Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 28, 2013

What’s your dog like when you’re not there?

Posted at 01:54PM - Comments: (9)

I have a guest dog for a few weeks. I’ve known Leila for a few years – she’s about six or seven, and supposed to be a Papillion – but I’ve never hosted her when her family goes on vacation. This year, though, my availability jibed with their vacation plans, and so here she is, one of my pack for a couple weeks. So far, she’s pretty low-maintenance and easy: a tiny bit clingy (appropriate when ditched with people, dogs, and cats you don’t know) but overall well behaved. She follows the lead of my dogs, and frankly, she’s been so easy I haven’t really given her that much thought (though I have been trying to give her a bit of extra petting and attention).

Like much of the West Coast, we’re getting ready for a heat wave here. The other day I took the dogs to the river early for a short walk and some swimming. The early morning light was so pretty that I pulled out my camera phone and took some photos and video of the dogs wading and swimming, and I posted them on my personal Facebook page.

Later that day, there was a comment from Leila’s owner: “Leila went in the WATER?” I laughed. Again, I hadn’t given it much thought. It was hot, all the dogs waded – although, now that I think about it, Leila didn’t actually swim. But she waded deeply with my two dogs.

It made me start thinking about the things that our dogs are capable of that they don’t necessarily show us at home – good or bad. I was once horrified to see Otto help himself to a (human) cookie off a plate on a friend’s coffee table. His puzzled response (looking around to see who was in trouble!) to my shocked “Hey!” made it clear he had no clue that it wasn’t totally okay.

And while he’s supremely confident at our home, when I’ve left Otto with friends (like, when I’m staying at a friend’s house and I go out on an errand, leaving him behind for an hour or so), it’s been reported that he’s often worried and whiny, keeping a vigil by their front door until I return. This is very different than what he’s usually like.

And apparently, Leila is hydrophobic at home! But she’s a wader at my house – and after the heat wave, we’ll see: She just may turn into Mark Spitz.

Have you ever been surprised by a dog sitter’s report about your dog’s behavior?

Comments (9)

Till date I have never left my dog alone. I see to it that someone is always there to look after my dog.

Posted by: rogerharris | July 17, 2013 1:00 AM    Report this comment

I was wondering if my puppy Airedale mix had separation anxiety (or a will towards mass destruction) while I was out. So a cheap wireless webcam with a smartphone app. It works great and was very easy to install. The audio is kind of crappy though. I actually got a second one. I can see him sitting peacefully in the living room or out on the deck. Maybe some of his crazier insanities are just a show for my benefit.

Anyway, check out the D-Link DCS-930L for $40 at the moment on Amazon.
In the app, you can easily switch between cameras. I may get a 3rd.
You do need a wireless home network and a power outlet pretty close to the camera(s). There are higher quality webcams (for more $), but none I've tried were anywhere near as easy to get set up and most don't have a phone App. They have a "night vision" version I have not tried.

Posted by: Max Rockbin | July 3, 2013 11:55 AM    Report this comment

I have a 110lb airedale and a 30lb labradoodle both act crazy when company comes to the door or comes in. It takes all my patience and will power to make them mind and stay away and off the guest. I have a friends from out of town who stay several days so I go grocery shopping at times , my big airedale will go to the door where I exit the house and lay across the threshold until I return. I have also found them at the fence which overlooks my driveway waiting there until I return. My friends report once she and her buddy take up a watching area they do not move until I come home.

Posted by: Nordean P | July 2, 2013 3:06 PM    Report this comment

our dog would rush to bark at all newcomers, diligently demonstrating over and over what an excellent guard dog a little terrier mix could be! then a friend dropped by to pick something up while we were out, and told us about it afterwards. we apologized for our dog's behavior, knowing he must have been barked at very vigorously in our absence. he said, "what dog?"

Posted by: vicki w | July 2, 2013 2:21 PM    Report this comment

I had a rescue Golden, got her at age five. After getting a new job and returning to a regular work schedule, my husband I thought it best we crate her while we were gone during the day. She escaped numerous times from her heavy duty airline travel crate, setting off the home alarm system, thus summoning the POLICE! After receiving fines for false alarms a few times, we were pretty concerned. She actually tore the metal bars off the plastic door - we ended up putting in an added bar across the front and locked it. We put in a web cam and I watched her while I was at work, sleeping soundly all day. Then we had an idea - let's just let her loose in the house - so we did. Every day she slept "on the big bed", which is where we found her every time she escaped the crate! Never chewed up a thing, an absolute angel! Never crated her again. She lived to age 12,and never chewed a thing in the house.

Posted by: SUSAN W | July 2, 2013 1:30 PM    Report this comment

I'm not very surprised at the above comments. Here's why. I think of my dogs as similar to kids when the kids are about 7-9 yrs old.
By those ages they pretty much know what's expected of them and most of the time follow the rules of the house. Sometimes they slip up and so do our dog friends.
But I think all of us can relate to times when our kids acted like totally different people from what we have come to expect from them.
Dogs, in my opinion, do exactly the same.
I think that many dogs sort of know how to yank your chain almost as much as your kids do.
Now maybe I'm reading more into a dog's behavior that is reasonable. But having lived with them all of my live, even before I was old enough to walk and talk, I think they are far more intuitive than we are able to understand or expect. Consider this. Before they were household pets, their intuition kept them alive. Those that failed at that ability often didn't survive to procreate. If this is true then it is a learned behavior developed over many generations. They truly are astounding creatures and how lucky are we that they have chosen to communicate with us.

Posted by: Barbara W | July 2, 2013 12:27 PM    Report this comment

When we are at home, our Golden barks wildly when someone comes to the door. Once the door is open, she warmly greets the person. We found out, however, that when no one is home, she lies by the door and lazily stares at the person outside. We would feel a little safer if the reverse were true.

Herb Kaufman

Posted by: HERBERT K | July 2, 2013 11:13 AM    Report this comment

My two dogs when in public don't do well without the other one. So when they go to the groomers they have to be groomed in the same room across from each other, otherwise they will whine and act up. It's strange to think of them this way as when they are home it's no big deal whether the other one is in sight or not. It's ironic as we got the male last when the female was 2 years old and at the time the breeder was concerned as to whether or not she would accept the puppy. She does rule the roost however even though he is now 20 pounds heavier than her.

Posted by: KarelianMom | July 2, 2013 10:57 AM    Report this comment

Yes, this is very true. Let me share my story with you. I too have a dog, so whenever I am at home, he sits quietly and does everything that I say. But as soon as I move out from home, my dog creates a ruckus at home. So far he has chewed at least 3-4 pairs of my shoes and my drawing room cushions have been badly torn apart. Now I understand dogs are never the same when they are with you. I still have a tough time with my dog , but all set an done , I love my dog very much!

Posted by: rogerharris | July 2, 2013 6:19 AM    Report this comment

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