The second leaving

Today my partner walked Kasper whilst me and Zoey were in bed, then Kasper went into his crate and we took Rey out, leaving Zoey in the bedroom again.

We set up my laptop to record what she was up to, and we gave her a Buster Cube full of kibble, a stuffed Kong, an antler and a Nylabone.

It is important to note thatย Zoey had not been walked and had not had a Calmex before being left.ย We didn’t want to walk her as morning’s are her laziest and calmest times.

Zoey was left for thirty-five minutes.

For the firstย twenty-one minutes Zoey was busy with her Kong and Buster Cube – [insert wildly happy noises here] ๐Ÿ™‚

For the nextย eight minutes she wandered the room looking miserable (restless, ears back) and didn’t really do anything. She whined (probably an average of a whine a minute), but wasn’t overly stressed or panicked.

For the nextย three minutes Zoey curled up on the bed and slept [insert ย wildly happy noises again] ๐Ÿ˜‰

She then looks up (when we turned the volume way up we heard us entering the house here), but doesn’t get up off the bed or stand from her sleeping position. She simply stays curled on the bed and watches towards the door.

Three minutes later (after we’ve sorted out our dripping dog and clothes and put Rey in his crate) my partner went to release Zoey. Zoey was still curled on the bed, and when the door was open she left the room and came downstairs.

We paid her no attention other than a “hi darling”, and she acted completely normal…she came down and picked up the nearest toy to chew ๐Ÿ™‚

So. We’re thinking there’s a few adjustments we can do; observations first:

  1. Zoey is not overly anxious about being left; indeed when she has things to do she is not bothered at all
  2. Even when she had finished everything, there was still no frantic behaviours…she didn’t try destroy anything, chew her way out etc
  3. Upon our return she was happy to lay on the bed and listen to us (this could obviously change), but for now there was no whining, screaming, scratching at the door etc

Our adjustments:

–> Leave Zoey with more things that will keep her busy for longer.

We have one other puzzle feeder that Zoey has been left with and never attempted to destroy, so she canย have two puzzle feeders with kibble in. We will give her one normal Kong and will also give her a frozen Kong. Along with the chew toys we will give her balls so that she has something she could play with if wanted.

–> When we go up and give Zoey all her things, we will give her a bowl with a blob of wet food in it, that we can hide her Calmex in.

Zoey will eat that first, and everything else should easily keep her busy for half an hour, which is the amount of time the Calmex should take to work.

The only thing I’m worried about here is that the two times we have given her Calmex, Zoey has seemed to feel ‘odd’ afterwards. She sits with wide eyes, ears back, and stares at nothing, then after about fifteen minutes she snaps back to normal and sleeps or chews.

I’m slightly concerned that she could associate the ‘feeling odd’ with either the bedroom or being left – thoughts?

–> Alongside leaving her in the bedroom in the morning (when we actually leave the house) we’ll also start leaving her in the living room with things to do whilst we go chill in the bedroom.

Again this is getting her used to being on her own, but it also gives me and my partner time to talk, be together and de-stress.

There you go, that’s our plan of action!

At the moment we have been giving Zoey her Calmex an hour before we put her in the kitchen (Calmex says it takes 30-60 minutes to take effect).

We have been putting Zoey in the kitchen so we can have Kasper and Rey in the living room, and do training / play with them. The kitchen is another place we’re trying to get Zoey comfortable alone.

But I’m thinking we start giving Zoey her med in the morning, now we’ve started leaving her then, and hope it will have affect throughout the day for the other stuff we do with her.

I’m sorry my blogs have been so long, but it helps to lay out what we’re doing, our progress, our failing etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

Afraid I only haveย big dog pics to share again (couldn’t get photos of Rey as it was tipping it down on his walk)


Zoey is skinny atm. We switched them to a different kibble a month back, so I guess I need to adjust the amount she gets. Alongside it being winter, her being stressed AND the fact she gets big off lead walks now she needs fattening up ๐Ÿ˜›


She rocks puzzle feeders…the Buster Cube is especially hilarious as she can toss it across the room in one swipe ๐Ÿ™‚


The white puzzle feeder looks really cool but is stupidly easy…all three of our pups can empty it in under a minute, and it also falls apart with little effort


Here is Kasper being a big baby โค


How is that comfy Boo?!


I’ve been teaching the blockdog new tricks, seeing as we have so much time alone together. She now knows to knock an empty bottle over on cue, to roll her toys when asked (balls of various sizes, empty Buster Cube etc), and…



This has taken me months and months to train. Zoey has never understood the appeal of tug; why yank a toy about with a human when you can take it off on your own and rag it?!

What’s really weird is that she’s always wanted to play tug of war with people’s sleeves (which I *hate*!) but gets frustrated when you try play tug of war with her using a toy.

We got there in the end though, she loves it now and will tug for a minute until I mark her (at which point she drops for a treat), say “drop it” (at which point she will drop for a treat!) or let her win, where she runs around the room shaking the tug like mad ๐Ÿ˜€



21 thoughts on “The second leaving

  1. I wouldn’t say Zoey necessarily needs to gain much weight – she looks absolutely fantastic! I’m glad things are looking up for you and she’s doing well being left. I’m not sure on the ‘odd feeling’, I suppose it’s possible and something to look out for in case it becomes a problem. Does this happen every time or can you distract her from the feeling with toys? I’d guess distracting her will help to avoid the association

    • Thanks ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m so used to people telling me she’s skinny, we even get strangers on walks saying we are starving her *rolls eyes*

      We had her at the perfect weight a few months back (16kg for her, ribs visible but not prominent) but at the moment the ribs are back to sticking out a mile when she’s sniffing (or playing tug ๐Ÿ˜› ) and her spine’s showing again.

      She’s always been skinny, she was bordering on low ideal / slightly underweight up until about 2.5 years old, and I think the fact she’s so shorthaired means people always see her as being skinnier than she is. But she’s a little ribbier than I’d like at the moment – what do you think of the tug of war photo from this post? That was taken yesterday…she looks so much worse when she’s doing certain things, I see her and am like ‘OMB WHERE HAS YOUR WEIGHT GONE?!’ ๐Ÿ˜€

      This is how she used to be:

      And this is where I’d like her to stay:

      I’m not sure about the Calmex side effects, this will only be the third time she’s had it today. When she had it yesterday she ate it in a blob of wet food, then emptied a meal out of her Buster Cube. So about twenty minutes had passed and then the Calmex seemed to hit her and she just sat next to me acting weird…after about fifteen minutes she curled up and slept, then was fine.

      When she has her Calmex today I’ll refill her Buster Cube or give her a Kong if she starts looking odd…I’m hoping if it is a side effect of Calmex it will wear off as she gets used to it.

      • Bless you, she’s definitely not starved! Whilst she’s bigger than Laufey I’d say they’re probably comparable body condition wise, you just can’t see a lot of his for the fluff, the short hair is definitely making it way more noticeable and the fact that people are so used to seeing such big staffies doesn’t help. I definitely agree that she’s underweight in the first picture and looks very good in the second. I think the tug picture was taken at just the right moment to make her very ribby so on its own I wouldn’t say it’s a cause for concern, she could probably gain a little if you’re particularly worried but I wouldn’t be concerned leaving her as she is either.

        I really hope the calmex works for her and in turns helps you feel better. Do you talk to a behaviourist at all? If you want to talk to professionals / people with similar experiences, Victoria Stilwell’s ‘Positively’ forum is brilliant platform to ask for advice, or even just to lurk around and read the stuff already posted. (I’m not affiliated with the site at all, just been using it since I got Laufey and think it’s a wonderful resource)

      • When she was at her skinniest (and she was healthy & vet checked, she just didn’t eat enough!) we got dirty looks and snide comments about her weight ALL THE TIME. One woman (who was walking an obese Staffy) gave us a proper lecture saying we were starving her, she was emaciated and we should ‘give her to someone who knew what they were doing’…bleh! Raiden’s a skinny puppy too, but obviously he looks totally different because of the wiry fur.

        The thing you said about the tug photo is exactly right. Whenever I take photos now where she’s sniffing or whatever, and she looks particularly skinny, I either don’t share them or make a point of saying ‘yes she looks skinny here’ because we get people saying we don’t feed her a lot…

        I think Staffy’s are another breed (like Labs) where you don’t often see fit ones about…I know the Staffies we see regularly where we live are quite chunky, not FAT but heavy-ish. Certainly no ribs. So when people talk to us about Zoey we get comments about her weight, that she’s skinny etc.

        I hope the Calmex works too…she’s fine when she’s busy, but as soon as the feeders are empty we have a period of anxiety, and then she seems to settle until we get back…we just need to manage the mid-period.

        We don’t have a behaviourist (the only local one talks about ‘dominance issues’) so it’d be nice to hear other suggestions. I haven’t looked at that forum in much detail, I’ve stumbled across and read a few threads over the years but that’s it. I’ll check it out, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

      • People are so rude. People don’t dare to comment on fat dogs (and there’s rather a lot of morbidly obese around here) and for all they know you could have just rescued her from an awful situation or she was really ill and recovering or any number of other explanations ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Raiden is just adorable and the fur definitely hides a lot to the point that people can be oblivious. What really gets me is when people have multiple dogs, ones a bit skinny so people comment when the others are a perfectly healthy weight, do they think you just don’t feed one of them but do feed the rest?

        Hmmmm the middle bit does sound like an issue but I’m really not sure on the best thing to do :/ Those kind of behaviourists are definitely a problem, the forum is very friendly and give some great advice. You can’t really replace in person consults but they’re about the best I’ve found in getting close ๐Ÿ˜€

      • That’s just it, I’d never go out of my way to comment on somebody else’s dog’s weight…I’d never comment on it full stop! There could be a million reasons why the dog is fat / thin, and even if they just out right feed it too many treats, it’s none of my business. The only time I’d ever consider saying anything to a dog’s owner was if I saw them abusing their dog, or if their dog had run up to mine off lead when I asked them to get it on lead, attacked my dog etc.

        I really don’t get why fat dogs are ‘cute’ but any dog that’s at a low ideal weight or, god forbid, slightly underweight is ‘abused’. I was talking to my parents a few months back and sent them photos of some fit Labradors, and they didn’t believe they were Labs because you hardly ever see one at an ideal weight haha!

        Thanks, Raiden is pretty damn cute ๐Ÿ˜€ I can’t believe how tiny he is, I guess because before him I considered Zoey as my ‘small dog’…Rey’s virtually fully grown (just needs to fill out!) and he’s still such a tiny baby, I love it XD

        We had a really successful leaving of Zoey today. We left for 40 minutes, gave her more things to do, and filmed her again. In total there was less than a minute of her acting uncomfortable the entire time we were gone, then we were home and she was a little antsy to come see us – THAT WAS IT!!

        Major improvement on yesterday and I finally feel like we are getting somewhere and we might be able to conquer this. I’m trying to download the video so I can upload it to YouTube and post it here but it’s being a pain…

      • I’ve never said it to an owner about their dog, although have commented on it to who I was with. The exception being a family friend who asked if I thought the dog was fat (yes he is) but I don’t think she really wanted to hear it :\ Raiden is really bloody cute, I don’t have plans to ever add a border terrier to my lot but I do think they’re great little dogs with so much character. One’s just joined our agility class and she is absolutely tiny but a really good dog and so good at agility.
        I’m glad it went well with Zoey! It might take you a really long time but I’m sure it won’t be for lack of trying. I do really hope you manage to make it work for you because you obviously adore her and want to make it work, but it sounds really promising!
        I would love to see the video, I hope you manage to get the damn thing to work but these things ever seem to work properly when you need them to

      • Haha oh yeah, when we pass a morbidly obese dog me and my partner always comment; sometimes even when we pass any dog we ask each other what we thought of it’s weight. It’s a topic that interests me a lot, partly because we get a lot of comments about Zoey but also because Kasper started off too skinny, then he was a good weight, then he was too chubby for my liking and now he’s perfect…I love scrutinising a dogs’ weight, be it my own or somebody elses. People have such different opinions on it ๐Ÿ˜€

        I used to really dislike Border Terriers as a breed…my friend had one in my teens and they never trained it…like, at all. The dog was seriously aggressive (to dogs, cyclists, people of all ages etc), and it pee’d whenever it greeted anyone in the house…not necessarily the dog’s fault but the owners did nothing to help this, and they laughed when my clothes got splashed with wee…just no. The dog once got pee in my mouth, which was flat out disgusting, and again they laughed it off.

        Thank you, it’s so nice to see something we are doing with Zoey finally seems to be helping…up until this point everything has had no effect or made it worse, and I just needed to see a little progress. I’m also just really happy to be able to leave the house and get to walk Rey…even if it’s only for half an hour ๐Ÿ˜€

        Thanks, my partner’s trying to sort the video…MovieMaker decided for some reason when I edited the video the file becomes corrupted…I JUST WANT TO ADD CAPTIONS!! He’s now changing something about it but it’s taking forever…yay for having a tech-happy boyfriend ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Oh yeah, it’s one of my favourite pass times to comment on people’s dogs; whether it be their weight or what tools they’re using or even just the fact that they’re oblivious to their dog and has their nose buried in their phone ๐Ÿ˜‰
        EWwwwwww that is disgusting! That is definitely not something to just laugh off and I think I would have had to say something because that would be traumatising.
        Visible progress is good motivation so it’s good that you’re seeing it, and being able to leave the house is definitely good for you; and even more so when you’re used to regularly going out just to be outside. Wooooo video!!

      • Hahaha we do that all the time too!!

        I was a huge dog lover as a kid and was willing to accept almost anything from dogs (when I was 10 and my friends’ family got a puppy, his parents asked me to clean up accidents because I was so willing…that’s really gross thinking back, why were all my friends’ families weird?! XD ), but even I didn’t enjoy being pee’d on. I got used to it, and even with all the dog’s issues I still walked and cuddled with him, but bleh!

        The experience with my friend’s Border Terrier really did scar the way I viewed the breed for ten years. I actively hated the breed and was repulsed every time I saw one, which sounds terrible haha…then a Border Terrier attacked Zoey a few years back and I had more reason to judge them.

        It wasn’t until we were looking for a third dog that I realised a Border Terrier would suit us perfectly, and that by counting them out because of their breed I was doing the same as the people who judge Zoey on her breed. I honestly hadn’t thought about it like that and felt really bad!! I read up loads on the breed, talked to other owners, breeders and people who ran Border Terrier clubs…and now we have Rey, I love him to pieces and he is perfect for us ๐Ÿ™‚

        The video is 13 minutes done, just another 30 to go *sigh*…then hopefully it should work on MovieMaker, I can add captions and upload it to YouTube ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Bless you, I can definitely see why you judged the breed though, I think I would have a dislike of them too with your experiences. You’ve clearly overcome it though which is the main thing so don’t feel bad!
        oooooo excited! At this rate, it’ll be after I’ve eaten that I watch it!

      • Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahaha I’ve been putting off making food until the video’s done; I think it’s been over an hour now and I’m starving XD

      • Ahahahaha I shouldn’t laugh but oh bless you! Sounds like a nightmare! ps, I’ve eaten ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Haha I just want to revel in our progress and the world hates it XD

        Bwahaha hope you’ve enjoyed your food, mine’s almost ready ๐Ÿ˜€

      • I’m the same!! Always (jokingly) yell at my partner when he’s cooked a meal that he’s cooked it too hot XD

        Tried a further two things with the video, and it still didn’t work…eventually left it uncropped (meaning it’s 40+ minutes long UGH!) but managed to add captions, so sod it…uploading now and will post it asap.

      • Ahahah I do it to my mum too!
        Ooo bless you! I think you can shorten it on YouTube maybe? I could be wrong though. I’ll watch it tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. A dog that doesn’t like tug-of-war? Who knew? Choppy’s biggest complaint about the game is that many of her dog friends are too weak for her. She needs the challenge of a person, who can mix up the tugging and attempt to trick her (in addition to doing all but lift her up off of the ground with the toy).

    • I know, I thought the same thing! She never had any interest in playing with toys and people at the same time…she LOVED tugging on sleeves, but if you tried tug on a toy with her she dropped it immediately XD

      Even when I got her to understand I wanted her to pull on the toy, she only did it because I wanted her to and she knew she would eventually earn a treat…took her a long time to actually have fun whilst tugging!

      Kasper (BC x ESS) is like Choppy, he loves a real tough game of tug…I can lift him off the floor whilst tugging and he loves it, and slapping his sides, grabbing his paws etc make him very excited ๐Ÿ˜€

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