I've been taking my 13 week old pup to work everyday since I got him which has been great for socializing him and making sure he does his business outside.
The major drawback obviously is that he is used to being with people almost 24/7 (with the exception of when I run out to do errands, which is never longer than 2 hours).
He does whine and turns over his crate pad when he's alone, and also paws at the crate.
Starting today, I'm leaving him in his crate in an empty room in my office building so he starts getting used to being alone during the day.
Anyone have advice on preparing him to be alone for hours at a time while I'm at work? Should I buy a bigger crate for him to stay in, keep him in a safe room, keep him in a gated area in my apartment, etc?
Not a good idea. If you put an animal in an crate in an emty room, it's like putting a person in sensory depravation. Extremely stress provoking. You want to crate the pup in a familiar environment, with familiar sounds and smells, which can help sooth his feelings of being abandoned and the hardship of confinement. I would never crate a pup more than 4 hours, except at night. If you need to crate longer, there are better, less restrictive solutions that have been often discussed on the site and you can find in the archived posts. Excessive crating will bring on behavior problems and is abusive.
Taking the pup to work was a great opportunity and crating for a couple of hour s when you are gone shopping also good. Build on that, leave on soft music, or a TV channel on low ( my dogs like PBS!) and create a routine the dog can live with and understand.
I agree with Anna. The empty room might make things worse. When we got Wally I was about 1 week with him and eventhough I was home all day I ensure he would go in his crate for a couple of hours during the day, for down time. He quickly realized this way the cats would not bother him and puting a light blanket on top with a good draft was calming him quite easily.
We struggled at first what to do during the nigth, as he would have stayed with us loose in the bedroom with a babygate to keep him in. So we brought the crate in the bedroom for about 2 weeks and then started with having the crate in the living room. He would whine for a few minutes, sometimes 20, but eventually he would go to sleep, provided it's not pitch dark.
Now he's home alone for 7-8 hours straight in his crate, which is big enough for sleeping, stretching his legs. He has a few chew toys and raw hides to keep him entertained and yes the TV helps to keep a sense of someone home. Although as soon as I come home it's a good 1 hour walk, evening and another 45min-1hour walks every morning.
It's funny to see when I come home that the male cat is sitting in front of the crate and Wally is sitting as well facing each other. It's like I caught them in a conversation... :)
And also don't forget the benefits of daycare and boarding from time to time. We adopted Wally in December and were going south for late April this year for a week. So as soon as he turned 3 1/2 months I brought him to daycare (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcU__-jxFfA) which was a good prep for the following 6-7 weeks at twice per week dayare. We also tried a few overnights before leaving him for 7 days.
We talked to the owner for quite a while, did our research and received feedback from others that knew them. This is the best for him as he jumps like crazy when we turn into the driveway now. Who didn't like having a sleepover with friends when we were kids??? that's the same for him and give him a chance to learn good social skills and generally "to be a dog".
If you can afford it I would highly recommend it, to give you a break too once in a while. Wally continues to go overnight for 24 hours every weekend, to see his buddies and having a ball. He's way more relax afterward when he returns home.
I put peanut butter in a kong and that keeps my puppy busy while he eats it. Anne has a great idea too about leaving the TV on.
In addition to special treats she only gets when I am away, I also leave the television on. I gave a neighbor my key in case she ever got hurt or I was detained unexpectedly which is good for MY separation anxiety so I can leave calmly, with is the best way to also lessen fears in Sully. I used to leave the house without even saying anything to her and wait five minutes after I got home before I talked to her so she would see my comings and goings as no big deal.
It did seem to help, but I think she is more secure now so I just say goodbye cheerfully and we have a normal, happy reunion when I get home. I used to gate her into one room when I went out, but she seems much calmer and happier if she has freedom to roam. She is not a puppy though. Generally from the get-go, in spite of her only complaining briefly with a couple of barks or a little howl sometimes, my neighbor says Sully is quiet for hours when I do have to leave her. She never heard her howl, but today I went out for a couple of hours and two neighbors rushed in because they never heard the howl and assumed she was hurt. I am so grateful for their compassion and concern, but I hope we haven't created a howl monster. :-D When I first got her I do remember a few times when I separated her from me with a see-through child gate. I was trying to help her get used to not always being at my side, but still knowing I was in sight. I tried to make her feel like it was a good thing and she wasn't being punished or anything, but I am not sure she felt unpunished. I do think it helped her deal with separation though. I really think owner calmness helps in many cases.
Holly makes a GREAT point about having someone else nearby have a key to the house. When fires broke out in our area, many people who were at work were not allowed back into the area of their homes, not even to retrieve pets and those neighbors who had access to other friend/neighbor's homes got animals out, when possible, before the area was closed off. You never know when there could be an emergency and someone nearby should have your key, just in case, when you have animals at home alone.
Thanks for the great advice. I got him a Starmark ball today, and he played with it for an hour and half straight (we only stopped because I took him to the bathroom!).
That should hopefully help with keeping him busy until he wants to take a nap.
Debating whether I should put him in a play pen, or keep him crated for 3.5-4 hours at a time.