Tips To Help A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Before we get into crate training, here are a few general tips for working with a dog who has separation anxiety.
The first thing is patience and consistency. It will probably take longer for your anxious dog to warm up to the crate, and thatâs okay! Just remember to go at your dogâs pace, and watch for signs that youâre going too fast.
You should also make sure to tire your dog out with physical and mental activity before he goes in his crate. This will burn off as much anxious energy as possible, leaving him more relaxed!
Finally, read up on desensitization and counterconditioning for dogs. This will help your dog get used to your leaving cues, as well as his crate. It will also help your dog stop seeing these as negative things!
Having a set schedule, like I explain in my free guide for a calm dog, also helped tremendously to help Baloo be less anxious.
Simulated Vs True Dog Separation Anxiety
There is true separation anxiety, and there is simulated separation anxiety, in which the dog behavior appears to be separation anxiety but it is, in fact, a learned behavior.
Simulated separation anxiety is often manifested when the dog lacks leadership as well as self-control. True separation anxiety, on the other hand, causes the dog to experience real stress during the absence of his owner.
In simulated separation anxiety, the dog knows that he will get attention if he acts badly. For some dogs, even being verbally reprimanded for such behavior is rewarding because he feels he was noticed.
Negative attention can be a reward in many cases, if the owner is unaware that certain needs of his dog are not being met. In these cases, there is little real stress involved, just misbehavior.
Simulated separation anxiety is fairly easy to overcome with a gradual approach, slowly increasing the amount of time spent in a cratewhen you are at home as well as awayconsistent obedience training, proper amounts of exercise, and strong leadership.
Severe cases of true separation anxiety impose a challenge to Pack Leaders.
How To Stop Small Dogs From Barking
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to stop a small dog from barking may vary depending on the individual dogs personality and behavior. However, some tips on how to stop small dogs from barking may include training the dog with positive reinforcement techniques, providing the dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, and avoiding punishment or negative reinforcement when the dog is barking.
Although some dogs bark more than others, they all bark in the same manner. Some German Shepherd and Rottweiler dogs bark a lot, but not as much as some Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers. Bark collars can no longer be used on dogs that have altered their bark pitch. Small dog syndrome is a condition that affects dogs who are treated differently at home. Dogs that behave in this manner will be allowed to bark excessively. This bad habit can be avoided by training small dogs. If you notice that your dog is barking excessively, try to get him to stop.
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Moderate To Severe Separation Anxiety
Severe cases of separation anxiety are more difficult to remedy and require a more complex counterconditioning and desensitization program.
Youll need to gradually accustom your pet to being left alone by using lots of short absences that dont leave your dog feeling especially anxious. Over many weeks of daily training sessions, slowly increase the duration of the separations.
Do I Need To Cure The Separation Anxiety Before Crate Training
No! This is one of the biggest myths when it comes to separation anxiety. At Dogdorable, we believe that all dogs should be crate trained. But crate training is especially important for dogs that have separation anxiety.
Believe it or not, this can actually HELP the separation anxiety, not hurt it. Most dogs that have separation anxiety become fearful when left alone. By training them to get comfortable with the crate, theyll have a safe place to go when they are afraid. A quiet little retreat of their own where they can relax until you get back. Crate training your dog is one of the most loving things you can do for them.
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Tips For Crating A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Crate training your dog has a myriad of benefits, but it takes time and effort. Especially if you have an adult dog who is experiencing separation anxiety, introducing the crate and ensuring it is an effective tool for your pet can be a significant undertaking.
Crating a dog with separation anxiety has the potential to help your animal feel safer and more relaxed, but it can also have the opposite effect. Use these tips to ensure your pet has a positive experience with their crate and you can feel better about leaving them alone.
Practice With Longer Crating Periods
After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short periods of time while you’re home.
- Give them a voice cue to enter, such as “crate.” Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand.
- After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door.
- Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out.
- Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you’re out of sight.
- Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you’re gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks.
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Feed Your Dog Meals In The Crate
After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate.
- If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish or interactive puzzle toy stuffed with food all the way at the back of the crate.
- If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate.
- Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while theyre eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until theyre staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating.
- If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period.
Do Dogs Grow Out Of Separation Anxiety
Usually, dogs do not outgrow separation anxiety. Very mild separation anxiety may improve over time, but that isn’t the case in most instances of moderate to severe separation anxiety. The condition has nothing to do with age, so it’s not likely to improve on its own without some sort of intervention and treatment.
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Dogs That Bark Excessively May Have Separation Anxiety
Many people find it difficult to control their dogs after they bark. They frequently interpret the behavior as a sign of dominance, aggression, poor behavior, or poor training. The bark of dogs who are separated from their owners can be excessive, indicating an episode of pacing, destruction, accidents in the home, and depression, such as lack of appetite or lethargy. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention from your veterinarian.
Why Should You Crate Train An Older Dog
Your golden oldie has gotten this far in life without using a crate, so why bother crate training them now? Well, crates offer several benefits for four-legged family members of all ages.
The biggest benefit of a crate is that it gives your dog a space of their own, a sort of safe zone they can retreat to whenever they feel overwhelmed, anxious, or just need a rest. Dogs instinctively seek out quiet and protected spaces for themselves when they need to get away from whatever is going on around them, and a crate is perfect for exactly that.
This can particularly come in handy if youre adopting an older dog. As they adjust to life in their new surroundings and slowly adapt to the house rules, a crate gives them a safe haven when they need some time to themselves. It can help if they are starting to develop cognitive issues as they age too, helping to minimize the resulting anxiety.
Crates also help dogs cope with anxiety surrounding new or frightening situations, such as a loud thunderstorm or a house full of guests coming over. This can reduce the incidence of unwanted doggy behaviors, for example destructive chewing.
Crates also make it easier to travel with your dog in the car and by plane, and can come in very handy in an emergency situation.
And while you would, in an ideal world, introduce a dog to crate training as a puppy, its still entirely possible to crate train an older dog.
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Can A Dog Have More Than One Crate
Its fine for a dog to have more than one crate. In fact, setting up two crates, one in the car and one in the house, can make your life easier by eliminating the need to lug a single kennel from one place to another. While your indoor crate should be made of sturdy metal or plastic, a collapsible metal or nylon crate or a lightweight plastic crate with a handle are good portable options for travel.
If you have more than one dog, in most cases each should have their own designated crate. If, however, you have a bonded pair or a nursing mama dog, you may be able to crate them together as long as the space is large enough for both to be comfortable inside.
Using Medication When Training
If your dog is on anxiety medication, use it when training. If you can get them comfortable in the crate with medication, theyll eventually get used to being in the crate without medication. This is also a great time to experiment with CBD treats. Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety have had great results with CBD.
Youll want to use two popular training styles.
Start off by getting your dog comfortable with the base of the crate by detaching the top. Reward your dog when they go into the base of the crate on their own. Once theyre comfortable with the base, attach the top and continue rewarding your dog when they go into the crate with the top on.
As you can see, this is a simple process, but it will take some time. Dont give up after a few days. Remember, dogs are den animals. Keeping them in a crate is not cruel, youre lovingly providing them with a place of shelter and security. It will also give you peace of mind knowing you can leave without your house getting destroyed!
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Desensitize Your Dog To Your Leaving Procedure
We all have a procedure that we follow when we get ready to leave the house.
Your dog is clued into that leaving process and they will learn to anticipate being alone for long periods of time when you initiate that process.
The longest part of the crate training procedure and treating separation anxiety is desensitizing your dog to this procedure.
At least twice a day for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, go through your leaving procedure and then go do something else in the house like sit down at your computer, get into bed, watch some TV, or make a cup of tea.
You will know that your dog is becoming desensitized when they no longer follow you around through this procedure.
Start to incorporate putting them in their crate now however, dont leave your home yet. Sit down next to them or watch TV so they dont feel as though they have been abandoned.
Once your dog is able to be in their crate without whining, barking, or pacing while you are home or going through the process of leaving home, you know they are not anticipating your departure.
If Your Dog Is Hurting Himself
If your dog is hurting himself it is time to get help from your vet and read this to understand more. Your vet can prescribe medication that can make your dog more comfortable when you leave and while you work on behavior modification. Imagine having PTSD from war and having visions and panic attacks, insomnia you would probably want medication to help as you worked with a doctor, psychiatrist, or other homeopathic doctor while you worked on your own behavior changes and modifications right?
A dog that truly suffers from separation anxiety will benefit from medication AND behavior modification just like people. And, both are critical. Only medication will create the addict and will not address the behavior or the problem. Avoiding medication, sometimes, like the above example is sometimes horrifying and traumatizing and also will not work. Medication and behavior modification take time but go hand in hand.
And, until you can conquer the problem, I would look into finding a good doggy daycare that will keep your dog from hurting himself, screaming, barking all day or chewing and allow you time to work on problems in a fashion that is conducive to overcoming the problem and not making it worse.
For more on that click here
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How Long Does It Take To Crate Train A Dog With Separation Anxiety
Generally speaking, crate training a dog with separation anxiety should take a few months. Depending on the specific breed, it could take longer to get a dog used to a crate.
An experienced vet will be able to tell you exactly how long it may take to train your specific dog. If your dog has any medical conditions along with separation anxiety, it may take longer to train it.
Give Him Something To Chew Or Lick While In The Crate
If thereâs one thing dogs know how to do, itâs use their mouths! Dogs explore and experience the world through their mouths from the moment theyâre born. Chewing and licking things can be really comforting to your dog. It releases endorphins that make your dog feel good!
Giving him something to chew on or lick is a great way to help your dog settle in his crate. If you want something that will last him a long time, try putting peanut butter and treats in a Kong toyand then freezing it for a few hours or overnight.
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Manage Your Departure Cues
There are likely certain actions you take before leaving that spark your dogs anxiety. These could be grabbing your keys, putting on your shoes, or opening the door.
As part of the desensitization training, you can incorporate a few of these departure cues to try to rob them of their power. Your dog needs to learn that its not the end of the world if you grab your briefcase.
Only work on one departure cue at a time. This prevents your dog from becoming overwhelmed while also giving you a clear idea of which cues upset them the most.
No Matter What Dont Punish Your Dog
Its definitely frustrating to come home to a stain on the carpet or a destroyed pillow, but its important not to scold or punish your dog for these behaviors. For one thing, they wont make the connection between the punishment and a behavior that has long since finished, and being punished by the one they love is likely to ramp their anxiety up even more.
So, keep your composure and practice a little empathy. Remember, theyre upset because they miss you, and the last thing you want is to punish them for that.
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Give Them Time To Adjust
It can take a couple of weeks for them to adjust to their crate, but once adjusted, they will thoroughly enjoy their peaceful sleep space and will run to their crate when you use the voice command crate or bed, as youve now trained them to do.
We hope this information helps as you get your pet ready for their travels!
Why Is It More Difficult To Crate Train Older Dogs
Whatever the age of your dog, crate training is a tricky process. While older dogs learn faster than puppies, it can still take a while to train them. This is because it is difficult to cultivate new habits in older dogs. It will take time for them to accept the crate, especially if they have gotten used to staying in close proximity to you.
Old senior dogs have already seen a life of freedom too, so they will be more reluctant to accept one in a confined crate.
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