and they will try anything they can to get what they want (Vizslas call it 'training their human'!). Ultimately it is a battle of will. You seem to be approaching it the right way from my limited experience.

Dogs are a creature of routine. If you can establish a pattern in your crate training, this might make it a little easier.

I'm sure you will get there in the end.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 09-01-2017, 06:58 PM
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Some tips

As I am sure you have seen on the forum, you aren't alone in this. My wife and I had extreme stress about going back to work after we first got our V. Whenever we tried to leave she would howl bloody murder and it was so hard to hear. It gets better as they get older and it sounds like you are doing a good job of working on crate training and not making a big deal of leaving. Here are a few notes I woudl give. Feel free to take em or leave em :

1) We only use the crate for our V at night and when we need her to be out from underfoot. We find that she sleeps longer and quieter when we put a towel or blanket over the front of the crate. Makes it more den like for her. Maybe try a cover if you can. We also moved her crate to our room, and I feel like our presence helps calm her.

2) When she was younger, and we left the house we would keep her in a playpen. That way she wasn't as confined and had space to play, eat, or pee (pee pad inside) if needed. She has now graduated to free reign of the house because she is chew trained and can go outside on her own to potty. Maybe try a pen set up to see if that helps.

3) This is the hardest thing, but ignore your pup. As long as you are sure they don't need to potty, and have had water/food, they are completely fine to be left alone and ignored. It will be really hard to hear them in another room howling, but they need to learn they are ok on their own. This same thing helped us train our V to sleep through the night.

4) One exercise you can do is have the dog in their pen/crate and walk out of the room. Count to 10 and if and only if they are quiet, walk by them and treat/click them. Do this a few times, incrementally increasing the duration before treating them. Over time they should learn that being alone isn't the end of the world and can even have a positive reinforcement of a treat, as long as they are quiet.

Good luck!
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