I have to start by saying the first month with Winnie was NOT as fun as we had hoped it would be.
For the first few nights, Winnie was actually happy to come to bed when we went to bed. She would sleep on her dog bed, which we had put in our bedroom. Winnie started to get used to this routine – she would even stop by my son’s room to check in on him, and then make her way down to our bedroom. However, by the end of the first week, Winnie decided she wanted to jump up on our bed at night. I thought it was “cute”, so I let her. The dog bed in our bedroom never got used again.
Then we found out that Winnie didn’t like to be left home alone.
We are fortunate enough to both work from home, so we didn’t have to leave the house for work each day. However, it was summer, and school was out, so we did want to be able to go out SOMETIME. At the very least, we had to get groceries. For the first week or so, we took turns, making sure we didn’t leave Winnie by herself. We set up her X-pen, and had Winnie in there on occasion, but only for short periods of time while we were home.
Then one day we decided to all go out.
We put Winnie in her X-pen downstairs, and went out for a couple of hours. When we got home, Winnie was out, running around through the house. When we went downstairs, we saw the wire door of the X-pen was actually bent, when she had pushed her way out of it. Oh, and she had left us a “present” on the hardwood floor of the dining room.
So we backtracked a bit in our strategy, and tried leaving her in the house (without the X-pen) for very SHORT periods of time. We would drive down the road, and come back within a few minutes. However, she was showing some real separation anxiety when we left. Winnie would bark and cry and jump on the windowsill. We would have the windows of the car down, and could hear her even when we drove away. And, we started to get more frequent “presents” (of course, always on the hardwood floors). She would even get out of bed some nights and go relieve herself on the floor.
We were literally at our wits end – we thought we’d never be able to go out again.
But we kept trying. We started to shut all the doors to all the rooms in the house when we went out. We moved her “unused” dog bed to the dining room (where she seemed to want to be whenever we left). We tried to keep our trips as short as possible. And we kept cleaning up the messes she made (thankfully the floors survived).
And then one day IT JUST STOPPED. I don’t even know exactly when, other than it was about four weeks after we got her. Winnie just stopped leaving “presents”. She started to bark at the door to be let out. She NEVER had another accident at night.
We could go out again!
Eventually, we even stopped closing all the doors. We don’t think twice about leaving her alone now. Winnie still lets out a couple of barks when we leave, and jumps on the windowsill to watch us drive away (and Jeff always waves to her). But she settles right down and just waits for us to get home. It was like something just “clicked” for her, and she finally knew we would be coming back. And she is ALWAYS so happy when we get home!
So why did we go through all of this? Read Part 3 …