independence ain’t so bad

We’re encouraging Oso to become more independent and comfortable being alone. He is a real shadow, especially inside the house, following us to the desk, couch, kitchen (or as far as the gate allows), into the bathroom, everywhere. I’ve mentioned before that he has a really hard time when he’s left alone. We have to crate him if we leave him at the house, because if we don’t he would tear apart the house in his stress and we don’t really have a room we can clear out for him. Our house has an open layout and the only room we could close him in is our bedroom. Once we left him in there for about 10 minutes and came back to find him clawing at the door, and stacks of clothes pulled off of every shelf he could reach. We would love to be able to leave him loose in the house when we’re gone, but until he can chill out while he’s by himself, that can’t happen. So in an effort to foster some independence and give him some work to do on his own, we’ve started feeding him out of this cube filled with kibble which he has to tumble around the floor to knock the food out a bit at a time. This takes a good half hour or 45 minutes where he’s completely happy and consumed with this task, interrupted only when he knocks the cube under the living room chair and can’t get it out. It’s an awful racket across the wood floors but Oso enjoys it and it keeps him busy while we make our own dinner or do other things around the house. Before the cube we would feed him in his crate and keep him kenneled for an hour or two every night while we made dinner and ate. We’ll still do this once in a while to help him build familiarity with the crate.

Another way we get him to take space is by putting him in his “place” which is a toddler bed I shortened to be more his size, in the room next to the living room. He knows the command “go to your place” and will stay there for upwards of an hour with only a little encouragement (treats every once in a while as we walk past). We put him there when we want to get some housework done or sometimes when we’re just relaxing at night. There’s no reason he needs to sleep on top of my feet when he has his own great bed just a few feet away.