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Zoey is a 3 year old SBT cross that we love dearly. We rescued her at 10 weeks old, she was from a pet shop and had lived with her owner for about two weeks. She had been left outside.

Ever since she came home she has been extremely vocal in her crate (eg. she whined for half an hour every night in her crate until she was just under 2 years old, and whenever she's awake in her crate she does mild whining until settling). She also chewed crate bars, this diminished over time and stopped when she was about 2 years old. She still whines in her crate now, but she sleeps in there, settles in there, runs there if she finds a 'naughty' item etc.

Before putting her in her crate to be left she is exercised, and she goes away with a stuffed Kong (not a fan of frozen ones) and Nylabones, which she loves. In August we switched her crate for an exercise pen. Zoey can't have blankets in her crate because she shreds them, and the pen meant that she could sleep on something soft (carpet). We had no issues.

Then four nights ago (maybe five?) we forgot to lock the pen properly, and we came home to find Zoey in the room. She had destroyed a few things but nothing majorly. That night we put her in the pen as usual and she was horrifically noisy, but when we ignored her she settled down and slept and has been quiet since. Yesterday we came home to find her out again; this time she had chewed and pulled off bars of the pen and squeezed out.

Today we put her back in her old standard 36 inch crate, and came back to find she had bent bars and the door, pulled bars off and had chewed an armchair through the hole created. I honestly don't think it's SA...I think the fact she got out once has made her way more determined to get out. She's not anxious when we come back, nor when we leave.

I am disabled (currently awaiting a new diagnosis) but things are basically as bad as they have ever been. Right now we cannot cope with this, nor do we have the time to be able to stay with Zoey 24/7 and start crate training from the beginning...we have our other dogs to walk and doctor's appointments to go to - I can't be left alone, my bf / carer has to be with me at all times. We are not stable enough to work with a behaviourist due to bipolar / psychosis.

We were going to buy a super strong crate (http://www.dogforum.com/dog-gear-supplies/need-heavy-duty-crate-asap-253858/) but would rehoming be better for all, as we cannot deal with this right now. Rehoming her would completely tear us apart though. We don't know what to do...

Dog proofing a room is not possible. There's wood and furnishings everywhere that can be chewed, including the bathroom. And obviously we can't enclose her in a pen as even with a 5x3ft pen it's not enough and now she just wants to break out. We would spend a lot of money on a bomb proof crate, but we can't buy a crate for her then to break out of it...she could damage herself, our other pets, the house we rent etc.

I feel like there has to be a solution I just can't think of it......what about an outdoor secure run, but indoors??

Few bits about Zoey:

- no major behavioural issues; she gets way excited meeting new people and always has (yay pet shop beginning and us not knowing more dog lovers when she was little...), she's vocal in her crate, she pulls on lead and she's a little nervous around other dogs, especially large breeds as she was attacked or bothered by big dogs
- She has never so much as growled at anyone or anything, and even when other dogs / Kasper (RG) have lunged at her she hasn't reacted.
- She gets a minimum of two walks a day, usually on lead (she has awesome recall but where we live people are quick to blame bull breeds) ranging from 30 - 45 minutes each
- Inside she spends most her time sleeping, she's a pretty lazy dog, but we do several training sessions a day, she plays with Kasper and we've also started playing around with a small agility kit
- She is incredibly intelligent and knows over thirty tricks, and she's loving...her favourite thing to do is cuddle under a blanket with you
- About half her meals come from puzzle feeders

Really appreciate any thoughts....
 

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My heart is breaking for you, I know how much you absolutely love her. I can't imagine it is easy for you right now with three dogs, one of whom is so young! I really feel like you guys are a phenomenal home for her. She gets lots of exercise, love, and mental stimulation. I feel your pain, I would be afraid of her hurting herself while trying to break out.
 

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ugh this situation sucks for all involved I know how much you guys love her and I really hope something can be worked out so she can stay.

I feel like there has to be a solution I just can't think of it......what about an outdoor secure run, but indoors??
This might be doable. I know a few people who have them in their homes.

Can't find an example, but I know someone who had a kennel like this set up inside their house to keep their foster dog seperated. SO if you have the space maybe try it

https://ibec-its.co.uk/images/outdoor-dog-kennels-for-sale-85.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you so so much guys, we were expecting hate...

I'm so numb and 'done' with everything at the moment that I can't imagine how I'd feel if we did end up rehoming her...everything's such a mess. I'm furious as well because up until we forgot to lock the pen 4+ days ago, things were going so good with the dogs...things were a mess illness-wise for me, but the dogs were great! We recently bought an armchair (which Zoey destroyed today after bending the crate bars enough to stick her head out...) and Zoey loved snuggling on it with me; she'd been getting more chance to go off lead on walks, Kasper has been working on new tricks and really enjoying hide and seek games, and Rey is just excelling at everything...and now this :(

One of my biggest worries is coming back and finding her badly injured...or what about her teeth, from yanking on bars?? Or what if we did manage to find her a crate she couldn't break out of and she developed full on SA / panic because she couldn't escape?

Boxerluv our main thought with any sort of confinement is that either the bars need to be super thick, very fine mesh (so she can't get her jaw into it) or be a solid wall. The bars seem to be what she focuses on, as now she has learnt she can bend, snap and pull them off.

This pen is expensive and we've done very little research into it, but it's supposed to be sturdy and from what I can gather it's just a solid wall:

weather Panel - Animal Pens & Panels

Don't know how tall it is, but the width of each panel is 1m, so we could have a 1m x 1m pen...no idea about doors or anything though, as I said we haven't looked into it yet...

Or something like this, but it's 2m x 2m and we only have a tiny living room...

5cm Bar Dog Pen - Animal Pens & Panels

Ugh.
 

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What happens if you just dog proof a room and leave her out? The bathroom is often easy enough to dog proof.

Her behavior is just not normal and to me, does indicate some kind of anxiety going on. It may not be separation anxiety. It may be some kind of claustrophobia. It could be a bit of both. Was she properly crate trained? I'm usually against letting a dog "cry it out" in a crate because they're often trying to tell you that they're legit distressed. Crate training doesn't happen overnight, or as a side effect of making the dog sleep in it no matter what. Did you take steps to make her comfortable with the crate little by little?
 

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She's always been happy in her crate, and we crate trained her from the day we brought her home. She was rewarded for being vocal at the pet shop (when she whined in the pen there, customers went to play with her), so she has always been vocal, however it was easy to tell the difference between her 'not particularly bothered' whines and her actually upset ones. She would settle in the crate, chew and empty Kongs in there, go in there without being asked to rest etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHrgwD6HFjA

She had no issue with the pen at all until we forgot to lock it and she pushed the door open and got out. She's been crate trained since 10 weeks and is 3 years now. It's only since she escaped she has broken free of everything.

Kasper also broke out of his crate once when he was 18 months old, as we hadn't locked it properly. For the next few night he whined in his crate and dug at the door to get out, but we carried on as usual and after two nights he was back to normal. I was expecting Zoey to do the same.

Our bathroom sink and bath are surrounded by wood, which she would 100% chew, so the bathroom is not a good place to leave her. There are no rooms in our house where we could leave her without her chewing something, she loves to destroy anything she can and we've always used management to keep things out of reach eg. on high shelves etc.
 

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What's changed recently? She's gotten so much better with you guys, even with all the issues. Is it maybe tied to your new medical diagnosis and stress levels? Are you able to simply go out for walks more frequently with your bf/carer? Are you able to hire a HS student or dog walker to help out so she has a bit of extra attention?

What toys/chews are you giving her so she can take some of the destroying out on those items rather than the house (I'm sure you know the kong/nylabone/chew drill)?

I think a combination of moving her away from things and getting a new crate will help. I use a carabiner to keep the door shut since Koda's figure out the latches, too, so that might help you guys a bit.

How is she generally when out and tethered to you/nearby?

Just some things to think about making changes to. Don't feel bad if you do decide to rehome her, but it will be difficult for her to find a new home and I think despite the issues going on that you may be her best option. You do need to take care of yourself, though, and I hope the results come back soon so you can get sorted out and better a bit more confident knowing what to do :)
 

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The only thing that's changed recently was that we forgot to lock the pen door, so she got out. We have had no issues up until then. Now even after we have walked her extra and give her 'new' toys, she still just breaks out of the crate. Today for example we took her to the field and let her off lead for twenty minutes; we played fetch, recall games and hide and seek - we really tired her out! Then we walked on lead for thirty minutes. When we came home we made her a really good Kong (wet food, cooked meat, bread and carrot to make it difficult) and she got two Nylabones to go into her crate with, one of which she hasn't seen / had for months.

She was fine going into her crate and was emptying her Kong as we left the house with Raiden. When we came back she had destroyed the crate door / armchair, but whilst we were dealing with Raiden and clearing mess she was just chewing her Nylabone in her crate.

For chew toys she has Nylabones and antlers in her crate (antlers only when we are supervising) and for several hours a day she has antlers / Nylabones / a Kong in the living room, when Kasper is in his crate (he RG). A few times a week she gets more 'shreddable' toys to rag or destroy. She doesn't enjoy playing with toys *and* a human, although I've been doing some work on getting her to enjoy playing tug of war with manners. Oh and she gets a Kong every time she goes into her crate, and usually a meal a day from a puzzle feeder.

When she's loose in the house she generally just sleeps. Generally she sleeps next to me or on my lap, but as I type Kasper's sleeping next to me on the couch and Zoey is across the room on the battered armchair. Her and Kasper play, we do several training sessions, but most time she sleeps...she's always been pretty lazy. She will find and destroy anything she can though, so leaflets left on shelves, socks poking through the banister etc. When she finds something we've left out she has no issues with dropping and trading it.

It's possible the extra stress levels are affecting her, things have been very stressful recently as I've gotten more ill...but as I said she was fine until the open pen. We did buy a DAP diffuser a few months back (because we recognised we'd been more stressed and wanted to try prevent the dogs picking up on it).

So do you think we should buy an extra strong crate or outdoor pen, and try go back and re-crate train her? We also thought we could try section of part of the living room with the pen we already have, so we could give her an 8ft x 8ft pen that included the couch for her to rest on whilst she's alone, for example...that way we can prevent her from most having access to things she could wreck (eg. doors, skirting board etc) but it's a large space and she'd have the couch...or would that just wind her up as well because she could see us leave the house and she's still confined?? Will she be better in the living room (where we enter / exit the house) or in the kitchen? I don't know what I'm doing...

This has just happened at the worst possible time and we don't know how to move forward. She literally bent and pulled off bars from the crate - what if we spend hundreds of pounds on a 'heavy duty' crate and she broke out, then really hurt herself?

We were supposed to go to hospital tonight but we've had to stay home because we can't leave her, I have no idea what we'll do for the next week until a crate arrives...

Thinking about buying one of these as it's the cheapest 'heavy duty' option...
Aluminium Double DOG PET Cage Transport Crate CAR Travel Carrier BOX 89x69x50 CM | eBay
 

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You may be able to find a used crate in that price range, too, but the angles of the doors of the last one you linked is a good design choice. You'll definitely need to do a bit of training again but I think the issue isn't the crate as much as maybe barrier frustration if she's totally fine when she's out?

It could just mean a bit of extra work for now to get her tired. If that doesn't help, maybe a vet visit to see if anti-anxiety medication will help her would be best. I know it's helped quiet a few members here to get the ball rolling.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks. We've set up a 6ft x 5ft pen around the couch. Obviously we won't be leaving her unsupervised in it, as she's proven she can easily pull bars off and escape from the pen...but I thought it would be good to get her comfortable with being in any pen / behind bars, and we can close the pen with us just lounging on the couch inside with her. It also gives us an area we can put Zoey / one of the others for one-on-one time, or so they can have Kongs in peace.

I've contacted companies that make proper kennels (for rescues and such) to see if we could rig something up with them indoors. I trust pens more than crates; they'd give Zoey more room, she can sleep on something soft (the carpet) and we can move the pen, change the shape of it, have the couch in it etc.

Sat inside the pen watching TV through the bars now as Zoey does her Buster Cube next to me...she has no issues being in the pen with me here, at least that's something...

I don't really know what our plan is yet...train her to be left alone in a pen, or a crate, try and build up her being left in the living room, rehome? Idk. I'll wait and hear back from the people I emailed, and until then we'll just try not to leave Zoey unsupervised for more than a few minutes...take it one day at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Today my dad drove over four hours to go pick some strong metal wire up and then drive to our house to help us make a temporary / emergency pen. Everywhere nearby / en route had sold out of the mesh with the smallest gaps, so we bought a large roll of mesh with a 1cm gap, and a roll with a larger gap but where the wire was stronger.

We spent five hours cutting the wire, measuring it, then attaching it with cable ties. We put the smaller gapped wire on the outside and the stronger but larger gapped wire on the inside, against the pen bars Zoey can snap.

Zoey 'helping' ;)



We went through 300 cable ties, and my fingers are so sore from making sure they are fastened as tight as possible!



She loves my dad :)



Zoey gets hellishly excited around people, but she did great with my dad...she's finally understanding that 'toy in mouth = say hello', whereas no toy means she gets called away, as otherwise she will try play tug with people's sleeves. She was doing all her tricks with an exciting person in the same room, even ones that are new / difficult for her. By the end of the night she was chewing antlers and curled up sleeping WITH A NEW PERSON IN THE SAME ROOM!





So that was pretty amazing. We had a friend come stay for a week when she was younger and she was never able to calm down around him or focus on training. Completed pen:



Here she is checking it out (pen is open here)



Now I've closed it up and I'm sat on the couch with her, she's curled up fast asleep.

The plan is to get Zoey happy and comfortable with the pen, and start shutting her in there with a puzzle feeder / Kong when we are in the room with her. Gradually we'll distance ourselves and extend the amount of time she's in there. She probably won't be left unsupervised in here (unless of course there's an emergency) and as of now we're not planning on using this as her permanent pen...we're still waiting to hear back from a few companies on if they have anything that would be safer / stronger.
 

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Have you talked to the vet about anti-anxiety meds? Honestly it sounds like separation anxiety. I would probably try a heavy duty crate and meds. SA is no fun at all. But it is also generally really hard to rehome dogs with SA.
 

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i third the medication for the anxiety. Sounds just like ozzy but parents dont want to medicate him and prefer to exhaust every other way first especially as charlies medication is 300 nzd a month but thats for arthiritis so id def look into the anti anxiety meds.
 

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Red's partner here.

Yes I have spoken to our vet, and shown footage of Zoey being filmed when left. Our vet doesn't think it is separation anxiety and has said she would not prescribe strong medications as Zoey doesn't have that high a level of anxiety or panic. She said if we wanted we could try otc products, which we are.

Again the issue at the moment is that someone always needs to be with Zoey, and as such we are missing health appointments, I am having to leave Red alone or with friends etc. Because Red is ill at the moment things are extremely difficult and we are not sure we can work through this.

Currently we have dog proofed our room as much as possible...this involved moving furniture, tidying everywhere, putting barriers around doors, electricals, shelves, our other pets etc etc, to see if Zoey is more comfortable free ranging. We have been leaving Zoey by going upstairs for short periods of time, once she has been walked and with chews and puzzle feeders, and at some point we'll start leaving the house again and slowly work that up too. I have figured out a way we are able to watch her using our laptop whilst we are out. Again we are not sure whether this is manageable but we are doing our best.
 

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How does she do free-range?

She may very well just be bored, or even frustrated. Puzzle toys and Kongs occupy some dogs, but not all.

In the rehoming vein: do you have parents or family members, neighbors or even friends (maybe retired) that are home more frequently and could take her? I agree that this issue would make her very hard to rehome, and I think too that it would be hard to let her go to just anyone - but if you knew the person not only could you still see her, but you could be sure to take her back again if for some reason it wasn't working out (instead of chancing she may end up in a shelter).

Thinking of you @Red - hope it all works out!
 

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Red's partner here.

Yes I have spoken to our vet, and shown footage of Zoey being filmed when left. Our vet doesn't think it is separation anxiety and has said she would not prescribe strong medications as Zoey doesn't have that high a level of anxiety or panic. She said if we wanted we could try otc products, which we are.

Again the issue at the moment is that someone always needs to be with Zoey, and as such we are missing health appointments, I am having to leave Red alone or with friends etc. Because Red is ill at the moment things are extremely difficult and we are not sure we can work through this.

Currently we have dog proofed our room as much as possible...this involved moving furniture, tidying everywhere, putting barriers around doors, electricals, shelves, our other pets etc etc, to see if Zoey is more comfortable free ranging. We have been leaving Zoey by going upstairs for short periods of time, once she has been walked and with chews and puzzle feeders, and at some point we'll start leaving the house again and slowly work that up too. I have figured out a way we are able to watch her using our laptop whilst we are out. Again we are not sure whether this is manageable but we are doing our best.
Your typical general practitioner vets usually aren't schooled in behavior or training, so honestly, I'd take that opinion at face value and seek a second opinion. If a dog is so anxious, due to separation or not (it's still very obviously anxiety), that it's busting out of crates and enclosures by bending and breaking metal bars, and being that vocal, and destroying furniture when it does get out, and it has a long history of this type of behavior....There's probably some kind of chemical imbalance in the brain. And that can only be solved through medication to help fix that imbalance. Her behavior is just not normal. Normal, reasonable anxiety is MUCH easier to deal with, and MUCH less exaggerated. It would have resolved over a year ago with training.

I'm honestly not sure why meds are always viewed as a "last resort" type thing when it comes to dogs. Like any problem can be solved through training. That's simply not true. Dogs suffer from mental illnesses just as people do, and it should be taken just as seriously as mental illnesss in people.

At this point, you are even looking at rehoming her because it's too much to deal with and somebody has to be home with her all the time for her, and your belongings to be safe. Is medication really out of the question?

If your vet won't prescribe it because you ask and make it clear that she NEEDS something more than just training, then find a new vet that will. Medication may be what allows you to keep her.
 

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Your typical general practitioner vets usually aren't schooled in behavior or training, so honestly, I'd take that opinion at face value and seek a second opinion. If a dog is so anxious, due to separation or not (it's still very obviously anxiety), that it's busting out of crates and enclosures by bending and breaking metal bars, and being that vocal, and destroying furniture when it does get out, and it has a long history of this type of behavior....There's probably some kind of chemical imbalance in the brain. And that can only be solved through medication to help fix that imbalance. Her behavior is just not normal. Normal, reasonable anxiety is MUCH easier to deal with, and MUCH less exaggerated. It would have resolved over a year ago with training.

I'm honestly not sure why meds are always viewed as a "last resort" type thing when it comes to dogs. Like any problem can be solved through training. That's simply not true. Dogs suffer from mental illnesses just as people do, and it should be taken just as seriously as mental illnesss in people.

At this point, you are even looking at rehoming her because it's too much to deal with and somebody has to be home with her all the time for her, and your belongings to be safe. Is medication really out of the question?

If your vet won't prescribe it because you ask and make it clear that she NEEDS something more than just training, then find a new vet that will. Medication may be what allows you to keep her.
Yep. This. All of this. There's only one reason a dog attempts to escape and destroys things and that's anxiety. Normal dogs are able to settle in their homes without being destructive. If she was normal, she wouldn't be doing what you described. Regular vets are not trained in behavior. You need to find one that will get her the medication she needs. I DO NOT recommend Xanax as it has shown to make anxious dogs even more vocal and unable to settle.
 
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