Chaiary, day 19 – April 25, 2023

The new home is feeling homey already!


  • “Brush”: after my “Brush” announcement, Chai got brushed. Her puppy fur is starting to come out!

Exploring the area

Here’s a brief clip from our morning walk in the new – loud! – neighborhood:

We also mastered weird metal stairs after first having mixed feelings about them! Go Chai!

Chai’s first two Uber rides

Chai and I took an Uber to Scarlett’s – my dogsitter-turned-friend’s – house. We were going to meet Nazli (one of Scarlett’s regulars) and Chai was going to get used to her new friend Scarlett who I was planning to board her with for a few days. I don’t like dropping dogs off at a new place or with a new person for the first time when I am going to leave them there – it is important to me that they get to know the space and their caretaker first so it feels a bit like going back to a familiar place when I do drop them off. And just as important: I want any potential dog sitter to get to know my dog before committing! Chai did great during the Uber rides even though they took quite a bit!

Meeting Scarlett and Nazli

Meeting Scarlett and Nazli went well. Apart from peeing on Scarlett’s living room floor, Chai had fun with all the toys she found scattered around the apartment and was curious about engaging with Nazli (who wasn’t quite sure yet what to make of Chai, but has made SO much progress since the last time I saw her! Scarlett, you’ve been doing a fantastic job with your part-time dog!)

In the thumbnail below, Chai is older than in the video that goes with it – that’s because it has taken me months to edit and upload old stuff so there’s a bit of a temporal discrepancy.

Chai found a fun toy at Scarlett’s house and made fast friends with Scarlett and Nazli (right).

Staying home alone

From the first or second day I move to or visit a new place, I make sure every dog living with me gets to stay home alone – without me and without any other dogs or people – for at least a few minutes. (That is given the dog doesn’t have separation anxiety.) By means of establishing that being alone in a new place is a perfectly normal thing and everyone always comes back, I guard against the development of separation anxiety.

Does this work with every dog? Of course not. Nothing works for every dog. Some dogs are genetically predisposed to develop separation anxiety (for example the Weimaraner breed and the offspring of parents of any breed or mix who suffer from separation anxiety).

However, if your dog is not or only mildly predisposed, the few-minutes-right-away approach is a great way of guarding against it!

Even dogs without a predisposition can easily develop separation anxiety if after months and months of never spending a minute alone, they are suddenly left behind for a long period of time. Rumor has it (I have not seen any actual numbers or studies on this) that “pandemic puppies” suffer from separation anxiety more than pre-pandemic dogs because suddenly, all the owners were working from home. I don’t know if that’s true, but I sure know that it is REALLY hard to live with a dog who can’t stay home alone – and as someone who loves to travel, I want to set my dogs up for success if I can. (I may still fail – not with Chai, she is doing great – but with a future dog. Genetics is a bitch, and while I’m furthering Chai’s relaxation when home alone, I also got lucky: I don’t know her parents, but she does not seem to be predisposed to separation anxiety.) It is also a work in progress that NEVER stops. Game gets a few minutes by herself in every new place we move or visit. Every single time, right away – and that’s even though she’s almost 6 years old. It’s a behavior you need to actively maintain (at least if you have my kind of lifestyle and my kind of breed-related (very close) relationship to your dogs).

How do you get the stay-home-alone training in? Easy enough if you live by yourself! Just take your other dog(s) for a walk around the block and leave one at a time behind. It doesn’t have to be long once your dog understands the principle: if you leave them in a particular space, you’ll always come back for them.

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