Q: We have had Munchkin since she was about 5 months old. She’s now about 1-1/2. She normally has pretty high energy but she really mopes around when I’m gone. She usually isn’t home by herself more than four hours a day. When I leave, she stands at the end of the hallway and looks sad. We have a 3-year old cat and they both usually sleep with me and play together. We leave bones and chew toys down for her when we are gone.
I usually take her to run everyday. And when my husband gets home he usually gives her a walk. He says she will play for about an hour or so and then just lies around and doesn’t want anything to do with him. Then, when I get home, she really wakes up. We are talking about getting a second puppy and I don’t know if it is better if we do or not.
A: It sounds like you have a real bond with Munchkin. It is normal for a dog to prefer being with you instead of being alone. If she isn’t destroying furniture or chewing things up and if her appetite and energy levels seem okay, I wouldn’t worry.
You can, however, reduce her anxiety by lowering your emotional response when you leave and arrive home. In other words, stay calmer and less animated and excited, especially when you come home. Then, after you’ve been home for 90 seconds or so and her adrenaline levels subsides a bit, you can show her more enthusiasm. You will then be rewarding her calmness rather than her excitement. Gradually she will be less concerned when you leave and less excited anticipating your return.
Training helps build confidence and lowers stress. Our DVD, The Dog Whisperer, Beginning and Intermediate Dog Training for Puppies and Dogs, can help you there and/or you can hire a professional trainer (positive methods only).
You can also try giving her a terrific treat when you leave. Normally the first 20 minutes after someone leaves the house is the most difficult for a dog. By giving her something to chew on like a “Bully Stick, “Chicken Strip,” or a treat-filled Kong, a dog’s stress can be reduced. However, don’t give her rawhide as they sometimes get stuck in the dog’s throat if unsupervised.
If she is playing for an hour or so as you mention, and you also take her for runs, that’s terrific. It sounds like she’s getting plenty of quality time and exercise.
If you do get another puppy, just make sure you have the time to spend with both dogs individually.
Hope this helps.