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Old 10-30-2012, 01:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Separation/Crate Anxiety in New Puppy

Hello Everyone - I am new to the Boxer Forums! My husband and I recently purchased our first boxer, a full bred male fawn named Apollo. We purchased him at 12 weeks, he is now almost 15 weeks old. We are having some issues with leaving him in his crate during the day while we are at work.

I know there are a lot of other posts about this, but I wanted to start my own anyway to get specific feedback if possible.

Apollo (aside from separation/crate anxiety) has been an awesome dog since we've gotten him. His breeder recently went through some health problems and wasn't able to collar/leash/crate train Apollo any before we got him, so we pretty much have had to start fresh. He is great on his leash now, very seldom does he ever attempt to pull away, he knows already to sit/lay down/give paw. We are currently working on 'stay'. he has had very few accidents in the house since we got him - I can think of maybe 3 times in total in the last 3+ weeks since we got him. He almost always will go sniff at the front door to be let out when he needs to use the bathroom, the rest of the time, we usually just notice it's been a while so we take him out on our own. He rarely barks at all and he is exceptionally affectionate and loving.

We have tried crate training from the get go - at night and during the day while we are gone. As soon as you close the door of the crate, whether you had to put him in there (we never do this usually) or he goes in on his own, he immediately starts to whine/yelp/cry/bark etc. After about 2 solid weeks of this at night with no sleep had by Apollo and no sleep had by my husband and I, we decided to try letting him just sleep on the floor of our bedroom with our door closed (so he can't have run of the house) and he has slept soundly, with NO accidents for over a week now. However, we still crate him when we leave each day for work.

He is usually crated from about 8am-3pm Mon-Fri due to our work schedules. We eventually want him to be able to be around the house freely while we are gone, as we've NEVER had any previous dogs that needed to stay crated full time during their lifespans. (Previous dog experience has been Golden Retriever, Black Lab, Shihtzu, Mini Poodle, Teacup Yorkie - all family dogs growing up).

When we get home in the afternoon, we notice sometimes he has wet himself in the crate (this is to be expected since he is still a puppy and left for a long period of time) but on days when he hasn't wet himself, or even if we leave him for only an hour or two in his crate while running an errand, we notice he is soaking wet - slobber perhaps? We smell it/wipe it up and its definitely not urine, just smells mostly like wet dog. We spoke with our vet about this and she thinks it may definitely be separation anxiety.

We have Apollo in a weekly puppy preschool class right now on Monday nights and have spoken to our trainer about this as well. He also thinks it is separation anxiety. We were given some pointers on trying to get him used to being around the house but not necessarily right by our side, trying to teach him to 'stay' and eventually using that to have him 'stay' in the crate without getting so upset, etc. But does anyone else have pointers?

We do not want to resort to using medicine to calm him if we can help it. I've never had dogs that we have crated, so I'm not exactly used to how they behave in crates as young pups. Our trainer did say that if we don't fix this problem now though, that our life with Apollo will likely be very different than we imagined, and not in a good way.

We do the normal in the crate - keep it open so he can go in/out during the time we are at home, we keep a kong in there while we are gone at work - usually filled with PB and some treats - as well as a nylabone chew. He hates the crate though. He doesn't seem to be upset at any point other than when he is stuck in his crate and we leave. Our neighbors said that while we are gone he will yelp off and on the entire time we are gone - whether its for an hour or we are gone all day.

We also have left him with our neighbors if they are home, or they come over to our place rather, and he is perfect for them while we aren't around. So is this separation anxiety from us, crate anxiety, or perhaps just not wanting to be left alone in general? Our puppy instructor said this is unusual in such a young dog - is that true? Has anyone had such experiences? Both sets of our parents have tried to convince us he is just "not a crate dog" and to let him roam free while we are at work - which we eventually want - but our trainer said if it truly is anxiety then we could come home to a disaster from him trying to find us.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I am looking forward to being a member of this forum for help and advice (and just fun stories) about Apollo from here on out!


-Jen
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thor is exactly like that(he's nearly a year old). He really does not want to be left alone, even with our puppy crated beside him(she has no problem with it as long as she's not there alone). I wouldn't let him roam yet, because the trainer was probably right, especially if he's chewing in his crate while your gone. I've left Thor for 5 minutes to drop my husband off at work and get back, and he'll have chewed his way through something. One of the things that's been helping is crating him while I'm home, just for short periods of time. Right now, he's associating being in his crate with you leaving, and that will probably just get worse with time. I'm home all the time, so a few hours a week, I'll crate them both, and have to ignore the barking and whining coming from the spare room. Every time he calms down, he gets a treat and praise. I've also been giving them treats for being calm before they're let out when I've been gone. I can still hear him whining when I leave, and that might never go away completely, but lately when I come home, Thor is lying calmly in his crate instead of hearing him bark before I even get the front door open. The biggest and hardest thing for me is not paying any attention when he's whining and barking. Acknowledging them when they're crated and protesting just encourages it, makes them think that's how they get you back. Really, though, the biggest thing that's been helping us is creating a positive association with the crates. It hasn't made him excited about it, but he's getting a little less resistant to the idea.
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Murphy never liked the kennel. Recently at Petsmart we found a plug in that has smells that a mother dog would put off. It seems to be working or she's getting used to being put in the kennel. The same company makes an anxiety collar & our trainer says they work. Good luck!!
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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We are definitely hoping to work harder at creating a positive feel with the crate, but he has ZERO interest in the crate - whether we put toys/treats/food in it or not, he really doesn't like it or come near it.

Has anyone tried using the thundershirt for separation anxiety in the crate? I am reading reviews online and it appears a lot of people have had successes with it. I am willing to try just about anything to get him to calm down while we are gone. It's to the point where he is so worked up all day, that when we DO get home and let him out, he mostly just sleeps because he is finally able to calm himself down...
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Old 10-30-2012, 02:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Never tried the thunder shirt but the calming plug in (I keep it near the kennel) seems to be helping. Outer trainer also recommended the calming collar. Had any other petsmart employee said yeah or nah I might of questioned it but as our trainer said good things, I believe her. She never led us wrong in anything with Pheona.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We would put one of our worn shirts in there so he could smell is and and also kept a radio on for him... He loves country music!!!!!!
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Good tip about the radio or tv and the shirt. Just be sure it's one you don't care to wear again bc mine will tear it up. I hear that kong toys will help...but my Rosco just gets mad after you put him in. He's like no, I don't want your stupid toys. I don't want you to pet me. I just want you to let me out. When he was between 8 weeks to 5 months he hated HATED his kennel but he got over it. His anxiety has decreased greatly due to he's out of it much more but sometimes he will softly whine if he knows you're in the house and not letting him out lol. Switch up what you do before u leave sometimes. Like say first you get up take a shower get dressed put your shoes on eat breakfast take puppy for a walk get your keys in your pocket then put puppy up and leave. Try switching it up a little bit. (Wake up, take shower night before, eat breakfast get dressed put shoes on take puppy on walk put up puppy then keys then leave.) Don't make a big deal out of goodbye, don't say anything. And if you dont walk him before you leave, i would do so, get some of that energy out.. Then when you come home to let him out be cool don't say anything until you let him out to do his business. And on a weekend or something try putting him in the crate for different times. 10 minutes. 15 minutes then 5 minutes. So he knows he doesn't Always have to spend hours and hours in the kennel. I hear that this reeeeallly helps! Try it out! hope it improves.
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Oh and when y'all are home make sure he knows the kennel is a great happy place put lots of treats in there and don't put him inside for punishment which I'm sure you know.
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMiosiClan View Post
Has anyone tried using the thundershirt for separation anxiety in the crate? I am reading reviews online and it appears a lot of people have had successes with it. I am willing to try just about anything to get him to calm down while we are gone. It's to the point where he is so worked up all day, that when we DO get home and let him out, he mostly just sleeps because he is finally able to calm himself down...
While I haven't personally tried it (yet) for Thor's separation anxiety, I used to work for the company (so sorry if this comes off as advertising for them, lol), and it seems like a 50/50 shot of whether it helps or not. I would suggest that you order it right from the company, just in case, because it's easier to return it to them if it doesn't end up working. If you do try the Thundershirt, we heard a lot that it helped to kind of combine it with the idea of putting things you've worn into the crate by putting in your laundry basket for a few hours so it soaks up your scent.
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Old 10-30-2012, 06:31 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think all are really great ideas. Have you also tried feeding/watering him in the crate? Both of my dogs love their crates, and it seemed to help to not just have toys and treats in there but to also feed them in there, as they naturally will come to it and believe its their "den" and safe place. I hate having bowls and slobber and slick wet floors throughout the house, and the dogs aren't allowed in the kitchen or the bathrooms, so the most logical place to keep their bowls is their crates and they've done really well w it. Just a thought


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