Help Please - crating/anxiety

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Help Please - crating/anxiety

This is a discussion on Help Please - crating/anxiety within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; I recently got a shih tzu puppy from a shelter, about 6 months old, and work 9-5 every day, leaving him at home alone for ...

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Old 07-23-2014, 08:05 PM
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Help Please - crating/anxiety

I recently got a shih tzu puppy from a shelter, about 6 months old, and work 9-5 every day, leaving him at home alone for several hours a day. I've been attempting to crate train him so I don't have to worry about destruction when I leave the house, but he's TERRIFIED of the crate. He cries, whines, barks.. even bites at the front gate that's metal. I don't know much about his background.. but even if I close a door and he can't see me, he whines and barks until I come back (it happened this morning while I was showering).

So, instead of a crate, I put him behind a baby gate. When I came home at lunch today, he had jumped over it and had attacked my blinds in my living room and peed on the carpet (he's working on his housetraining). So I put him in the bathroom, with the door closed and all his toys, crate, blanket, food and water .. I came back a few hours later, and he had DESTROYED the bathroom. I thought I put everything away but he got in the tub, took out all the shampoos and had them everywhere, had shredded toilet paper, pulled towels off the counter.. etc.

I'm so nervous to leave him every day, and don't know what to do when I leave him. Where should I put him? Should I force him in the crate even though he fights it and hope he doesn't cry all day? Tomorrow I have to be at work from 9-6.. and I can't come home at lunch. I have no idea what to do with him!

Suggestions greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Old 07-24-2014, 04:57 AM
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Do not force him in the crate. You want eventually for him to be crate trained so he can stay in there while you're out, and forcing him in it will set that process way back.

It sounds like he has separation anxiety which is causing his destructiveness, which is hard, because even if you do manage to keep him from destroying things, the anxiety will still be there. Treating SA is possible, but it takes a long time.

I would put him in the bathroom again in the meantime, and make sure absolutely everything is removed, even stuff in the cupboard. I would also look into hiring a dog walker to break up his long day alone.

Resources here:
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Old 07-24-2014, 05:59 AM
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I went through a similar situation.

From my own experience, when you are at home try to make the crate fun for your dog, leave the cage open and throw some treats in to be sniffed out. I used to stuff a kong with soft meat and then freeze it. Give this to your dog in the cage, mine quickly forgot about being in there once he started trying to get the food out!

While they are occupied with the treats (kong/dentastix) leave the room for short periods of time and gradually build it up. Try caging your pup for short periods of time through the day on weekends as you don't want to associate to the dog that being caged means you are leaving for the day.

May help if you are able to walk him in the morning before you leave?

If space allows you could also confine an area of your house with a baby-gate type dog pen to keep him away from shelves etc.
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Old 07-24-2014, 09:20 PM
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Thank you so much! This advice actually helped quite a bit - today we got up earlier, and I took him on a quick walk before I left. I also gave him a calming/anxiety tablet, and a kong filled with hot dog pieces, and when I got home almost 11 hours later (I know I shouldn't leave him that long, I couldn't get away from work today), NOTHING was destroyed. He had gone potty on the puppy pad, and his toys and blankets were everywhere, but nothing was destroyed.

It looks like he's learning! Crate training is going to take awhile, but it's getting better
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Old 07-25-2014, 04:13 AM
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That's great that the Kong helped so much! Also, kibble dispensers (similar to the Kong, but some being more difficult or they hold more food) and puzzle toys are also a major help. Also, freezing things like peanut butter, yogurt, cheese, wet food with kibble and many more, inside the Kong help make the brain game session last much longer. puzzle dog toys puzzle dog toys kibble dispensing dog toys kibble dispensing dog toys

Along with the great links provided by zouzou, here are some videos that may help you with crate training and being left alone:

It seems as though he may not necessarily have severe SA, more boredom/need for more mental stimulation, but these books may still be of great help to you, especially in the future.



Definitely do keep taking him for walks before leaving him (but let him wind down from the walk for a bit first), as well as making sure he's getting enough exercise in general. Also, mental stimulation, as you saw with the success of the Kong, is crucial to helping a dog feel calm about being left lone. Make sure he's got his brain exercised before and during the time you leave him alone. Crate training takes time and patience, but it will pay off. He just has to slowly but surely learn that it is a good place to be, and every time he's in it, good things happen. Try feeding him his meals in there (door open), giving all chewies/bones/etc. in there, and make it a very comfortable place to go to relax.
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Old 07-25-2014, 05:03 PM
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Thank you! I'm going to have to check out all that stuff you posted. I'm going to hold off on complex puzzle toys for now.. he's occupied by the Kong, but has yet to actually get food out of it! Haha, every day I come home and it's still full. He's still learning
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crate, destructive behavior, separation anxiety

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