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My husband and I adopted a puppy two months ago. He's now 5 and a half months old. He's a german shepherd mix, not sure what else.

For the first two months, my husband was home with him every day. We were crate training him during that time when we'd run errands or such, at most for 3 or 4 hours. He would cry a little bit, but would stop and be fine in his crate (which was in the living room).

My husband went back to work two weeks ago, so we've been crating him while we're both gone. I started giving him a Kong with frozen yogurt and I come home for a half hour during lunch to walk him.

Last week, he started wrecking his crate. (It's a wire crate, by the way). I came home during lunch and found the metal bars bent inward. I was worried that if he kept it up, he would hurt himself. Cut his mouth or impale himself or something. So I tried keeping him in the kitchen and used the crate to block the kitchen doorway. He jumped it and was loose in the house for the second half of the day. Minimal damage--no indoor elimination, no inappropriate chewing, no digging indoor plants. He ate a bag of his treats, but I can't begrudge him that if they were within his reach.

The next time I tried to keep him in his crate for more than 2 hours was when I went to the grocery store, and I came home to find that he had widened the hole in his crate and could fit his entire head through. This is obviously a choking hazard.

So this weekend, I went out and bought two baby gates. Since he had already jumped over his crate I figured he could clear a baby gate unless I put another one on top of it. So I kept him in the kitchen with his bed, water, basket of toys, and his Kong full of yogurt.

I came home during my lunch break and found that he had knocked over the bottom gate and gotten loose in the house. I walked him and spent some time with him and then put him back in the kitchen, but I tightened the gate to make it sturdier between the walls. When I came home, I found that instead of knocking over the bottom gate, he had bitten and pulled it apart. So he was loose in the house for the second half of the day again. Both times there was again no damage in the house. However, he broke a toenail.

It's important for me to say here that he doesn't dislike his crate. When it's in the living room he goes in there frequently to sleep, and he stays in there at night to sleep with no problem.

I assume it is a mild separation anxiety, but he seems to be doing fine if he is loose in the house. I don't think remedial crate training will solve it. As I said, he doesn't dislike his crate. He dislikes being alone. We've done exercises with him to acclimate him to being alone, but obviously it hasn't worked. My inclination is to try leaving him loose in the house from now on. My primary concern is that he doesn't harm himself, which the crate and baby gate solution have obviously failed me in doing.

I am hoping someone can give me advice or tell me an experience that worked for them. Please don't demonize me for getting a dog with a full time job. He is happy and we make it work.
 

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He seems young to have full freedom in the house, but if he can handle it, that's great.

I would give him some trial runs. Do you have a camera or cell phone you can set up in a somewhat general location, and watch what he does with his freedom? If he basically just curls up and naps, or chews on a toy, he may be just fine with staying out all day. Go out a few times for a couple of hours or so, just to see what happens.

Of course, you'll have to puppy proof like crazy - as much as is physically possible, to be safe. You may also want to invest in a camera or too so you can check in on him early on and rush home should something go completely astray.
 

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Thanks for your response.

I had thought about that. I wondered if there might even exist some kind of camera system that you could tether to a phone app for a live feed. If anyone knows of something like that, please let me know.

I've also read that some people have let their dogs loose at a young age and after two months their dog starts to become destructive. I would attribute that to boredom or pent up energy, which I know isn't a problem for my dog cause we exercise him plenty. But I also know that one mishap could result in hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of damage.

I will definitely try the trial runs in the super puppy proofed house. I just don't want him to get hurt trying to escape, and if he is more destructive inside the crate than out, it just seems right to me.

I attached a picture of him as he greeted me at the front door this afternoon, after escaping the kitchen. It's the face of guilt.
 

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I lack experience, so please take everything I say with a grain of salt.

It doesn't sound to me like he has separation anxiety. He just likes to have his freedom, which I think applies to many dogs.

Instead of baby gates, which have tons of spots to clamp one's teeth, or a wire crate which he can bend, I'd suggest looking into sturdy carriers to use as his crate. I can't specifically recommend the brand, since I haven't tried it, but I think something like this should work. www.rufftoughkennels.com/kennels.html

Otherwise, if he does all right with free range and has lots of chew toys to keep him busy (boredom is the biggest reason for destruction, like you said), then go for it!
 

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Oh, now... what a cutie... and total look of guilt! Ha!

I'm by no means an expert - heck I have my own dilemmas, lol - but just from reading the situation, I think the only option you might have is to try the freedom. I do agree that it seems a little young but really if he's destroying the barriers and the crate trying to get out... You can try buying a sturdier and taller gate - I got one off Amazon that drilled into the wall rather than a pressurized one... it was $80 but that's because it was an extra wide, extra tall one and had a cat door within the main door. A sturdier gate might detour destruction of the actual gate, but that doesn't mean he won't scratch the floor or the walls trying to dig out around it.

Have you tried pheromone sprays? We bought a calming one for our pup and it seems to help. Since you come home for lunch you might want to try a ThunderShirt too. I CAN'T RECOMMEND THOSE ENOUGH. Amazing things. But, you don't want to keep it on for longer than a few hours, so if he seems to be getting out in the afternoon, try putting it on before you leave to go back to work. Or vice versa.

Also the usual - tv or radio on playing softly - something to make him not feel like he's alone.

This will be a bit random and some here will likely view as off the wall, but I'm a crystal healer so I'm also fond of using them to help too. If you can put them in an area that he can't get to, try putting up Quartz and Amethyst stones in four corners around where he'll be with the intention of helping to keep the atmosphere calm and relaxed.

Separation anxiety is no joke! I briefly fostered a dog that suffered from that and in the few days we had her she caused a lot of damage. Thankfully she never hurt herself. She always ended up in our bedroom though (with the cats... I think she was just seeking companionship), so maybe try the trick of the old shirt being left with her so she has something smothered with your scent.

There are apps you can download to turn your cell phone into a live feed - check out this article for more info: How To Stream Live Video From Your Smartphone

^-- if you don't want to go that route I recommend this cam from Amazon: D-Link Wireless Day/Night microSD Network Surveillance Camera with mydlink-Enabled <-- I purchased that and have it trained on my pup's crate so I can keep an eye on her while I'm at work. It was easy to set up and there's an app you download on your phone to watch the feed. It only has one way audio and doesn't tilt or move, but it works for me and I thought it was a good price.

And then finally - maybe try a doggy daycare?

Good luck!
 
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