Crate Training Separation Anxiety
Most of what people think is crate training separation anxiety is actually doggy boredom. It often starts like this; you get ready to leave by putting your clothes and shoes on while your dog gets excited, next you grab your keys, kiss your furry friend and head out the door.
Your dog gets excited the moment he realizes you are getting ready to go, and he thinks he might be able to join you. At the moment the door closes and he realizes he is staying, he gets frustrated.
He watches you pull away and his frustration rises. He may scratch the door or bark in disappointment when he realizes he is not getting your attention. Next, he may go and seek out some “Fun” and do some things he knows he can’t when you are home.
Imagine a child left for the first time home alone…don’t you figure he is investigating things he can’t when his parents are home? Going through drawers and cupboards that are off limits, eating some candy, and doing things that aren’t normally allowed! I know I did when my parents left me alone as a kid!
Dogs are very similar! They often race to the garbage to try and determine WHY you threw out such scrumptious treasures! Next they shuffle to the cupboards in search of FOOD and other things that smell great. And, often, they too go into rooms and other places that are normally off limits.
Why Does This Happen?
What we don’t realize as “rational humans” is that what we see as incredibly naughty and destructive behavior is amazingly FUN for your dog! Can you imagine how stimulating and exciting it is to go through the trash? Tossing items to and fro and eating disregarded goodies is pleasurable and satisfying!
Even shredding inedible items can be entertaining, listening to a sofa shred and pulling out the fluff is like destroying a really BIG dog toy!
What Do You Do?
I recommend crate training! A crate will keep your dog, your garbage, your cupboards, your sofa and your carpet safe! And, if your dog feels mild anxiety as he watches you leave, a crate can also calm his nerves. When you crate him, you take away his ability to worry about everything and everyone else and hopefully you give him the ability to be Zen and relax!
Picking The Right Crate
Find an appropriate crate! For dogs with some separation issues and mild anxiety I recommend plastic or aluminum crates which are almost impossible to break out of! I prefer these because they are darker inside. We tend to think that dogs will do better with wire crates because they can see out better, but that in and of itself can be a problem! Being visually stimulated can create anxiety, let your dog feel like he is in a den.
Crate Training Schedule
Next get him on a crate training schedule and play crate games with him. If he is feeling anxiety it is best to work on this with him while you are at home so you can make it as fun as possible! He needs to acclimate and feel like his crate is the greatest place ever!
Crate Training Whining
He may whine in his crate and that can be normal, stay home with him while he is crated to make sure he is not going to injure himself, you can also set up a video camera to see what he does when left alone and monitor him.
Make the environment as normal as possible by leaving the TV or music on to help distract him from other noises. How many people live in a quiet house with very little stimulation or noise? But when we leave, we turn everything off and his environment becomes sterile and sometimes scary for him. Crank up the tunes and leave it on loud so he can’t hear the mail man, etc and get nervous!
If your dog is urinating, defecating, screaming, scratching, or biting at his crate he may have some serious separation anxiety issues and you may need to speak to your veterinarian about helping to relax him when left alone. Although there are aluminum crates that are virtually impossible to break out of, we don’t want him to injure himself trying!