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Leerburg Dog Training Q&A Archive Questions & Answers on Separation Anxiety

Questions & Answers on Separation Anxiety

Separation Anxiety Q&A

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Separation Anxiety

  1. What do you do with a dog with severe separation anxiety?

  2. My Lab/GSD is very dependent and has cost me a lot of money. Should I try medication?

  3. My 6 year old Chow can chew his way out of anything. He won't let me out of his sight when I am home. What can I do?

  4. My 6 year old foster Golden will rip the siding off my house if she is out longer than she wants to be. How can I fix this dog?

  5. Your advise worked. Thanks

  6. What should I do about a dog that hurts himself while in the crate?

  7. My dog follows me around the house and goes crazy when she hears my voice while she is in the crate. I want to fix this problem, but am not sure how seeing as she is a sensitive dog. Any advise?

  8. I have a very hard pup, but she freaks out whenever I leave, even if it is just for 5 minutes. How can I fix this or will she grow out of it?

  9. My 5 year old Lab X has recently started chewing holes in the walls when we are gone. What can I do?

  10. My dog has a serious whining problem when it comes to being fed and any time he gets a glimpse of me through our sliding glass door. Is this separation anxiety and is there a way for me to end it?

  11. I am moving away with my dog and I'm afraid he will have a hard time leaving my sister's dog. Do you have any advice how to proceed with the separation?

  12. We've tried everything to help our dog with separation anxiety, but nothing helps. Do you have any suggestions?

  13. I took in two sibling pups who were very timid and afraid. They are both doing better, one more so than the other. At this point I'm wondering if separating them would be best or keeping them together.

  14. My dog drools a lot when crated. She hasn't always been this way but it has been getting worse. Do you think this is anxiety? What should I do?

  15. We recently took in a stray female dog. Every time we leave the house we have to put her inside because she will climb our 4 and 1/2 foot to 5 foot privacy fence. My dad says that she can't live in the house and she is a big dog about 4 years old maybe. PLEASE help!

  16. I am considering an aluminum crate for my adopted dog of 4 weeks. He has SEVERE separation anxiety, and has begun chewing the wires off of his crate, to the point of near escape. Can you tell me whether your customers are having success with aluminum crates?

  17. My dog, who is almost completely blind, breaks into everything. He can open doors and hurts himself when I try to lock things. Have you have any experiences with instances such as above where this has worked?

  18. Due to my obligations with the Air National Guard, this January I will be leaving for school for 6 weeks and I am unable to take my dog with me. I've been trying to get her used to where she will be staying while I'm out of town, and so far she has not stayed quiet at all through the night while she is at her temporary home. What is the best method for fixing this problem?

  19. My dog is a crate eating, fence jumping, kennel hanging nut job. In your experience, is this behavior likely to extinguish and stay gone?

  20. My dog has separation anxiety and only shows this behavior when I am the person leaving her. Please tell me what I have done wrong, and what I have to do to fix it.

  21. My dog has always had separation anxiety issues but on video camera he seems to get over it after about 20 mins...With crate training, is this a scenario where we lock him in there cold turkey until he stops?

  22. I am looking at getting one of your aluminum crate. I am wondering about the strength of your crates? Can a dog break out of it if left alone all day? How difficult is it to bend the side bars? How quickly can they ship out?

  23. I have a 3 year old dog who we adopted from a friend because he was fighting with his sister so much. We have been having some issues with him. Please help.

  24. Our dog whines A LOT. I've seen the success described on the website regarding bark collars. Is there anything similar for whining?

  25. My dog is chewing up the walls in my house, what can I do?

  26. My dog has hip dysplasia and he gets very upset when I drop him off for his physical therapy at the university. He settles down as soon as I’m out of sight.  Is this separation anxiety and what should I do?

  27. We have a yellow lab that is 4 years old and she recently began chewing up our house when we are gone, what can we do about this?  We’ve had Rotties before so Lab behavior is new to us.

  28. Our 6 month old lab goes into stress mode when we leave her, what should we do?

  29. We adopted a dog 3 months ago and he goes nuts when we leave the house, the reaction is almost immediate.  What should we do?

  30. My 11 year old dog has a defecation and urination problem. He will sometimes go when we leave the house, room, or leave him in the car. What should we do?

  31. My young dog has an uncontrollable urge to escape my yard, is this because he isn’t neutered?

  32. I have an 11 month, almost one year, old german shepherd. The problem I have been having with him is I think he may have a bit of a separation anxiety issue. Now when we go to leave to kennel him we come back to the poor guy's legs and belly being soaked and have to clean him and his kennel up. We have tried everything. Any suggestion on what to do?

  33. My new rescue is frightened of the crate (possibly used for discipline) for reasons we can only speculate. Is restricting him on a leash when we go out a option? Any ideas?

  34. My usually well behaved dog recently began chewing items from low tables and shelves. Should we go back to the basics and retrain? What do you suggest?

  35. My husband and I have a pup, who shows real signs of separation anxiety and appears to be a clingy puppy. Every single day she urinates and defecates in her crate, without fail. Is there anything I can do differently? Is her bladder / bowels just not developed enough yet? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  36. My dog has some separation issues. Can you recommend some training video that could help?

  37. My dog has become destructive when we leave. Would a muzzle help and is it ok to leave it on him during the day?

dog looking through screen


Question:

Hi Ed,

I am a professional dog trainer of over 20 years here in Morrison, Colorado. I specialize in behavior issues, mostly aggression rehabilitation and training owners. I have read every page and every article regarding dog aggression on your site and I am so happy to read that you are also a 'reality' trainer. No fluff, no clickers, no treats, etc., just real training/behavior modification. I also send many of my clients to your site, since I just haven't taken the time that you have to put so much information in writing.

The reason for my email is that I haven't seen any information on severe separation anxiety.... or maybe I'm just not looking in the right place. Do you have any emails/articles/information on that subject? I am curious what you do to deal with a dog that has extreme separation anxiety. I know what I do and have done for the last 20 years and it has always worked, until this one particular dog. I would be more than happy to give you all of the details, the dog's history, etc., if you wish, but I would be so very appreciative if you could let me know if you have some information on serious separation anxiety.

Thank you so much in advance for your time and effort.

Suzi~

Answer:

Separation anxiety can be a pain. The fact is the dog has ghosts in its head and needs to learn to control it. In the end it must be trained to a level that it respects the owner's commands more than it fears the ghosts.

We recommend people condition the dog to the crate – and crate the dog 30 minutes before leaving and not let it out until 30 minutes after they return home. If the dog becomes a butt head in the crate we would use low level stimulation from a remote collar.

I do need to mention that while I completely agree with corrections in training (and you can read the article I wrote titled THE THEORY OF CORRECTIONS IN DOG TRAINING) I also agree with using markers and food rewards. It is a huge mistake to not use both in your training. I would recommend that you consider getting my basic dog obedience DVD and then incorporate these methods in your training. The bottom line is it will help your business.

The fact is there is only 4 ways to motivate a dog:

1- food
2- a prey item (toy)
3- handler reward (less than 2% of dogs will respond to this in a long term training program)
4- force

To say you don’t use food or prey puts you at a severe disadvantage and means you need to expand your range of training experience. If you want an eye opener – get the DVD I did titled BUILDING DRIVE AND FOCUS.


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Question about Nervous Dog:

I read your pages about dealing with an aggressive dog and what to ask you about my situation.

I have a three year old Lab/German Shepherd mix dog. She is a very loving dog to my roommate and me. She does a have very bad dependency problem which has cost me a lot of money. Most of the time when I leave her, she tries to break out of the house. She will chew on the fence, chew on the front door or anything else that could possible get her out. I have tried giving her a lot of exercise and have found it to be only a temporary fix. I can not leave her in my car or else she will chew on the seat belts of the car. I have had to replace virtually all of my seat belt once. I could live with this if it was the only problem. She also is nervous around new people. She has tried to nip at a few people lately. It seems like when ever a child or young adult gets to close (grabs her or wants to be close), she doesn't respond very well. This concerns me because I do want a child some day and I am afraid of what could happen.

I have tried to see how she is around young children. She is all right at first but she does get more and more nervous as time goes on. Lets put it this way... I'm glad I had her on a leash! I saw that she was starting to show her teeth so I took her out of the situation by taking her away from the people. It was weird. At first she was very happy and licking their faces and then it turned to aggression.

From reading a lot about this, it seems like most people try medication. Is this a real solution or does it just decrease the chances? I love this dog but don't want to forever live in fear of "what might happen."
Regards,
Ryan

Answer:

Here are the steps I would take:

1. Many times dog like this lack a strong pack leader that they trust and feel comfortable with. They need to know the pack leader will protect them and take care of business in threatening situations. I did a DVD on this - ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCUTRE WITH THE FAMILY PET

2-This can only be accomplished through a strict obedience program. You can read about the steps of obedience on my web site in the description of my Basic Dog Obedience vide.

3- I would not try medication

4-. I would have the dog wear a comfortable muzzle all the time I was not with it. We sell a couple of kinds.

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Question about Separation Anxiety:

Hi. We have a 6 year old Chow named Otis. He's been a very sweet loving affectionate dog with no problems all his life until recently. We moved into a new house about 6 months ago. The first thing we did was get an invisible pet fence and collar for him. That works great. When we're not home we leave him in the basement. It's never been a problem before, but about a month ago he started chewing up the basement door and frame. So we looped the wire for the invisible fence around the door. Then he chewed up the stairs. We tried muzzling him, but he could get it off. I finally broke down and got a crate because I knew this was the only answer. Well, he freaks out about the crate! He chews up the metal door to the point that he broke off a tooth. I've tried giving him bones while he's in it, but he's never been interested in any kind of chew toys, bones, or treats. He seems to have horrible separation anxiety and won't let me out of his sight when I'm home. I'm at my wits' end!!

Please help.
Cathy

Answer:


Once a dog like this has learned that escape is a viable option to being where he is you have a problem. I wish there were a simple solution - there is not. You could put a normal chain link kennel inside of the invisible-fenced area in your yard. Serious obedience training is also something that can work. By this I mean you really work to train the dog in obedience - it teaches the dog that there is a right and wrong in life. Some dogs make a connection to the escape mode and others do not.
If you would like to learn more about the principles of obedience training a dog, read the description for my Basic Dog Obedience video. You will probably find that you have not had the full picture on the steps of training a dog must go through before it can be considered fully trained. You can also read why I am not a fan of taking an untrained dog to obedience classes.

Drugs are also an option but what kind of life is that?

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Question about Separation Anxiety:

I'm pretty much at my wits end. I'm what I would consider an experienced dog person; my age, my life, etc.

I have a foster Golden; 6 yr old, SF...she came to me with some serious issues. She is storm phobic, has "separation anxiety," etc. etc. A behaviorist nightmare. If left outside longer than she wishes, she will rip the siding off our house. The timing can be five minutes, or fifty...the trick is figuring out how long is too long...letting her in BEFORE the behavior starts.

She has a crate issue...she CAN jump a crate clear across a room; has broken teeth from fighting a crate. So crating isn't a first choice, but I can do it. While very well housebroken, she will have moments of panic, which is when she apparently shreds our blinds. Came home today to find the mini blinds shredded, where she apparently jumped on a chair to do. Two weeks ago, it was the blinds in our bedroom.

She escaped from our house one day, thru a window I had left cracked open...was missing for five days. All these incidences are rain related...NOT T-storm related!!
I have a DAP, which usually seems to work fairly well. The dog is also on antripylene and melatonian. We do NILIF; her OB skills are good. I will not use a pinch collar on her, as she was tied up with one in the basement of her previous home.

This dog was somewhat dog aggressive when she first came to me, but that has really resolved...perhaps the NILIF, more confidence?

The barking, tearing at the siding is better...we've blocked most of the outside of the house from her...and tried to reward good behavior, and I usually(granted, not always) make her sit and stay before I allow her back in the house.

She can and will jump our yard fences; she can open our gates(they are all wired shut now). I do have kennel runs I could lock her in when I am at work, but with her panic attacks, I am afraid of what she might do...I really don't want to come home and find she killed herself. However; rain is forecasted for several days and I can't afford to replace all our blinds!!!

Any suggestions would be appreciated ...I didn't create this mess of a dog!!! But now I have to figure out how to fix her ...I can accept I may never be able to place her, but I have to figure out how to live with her!!

Thanks!

Answer:

You are welcome to post to my web board. It has 9800 registered members and the board is very active.
I won't answer this because of your comment that you will not use prong collars – to me it indicates a people problem as much as a dog problem. Dogs like this need a prong collar, an electric collar and sound obedience.

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Comment:

Ed,

I know you hear this everyday, but I want to say THANK YOU for your advice on dealing with separation anxiety with my 1yo female JRT/Westie mix rescue.  She had severe separation anxiety (ripped up the carpet and destroyed the mini blinds inside of 2 hours).  At that time I began crating her but she was howling like a banshee anytime I left the room even for a second.

Your advice to me was to leave her in the crate 24/7 (short of taking her out of the crate on a lead for walks and interaction outside) until she learned to ignore the ghosts in her head and stop being stupid.  I have to admit, I thought this was pretty severe.  After all, I'd been taking her to work with me and spending hundreds of dollars on toys and snacks.. anything to make her happy because of her traumatic past.  She had me wrapped around her finger.  Despite my own weakness, I headed your advice and created some of my own self discipline following your instructions to the T. 

It took roughly 2 weeks for my dog to COMPLETELY turn her behavior around.  After two weeks of consistently leaving her in the crate in our great room when I was home and when I was away, she stopped whining all together.  She stopped ripping up her bedding and pulling her crate cover through the cage.  She could care less whether or not I was in the room or out of the room, made no difference to her, and miracle of all miracles, she stopped being a spaz in the crate/out of the crate when I came home after my being gone for extended periods of time.  Now, about 1.5 months after taking your advice and following through, this formerly neurotic hyper-subservient nutcase dog crates on command.  She even chooses her crate to hide special treats and guards the entrance of her crate from the other dog and cats that happen to be in the vicinity.  No longer does she always roll over on her back when we approach her.  Now she stands on all fours.  She knows she's not the boss, but she also knows she doesn't have to be weak to earn our love and attention.

All this to say, although some people may not agree with your non-coddling approach to the guardianship of canines, you could not have been more right on with my dog.  Thank you for helping me to help her regain her self confidence through my confidence in training her.

Cesar Milan has nothing on you Mr. Frawley.  You're our dog whisperer!  (attached please find a photo of my dogs Ginger (the one you helped sort out) and Foxy (chi/italian greyhound mix).

p.s., you can feel free to publish this letter on your website if you so desire.

With gratitude,

Heather

Ed's Comment:

I am glad this worked.

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QUESTION on Separation Anxiety:

Hey Ed,

I was looking at your separation anxiety page, and, forgive me if I missed it, but I don't think I found an answer to this particular question.

What do you do with a dog that, when kenneled or left alone, is so panicked that he injures himself? I fostered a rescue dog at one point that would bloody himself trying to get out of a crate, and when left loose in a room alone for no more than 30 minutes, he went straight through an interior door and put gouges in the solid exterior door trying to get out. Your response to the first e-mail on the page sounds like you are saying to use a remote collar if the dog is being a "butt head" in the crate. Does this question fall into that category? Have you seen dogs like this before?

Thanks,
Carmelite

ANSWER:

I would do one of two things:

1- I would use one of the expensive aluminum dog crates that we sell. No dog can ever get out of these crates. I would keep this dog in the crate ALL THE TIME - his only time out of the crate would be to go outside.

2- I would use a NO-BARK Collar in the crate. This will stop it. It may take a while but it works.

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Question:

Hi,

I purchased a 4 year old Sch.3 female GSD from a very reputable kennel last March. The dog is wonderful, very obedient, works well for me on the SchH field and really is about the sweetest dog. The problem I have is that she is very clingy and follows me from room to room when in the house. She will obey my husband and plays well when I'm not home. When she is in her crate she screeches if she hears my voice in the house. When letting her out of her crate she gets very vocal (screeches) and runs all around me. She has gotten worse the longer we've had her. When she's outside she will go from window to window looking for me as well.

I would like to correct this behavior and with her being sensitive would like to make sure I do it in the most effective, correct way.

Can you please explain what I should do do correct this?

Thank you.
Traci

Answer:

I own a dog very much like this. You need to make sure you are not accidentally reinforcing this behavior with emotional greetings and being excited yourself. This keeps the dog from being able to be calm and non emotional.

I ended up using a bark collar on my dog in a crate to teach her to be quiet, I have found that vocalizing seems to build the stressed behavior that goes along with separation anxiety. If she can learn to be quiet, being calm will follow naturally.

You can find information on No Bark Collars on my web site. I use them in my kennel every day. We put them on at night and take them off in the morning. I could not run my kennel without them There are a number of poor quality no bark collars on the market – most are not worth the shipping charges to get them mailed to you. I like the Tri Tronics collars.

I would start demanding obedience when coming out of the crate, and for the present time you might want to only take her out to go to the bathroom and back in. I would never let her out of the crate when she was being vocal or excited. I couldn't leave my dog with SA (Separation anxiety) outside by herself, because she would become frantic and it would undermine the behavior modification I was trying to do. It's never completely gone but it's much better. I think it may be something you are always managing to some extent. I think if you search our site you may find other info on SA.

I have found that the sensitive dogs are the most likely to have this problem, but you have to be firm about it or it can escalate into a real neuroses.

Hope this helps.


Question:

Hi,

I can't tell you what it means to me to have the invaluable free information on your website.  Some dog owners just don't have the funds for purchasing training tapes and videos and what is out there on the market is usually garbage anyway.  Thank God there is someone who knows dogs that we can all turn to.  I know you must have saved thousands of dogs just by having it there.  We humans just have no natural instincts for raising pack animals.  We need to be taught.

I have a 14 week old bijon/pekinese.  My boyfriend and I had no clue and zero knowledge of dogs when he decided to buy one from a pet store.  Now I know that was a bad idea (the pet store).  Can't tell anything about the pup that way, but she did not seem too timid nor too rambunctious so we bought her.  The first dog for both of us.  We wanted a small animal to keep in the house as I work at home.  She was 9 weeks when we bought her and couldn't hold her urine all night, so I put her crate in the bedroom with me.  She still whined in the crate but settled down when I hung my toe off the bed and stuck it in her crate.

The first real problems came when I tried to leave the house the first week for an hour and a half.  I left her in the living room with the TV on and a little water and small amount of kibble in the crate just in case.  When I came home, she had not only been whining the whole time but was absolutely stressed and frantic and out of her mind.  Truly traumatized from being left alone even with the TV on.  I took her out of her crate and talked to her softly but she shook and whined and was stressed for over 10 minutes before she settled down.  I read on your site that you can leave a dog all night alone in the garage while it is whining and it learns to be fine, but my dog was really stressed out after only an hour and a half of being alone--I mean not just regular howling or whining, but out of her gourd terrified at being left alone.

Now the crazy thing is, I've learned from reading every available article, Q&A, ebook and podcast on your site that she is a "hard" dog.  There is hardly any correction I can give her that she even pays attention to, much less has trouble bouncing back from.  The only corrections I give are for biting humans during play.  She must have been the pack leader of her litter because she play-bites awfully hard.  I hated to do as you said and grab her by the scruff of the neck and shake her, but it finally came to that.  She was still trying to bite me as I was shaking her.  I had to try this technique 3 separate times as she continued to bite afterward.  Each time I would shake harder, until I finally got a cry out of her.  She stopped biting me for a minute during play with her toys and then went back to biting me.  The fourth time I shook her, I think I must have choked her a little (by accident).  She was coughing and gagging for a couple minutes when I set her down (I felt very bad).  She then immediately went back to playing with her toys, but this time did not bite me.  (Finally!)

Now how can a dog like this be afraid of being left alone?  It's not like she is timid of anything.  No stranger or other dog makes her afraid (although I don't let her play with or go near any other dog besides my sister's puppy because they play well together).

I have tried to do as you say and get her accustomed to me leaving the room for a few minutes at a time.  After almost 5 weeks now, I can sometimes leave the room for 20 minutes as long as she can hear me in the other room, but when I go outside to take the trash cans out and she doesn't hear me in the house, she gets frantic after 5 minutes.  Will she grow out of this?

Thanks,
Janeen

Answer:

Ed has owned and trained German Shepherds for 45 years. In the past 30 years we have bred over 350 litters of working bloodline German Shepherds. We give this video to all of our puppy customers and we never get questions on how to raise a pup.

Read the description of this puppy DVD on my web site. Dog training is not rocket science its simple common sense ideas on how to handle and train a dog,  The DVD has over 3 hours of training information.

You should also consider the 4 hour DVD on Basic Dog Obedience. The fact is you have much more to learn than your dog. I recommend the handlers start studying this DVD right away even though you won’t use some of this training material for several months (usually not until the pup is 4 to 6 months old).

I also recommend that you go to the web site and read the article on “Ed’s Philosophy of Dog Training.” I believe you will not only learn something about dog training, I hope you will also adopt the same philosophy on dog training.   

You can also do a search on our site for separation anxiety, there is a search tab on the navigation bar. 

Please visit our Discussion Forum.  There are thousands of members and many posts on every dog related topic imaginable.  You don’t have to register to read the material, but if you wish to post a question or reply you must go through the registration process.

There are a lot of posts there on separation anxiety as well.


QUESTION:

Hi Ed,

I've searched your website looking for some help.  I have a rather unusual problem.  I have a 5 year old black lab mix (I think she is part pit bull but she is mostly black lab.)  She has recently begun chewing on my walls.  Yup, chewing holes in the walls.  She only does it when I am not at home and I don't know how to correct this behavioral problem.  I've tried getting up early to take her for walks in the morning before I leave for work, and leaving toys and treats for her.  My neighbor comes over once a day to check on her and let her out, and she still is chewing holes in the walls.  It's been about once a week for the past two months.  What should I do?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks!

Charlie

ANSWER:

Charlie.

This is not rocket science.

Use a dog crate.


Question:

My 4 month old rottie might have picked up on his feeding schedule. He tends to make a big fuss 1/2 hour before feedings. Is there something I can do to have him wait patiently until feeding? He'll start whining non stop until I come out with his food bowl.

Actually, another problem we're having is that anytime he catches the slightest glimpse of me he starts to whine. Last weekend I stepped outside to get something from our outdoor fridge at about 12:30 am. He started whining nonstop until about 3 am. I think he only stopped because my mom went out to see what was wrong. He'll whine and whine and the minute I step outside he is quiet. He waits until I let him out or until I go back into the house. It has gotten to the point where I have to avoid walking past our glass door so he doesn't start crying.

Is this separation anxiety and is there a way for me to end it?

Thanks,
Collin

Answer:

The easiest way to stop this whining for feeding is to NEVER feed the dog when he is whining.  Dogs do what is reinforcing to them, so he has learned whining long enough gets you to bring his food, and also gets you to come outside.  You have been inadvertently rewarding him for doing this.

It can be the beginning of separation anxiety to let this behavior go on unchecked.  The only way to fix it is to NOT put the dog outside alone, he’s either in a crate or kennel where he will be quiet or think about a no bark collar.  He will then be corrected for vocalizing and will learn some self control. We use these daily on our own dogs, especially my very vocal young Malinois.  It took him about 30 minutes to figure out if he was quiet, everything was good. 


Question:

Hi,
My sister and I each have a german shepherd. I have a male dog and she has a female. They are now almost two years old and have been together forever. I'm moving away and would like to take my dog with me. I will still be in the same city so the dogs could see each other. Do you have any advice how to proceed with the separation?

Thanks,
Merima

Answer:

I would start with separating them for short periods of time and gradually lengthen the time they spend apart.

Depending on how attached they are to each other, this could take some time.
If the dogs are not crate trained already then I would do this first so you have a safe place to confine them during the process.

You can search the website for tips on crate training.


Question:

I have a 1 year old Springer spaniel with severe separation anxiety.

Every time he is put in his kennel he will defecate, urinate, hyper-salivate (puddles of saliva), howl and bark (non-stop) and he digs at the cage like he is trying to escape (he has destroyed a metal cage).

We always come home to a poopy wet mess. He has never liked being in the kennel, even as a new pup; but has always stayed in it when we are gone.

We have tried the kennel in every room in the house, stuck stuff with our scent in the cage (which he just pee's on), put on the radio or tv for noise, put him in at least a half hour before we leave and take him out a half hour after we come home, give him toys or bones to chew on, coax him in with treats and not force him in the cage, every medication you can think of and yes the shock collar. We have put him in the cage when we are home trying to get him used to it. We have also tried a whole slew of behavior modification techniques. It gets better for a few days and then it's back to the same old mess. When we are all home together he is very well behaved, it's the separation that is driving us nuts!!! We have consulted with our vet and tried all his suggestions and tried numerous things on the internet. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks,
Emily

Answer:

I would suggest starting from square one, it’s probably your best option but will be very time consuming and you need to be absolutely committed to being consistent. Everything with dogs boils down to leadership and your dog needs very strict rules and boundaries.

Please read our article about becoming an effective pack leader.

The first sentence in this article says it all: “You can feed water and love your dog and he will like you but he very well may not respect you." 99% of all behavioral problems are a result of dogs not respecting their owners. This happens as a result of poor handling and/or poor training.

In place of using the crate with this dog, I may suggest you find a place in your house where you can tether him. Sometimes dogs that can’t be confined in a crate will accept being tethered, I used this technique with a dog I raised and had a lead attached to a foot rail near our breakfast bar. I put a special mat there for her to lie on, and eventually we started using the crate for a few moments at a time. At almost 4 years old this dog can now be crated but I do put a bark collar on her, in case she reverts to her old behavior. I don’t know what kind of collar you used on your dog but the only one I have found that works worth a darn is the Tri-tronics bark limiter. This article was written for people like yourself, people who have great intentions but not enough knowledge of pack structure. There are links within the article that will take you to other articles on my web site.

We also have a dvd called Pack Structure for the Family Dog there is helpful information on marker training and playing games with the crate to make it a positive instead of negative.

I hope this helps.


Question:

I volunteer at a shelter.  Three weeks ago, I brought a semi feral pup into my home.  Two weeks ago I brought home her brother because he was going to be euthanized.  They are about 5 to 7 months old. 

The female at this point lets me pet her, takes food from my hand, I got a collar on her, she even lets me rub her belly if I am on the floor or bed with her.  If I pick her up ( I have to sneak this) she will let me, but is very stiff. If I try to crate her, she will put her mouth on me.

The boy at this point will touch my hand with his nose only.  He will not take food from me, but is much better than when he came as he no longer cowers in the corner.  I did try to pet him, and he screamed as if in pain and pooped all over in fear.  He also, will not go in the crate.  But he is happy and loves to play with my other dogs, and with his sister.  He seems to want to trust me. 

My question is this.  Should I separate them, and perhaps put him in another foster home?  Or would that traumatize him again and set him back to the cowering time?  Or is it okay to leave him with his sister?  He seems to be learning to trust from watching her.  I am not experienced in training a dog, only in showing them affection and love.  The people at the shelter recommend that I separate them.  I really don’t know what to do.  He is so happy now. 

Answer:

I think both dogs would make more progress being worked with separately. He sounds like he is more comfortable with dogs than with humans, so until he is more socialized and relaxed with humans I would make everything he needs come from people (play, companionship, food, security, affection)  it may set him back at first to separate him, but unless he will be staying with his sister for the rest of his life then I would start working on his independence as soon as possible.

I would read this article and use these techniques (as best you can) to help rehabilitate these dogs. http://leerburg.com/groundwork.htm There are recommendations for other training materials in the article.


Question:

Hi Mr. Frawley,

I adopted a 4 year old chihuahua mix from a rescue group about 4 months ago. He has a pretty severe case of separation anxiety. He hides in places I can't grab him when he thinks he will be placed in his crate, but when left out he is unacceptably destructive (tears up carpet, dog bed, etc). We have seen a behaviorist and I was advised to proceed with desensitization and counter-conditioning procedures to acclimate the dog to longer and longer periods alone. This sort of thing is what basically all of the web sites on SA advise, but it doesn't seem to be working too well (unless maybe I'm doing something incorrectly?) and there is still the problem of my dog hiding when I have to put him in the crate and leave. I have begun with your method described in this letter: http://leerburg.com/separation.htm#works . It's day 1, 3 hours into the crating, and my dog sounds miserable. I would feel badly if this just ended up causing him distress without actually making him confront and overcome his fears. So my question to you is: why don't more dog trainers/behaviorists recommend the crate treatment for SA? Does it work because the dog becomes depressed or because the dog genuinely gets over the anxiety?

Thank you very much,
Pamela

Answer:

I have a saying that I send to a lot of people.

You are always going to be getting other people’s opinions on how to train your dog. The problem is that 99.99 % of these people lack the experience that is needed to offer sound advice. Dog training for me is not a sport – it’s been a way of life for 50 years. You need to decide who you are going to listen to and then educate yourself.

The success of a program is based on the dogs owner being consistent.

This dog needs pack structure work. When pack structure has been established the dog calms. I recommend that you get the dvd I did titled Establishing Pack Structure with the Family Dog.

The fact is this dog needs to have its life micro managed. That’s how control is gained. This means the use of the dog crate and when out of the crate it must be on a dog leash 100% of the time. This needs to continue through obedience training. (you need this too) Many many people with small dogs do not properly train their dog.

As far as your dog not liking the crate – that’s normal. It’s also too bad but that will change with time. If you stick with this it work – if you don’t your life will be nothing but a problem with this dog.

Kind Regards,
Ed


Question:

Hi Cindy,

I have a question about canine anxiety. I have a 3 year old female malinois who is crated every time I leave the house for anything longer than five minutes. When I am home, she has the run of the acre+ backyard. The problem is that every time she is in her crate, she begins panting excessively and drooling all over herself. When I get home, she has covered her feet with drool. She doesn't do this when she is out running around or at night when she is in the house. She sleeps downstairs in the living room and we have not had any problems with her inside at night since she was a puppy. However, I crate her when I leave for work just in case...she can get mischievous and I don't want any munched furniture. She hasn't always been this "drooly," it really has just begun in the past 6 months or so. My schedule hasn't changed and there hasn't been any changes in the household. So, my question is: what is up with the crazy drooling? Is this a symptom of caning anxiety? Is she too old to be crated during the daytime? Am I the crazy one? Any wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks!

Holly

Answer:

I would first have your dog looked over by a vet, check teeth and a general physical. Excessive drooling can be caused by anxiety or stress, but could possibly be linked to a tooth or medical issue. I would rule that out first, especially since there haven’t been any changes in your situation or household.

Do you know if she barks or whines in the crate? Assuming there isn’t a medical issue, sometimes stopping any vocalizations in the crate (with a bark collar) seems to stop anxiety linked behaviors when confined. Some of the behaviors I have seen with anxiety are spinning, digging, panting and drooling, barking, urinating, etc….

Have her checked out medically and then let me know what you find out.

Cindy


Question:

We recently took in a stray female dog that we think is a short haired golden retriever, or a golden retriever/lab cross. She is house trained and is the most even tempered and sweetest dog that I have ever met. But there is one problem with her. Every time we leave the house we have to put her inside because she will climb our 4 and 1/2 foot to 5 foot privacy fence. We think it is because she gets lonely or was left alone a lot before we got her. We live close to the highway and I am scared she is going to get hit by a car. She never jumps the fence when we are out side or if we check on her every 1 to 2 hours. But my dad says that she can't live in the house and she is a big dog about 4 years old maybe.
She had been nursing recently or was done nursing pups when we found her. And when everyone leaves to go to school and work we have to leave her inside. PLEASE help us we don't want to have to give her away I really need help.

Answer:

For a dog like this I would recommend a crate and/or a kennel. It sounds like your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, which is common in dogs that are rescued.

We have a question and answer section that covers this problem.

Training and structure in her daily life will help her feel more secure and settled. I would start with this article on groundwork.

I would recommend Basic Obedience training and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I hope this helps!

Cindy


Question:

Mr. Frawley:  I have read your website (very helpful!) and am considering an aluminum crate for my adopted dog of 4 weeks.  Shaggy is a 6-yr old, male beagle mix shelter dog, and is very well behaved (he listens, does not need much discipline, heels nicely, barks like a normal dog).  However, he does have SEVERE separation anxiety, and has begun chewing the wires off of his crate, to the point of near escape (and scrapes to his snout and forehead). He previously damaged my kitchen doors trying to escape when he was allowed free roam of the kitchen during my absences.

I need a safe, secure crate while I undergo some behavioral training for Shaggy.  Before I invest $600 in an aluminum crate, can you tell me whether your customers are having success with dogs who can chew their way out of the usual 12 gauge wire crates available at the pet stores?  I realize nothing is perfect, but could use some data on how well your crates are holding up under such circumstances.

Thank you so much,
John

Answer:

There are a couple of points here.

The metal crates are secure. Dogs are not going to chew their way out of them. But with this said, if a dog is really goofy they will still try and dig and scratch their way out. If they try long enough they can cut their feet up. This has nothing to do with the crate. It has to do with a dog that's crazy to get out.

With that said, what often works very well is a no-bark collar on these dogs. When they get all worked up they whine and growl or bark. Getting stimulation from a bark collar causes them to settle in the crate. I have literally recommended this on hundreds of dogs and it works.

So maybe you want to try a muzzle and a bark collar first. Use the wire basket muzzles we sell. Dogs seem to accept them more than other muzzles. You need to make sure the muzzle is secure.

DON’T USE A CLOTH MUZZLE they restrict breathing and cause the dog to go into a higher level of anxiety.

If you still feel you need an aluminum crate we have a wide variety, and your right they are expensive. But then you will never buy another crate for a dog again if you have one.

Kind Regards,
Ed


Question:

1) I have an Australian Shepherd – rescue dog – really was abused.  Previous owner’s’ grandparents took the dog when he was not home and took it to a shelter because of how poorly he was treated.  When I got him, he was 1 year old.  10lbs under-weight, worms, matted and had been tied to a tree by himself in a yard … took a good six months before we could have him around any men with facial hair at all (previous owner was a large man with a beard).

He is also an in-bred blue merle.  Fortunately, his only medical side-effect is that he is 95% blind.  It used to only be about 50%, but over the years (he is 8 ½ now) he has gotten progressively worse – not that you can tell by watching him.

The issue with him is separation anxiety. 

And that he is brilliant.  Plastic kennels – a no go he eats them.  Wire, he disassembles or breaks (all of his canine teeth are broken off).  Loose in the house, he is destructive … not furniture or the such, but any food type thing he can get his mouth on, including fish food and guinea pig food, candles that smell good (garbage can – he can open the pantry door to get to it).  Laundry room, a no-go – he has figured out how to turn the door knob.  Garage – same thing … if we lock the door (that he now knows how to open) he will tear the moldings off the door.

The yard – he opens the gate – have to put special lock on the gate and then he cuts his nose trying – and he knows how to open the slider to get in the house. 

The bark collar was a nightmare that resulted in a large vet bill.  He tried to take it off … best guess by the vet, he got his foot in the collar and embedded the prongs in his neck and then yelped all day.  It had to be removed from his neck in a very painful process.

As his eyes have gotten worse, his behavior has gotten worse. 

I don’t know what to do with him next.  He really is too smart for everyone’s good.  He sees each new attempt on my part (in my over-dramatic mind!) as a new challenge to his brain. 

He gets a LOT of exercise, to the point of exhaustion and still this behavior ensues…

I have read through the boards and did not see much of anything other than the option of leaving him in the kennel 24/7 & I am worried he will seriously hurt himself.  Have you have any experiences with instances such as above where this has worked?

2) 1 ½ year old Rottie – dog aggression.  He was fine with other dogs (we have 4) until our neighbors dog un-altered GS attacked him about 6 months ago.  WE were walking down the street … dog came running up the black and jumped on him.  Life has not been pretty since

Pinch Collar does not work.  Even took him to a clinic to make sure we had it fitted properly.  Dominance collar … again, he will get himself to the point of passing out and will not stop. 

I have recently purchased a halti (much like a be-nice halter I once used on a rescue horse I had to work on) and it stops the outbursts once they start, but does not stop the outburst.

He is still a puppy – and he is a large dog +/- 130lbs – all muscle and quite scary looking to anyone who might pass (except he LOVES people … I don’t want him to have to live with his stigma of being  dog aggressive and would love to break it.  (note, he is fine if dogs come over and are in his yard and introduced properly)

Will enough of his hurting himself with the halti break him of his reaction?  How do I get him back to ignoring other dogs?

Thank you in advance for your time & I hope to hear from you.

Val

Answer:

Dog 1)

Like many dog owners, you are living in the past with this dog.  The problems he had in his previous life was 7 ½ years ago, and in order for him to truly move on you need to quit feeling bad for what happened to him in the past.  Dogs live in the moment, and we need to be aware of the fact that feeling sorry for them transmits weakness and instability to them.  Dogs can’t be emotionally balanced in an environment where the past is still such a big part of the day to day life.  You even say in your email that you have an over dramatic mind.  Dogs mirror us in many ways, so start paying attention to your emotional state and you may see some correlations between you and your dog’s behavior.

What kind of exercise does he get?  How much mental exercise? I always recommend working an anxious dog’s mind as well as his body.  Marker training can be done by any dog, of any age.  Read the article titled Training With Markers.  

I also don’t see any other choice than to kennel him when you are gone, no matter what.  Every time a dog like this gets out of a crate or a room or performs a self rewarding behavior (like getting in the garbage) it becomes more and more difficult to keep them confined.

Here is article Ed wrote on dogs that break out of crates.

You may need to purchase a solid crate that your dog can’t chew out of.

Dog 2)

I would recommend the dvd Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs  and I would recommend the Electric Collar dvd with the difference being when dealing with aggression you don’t wait until the dog is actively showing aggression. You correct the dog on a very high level for even looking at another dog. I don’t think there is any other way for you to deal with this problem with such a large dog.

I would recommend a muzzle for him also.

There is a large amount of information on the website concerning dog aggression, if you spend some time using the search function (located in the upper left hand corner of the website) you will find many useful articles and posts that address all the problems you are having.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi,

I just have a quick question for you! First of all, again, thanks for your web site and videos... they have helped me countless times throughout the years. Next, my question is this: I have a 1 1/2 year old female Belgian Malinois. Due to my obligations with the Air National Guard, this January I will be leaving for school for 6 weeks and I am unable to take her with me. She already has separation anxiety when I'm not next to her (even when she's in the back yard she will try to or will jump the fence to be where I am); and in the crate overnight she constantly whines, barks, and scratches at the gate and bites at the crate. She usually doesn't do it very often at home, but I've been trying to get her used to where she will be staying while I'm out of town, and so far she has not stayed quiet at all through the night while she is at her temporary home. What is the best method for fixing this problem? And if you recommend using a bark collar, which one would you recommend?

Thank you,  
Lori

Answer:

I would use a bark collar, we use and recommend the Tri-tronics Bark Limiter.  You have to make sure that you are not inadvertently rewarding your dog for anxious behavior when you let her out of the crate or when you return to her after being gone.  With dogs like this, I put them in the crate a long time before I plan on leaving and they stay in for ½ hour to 45 minutes after I return home.  No happy greetings, no talking to the dog in the crate.  

This topic has been discussed quite a bit on our discussion forum, and our website. I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A's and posts on our forum. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Thank you for all that you do for dogs.

I run a rescue that handles 2,500 critters a year. I foster 6 to 10 a year in my home. I take some of the ones that don't fit in well at the shelter.

I am now hosting an 18 month old Cane Corso female. She is a crate eating, fence jumping, kennel hanging nut job. Has wrecked 2 crates this week and hung herself in a kennel badly injuring a front leg. A great dog, but does not accept confinement.

I read the articles on this topic about e collars and muzzles. I can do that. But, what are the odds that this behavior will clear. I need to re-home her and I wouldn't want to spend more that 3 months with her at my house. In your experience, is this behavior likely to extinguish and stay gone?

Nice, normal, moderate to low energy dog otherwise. Doesn't even seem to really have separation anxiety. Just decides what she wants when she wants it. Knows absolutely nothing and from her poor muscle tone, I would guess she's never had enough exercise. Can fix all that, but this crate thing?

Thank you for your time.

Holly

Answer:

This dog does have separation anxiety. Breaking out of crates, climbing fences to escape and not accepting confinement are classic and severe symptoms.

This dog needs to be put in an escape proof crate, and if she vocalizes when she's doing the break out behavior, she needs a Tri-tronics Bark Limiter.

You can read more about it here http://leerburg.com/separation.htm

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have.. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A's and posts on our forum.

I can't tell you if the behavior can clear up or not. Dogs that are rehomed are the most likely candidates for separation anxiety and if you get the dog to be calm and quiet with you, unless she's handled exactly right in the next home the behavior will return and will likely be even more severe.

Cindy


Question:

Hello!

First off, I know you are a very busy person so I will try my best to make my question short! Sorry in advance if I ramble on….

My husband and I own an east german shepherd (20 months old) with very high drive. She comes from working DDR lines and we are working toward the CD title, then hopefully onto schutzhund. We use a trainer who was a former K9 trainer & handler and is familiar with the breed. We are making good progress with the training and have been told by numerous trainers that Mesa has high potential and should excel at anything we try. Here’s the problem: Mesa has separation anxiety and only shows this behavior when I am the person leaving her. During class (or in a pet store, park, etc) I can literally walk 10 ft away from her and she acts as though someone is pouring acid on her. She becomes wild and throws herself again the wall or person holding the leash, moans, yelps, whines, spins in circles, and jumps upward. Until we fix this issue we obviously can’t move forward with getting the obedience titles. When my husband leaves her, she whines for a few seconds but nothing compared to how she reacts when I leave her.

I won’t pretend to be clueless as to why she behaves this way. She definitely views my husband as the pack leader and although she does obey me, I know that I am not on the same level as my husband in her eyes. I tend to be more affectionate with her (another fault) and when she was a puppy the trainer told me that my corrections were not firm enough which I have tried to improve. I understand that her anxiety is a result of my mistakes (i.e. too much affection) but I am having a hard time figuring out a plan to fix this issue. What can I do to teach her the world does not end when I walk away from her? By the way, she never has anxiety issues in the house if I leave her in the yard, another room, etc. Only when we are in another environment. Her tantrums become even more extreme if she sees that I have walked away from her and that I am with another dog (i.e, her sister).

I have read and printed so many of your articles and recommend your site to any dog owner, plus I love your blunt style and honestly. Please tell me what I have done wrong, and what I have to do to fix it. Thank you for your time- I do appreciate it. I hope you and your family (and animals of course) have a great holiday!

Barbara

Answer:

I think if this was my dog I would treat her as a classic case of separation anxiety. I would start making her be away from you in situations that you know she will be able to maintain control (i.e. at home) maybe start with having a friend come over and hold her on a leash across the room from you while you have a conversation. I had a severe case of SA with one of my Malinois, and I started tethering her away from me while I did work around the house. I’d tether her to Ed’s desk in his office while I went to the store, things like that. I also found that using a bark collar (or remote, if your timing is excellent) really helped stopping the vocalizing. Many times dogs start whining and carrying on, and that just feeds their anxiety. It’s a vicious circle.

I have also found that dogs like this do better with less physical praise and petting, and more firm leadership.

I’d start with our Groundwork program. Pack Structure for the Family Pet is the video that picks up where the article leaves off.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

I have checked the forums and and the FAQ. I believe I know part of what you will say but I have questions regarding the nuances (if there are any). My 2 yr old cairn mix, who I have had for 2 months, has always had separation anxiety issues but on video camera he seems to get over it after about 20 mins... so I didn't care too much. Every once in a while he will go into the bathroom trash. Just recently I found out he urinated in one of the bedrooms. From reading the FAQ I believe you said the reason for this is anxiety, nervousness, etc. So I thought that formal crate training would be necessary. My dog isn't afraid of his crate, he sleeps in there all night and when I take him places he's fine being in there. But when I put him in there and leave, he goes nuts. I taped him going wild for 13 minutes while we were at the market.

With crate training, is this a scenario where we lock him in there cold turkey until he stops? I suspect this could be hours. He stops the instant anyone returns to his visibility. Is this something that should be incrementally done? a few minutes and build up? is this something I only have to do once? or a few times? does food or distractions come into play at all? and again, how is this any different than me leaving the house for a few hours and returning? clearly after 2 months he hasn't gotten it in his head that we will return to the house. Or perhaps my own perceptions are flawed here.

This morning as I left for work, I decided to leave him in the bedroom with my girlfriend still sleeping. When I got to work I found out he threw a similar tantrum. I don't know the specifics of how my girlfriend handled him but he stopped barking after he was left out.

Now, my dog doesn't have the same level of respect (IMO) for my girlfriend as he does me. I'm the one who walks him, feeds him, and disciplines him. The scenario doesn't work in reverse... if my girlfriend leaves and I stay. Would this be a good exercise where we practice me leaving and having my girlfriend correct him when he starts to whine and/or bark? and a bigger question, should you correct a dog for being in an anxious state?

Thank you in advance.

-Ben

Answer:

2 months isn’t very long to clear separation anxiety. Actually, it is many times a lifelong management issue that may be something you are always dealing with on some level. I know this because I own a dog with SA.

I’d use a bark collar and a crate. It’s not about the dog knowing you will return, it’s about the anxiety he feels when left alone. Building up the time you are gone is a good idea but if the dog is ever let out of the crate or room he is confined in while he is still feeling anxious, it will actually reinforce the feelings of anxiety he feels.
This is why he goes wild in the crate when you are gone. It’s not the crate that he’s worried about, he’s anxious about being left alone. The problem is that if you don’t deal with this it will escalate, it’s not uncommon for dogs to chew through doors, drywall or hurt themselves in a crate trying to escape.

You will need to give this dog consistent handling to get him through it and it may be a project that gets easier but it may never really be cured completely.

I’d start with our Groundwork program and the video that picks up where the article leaves off; Pack Structure for the Family Pet. Dogs with SA need super beefed up structure in their daily lives. lots of exercise will help, because dogs that are tired have less pent up energy to exert into freaking out about being confined.

I’d also suggest you read this article on Dogs who Break out of Dog Crates.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have.. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum.

This is really common with dogs that are from shelters or adopted beyond the puppy stage.

Cindy


Question:

Hello,

I have a two year old German Shepherd/black Labrador mix who needs a crate to stay in while I am gone during the day. He is about 36 inches long when laying down and weighs 65 pounds. I have tried the basic metal wire crates and plastic airline crates from the pet stores and he escapes from both easily.  Even with putting all sorts of locks on it, he still escapes.

I am looking at either the full ventilation aluminum crate or the power coated full ventilation aluminum crate. I think something like the Deluxe Full Tread-Brite Powder Coated Crate, though seemingly the strongest may be a bit too cramped for him. Or do you make it in a larger size than what is listed on the web-site?

I want a crate that he can fit in. I don’t want him to be cramped up all day. And he absolutely cannot keep breaking out.

I am wondering about the strength of your crates? Can a dog break out of it if left alone all day? How strong are they? How difficult is it to bend the side bars? Finally, how quickly can they ship out?

I am in a rush in order for the homeowner to let me keep my dog.  He is very obedient when he is with me, but gets out during the day. And of course I am getting him more training as I know a crate itself is only part of the solution.

Answer:

The crates we sell are suitable for a dog of your dog’s size.  We keep adult male German Shepherds in these crates.

You need to realize that dogs that have had success breaking out of crates sometimes will have issues when left in a solid crate.  They need to be re-trained to the crate.  They’ve had success getting loose so they will try EXTRA hard to get out and can injure themselves in their escape attempts..

Please read this article on Dogs who Brake out of Crates  and follow the training suggestions in the article. 

Personally, I wouldn’t leave a dog that can break out of a crate alone in any crate until I had successfully retrained him to be calm and quiet when placed in the crate.  Don’t put the dog in there and go off to work for the day the first time you place him inside.   This will be a process and if you skip a step you may end up with an injured dog, depending on how determined he is to get out.  This is typically a form of separation anxiety.  I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in separation anxiety, you’ll find more information.

I’ll have our office manager answer the shipping question.  I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Hi There,

I have a wonderful 3 year old dog who we adopted from a friend because he was fighting with his sister so much. (They were both adopted from a shelter). When he first came to our home, he responded with growling and barking at anyone who approached us or came to the house. Within a week we had him in training and things improved dramatically. He still gets "cranky" when a loose dog approaches me on a walk but I am able to deal with it and he always remains in his space. I have started with a new trainer to improve my confidence with loose dogs and he is really doing quite nicely. We've even had a puppy jump on him with no negative response. Our big issue is that he is afraid of the sudden noise of snow falling off our roof and will tear off door casings, eat cat doors and other things. Initially he was afraid of being crated but over the summer we have worked diligently to make the crate a fun, safe place.

He readily goes in it when the children are making too much noise and spends a lot of time of his own free will in it. We have worked to get him in the crate for safety while we are work. We were quite successful until the snow began falling. With the first stressful day, he broke out of the crate. Our new trainer has given us some nice suggestions for improving safety and right now there is plywood on the metal door to prevent breaking free & injury. Unfortunately, he is chewing away at it. My greatest concern is that even if we find a way for him to remain in the crate safely....all of that stress and frenzy of trying to get out, can not be good for him. In my mind, the only real long term solution is for him to learn to deal with the stress of the snow falling from the roof (which can be a slow 2 day process). Is there a way to do that? I know there are tapes for thunderstorms but I don't know how we would ever assimilate the noise coming from the snow falling from the roof...not to mention that sometimes there is a vibration that accompanies the noise. This is a wonderful family dog who is responding wonderfully to training but the winters are becoming difficult. He's chewing to get out even when the snow isn't falling...it seems that the benefits of our hard work is slipping. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Answer:

What your dog is displaying is a form of separation anxiety. Ed has written an article on Dogs that Break Out of Crates. There is a link at the end of that article to more information on separation anxiety.

I know it is possible to desensitize dogs to sound that are under our control, but I can’t honestly think of any way to desensitize your dog to snow falling off the roof. Dogs that have had separation anxiety or sound sensitivity can improve but in many cases it’s a lifelong training program. These 2 issues (the sound and separation anxiety) typically go
hand in had. I own a dog that has a form of this, and she can now safely be crated without issue but we buckle a bark collar on her every day. She lies down and relaxes now, because through several years of being consistently handled she has learned what to expect. I would say it took a solid year of working on this issue before I felt that she was really feeling better in all situations while crated. I will also add that I have owned this dog since she was 8 weeks old and she arrived here via airplane with an extreme reaction to being crated. She was hysterical in the crate if she couldn’t see us in the same room. Maybe something happened to her on the trip or maybe it’s just her temperament, we’ll never know. We handled it with an aluminum crate and a bark collar. I would have used a muzzle for her if needed but she didn’t try to chew when she was crated. Here is the collar we use here, Tri-tronics Bark Limiter.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Cindy,

I'm sure you've heard this many times before....we have a Doberman who whine. A LOT. Barking isn't a huge problem (he does bark, but not to the point that it's an issue). I've seen the success described on the website regarding bark collars. Is there anything similar for whining? Something that would issue a correction for whining, but not for as bark? I see no reason to correct his barks, given that the problem is the whining.

The dog does seem to have general SA issues. We crate him when we're gone. If we don't, he may chew something or he may not. He's gone weeks with no incident but then has a big one, such as chewing the couch! Since then, he's been crated while were away from home. The whining is a problem whether we're home or not. He does it all the time for many reason...all dumb. We actually think he's a little off for a doberman, but he's a total sweetheart.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,

Caahlen
Aurora, IL

Answer:

I'd try a bark collar ---Tritronics Bark Limiter

The problem is anxiety and vocalizing, and if you can get a handle on it with the bark collar I think the anxiety will subside as well.

The skill, timing and consistency required to correct whining without a bark collar is something that would be very difficult to do with another training method. You'd have to be there 24/7 to catch him when he's not whining and use marker training to reward him. This is so difficult to do, that I couldn't recommend it as a viable option.

Cindy


Question:

Hi Cindy,

I have to do something quick before my dog destroys my house.  7 yr. old mix.  She spends most of the day outside.  Inside at night and has run of the house(that may be the problem).

She has started chewing holes in the walls.  I have had them patched but she continues to do it and sometimes in the same place but always in the same room.  Any idea why and what can I do?

Frantic,
Amy

Answer:

I’d use a dog crate.  The dog is safe, your house is not destroyed.  It’s very simple.

I can’t tell from an email WHY your dog is doing this, but it’s clear to me that you need to manage the dog’s environment. Your dog is showing anxiety and is expressing it the only way she knows how, you may want to read this on separation anxiety.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

Cindy


Question:

Hi Cindy -

I have a 2 year old neutered male German Shepherd who is very friendly  to people and other dogs (we won't talk about cats rabbits, and squirrels at this point)  I work full time - so I leave him at home for several hours a day - so it's not like he is used to being with me all the time. I also have a 8-year old neutered male Pembroke Welsh Corgi who lives in the house too - but they are separated when I leave. They get along great - it's just that sometimes Ben (my shepherd) gets a little rough when they are playing.  He weighs about 100 lbs and the corgi is only 35 lbs)  - It's often my corgi who initiates the play. I don't like to leave them together unsupervised - because I am afraid that my corgi might get hurt if they get playing rough. Until May of this year, I also had a 15 1/2  year old Pembroke - who was definitely the alpha dog of the group. 

When I leave Ben at home he doesn't show any signs of anxiety. He has a small room with a crate in it, there are a couple of big windows and 2 doorways - one blocked with just an x-pen. When I am getting ready to leave - he happily trots to his room - gets his treats and lays down. He has not been a destructive dog. 

Ben is dysplastic and was already starting to favor his right side. I had heard about a program at MSU where they do rehabilitation (and physical therapy) for dogs. I took him for an evaluation and they thought that he would definitely benefit from the program. They said that the muscles on his right side were 8 cm smaller than the left. So I put him in the program - and he is doing great. He goes 2 days a week. I drop him off on my way to work and pick him up on my way home - so he is there from about 7:15am to 4pm. He Loves the underwater treadmill (he loves playing in water - any kind, anywhere). He is cooperating great with them - they are so impressed with how quickly he learns and how enthusiastic he is with the different things that they do with him.    

The problem starts when I first leave him - he carries on, and I have never seen him act like this -crying and being very vocal - this morning I saw him really pulling on her as I was leaving. She tells me that as soon as I am out of sight  - he is fine. He is attentive - good in his cage/crate, very friendly to all the people and other dogs, easy to train and work with. When I take him there in the morning - he is very happy - he seems excited when we get to the clinic - very happy going inside - goes right up to her and seems happy - but as soon as I hand over the leash and walk away - he starts carrying on. What worries me most is that the anxiety seems to be getting worse.

What would you suggest I do to help this situation before it escalates?

Answer:

This really isn’t classic separation anxiety and if he calms down as soon as you leave I wouldn’t worry about it too much.  This is very common, when dogs are left at the vet or groomer.  It’s like kids being dropped off at daycare..many of them cry until the moment their parents are out of sight. 

Since he’s well adjusted at home, I don’t think I would call this separation anxiety.  I would suggest you change your attitude when you drop him off and behave like it’s no big deal.  No acknowledgement of his behavior, no trying to calm him down.  Don’t look at him or reinforce this behavior at all.  Matter of factly hand over his leash and walk out. 

Cindy


Question:

Hello,

I got your email address from your website. My husband and I have a 4 year old yellow lab who recently started chewing again. We tried to keep her  in a crate when she was a puppy, but when we would come home, the carpet was tore up, webbing and nose bleeding. Fairly painlessly she grew out of it for about 1.5 years. She then about 9 months ago started chewing the dining room furniture while we were away and the baseboards in the house. Bought a plastic crate so she couldn't hurt herself, she bent the door and tore off the top to get out. Moved to a 10x10 kennel outside. I'm 5' tall. She dug a whole that was waist deep on me in 2 days. Most recently we've built a kennel out of 2x4 and very thick cattle fencing. She's become a beaver. She ate the door off and pulled up the cattle fencing. She has broken a tooth during all of this.  

Obviously she has some issues with containment? Part of me thinks separation, but when we're home, she is very laid back, and doesn't seem to care what we're doing as long as she can see us. I don't want to medicate her all day. Right now we're thinking a steel cage welded together, yet safe enough she won't cut herself up. If I could trust she wouldn't chew up the house I'd let her out. We have a fenced in back yard, about 1/2 an acre, but she's a digger and will certainly find a way out of there in a few hours as she likes to run. She has every toy imaginable, attention, exercise. I think she's pretty well trained, sit shake, stop, go, get your toy, lay down, etc. but she's very very stubborn. An old soul I call her. No children in the house. We've always had rotties, so the Lab behavior is very uncommon for us.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you,
Jennifer

Answer:

Your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. You say in your email that when she was a puppy she exhibited this behavior and when you didn’t solve it then you’ actually trained her to behave in this way..   Dogs like this learn that if they dig, chew and struggle long enough they will eventually be able to get free and it’s a very tough situation.  This will likely be a lifelong issue with this dog.  It won’t be something that goes away 100% and it may resurface under times of stress for the dog.

We have a section on this on our website and Ed has written an article about dogs that break out of crates.  You can find the info here http://leerburg.com/separation.htm

This is not a breed specific behavior, it’s not only seen in Labs or Poodles or Jack Russels. I get emails about this every day from owners with a variety of breeds and mixed breeds. This is anxiety that was not managed properly when the dog was a puppy.  It’s fairly common, and is a big problem because of the damage the dogs do to your home, and themselves.

I’d also direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website.  It will find posts, articles and Q & A’s that deal with your search terms.

I hope this helps.


Question:

Hi,

I just recently got a 6 month old female purebred black lab. She came from the breeder and was one of the last to go from the litter. For the first 5 months of her life she has been with her mother and other members of the litter. She was primarily an outside dog with little to no restrictions. She is a very loveable, friendly pup but we are having issues with keeping her up while we are at work. She has jumped a 5 foot fence and climbed a 10 ft fence. She cries terribly when we leave her for even a few minutes. She calms down immediately when she is with someone (not just her owners). We tried crate training the first night and she went to the bathroom all in the crate and cried hysterically. I haven’t tried it since because I was scared she was traumatized. I am willing to try it again. The idea is to keep her outside at during the day (in a fenced area) while we are at work.  Is she too young to do this yet? Should we crate her a while longer?

I have heard that Labs tend to have “separation anxiety” and I don’t want to make that worse. When we are at home she is in the house with us and is very calm but goes into stress mode when she is left.  What should we do? I would appreciate any advice.

I have been looking around on your website- trying to find answer for this specific question. Thought I would go ahead and email but I am learning things off the website as well.

Thanks!

Lindsay

Answer:

You need to acclimate her to a crate and I would also have a secure (with a top) kennel for her.  She is likely suffering from separation anxiety and if you don’t take care of this now you are setting her up for a lifetime of this.  It’s not an easy thing to deal with and if you give up, you teach the dog that if she tries hard enough and long enough she can get loose. 

I’d suggest reading this section on separation anxiety and the article linked at the top about dogs that try to break out of crates.  The reason your dog is behaving this way is because she was never taught as a little puppy to accept the crate or to be alone.  The breeder really dropped the ball by allowing her to stay with her littermates and mother for so long, many dogs never learn to be comfortable alone if they always have other dogs and humans with them during the formative weeks of the imprinting period.  ( 7-16 weeks of age)  this isn’t to say she can’t be taught, but this will be a much more difficult task for you and much more stressful for her than if it had been done when she was 8 weeks old.

I’d read our article on groundwork and I’d recommend this video; Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I’d also recommend Your Puppy 8 weeks to 8 months.

We also have a number of free eBooks that may interest you. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy

Another Question:

Thanks.

I am working on the crate and we are in the process of trying to get a secure kennel set up. She is still barking/whining like a banshee when we leave her. Is she too young to try a no bark collar?

Also, a friend of ours brought over their new pup a few days ago (to our house). I had my pup on a leash but she pulled and growled and acted like she could attack the friends pup. Is there a way to break this aggressiveness towards other pups/dogs. I have brought her around my parent’s 3 year old German Shepard at their house and she never acts that way. I am wondering if she was being territorial, but I do not want our friends to feel like our dog will always be aggressive towards theirs.

I am also going to order the DVDs you suggested.

Thanks,
Lindsay

Answer:

She’s not too young for a bark collar.  We recommend the Tri-Tronics Bark Limiter.

You didn’t do the proper techniques to introduce your dog to the pup, this is something that is often done incorrectly.  With that said, there is really no reason for your dog to be in contact with dogs from outside your family so putting her on a leash and letting her be around a puppy is not a good idea.   She needs to be trained to listen to you without the added stress of bringing another dog into her environment first.  You’re throwing a lot of experiences her way, without having the skills in place to make sure it goes well.

I’d work on training her, getting her issues under control and then if (in the future) you want to introduce her to another dog you can follow this advice. Read the article Ed wrote on how to properly introduce dogs

My advice is to keep other dogs out of the picture right now, until the dog is behaving exactly as you wish without that added distraction.  Set her (and you) up for success.  Teach her to be a calm and relaxed dog in and around her own environment.   Teach her that you are a good leader and you aren’t going to allow things to be chaotic or stressful.  This is more an attitude than anything.   Honestly, your concern should be with YOUR DOG and her mental state, not what your friends feel about your dog.  If they really care about you and your dog they will understand that you’ve taken on a dog that has some issues and it has nothing to do with them or their puppy.  If they want to help with your training process then they will keep their pup at home when they come to your house, at least for the foreseeable future.

Cindy


Question:

Hello,
 
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Two days ago my girlfriend and I drove to kansas city to adopt a 2 year old german shepherd female. She is 55 pounds, a little thin from being in boarding for two months, but I believe is also just a small female too! She is a good dog to people and friendly to everyone so far. We have even stayed in a VA hospital while my girlfriend had to have a sleep apnea test done. We could not drive home due to freezing rain. The plan was originally just to leaver her in the kennel (her second night)  but she freaked out because she knew were going to be gone I think.
 
One problem is the freaking out in the kennel at night, and literally trying to pry it apart (she has broken teeth from doing this in the boarding facility).
 
The other problem is a major one. I have a nine year old cat. It seems as though she has a strong prey drive. She is very focused even after pushing her to the ground. (I don't push her to hurt her, I just get her off her feet and hold her there until she becomes more submissive. I was told by someone to do this. She still has a lot of unwanted attention on the cat. If she was off the leash I am sure she would eat the cat. She doesn't seem mad or aggressive. She doesn't growl and bare teeth. She whines loud and just "wants" that cat.
 
I really want to correct this behavior.
 
I have only had her for three days now. She listens to me better than my girlfriend. She does sit for me when I tell her to. Sometimes I have to say it half a dozen times, other times I don't.  I don't stop until she sits. She "stays" almost as much as when I command as "sit" and also knows to lay down when I command.... after she sits. 
 
I would not say she is really good at these commands yet however, I have been practicing these while walking to where there are a fair more amount of distractions.
 
Let me know what video if you have one would work best, and any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 
Thank you,
Joey

Answer:

This dog is suffering from separation anxiety, which is common in older dogs that have been rehomed. They have a fear of abandonment, and it typically gets worse and worse unless you do something to show the dog this behavior doesn’t get her what she wants and that you are a reliable leader. We have an article on the website about dogs that break out of crates.

You should run her through our pack structure program. Once she’s doing well there THEN start working on obedience and the issue with the cat. Pushing her to the ground is not going to do anything to change this situation except make her distrustful of you. We don’t agree with doing this to any dog. The video I would recommend is Pack Structure for the Family Pet to start you out. I’d also recommend Basic Obedience after you have her much more settled and respectful in the house.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions.  It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

Cindy


Question:

Hello Ed,

This is a question about separation anxiety. I’ve been over all of the posts on your website and on the forum and I am still wondering what you would recommend as my next step with my dog, given what we’ve done so far. If you have the time to give me even a short answer, that would be great!

I have your Pack Structure and Basic Obedience DVDs. I’ve been following your rules on pack structure and obedience and have a very well behaved 1.5 year old Australian Shepherd. We adopted him about three months ago and he has really learned a lot.

He is calm and submissive in his crate, on the leash in the house, off leash in the house, on walks – really behaving very well.

I had recently started market training with him – teaching him to lie down, proofing his sit, teaching him to fetch a tennis ball, etc. He was able to learn quickly and seemed to enjoy it.

However, he goes nuts when we leave the house, the reaction is almost immediate. This has been the case since we got him and we’ve been sending him to dog daycare  – the trainer who runs that place has been very good and has helped the dog become confident and well-behaved. We haven’t solved the separation anxiety.

We even just recently went all the way back to the beginning and put him in the crate 24/7 except for walks. He is totally calm and submissive in the crate all day and night – as long as we are there.

We got a no bark collar for him and now he does not bark and howl – just whines, drools, licks his paws until they’re soaking and tries to escape. His attempts to escape have become more violent and I am worried that he may hurt himself trying to chew on the bars.

What should our next step here be?

Should I go back to the obedience marker training, or is he not ready yet?

Thanks, and Happy Holidays!

Regards,
Steve

Answer:

Separation anxiety isn’t anything that is easily solved and in many cases you deal with it to some degree for the rest of the dog’s life.  This is more typical in dogs like yours, dogs that have been either adopted from a shelter or rehomed.  They have a huge amount of anxiety about being left behind.

I’d suggest you read this article on dogs that break out of crates, and make sure the crate you are using can’t be broken out of.  The worst thing that can happen is for a SA dog to discover that if they fight hard enough they can escape.

The best thing to do is to teach him about being left alone in a crate in small increments, and never EVER give the dog attention in the crate when he’s anxious. Never make a big deal about letting him out and never let him out immediately upon your return home.

Three months is not a long time to solve this, I have a SA dog that I’ve been managing for almost 6 years. She’ll slip back into old behaviors quickly if I don’t keep the routine very predictable for her. You may want to think about a supplement that helps dogs who have anxiety, Calm Anxiety  (I use this with my own dog) is one, and Rescue Remedy is another that our customers have used with good results. Obviously, this isn’t the whole answer but these supplements may help your dog in conjunction with a good training plan.

You can certainly continue with obedience/marker training, this has nothing to do with the anxiety.  I’d also recommend giving him as much physical and mental exercise as possible because if he’s tired, he’ll be less anxious overall.

You might be interested in our 2 newest videos, The Power of Training Dogs with Food and The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog. It’s a great way to train and tire out your dog.

I hope this helps. Cindy


Question:

Hi Cindy,

I have an 11 year old male neutered Standard Schnauzer. I wish I had found you years ago as this behavior has been present since my dog was a puppy. As a puppy I would notice that on occasion when I would leave the kitchen area where the dog was confined to, I'd come back to find he had urinated in front of the board blocking his exit from the kitchen (he was house trained by this time). He would also do this if I went into the bathroom with my children and shut the door behind me. I'd come out and he had urinated in front of the closed door. He did not do this every time but frequently enough that I noticed. He then began doing this when I had him inside my vehicle and ran into a store or a friend's house for a couple of minutes. I'd come back to find urine on the car seat. I stopped taking him in the car. He then progressed to doing this in his crate but only if we left the house and had to run back for something or had been gone for a period of time and stopped back at the house to pick something up. It also progressed to defecating in the crate. He is not a dirty dog but it got to be very stressful never knowing when we would leave the house if we would come back to have to bath the dog and wash out the crate. Sometimes he would, sometimes he wouldn't. We just never knew what was going to trigger the behavior. I tried taking him in my vehicle again now that he was several years older but found again that if he was left for a few minutes and I was out of site he would do both in the vehicle.

At this point he is 7 or 8 years old and I thought he didn't need to be crated when we went out and left him in the house. For the most part there was no problem for a long time until recently when now if we leave the house to walk somewhere (not taking the vehicle or him) we come home and he's both defecated and urinated on the floor. It almost like he is pissed (literally) that we walked somewhere without him.

He has had obedience training as a puppy and is generally a very well behaved dog with this exception. He is excellent with both people and other dogs however he does have what I would call passive aggressive tendencies. In other words he is not overtly aggressive however postures with other dogs and can definitely be stubborn with following commands. Is this a dominance issue for him?

Any help or insight you can give into what is triggering this behavior and how to correct it would be appreciated. We basically cannot leave him alone in a vehicle for any length of time out of his site or walk away from our home without making sure he is outside to make his mess. Please help!!!

Warmly,
Mary-Lou

Answer:

It sounds like separation anxiety. 

The best thing to do is to give this dog a very predictable schedule which will involve going back to crate training basics like he’s a puppy.  He’s insecure and needs structure and leadership.

Start with our groundwork program and the Pack Structure for the Family Pet DVD.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions.  It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.

This is more of an anxiety problem, than a house training problem.  You may also want to put him on an herbal supplement we carry-- Calm Anxiety. I give this to one of my older dogs that suffers from separation anxiety.

Cindy


Question:

Cindy,

I have a 17 month old male APBT, who is intact. He is exercised twice a day. But he has this uncontrollable urge to want to escape my yard and roam the neighborhood. I supervise outside in my fenced in yard, but my gate has a little play in it and a 3 inch space where the latch comes together, this is where he's been able to get his big head out of and his body follows. It happened to me the first time as a surprise. He saw something and went to the gate the next I knew he was out running a full speed. It took me 40 minutes to find him. I built a fenced kennel in the yard 8ft x 10ft. He CHEWED through it and got away out of the fence. He doesn't bite or have an aggressive bone in his body towards people, but the sight of this 70 lb-75 lb dog with an impressive physique coming at you can be scary even if he's wagging his tail excessively. My question why is he so obsessed with getting away? Is it because he is not neutered? It is becoming very annoying. I got him as a deterrent from would be bad guys,but now that he has escaped a few times no one is cautious of him  because of his very FRIENDLY temperament and now undesirable strangers come by and want to see and pet him! My wife wants him gone because of her concern that he pulls a lot on leash even on a prong collar and if he escape and the wrong circumstances come together we could have a problem. My question, how to deal with this behavior? Is this dog a keeper?

Sincerely,
Samuel

Answer:

It may not be as much an urge to roam as a form of separation anxiety. Some dogs learn how to escape and then become obsessed with getting out of any type of containment. I don’t believe being intact has much to do with it.

The key to this is management, and many times it’s lifelong management. Every time a dog like this is successful in escaping it reinforces that if he tries hard enough he can and will get loose. The problem lies in when you put him in a crate or kennel that he can’t escape from because many times these dogs will injure themselves trying, they won’t give up.

I’d read this article and follow the suggestions to the letter.

If you rehome this dog, it’s likely the behavior will intensify with the next owner. It’s a vicious circle.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


Question:

Ed,
 
I have an 11 month, almost one year, old german shepherd. Great dog, me and my wife love him to death.  I have been working with him a lot on obedience lately and he is very eager to learn. He does a good job, I think he should have been a stand in for the energizer bunny though. The problem I have been having with him is I think he may have a bit of a separation anxiety issue. We have been trying so much to help him with this problem but it seems as thought nothing is working. Gunner has been housetrained since he was about 2 months old, no accidents in the house, never has accidents in the house. Now when we go to leave to kennel him we come back to the poor guy's legs and belly being soaked and have to clean him and his kennel up. We have tried everything, I have tried kong toys with treats in them to keep him busy, tried leaving some country music on for him, chew toys with him in his crate. Really not sure what else to try. We never make a big deal out of leaving, just make it seem as though it is normal as well as when we return. We have tried exercising him before we leave and kennel him. I am running out of ideas. Any suggestion on what to do? I hate leaving him and hearing him just go nuts that we are leaving. What else can I try?

Also, love your website, have downloaded a lot of your podcasts and read many of your articles. And the other thing I just thought of, I really don't think he does not like his crate, when we are sitting around at home, he will just go in his crate and fall asleep! That's what is really leading me to think he may have some separation anxiety!

Thanks much
Adam and Brooke

Answer:

We have a Q&A section on separation anxiety that may help you.

I’ve found that beefing up the structure helps, as well as a Tri-Tronics Bark Limiter when you have to kennel him. Sometimes stopping the barking in the crate stops all the other behaviors as well (I have a dog that suffers from separation anxiety).

You may also want to read this short article on crates. Even if your dog is not trying to escape the crate, you may find the advice there helpful.

In addition to training and exercise, I also use Calm Shen daily in my dog's food. It doesn’t make their overall behavior any different but just seems to help them cope with anxiety a little better. It’s something you need to give twice daily, every day. 

Dealing with separation anxiety is something you will manage in some fashion for the dog’s lifetime. It’s not something you can typically train completely away, it’s part of their temperament. My dog (almost 6 now) is SO much better but the anxiety still is evident at times.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

Hi Cindy,

My new 2 year old GSD/Malmute rescue is frightened of the crate (possibly used for discipline) for reasons we can only speculate. He is gentle and well manored, but our real problem is when we try to leave him at home for several hours alone. He has a "temper tantrum" and the house we return to is a mess. Is restricting him on a leash when we go out a option?
Any ideas?
Thank you.
Alan

Answer:

I believe your dog has separation anxiety, which is a very common but difficult problem. This is very common in rescue dogs.

I would read this article on dogs that break out of crates. I would not risk restricting him on a leash without someone present, I would work on crate training him in small increments when you are home and gradually work up to blocks of time which would allow you to leave him crated while you are away. Some dogs never get over this completely, it may be a lifelong management issue.

We also have a q & a section on separation anxiety that may help you.

For future questions, you might benefit from learning to use our SEARCH function, which is located in the top left corner of every page of the website. If you type in your key words or question it will find you articles, Q&As, free streaming video and links to threads on our discussion forum. Our website has over 16,000 pages and it's very likely you'll find the information you are looking for. I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

Dear Cindy,

My now almost 4 year-old GSD female, Pepper, whom my wife and brought home as a 6 week-old puppy (too young to be taken from the dam, I know, but there you have it), is crate trained, and has historically been an obedient and well behaved almost 80 pound dog with an energetic, pleasant demeanor and a lot of “personality” (she is very vocally expressive when commanded to do something that for whatever reason displeases her, sounding remarkably like Chewbacca of Star Wars fame) -- in short, a very intelligent, active, affectionate, frequently exercised, fun companion.  Recently, though, Pepper -- who has had the full run of our home for years now, without incident -- has begun to sneak small objects off of low tables and shelves, and chew them into oblivion (most recently, my wife’s iPod); interestingly, all of the objects destroyed so far are items handled or worn only by my wife.  As Pepper is well aware that she is never to “counter surf,” and that everything in our home belongs to us and not to her, we have now crated her, but are not sure what to do next.  Should we go back to [the very] basics and begin retraining her as if she were still a puppy (i.e., never let her out of our site, and remand her to the crate every moment that we are not exercising her or allowing her to relieve herself outside)?  Information to perhaps note: 1) Pepper was recently frightened in the middle of the night by a malfunctioning ceiling smoke alarm, the noise from which drove her from the second floor of our home downstairs to a closed door that she knows leads to our backyard and against which she pressed the entire length of her prone body for quite some time before I could coax her back to the safety and security of her crate (the behavior in question began a few days after this incident), and 2) for about the last 3 months, Pepper has been given 7.5 milligrams of Meloxicam once daily for hip discomfort (per her vet’s recommendation).

Thanks so much in advance for your time and attention; my wife and I find your website and products a wonderful resource.

Best,
Rick

Answer:

This is classic separation anxiety. It seems that the incident with the smoke alarm has made her feel anxious in her own home.

I would go back to basics and give her increased structure and predictability in her routine. 

We also have a Q&A section on separation anxiety that may help you. 

Hopefully with time and increased structure she can get over her anxiety and go back to being trustworthy in the home.  Give her freedom in increments as she improves, don’t just cut her loose in the house with full privileges.

You may also want to consider Calm Shen or Rescue Remedy  for the short term.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

My husband and I have a 14 week old black lab named Marla. She has been with us for 6 weeks. She shows real signs of separation anxiety and appears to be a clingy puppy. She doesn’t like to be left alone and when she is out of her crate she follows me and my husband everywhere we go.  During the day we put her in her crate while we work, which has been reduced in size so that she just fits and can just stand and move to lay down. Every single day she urinates and defecates in her crate, without fail. It appears as though she is doing it multiple times. I have done things to try to alleviate her anxiety, such as giving her a kong toy and putting a tiny bit of cheese or treats in it just before I leave the house (the only time she gets that toy is when I put her in her crate for the day). This does alleviate her anxiety when I leave the house, as she no longer cries or panics. However, she is still eliminating in her crate. When we are home with her at night and on the weekends she does not alleviate in the house. She will walk over to the door and sit down and wait for us to let her out. Is there anything I can do differently? Is her bladder / bowels just not developed enough yet? I do not punish her when I come home and she has gone in her crate, but my frustration is growing, as every day I come home to a smelly house and must take half an hour or more to clean her crate. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Tara

Answer:

The elimination in the crate is a symptom of anxiety.

Clingy dogs need to have their confidence built and one way to do that is through very disciplined pack structure and training. I would recommend the DVDs Your Puppy 8 weeks to 8 Months and Pack Structure for the Family Pet. We also have a Q&A section on separation anxiety.

I would also make sure this puppy is getting plenty of exercise. A tired puppy is a good puppy.

I might also recommend giving one of our stress relief supplements to her before you leave the house. I’d try Rescue Remedy. I know it works because I’ve taken it myself when I was in a particularly stressful situation.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

I have two German Shepherds.

The older one is 11 years. He looks like the scary and dangerous one. He is a sable and mostly black. His temperament from day one till now is excellent. He is great with other dogs people and children. He know when to bark (door bell) and when not to.

The young one is 14 months old. She follows the big guy like a shadow. There are several problems. One is with other dogs. Just some of them. She will want to be aggressive. The second problem is that she is very territorial and in the yard she will bark at next to nothing. Yet in the house she will not bark when needed, (door bell time).

The third is, she is terrified of my mother when she visits us and will hide or cling to me. My mother was the one that held her when we brought her home.

The last one is she is a massive chewer. She has removed a vinyl floor, destroyed most of my plants, attacked the couch, etc. She has a pile of chew toys. Balls, raw hide bones etc.

She has separation issues when I go to work.

If you can recommend some training videos, I would appreciate it.

Yours truly,
Tony

Answer:

From the description of your young dog, I would say she is insecure and anxious. She needs clear and consistent rules and leadership and training to build her confidence. The aggression you are seeing will escalate as she gets older unless you define the rules for her. She’s operating out of fear and nervousness. In the house, if the older dog is barking when the bell rings, she’s likely leaving the “job” to him. I’m sure she takes comfort in the fact that he’s secure and comfortable. You need to offer her the same type of reliable leadership that she gets from the other dog. She should be following you around, as opposed to the other dog.

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs

Crate train this dog so she can be safely contained without destroying your property or hurting herself. 

we also have a Q&A section on separation anxiety that may help you. 

I would not allow ANY dog to be loose in my house unless they had proven they are trustworthy. By allowing her to be loose and destroy things you are actually feeding her anxiety and destructiveness. This won’t get better unless you step in and change the way you live with her.

I would also read this article about dogs who will try to escape from crates. If you haven’t crate trained her in the past, it’s likely she may try to escape at first.

Make sure she’s getting appropriate physical and mental exercise too. I would read our article on training dogs with Markers.

For future questions, you might benefit from learning to use our SEARCH function, which is located in the top left corner of every page of the website. If you type in your key words or question it will find you articles, Q&As, free streaming video and links to threads on our discussion forum. Our website has over 16,000 pages and it’s very likely you’ll find the information you are looking for. I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


Question:

Hi Ed – my fiancé and I have a dog that is wearing on our patience as he is incredibly destructive and does not deal well with being kenneled. He has actually broken out of two steel kennels – the ones with the thin bars of metal. Now we keep him and our other dog in a room in the basement, and as you can see from the attached photo, he is slowly destroying it, day by day. That is an older picture and since then the damage he has done has tripled.

I’ve heard so many things about muzzles and my main question is – is it ok to leave a muzzle on him during the day while we’re both at work?? I don’t want to traumatize or stress him out at all, so that worries me, but we are running out of solutions for this problem.

Any advice or guidance you could provide would be greatly appreciated – I’m determined not to give up on this dog!!

Dog tore apart wall

Cindy's Response:

I would highly recommend you read this link on Dogs that Break out of Crates.

Your dog has severe separation anxiety, we also have a Q & A section on separation anxiety that may help you.

A muzzle would be part of the retraining program, along with a SOLID and sturdy crate. We have directions on how to measure the dog for a muzzle.

I would also be sure that this dog has clear understanding of the rules and leadership in and around your house and I would make sure he gets lots of exercise. Tired dogs are less likely to engage in this type of behavior.

We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes



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