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Crate Training/separation Anxiety


AshOshea
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Alright, I am a brand new husky owner and I am new to the breed. I did my research before adopting my dog, Max, but he is definitely still a challenge. I live in the basement of a house that has been converted into an apartment. I have my own fenced yard and access to the landlord's larger fenced yard as well where Max can play with her dog (we introduced them today and they seemed to get along well). I just adopted him on Sunday. He is just over 1 year old and is the BEST dog I have ever had. He doesn't jump up on people, doesn't bark (unless he is really riled up while playing), learns quickly, and doesn't pull too much on his leash (though we are working on improving that still). My problem is this: he is having a very hard time in his crate. At his foster home he was also crated, but his foster family had 2 other dogs so he wasn't really alone. He did fine in his crate. During the day I have to crate him for up to 4-4.5 hours while I am working.

 

I have been getting up early with him to take him on a 15-30 minute walk, then I crate him and go to work for a couple of hours (I am a college student, so my schedule is sort of split up so I can come home throughout the day). He does fine in his crate during this time and doesn't really cry/whine/howl. Then when I come home I let him out to potty and we go on a long walk (30-45 minutes minimum). We come home, play, and he usually takes a nap. Somedays I work 2:45/3-5:30 in the afternoon and other days I work 5-9. I make sure he gets lots of play time and exercise and food, water, and potty before I crate him, but he has been having a really hard time. Last night I came home early because my landlord, who lives above me and can hear him when he cries/howls, said he was crying for over an hour (I know part of it is because it's a new place and people and possibly because there was a thunderstorm) so she came down to check on him and he was trying to break out of the kennel. We have a large Kong brand kennel and he pulled the bottom part of the door so that it was behind the cage wall instead of in front of it. Today he had a hard time again in the afternoon and ripped a huge chunk off of the bottom tray of his crate. He cried and howled for over an hour, according to my landlord. She does not understand the breed, thinks crating is cruel, and feels bad for Max. Max's crying also makes her dog upstairs start crying and barking.

 

He is a very calm dog and he sleeps in a dog bed next to my bed at night time. He has not chewed up anything in my room. I was thinking of trying to let him have free run of the house tomorrow while I am working for 2 hours in the morning and see how he does. I am planning to put all the couch cushions, pillows, and other things I don't want him to chew up in  the bathroom where he cannot get to them. If the house is still in good shape when I get home, he will be rewarded with a special treat.

 

What I would like to hear is how y'all handled crying/howling in the crate/destructiveness in the crate and/or how your husky has done with having free run of the house. I honestly think that he will be okay, but I know they get bored easily. He had all of his toys (several soft chew toys, three types of bones, a kong filled with PB, an antler chew, and 2 tennis balls) in his crate today and still had a really hard time so I am wondering if he would do any better out of the crate. I appreciate any help/advice you can give me!

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Ashley, thanks for adopting. :)  First, give it some time.  Without knowing his story, it's hard to say how many times he's been passed around or how many shelters he's been in.  Some dogs adapt really quickly to new homes and some take time.  It may just be he's not quite comfortable in his new home with you away.  I'm a big fan of a King filled with tasty, healthy treats...maybe even frozen to last longer.  I don't like leaving much else when I leave just because they might choke on something.  Have you tried leaving him out and just stepping outside for a bit to see what happens?  It may turn out he does really well just left out.  Just make sure anything edible is placed out of reach. :)  Second, try getting him more exercise before you crate him IF you can.  I know you said your schedule is weird with school but it might help.

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Hi there! Thank you for your reply! I am sure a big part of it is being insecure in a new home. I am his fourth owner, and will be his forever home. He was with his breeder, then with his first owner (who left him alone in the yard all day and wanted to give him up because he chewed up a cushion, he also was not being fed enough as he is a bit underweight), then with the woman who rescued him and was fostering him for 2-3 weeks, and now with me. The poor baby is only a year old (as of March) and has already been with alot of different people. I know he is also just still settling in and getting used to being the only dog again (his foster family had 2 other dogs).

 

I haven't tried stepping out for the purpose of training, but I know that when I stepped out to take the trash out this morning he stood at the door and cried. :(

 

I am also going to take him for a longer walk before I go to work. This means I will be getting up at 5:30, but oh well. If it helps my fur baby it's worth it lol. So this way he will be getting about a 30-45 minute walk in the morning, then crated from about 6:30-9 (it will be longer when school starts in August, til about 11, but hopefully I won't have to crate him at all) then let out to potty right when I get home and go out for an hour walk, then come home to play, then taken on another walk before I go to work in the afternoon, and then on another walk when I get home in the evening, and then play time in the house/yard before bed.

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Hi Ashley once again thank you for adopting :) I don't have a dog with Separation Anxiety so can't help much but these are some solutions I've heard from other people that owns dogs with SA

 

-Radio. Works wonders with my aunt's neighbor's dog. Either leave the radio or TV on while you're gone so that he thinks there's someone at home

-Thunder shirt. It's a doggie shirt that helps to calm an anxious dog.

-"Leaving exercise". When you're home, get up and leave the house without paying any attention to the dog. Stay out of the house (and out of his sight) for about 30 seconds, then return. I don't know if you should reward him and how if he doesn't make a peep, but the point is don't get him excited. Slowly, increase the time of your leave. Maybe from 30 to 40 seconds until one day you can stay outside for long hours without him crying. I think dogs with separation anxiety is just worried that their owner will never ever come home, and getting him used to you leaving and coming back all the time would assure him that you will always return. 

 

that is all I have :) I hope it helps! Oh and btw I agree with Brian, I think you should give him a little bit more time to adjust and see if this is really a behavioral issue or just him not settled in nicely yet. If this behavior persists you can contact a behaviorist and see what can they do :) good luck xxx

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Just give him plenty of exercise before leaving him crated and give him time to settle in.  Work on leaving him from short to longer periods of time.  I THINK it's just him adapting to a new place and with you kind of having a crazy schedule, that probably doesn't help him settle in any quicker.  Huskies are smart, though, and he'll learn. :)

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