Monday, July 9, 2012

Too Much Barking

I just found out last weekend that Kai apparently has been barking his head off whenever he's left alone!  Chris and I had no idea.  Kai never has exhibited any signs of anxiety when we prepare to leave, he doesn't bark when we DO leave... he is always excited when we come back, but not overly so.  He has a doggie door, so he can go in and out as he pleases, and he has our cat Molly to keep him company.  I come home for lunch every day during the week, so he's never alone for more than about four hours.  But our neighbor said that Kai has been barking like that for about a month now.  The neighbors were super nice about it and I feel terrible on many levels.  Obviously, I don't want to piss off the neighbors, and I also don't want Kai to be experiencing anxiety on a daily basis.  This seems like a tough issue to address.  How are we supposed to know what's going on when we aren't there?  Kai is such a confident little guy.  I never thought he could develop separation anxiety.

We had already planned a trip to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico for Sunday for a friend's belated birthday, so we had to quickly find a solution for Kai.  We didn't want to leave him stuck in the house alone all day, and we didn't have anyone who could watch him.  Obviously we couldn't leave him outside since the neighbors had just complained!  We called a local doggie daycare/boarding place called Wag Hotel.  This place was recommended by a friend of mine, and they got really good Yelp reviews.  Since Kai has had all his shots, they were able to take him for All Day Play on Sunday.  They have a doggie cam, so we could see how he was doing while we were in Chico.  Kai ended up having a blast!

Kai's report card and photos from his first All Day Play at Wag Hotel
We took a tour of the facilities at Wag Hotel and felt comfortable with it, so we are going to try boarding him there for future trips.  It's not cheap, but I guess part of owning a dog is accepting the extra cost of boarding if we want to do things out of town and can't take him.  And it's worth the extra cost if Kai can also enjoy his time, rather than just be sitting miserable in a small kennel somewhere.

For the work week, we are going to try some things to hopefully alleviate the barking:
1.  Kai will have to be kept in the house.  Doggy door will be locked.  That way, if he barks, it shouldn't be loud enough to annoy anyone
2.  Kai will get a peanut butter-filled Kong before the last person leaves the house.  The Kong will be a special treat that Kai only gets when he's going to be left alone.
3. (this one we've sort of been doing already, but we'll have to be more conscious of it) We won't make a big deal of leaving or returning home.  When we come home we'll ignore Kai for a few minutes, until he calms down.
4.  either the TV or classical music will be left on in the house when Kai's by himself
5.  We'll try to set up a doggie cam so that we can see how Kai does when he's alone
6.  We're going to have to start taking Kai to the gym with us, every time we go.  We probably won't be able to get as good of a workout in for a while, until Kai gets used to being there, but we can live with that.

I REALLY hope that this is just a phase that Kai's going through.  He really isn't an anxious or nervous dog at all, and he's not needy when we are at home.  The neighbor said it's been going on for about a month, and we've been leaving Kai out in the mornings longer than that... so I wonder if something happened about a month ago that scared him and triggered this behavior.  Maybe someone was getting their trees trimmed or something.  But anyway, I hope these steps will work out okay.  And if Kai seems to settle down, we can try leaving the dog door open for him again in a couple of months, and just ask our neighbor to let us know how he does.

The bad thing is that Molly is going to have to be locked OUT of the house in the mornings now.  I don't want her to feel trapped with Kai indoors.  In the afternoons, I've been crating Kai anyway, so that won't change, and then Molly can come in and out as she pleases.  I hope the week goes okay!

so sleepy and tired after All Day Play 

1 comment: