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Categories: Separation Anxiety

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

A. 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
  
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