Most of the days I’d have to go out for something, whether that happens to be attending classes, or going to the studio to paint, or grocery shopping, or dinner gathers, or whatever. During those times, I’ll have to leave my dog at home. It’s quite tricky to leave a young puppy (maybe not puppy so much anymore, he just turned 1 year old on March 24, 2008) home alone. He always gets emotional whenever I leave him. He’ll get angry and then get upset. It’s really easy to tell his emotions. When he’s angry, he’ll bark at me non stop for a few seconds and then he’ll run around the dining room in circles. He’d run towards me and then stop right in front of me making a scratching sound on the wooden floor giving me a resentful stare and then he’d quickly run away again. Quite like the bitter child behaviour I would say. He gets upset when he realizes that there’s no turning back, which is when I shut the door in front of him and walk towards the elevator. He’d constantly whine behind the shut door with a high pitched voice (as if his normal barking is not high enough). From my roomate’s description: he’d whine from 10min to 30min.
So how do I detect what he does when I’m not around? At first I have no clue what he does unless he leaves traces on the ground. Which means he made mess for me to clean up. I live and learn so little by little I know how to prevent him from chewing on my slippers (this one I’m still struggling with), tearing up the tissues, digging out from the garbage pile, dragging out my laundry clothes, etc… There’s something called “bitter apple” that you can spray on the things that you don’t want the dog to bite on. It creates a scent and taste that the dog highly dislikes. The first time I tried it on Benben, he didn’t know how bad it’ll taste so he bravely took a bite. The result was hilarious: he ran in circles and constantly pushes his head into his bed. But for things like cable wires, you’ll just have to find ways to hide them. I truly learned the importance of hiding my wires after I came home to a broken macbook adaptor. I put mine under an empty basket for now and it’s been working quite lovely. I would also get him lots of chewing toys and treats to keep him busy while I’m gone such as kong (you can stuff treats inside), dried pig ears, and bones.
Obviously I can’t tell what he does for every second while I was gone, but I get a general idea from his greeting. I always get an overly excited Benben welcoming my return. It doesn’t matter whether I was gone for just a few seconds to the laundry room or garbage dump or a few hours to classes and the library. He’ll always jump up and down my leg when I come back with a jiggly tail. I was told by my pet trainer to not provide an equivalent amount of attention right back at him because that way I’ll normalize the fact that me leaving him during the day is not a big deal. If upon my leaving and return I always give him extra attention, it’ll show him that this departure is in fact a bad thing and thus he’ll act on it more and more. I do not want this kind of behaviour since I wouldn’t want him to bark forever after I leave and remain excited for hours after I come back. It’s both unhealthy for Benben and exhausting for me and people who live with me.
There are a few exceptions to the usual excited greetings, and those are the ones that I need to watch out for. Sometimes when I come home, he’ll still be excited but other than excitement, he’ll look as if he’s scared of me. He would lay on the ground for a bit and then stand up to beg (ie. waving his arms up and down). This indicates to me that he did something very bad behind my back. But the thing is, sometimes it’s not that obvious what he did. For example, if he pooped somewhere he’s not supposed to, it’s not that obvious that I can spot his leftover right away. Heh, at least I know he definitely has done something he’s not supposed to by his reaction of seeing me so that I’ll look for it around the house. Another exception is when I come home and he appears to be extra quiet. He’d still jiggle his tail but he won’t jump up and down. By looking closely, I also realize that his butt is awkwardly positioned such that his body forms an arc shape. In the beginning I have no idea what’s causing this, but later I realized that the reason is because he didn’t finish his business completely. This could be because he ate tissue paper last night so his poop is too dry so it got stuck, or it could be he ate something oilly and his poop is too wet so his butt hair got sticky. Either way, I’ll have to take him to the washroom and wash his butt for him.. >_> 我是苦命的妈妈啊。。