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Hi all, I was just looking for tips with training my 4 month Springer Spaniel to be fine when left alone. I've Google'd around and got a general consensus, but I'd just like to ask a few questions and run what I was planning with a few people before doing it, and thought here would be a great place to do so. Hopefully this is the right place to post these questions.

We tried crate training, but he hates it, and not in a normal being left alone way with barking, whining, etc. He goes mental and looks as if he's panicking and would end up hurting himself if left for a few minutes let alone anything more so we had to scrap the whole crate training method.

We decided that the next best place would be to train him to be left alone in the kitchen with a baby gate. He's used to the kitchen due to being fed there, he runs and fetches his toys from there, and he would be in the kitchen watching you if you were making food. He's pretty much house trained barring the odd mistake. Even if he had a mistake, it wouldn't be a problem. The kitchen is a pretty big space, good lighting that can be adjusted, fresh air can come through both windows, and it's as puppy proof as can be.

I'm just wondering what would be the best way to get him used to and settle in the kitchen when he has to be left alone? I've done some research and the best method seems to be short intervals that gradually get longer, and use toys, kongs, etc. I was thinking of moving his bed into the kitchen with a few toys, a kong with some peanut butter, a shirt with our scent on it, having a radio on, and leaving him for 10 minutes everyday for the first week, and increase this time by 5 minutes each week. Would that be too much to start off with seeing as it'll only be for 5-10 minutes? Is it better to just have him in there with none of that going on barring a toy or whatever then gradually add more of that type of stuff the longer he'll be alone?

Also, recently my puppy has not wanted to go out on walks. When he first started walking, he loved it. My mum would take him out in the mornings for about 20-30 minutes, then I'd take him out in the afternoon between 7-8pm for 20-30 minutes. I recently saw the guideline of 5 minutes per age of the puppy, does this mean at one time? So those 2 walks are OK seeing as they're separate, or does that mean that he should have 20 minutes walking over the course of the day? He walks on streets, so it'd be pavements he'd be walking on due to the park being too far to walk at the minute.

Thanks.

:peace:
 

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It helped my dog a lot to come and go quickly, many times a day. So outside to check on something, then back in. Back outside to get the mail, and then back in. Not even 5-10min at first. The key was to get him used to me coming and going, and to realize that when I left I would come back. Age helped too. He's almost 2 and has settled a lot with being left alone, though it's still hard for him some days.

The walks sound fine since you're breaking it up. It's more worrying that he used to like walks and now doesn't. It could be that he's going through a fear period, or that the pavement is too hot on his feet now that it's summer, or any number of things. I would try putting him in the car and going some place new, like the park, and walk him there and see how he does.
 

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http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior

This is a web site I wish I had known about sooner, tons of info for a dog owner, from crate training to walking. It's put together by real experts in dog behavior. IMHO your kitchen plan sounds ideal. In fact I would get him accustomed to it at a faster pace, but if you have the time to go more slowly that's terrific!

I wonder if your puppy happens to be going thru a "fear period" at the moment? Or if something scared him on a walk? I would just pair everything with treats and keep a good distance from anything that seems to scare him. Keep everything as positive for him as possible, and if that means temporarily cutting way back on walks while waiting for a fear period to pass that's OK. You could exercise him with play instead for that time. You'll want him to enjoy walks of course; so if at any time he won't take a high value treat, that means he's too afraid to be enjoying it or to be learning from it.
 

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Take it from someone who's been there, if you're going to leave him in the kitchen, make sure everything is secure. No food on the counters, cabinets kept shut with babyproofing clips, garbage out of reach, etc. You'd be shocked how a dog can suddenly figure out how to get up to the counters or how to open cabinets.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks for the replies. When I was giving him his dinner today I sneaked off and left him on his own for about 2-3 minutes. When I came back down, he was just sat at the babygate looking into the living room. I probably should have left him a bit longer because the majority of that time he was probably too busy eating his dinner to notice I was even gone. I think I'll try and train him that way and sneak off for a few minutes each time he's being fed. Is it true that when you come back and they're howling, crying, or whatever, that you're supposed to make a loud noise like a clap to distract them before they see you? Or is it fine to just walk in so that he can see you and do a few things before letting him out?
 

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Thanks for the replies. When I was giving him his dinner today I sneaked off and left him on his own for about 2-3 minutes. When I came back down, he was just sat at the babygate looking into the living room. I probably should have left him a bit longer because the majority of that time he was probably too busy eating his dinner to notice I was even gone. Is it true that when you come back and they're howling, crying, or whatever, that you're supposed to make a loud noise like a clap to distract them before they see you? Or is it fine to just walk in so that he can see you and do a few things before letting him ou
I've never heard that advice before. Generally negative attention is still attention. I would either wait outside until he's quiet, or enter but completely ignore him (go to another part of the house if necessary) until he is quiet.
 
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