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Hi all,

We have a 12 week Labrador, he's been very well socialised from birth and we've had him for 4 weeks now. A great mix of confident and cautious. We're keeping him engaged physically and mentally, he has many different toys which we rotate, some puzzle games, and he's doing sit, down, fetch, stay, heel, recall etc on command almost always without fail (unless he's overtired!) and we're also trying to ensure we doing the right level of bonding with him.

Unfortunately like a lot of owners we're having issues with leaving him alone, but only in certain scenarios:

He sleeps the whole night through, by himself, in his crate (with 1 toilet break at 12pm) from 10pm to around 6/7am without a single peep.

He'll also go into his crate during the day to sleep. Usually we can tell when he's tired and we'll guide him to his crate and close it, he'll whine for about a minute then just fall asleep. (His care is covered with a blanket etc).

We can also leave him alone in the garden or conservatory, and he's totally happy occupying himself, laying in the sun / having one of his teething toys. (we watch him from our window to make sure he's safe, he can't see us).

However; if when he's awake and we actively attempt to leave him alone, for example close him in the kitchen with his bed and a toy, and try to go upstairs / to the next room where he can see us or pop out the house as part of alone training - he will howl to no end and look very distressed (we watch him on our camera). If we then go back in whilst he's howling, he'll be immediately fine, sometimes even just then laying down and sleeping after pretty much no interaction from us. When leaving him we done have any theatre around doing so, we just leave after giving him a toy.

We've also tried (many times) before leaving, giving him a kong. He'll enjoy his kong but as soon as he's finished he'll be up howling again - even if he can just see us in the next room.

We can't tell if this is separation anxiety, if we're expecting too much too soon, or if we're doing something wrong.

It's just odd that mostly he's happy alone or entertaining himself, but the moment we've actively left him alone - he cannot settle.

We read conflicting things online whether to let him just whine it out, even for 30/40 minutes or so, so we've not gone down that route yet incase he's too young for it or it ends up causing more problems.

Any thoughts on what I've said / perhaps something that sounds like we're doing wrong or even something we're maybe not doing would be really appreciated. We've taken to forums as it seems to be getting worse with time rather than better.

EDIT

Reading back through my post I've recognised that it's a potential pattern in that he doesn't like being left in the kitchen maybe? however that's where his crate is and has always been sleeping etc. But it's the only place he'll get upset when we've actively left him there. Either in his crate or in his pen with access to the crate
 

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Labradors thrive on attention and contact with us, and some are better being on their own than others. If he's fine being left in his crate that's where I'd leave him for now, and see if he settles, otherwise you may create an issue with leaving him in the kitchen. I have various crates set up around the house so I can shut one away while I'm doing something, two of mine for example, attack the hoover making it impossible for me to get it done with them out, so they're either shut in a crate or out of the room. Just recently, one of my older dogs had to have an operation to remove a toe, and one of my youngsters was absolutely adamant the bandages needed to be pulled off, so I had to keep one crated whilst the other was out. The youngster is a bit of a wuss and whinges and barks when she's crated but she just gets ignored and only let back out when she's quiet and it's safe for her to be with the dog that had the operation. And actually, the bandages finally came off yesterday and typically, the youngster decided the bandages were ok by then. Now she's really interested in the odd looking paw that smells a bit funny so have to ensure she doesn't try to nibble it. Anyway, if the crate works I'd stick with that, I've used crates for all of mine to prevent them doing themselves any damage whilst they are young and daft enough to chew stuff they shouldn't.
 

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Hi all,

We have a 12 week Labrador, he's been very well socialised from birth and we've had him for 4 weeks now. A great mix of confident and cautious. We're keeping him engaged physically and mentally, he has many different toys which we rotate, some puzzle games, and he's doing sit, down, fetch, stay, heel, recall etc on command almost always without fail (unless he's overtired!) and we're also trying to ensure we doing the right level of bonding with him.

Unfortunately like a lot of owners we're having issues with leaving him alone, but only in certain scenarios:

He sleeps the whole night through, by himself, in his crate (with 1 toilet break at 12pm) from 10pm to around 6/7am without a single peep.

He'll also go into his crate during the day to sleep. Usually we can tell when he's tired and we'll guide him to his crate and close it, he'll whine for about a minute then just fall asleep. (His care is covered with a blanket etc).

We can also leave him alone in the garden or conservatory, and he's totally happy occupying himself, laying in the sun / having one of his teething toys. (we watch him from our window to make sure he's safe, he can't see us).

However; if when he's awake and we actively attempt to leave him alone, for example close him in the kitchen with his bed and a toy, and try to go upstairs / to the next room where he can see us or pop out the house as part of alone training - he will howl to no end and look very distressed (we watch him on our camera). If we then go back in whilst he's howling, he'll be immediately fine, sometimes even just then laying down and sleeping after pretty much no interaction from us. When leaving him we done have any theatre around doing so, we just leave after giving him a toy.

We've also tried (many times) before leaving, giving him a kong. He'll enjoy his kong but as soon as he's finished he'll be up howling again - even if he can just see us in the next room.

We can't tell if this is separation anxiety, if we're expecting too much too soon, or if we're doing something wrong.

It's just odd that mostly he's happy alone or entertaining himself, but the moment we've actively left him alone - he cannot settle.

We read conflicting things online whether to let him just whine it out, even for 30/40 minutes or so, so we've not gone down that route yet incase he's too young for it or it ends up causing more problems.

Any thoughts on what I've said / perhaps something that sounds like we're doing wrong or even something we're maybe not doing would be really appreciated. We've taken to forums as it seems to be getting worse with time rather than better.

EDIT

Reading back through my post I've recognised that it's a potential pattern in that he doesn't like being left in the kitchen maybe? however that's where his crate is and has always been sleeping etc. But it's the only place he'll get upset when we've actively left him there. Either in his crate or in his pen with access to the crate
Hello, we too had difficulty leaving our lab. Unlike you we only managed to leave him in the crate at night. We ended up giving kitchen access when out. Then kitchen and living room which keeps him quiet the longest. We now play the radio. He will still howl if we are more than 3 hours and he's nearly 20months! Just start with very short periods and he will get used to you returning. Then extend. Oh, and we can never shut him in another room if we are in the house. He would protest so much. We have a stair gate preventing him coming upstairs. for a looking time he would bark if we went up stairs but now we is fine. It just takes time.
 

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Had the same problem with my now 8 month lab. we were at our wits end at one stage thinking - how can we ever leave him alone!

He got into a quick habit of sleeping through the whole night in his crate with no problem but as soon as he was put in it during the day, he howled and barked, even if I was just in another room and not actually left the house.

we tried a few things and some of it might not be appropriate for your dog! Firstly we moved his crate to a new room. Originally it was in our big open plan living room/kitchen with high ceilings and multiple doors/patio doors. We figured the room was too overwhelming for him on his own even though he’s spends most of his time in it, but with us.So we moved him to a spare bedroom which is essentially just his room now haha! there’s less going on in that room. He can’t see the door outside, so it’s not like he’s sitting staring at it willing us back, and he now knows that that room is “his” space and that when he’s in it, it’s time for sleep, either during the day or at night.

we do the same things you do, kongs, radio. Our turning point was realising that he liked us speaking to him, which we can do through the camera. So we’d leave him on his own, wait until he barked and then said some reassurance through the camera, usually the same things over and over “sleepy time, go lie down, good boy.” Our voices just soothed him. Now at the start, we had to do this every 20 mins or so!! Then it got less and less, and I still sometimes have to do it now although it’s only now and again.

the other thing that helped was we gave him freedom, now I know not all labs can get this because of the naughtiness! Once we were happy he settled in his crate all night, we started leaving the crate door open at night, and in actual fact he didn’t even come out - still doesn’t! Once we were happy at nighttime we started doing it during the day. Again the beauty of the spare room is apart from the bed and his crate, there’s not much in there - little opportunities to destroy or chew things. And even at a still young 8 months, he’s (touch wood) not destroyed anything and is quite content during the day of moving between the human bed and his crate.

lastly,during the day he likes a piece of my clothing in his room, he’ll lie on top of my jumper all day, dragging it to where he’s sleeping. It’s like a little comfort that I’m there.

hope something helped but you definitely aren’t alone and we thought we’d never crack it, but now we have a perfectly content dog being left alone.
 

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If we're in the house, Freddie wants to be with us. If we're in two different rooms he struggles to know which to choose! But left to his own devices he often will wander off and settle himself somewhere else - for example this morning I was working in the dining room and he slept on his mat in the hall, and then in the lounge, all of his own choice. So it's hard to leave him alone, but given the choice he'll often go off anyway.

Two afternoons a week, Dan teaches kids' music in the house so Freddie has to stay upstairs out of the way. He hated it at first and would whine and bark and scratch at the door. He seems to have got used to it now, just by us persevering and making it normal.
 

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For our sins, we decided to get TWO puppies last October; it worked reasonably well as they keep each other company, but therein lies the problem. They have built up a strong bond and now it's difficult to separate them without either one becoming stressed. We spent a lot of time with them as puppies, so they have a good bond with us too. So our problems are two fold; leaving the pups (now 9 months old) alone together and then separating them with one human each. It's impossible at the moment to leave one in a room without his brother or at least one of us.

So, we are starting down the long road to building trust and confidence that being alone or without each other isn't a bad thing. We walk them separately - but that's for another reason - and once one leaves the house with my partner, I am left to distract the other one until we go out a few minutes later. We cannot leave together and go in different directions as they each whine or bark. However a few minutes down the road and each pup is happy with their respective human, so we are all happy for now.

As has been mentioned, Labradors just love being there in amongst things, no matter how small. It's just my partner and I so no kids to knock about with, so wherever we are, they have to be too. It is getting better and that is helped by having some routines in place. We know that we have a 2 hour window for example after their walk; this came about as a necessity as we both work from home and when young, they were crated for a 2 hour sleep which gave us time to get on with the busy start to our day. This has actually helped a lot - we can use this window to pop up to the local shop, or for longer shopping sessions. Because they are worn out by their morning activity, they tend to still be asleep when we get home, even when pushing 2 - 2 1/2 hours. However most of the time, we actually want to take them with us, but the issue I eluded to earlier, means going out all together is a bit chaotic. We are getting some assistance with this currently and so far, so good :)

I always have to remember that they are still young, despite being so big and heavy! They rely on you so much for company and support so I can forgive their sometimes impetuous need for our presence. It's about finding the sweet spot, and yeah, I do actually love having them with me but it's good when they also choose to have a break from us and also each other. It's healthy for all concerned.
 

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I've seen some really bad, both overshot and undershot jaws, and yes, this could cause problems in the wild, when catching and killing it's food. But in the case of the domestic dog this is rarely if ever a problem. The most used teeth in domestic dogs are the molars and premolars, used for grinding up it's food. But even them, with a Labrador who hoovers up their food like a vacuum cleaner, swallowing it whole, are not really used!
 
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