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Old 07-15-2009, 08:27 PM
14 posts, read 228,100 times
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This is my first post here and I'm hoping to get some constructive advice. My husband and I just adopted a 3-4 year old "Shepard mix" (60 lbs) from a shelter (Baxter). He's been home with us about 1 week now. He's been doing great and I have been off work to help him adjust. Next Monday, I go back to work and I work 8:00 am -6:00 pm (includes commute time). I am worried about leaving Baxter at home alone during that time. I'm worried about two things: 1) He will get lonely/restless and develop negative behaviors and 2) He won't be able to hold it all day. I'd like some thoughts on this.

Also, right now because we have cats, Baxter spends his days and nights in a separated room. When he and the cats get along, we would like them to all have free access around the house, but we don't know when that will happen. We walk him 30 minutes in the morning and night. We also have a medium sized backyard. My husband and I are at odds about whether to keep him in the separated room during the day or in the backyard. What is best? For right now, he seems comfortable in the separated room and seems to think of it as his den. He seems to be more comfortable in the room than the backyard; he's uneasy in the backyard, but he's spent less time there. The room seems like such a small space for him though.

I know some people think it is horrible to leave a dog alone 40 hours a week and I'm starting to think I feel this way too, but I want to keep him! Thank you in advance!

Last edited by janeatte; 07-15-2009 at 08:38 PM..
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:29 PM
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FYI: While I have been off work, I have been gradually adjusting Baxter to spending time during the day alone. So far, we have made it 5-6 hours. In all of my interactions with him (including at the shelter) he has been a calm, mellow dog. He sleeps alone during the night in his bedroom and doesn't whine. The times we would be spending with him are: morning and evening walks, time we are home from work, and weekends. Does this sound cruel?
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:34 PM
Location: Manhattan, Ks
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Well, I can tell you what I do.
I have a 4ish Aussie mix who has her own room too. I'm typically gone from 8-5 Monday through Friday. Ellie gets walked 3 times a day: first thing in the morning, as soon as I get home from work and before I go to bed at night. We don't have a fenced-in yard, so this is how she gets her exercise.
I keep a radio on for her during the day and she has numerous 'interactive' toys that can be filled with treats to keep her occupied. To be honest though, she doesn't play with them until I get home. She also has chew toys and stuffed toys to play with if she wants to.
It might not work for every dog, but she seems to be thriving.
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:37 PM
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caould you have someone come walk him mid day?
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:48 PM
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kansas sky - Thank you for sharing your experience. If Ellie can do it, I hope Baxter can too!
hothulamaui - Since my commute is so short (15-20 minutes), I am considering rushing home at lunch to take him out quickly. I am OK with doing this everyday for the first few weeks I am working, but don't think I can do it everyday forever. I am OK however, with doing this 2-3 times a week regularly. I looked into a dog walker for a mid day walk, but that's something we just can't afford right now.

I also have every other Friday off, so I would spend that time with Baxter.
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Old 07-15-2009, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by hothulamaui View Post
caould you have someone come walk him mid day?
Good idea. Or just put him from the backyard in. Just something to brake up his day and give him potty time.
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Old 07-15-2009, 09:40 PM
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Dogs can and do thrive if left alone for 40 hours per week. Eight hours a day..that's not much, and you sound like you are trying to break it up as much as possible. He'll get used to the routine if you are consistent. Anything is better than the potential alternative, don't you think?

I know that some dogs can do very well and some do not. I worked ten+ hour shifts when I first got my pup. Every other waking moment was taken up with training, going to the park, socializing with other dogs, etc. He went everywhere with me.

But more importantly, when I first got him I took off time from work to set up a schedule for him - i.e., getting him used to being alone in longer and longer time increments, crating him and going outside for 15 minutes, being fed on schedule, taking the same route on walks, runs, etc. Now, I am aware that not everyone is able to to this, but I think consistency in training is the answer. It will give your Baxter a much more secure feeling.

I am a great believer in crate training and not leaving a dog alone in a yard (for a number of reasons). My little guy was trained to sleep in a crate. He never once pottied in his crate. Fortunately, if I was going to be late getting home (i.e., breaking our schedule) I could call my neighbor to let my pup outside for potty time.

Dogs don't play when you're at work, they sleep. They can do very well in an apartment or with a small yard if you continue to do what you are doing - exercise, play-time, etc.

You certainly sound as though you are getting a handle on this. Please don't feel guilty about leaving him alone. Better he's alone for 40 hours a week than stuck in a dog pound somewhere.

Having a healthy and well-adjusted dog is certainly possible even if you & hubby work full-time.

May we see a pic of Baxter? Good luck to you, I think Baxter's found a good home!
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Old 07-15-2009, 09:53 PM
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If you stick to your walking routine, I think he'll be fine. However, if you can have a neighbor/friend/petsitter stop by and let him out and play a bit at lunch, that would be better. Our adult lab stayed home during the day by herself for 8-9 hours for several years. If we walked/ran with her before and after work, she was fine. We also took her to the most amazing dog park about 3 times per week. If we lapsed on our walks or dog park, she would get restless and hyper. Regardless, it sounds like Baxter found a good, caring home and he'll adjust perfectly fine. Thanks for adopting. Good luck with your new family member.
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:22 PM
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8am to 6pm is not 8 hours a day. It' not 40 hours a week.
It's 10 hours a day/50 hours a week

When you come home from work, are you going to be exhausted and wiped out from sitting in traffic?
If so, I think you should get a pet sitter or dog walker or take Baxter to day care a couple times a week. (Has to be a nice one though not locked up like in the shelter he just got out of)
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Old 07-15-2009, 10:42 PM
Location: Mostly in my head
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Please don't leave him in the back yard all day. People can and do torment dogs locked in yards, they throw poision over the fence, he could get out, it will be hot/cold/wet sometimes and he will do better inside. Crate him if you must, my dogs actually like their crate and sleep in it at times when I'm home.
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