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Hi! My 3 month old puppy has been having some severe separation anxiety issues. From the time we got him at 8 weeks old, we have not been able to be out of his sight for one second without him going to the bathroom all over himself. It doesn't matter if we are gone for 2 minutes or 1 hour, he covers himself in his own poop. He is doing great with potty training otherwise. Let's us know when he needs let out during the day, throughout the night, etc. It is ONLY when we are away from him for any period of time. For example, he was in the crate for 7 minutes while I showered in the room across the hall and when I came back, he had poop all over his beautiful white fur, in his nose, on his lips, and covering every single bar of the crate.



We have tried EVERYTHING: a crate small enough where he can only turn around and lay down, plenty of toys and treats, covered the crate with a blanket, put a tshirt with our scent in the crate, left on calming music, exercised out all of his puppy energy, natural remedies such as Rescue Remedy, short periods of leaving and returning to let him know we will always come back. NOTHING works. The smaller crate leads to him being more covered in his own pee and poop, along with his toys and treats, any blankets, etc. What's even worse is that it doesn't matter if he has just gone to the bathroom outside, he will still go in the crate when left alone. One day, he went in his crate and within 15 minutes of being alone, a ton of poop was everywhere. We bathed him, cleaned his crate thoroughly, and put him back in it and within another 10 minutes he went AGAIN??



Like I said, he's a fantastic puppy. He is so smart and well-behaved in every other way. However, when we leave, he goes into full panic mode. It sounds like a panic attack and is truly heartbreaking.



PLEASE help with any suggestions you may have.



Thank you!
 

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Hi! My 3 month old puppy has been having some severe separation anxiety issues. From the time we got him at 8 weeks old, we have not been able to be out of his sight for one second without him going to the bathroom all over himself. It doesn't matter if we are gone for 2 minutes or 1 hour, he covers himself in his own poop. He is doing great with potty training otherwise. Let's us know when he needs let out during the day, throughout the night, etc. It is ONLY when we are away from him for any period of time. For example, he was in the crate for 7 minutes while I showered in the room across the hall and when I came back, he had poop all over his beautiful white fur, in his nose, on his lips, and covering every single bar of the crate.



We have tried EVERYTHING: a crate small enough where he can only turn around and lay down, plenty of toys and treats, covered the crate with a blanket, put a tshirt with our scent in the crate, left on calming music, exercised out all of his puppy energy, natural remedies such as Rescue Remedy, short periods of leaving and returning to let him know we will always come back. NOTHING works. The smaller crate leads to him being more covered in his own pee and poop, along with his toys and treats, any blankets, etc. What's even worse is that it doesn't matter if he has just gone to the bathroom outside, he will still go in the crate when left alone. One day, he went in his crate and within 15 minutes of being alone, a ton of poop was everywhere. We bathed him, cleaned his crate thoroughly, and put him back in it and within another 10 minutes he went AGAIN??



Like I said, he's a fantastic puppy. He is so smart and well-behaved in every other way. However, when we leave, he goes into full panic mode. It sounds like a panic attack and is truly heartbreaking.



PLEASE help with any suggestions you may have.



Thank you!
Hello!

I haven't personally had to deal with SEVERE puppy anxiety but I have read up about it. It has been recommended by many to start off really slow. Like literally leaving the room (or house) for 1 minute and upon returning, praising your pup. Slowly increase your time and always praise. As far as the crate, that could also be creating anxiety if the puppy hasn't been properly crate trained. This takes time and effort. A puppy cannot just be put into their crate one day and behave. Again, this should be done in small increments at a time and worked up to more time. Also, try giving your puppy a fun treat (such as a yummy stuffed KONG) that is only specific to crate time and when you leave. Always leave the door of the crate open and never use it for punishment or your dog will fear and hate it. Also, another recommendation is to let your dog know your "leaving cues" ahead of time. Whether it be a key word, you picking up your keys, or whatever.. give them a cue that you will be leaving soon. Dogs are smart and they can pick up these kind of cues. Have you went to the vet to ask if there could even be something medically going on? He seems young to have developed such an anxiety. Is there anything that could have happened traumatically to him as a young pup? I know my dog who was 3 at the time, heard a loud crash of Thunder near our house. Since then, she is pretty sensitive to sounds and can get shaken up pretty easy. There could be different things contributing to his anxiety. Hope this helps and hope he can find some comfort soon!
 

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You can do it!

YOU CAN DO THIS! Don't get discouraged! These "failures" and setbacks can feel so demoralizing, and I really feel for you having to wash your puppy's panic-poop off of him and all of his things. Uhg and the harried showers - been there!!

But you can do this. Your puppy has told you that 7 minutes is too long, no matter how empty his bowels may seem. And I totally agree with you - if he's pooping and peeing when he's empty, then it's not about being unclear about where we go potty. You may just need to tweak the circumstances, start from scratch, and break it WAY down.

There's so many factors, so could you share some more information?

1. How are you (and your SO? family?) handling this situation at the moment, other than having to pass the puppy around? Is he in doggy daycare, or is someone home with him all day, etc.

2. How does he react when he can see you but not reach you, such as when he's in his crate with the door closed?

3. Does he have run of the house? No judgment! But where does he land when he crashes?

4. How far did you get in crate training before it fell apart? Does he go in there on his own to sleep with the door open? Does he get his meals in there?

He's going to live a long healthy life with you and soon this will seem like a bad dream. Just think of the day you'll be able to shower without someone nervously watching you!

Feel free to send me a message if that's easier.
 

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YOU CAN DO THIS! Don't get discouraged! These "failures" and setbacks can feel so demoralizing, and I really feel for you having to wash your puppy's panic-poop off of him and all of his things. Uhg and the harried showers - been there!!

But you can do this. Your puppy has told you that 7 minutes is too long, no matter how empty his bowels may seem. And I totally agree with you - if he's pooping and peeing when he's empty, then it's not about being unclear about where we go potty. You may just need to tweak the circumstances, start from scratch, and break it WAY down.

There's so many factors, so could you share some more information?

1. How are you (and your SO? family?) handling this situation at the moment, other than having to pass the puppy around? Is he in doggy daycare, or is someone home with him all day, etc.

2. How does he react when he can see you but not reach you, such as when he's in his crate with the door closed?

3. Does he have run of the house? No judgment! But where does he land when he crashes?

4. How far did you get in crate training before it fell apart? Does he go in there on his own to sleep with the door open? Does he get his meals in there?

He's going to live a long healthy life with you and soon this will seem like a bad dream. Just think of the day you'll be able to shower without someone nervously watching you!

Feel free to send me a message if that's easier.
Hi there! Thank you so much for the kind words. He truly is the sweetest puppy ever. This is the only barrier we have with him. We have been trying for 30 second, 1 minute, 2 minute, etc. intervals. The SECOND we leave the room, he freaks out. To answer your questions:
1. My boyfriend and I are very patient and work hard to never leave him alone for any long period of time. We switch off responsibilities during the day while we split up work and classes. Unfortunately, even walking out to the mailbox is too much for Ghost.
2. At night when he's in his crate in the room with us, he whines a little bit, but it's a normal whine and only lasts a little bit. Then, when he wakes up in the middle of the night, he whines to let us know he needs to go potty and we let him out and he goes right back to sleep. He's great throughout the night or in the crate while he can see us.
3. When we are home, he has access to the house. He has a nice little bed in the living room that he loves to hang out on when we're all there. However, he is right by our heels if we get up to walk a couple feet away into the next room. Very needy!!
4. Crate training has been miserable since the start unfortunately - even with a very slow start. We have been trying for over the six weeks we've had him with little to no improvement. There have been maybe a few times throughout these 6 weeks that we've come home with no poop in the crate. But that's about it. :/
 

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Okay, great. It sounds like the two of you have him covered 95% of the time, but there are just a few times (a week? a month?) that you both HAD to be out of the house at the same time. Right? But it also sounds like Ghost is only ever in his crate to sleep or when you're leaving him alone, which means that his crate is absolutely no fun.

I think that while you sort this out together, getting coverage for those times is going to be really important. It's okay to tell people "No, that appointment time won't work" or "Darling boyfriend, please don't schedule any social activities on Wednesday from 4-5, I need to ______ and someone has to stay home with Ghost" and even to ask "Nice to see you neighbor! Ghost IS really cute, isn't he? Can he come play with your dog tonight for half an hour? I would really love to shave my legs." Give yourself permission to set boundaries and ask favors as an investment in everybody's sanity.

Okay, so the first issue is the crate training. Luckily, others have created this awesome step-by-step guide:
https://www.labradortraininghq.com/labrador-training/how-to-crate-train-a-puppy/
and some great tips too
http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/crate-training-faq-3974/
Luckily, as Ghost is merely peeing and pooping on himself in terror, but not mutilating himself in his efforts to escape, he is still a candidate for crate-training! (See #17 on the FAQ thread)
Which of these steps have you, your boyfriend, and Ghost mastered? Does he get all of his meals in there? Does he spend time in the crate enjoying a Kong with the door shut and you still in the room? Does he go in there on his own, on command, or when you leave do you have to get him in there first?

My puppy has a crate attached to play pen, kind of like this but way more fun: https://www.doggoneproblems.com/puppyplaypen/
Here is the real thing, puppy included: https://photos.app.goo.gl/K41gCkw3IwVDLeVK2
It has his toys, water, a comfy bed in the crate, etc. I work from home, and unless I am actively supervising him, he is in the playpen amusing himself. There are a couple of things I like about it:
- It allows him to choose the crate as a place of rest. He could lay outside it, but why? Look how nice and cozy it is! Whenever he gets a Kong or something to chew, he plops down in the crate as you see and enjoys it there.
- He can't get into trouble. It sounds like Ghost is too busy tracking your whereabouts to dig in the trash but still.
- He can see me but not reach me, which is a good foundation for being unable to see me. It's helped him be more self-reliant: he's doing his thing, I'm doing mine.
- He can still play and do puppy things, but mostly sleep.
I mention this because while it may not solve all of your problems, it will give you more flexibility in dealing with the separation worries, and will help you in showing him that the crate is the place to be. Because let's face it - given a choice between his comfy living room dog bed and the crate, which is Ghost going to choose right now?

And then there's the separation anxiety. There is a sticky thread on this too (http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/separation-anxiety-29576/) though it's mostly links to other articles. I'll assume you've done a Google search for dog separation anxiety already and you know the basics.

How much have you practiced disuniting all of your usual "departure imminent!" cues from actually leaving? How many times a day or week do you randomly pick up your keys? How about put on your coat and shoes, pick up your keys, and then sit down and play with your phone for 20 minutes before taking it all off again?

Do you and your BF practice leaving when you're home together? You probably already know that "saying goodbye" to Ghost will just make him alarmed, but you may not notice if you're setting him off by creeping out like a burglar. Your BF should be able to tell you, and vice versa, if you practice this together. That means you can't be a total weirdo and say "Okayyy Ghostie, mommy's leaving, be good!" as you try to sneak away. Be boring. Ho hum nothing I'm doing would be of any interest to you.

Consider the state Ghost is in when you're taking the next step. Watch the first few seconds of this video:
If Ghost is in that state, he's not ready to be left. Don't even try - that's setting him up for failure. Compare that dog with this puppy at 8:50 totally engrossed in his Kong

I loved what the Crate Training thread suggested for dogs who become hysterical as soon as you're out of sight, like Ghost. Once you get him in love with his crate and/or play pen, you can start playing that game while he's in the same state as that puppy above. "Hide half of your body behind a wall and work up to just an arm showing." Maybe you won't even be able to get half-way to the corner you'd disappear behind, but start slow and work your way up.

Okay, phew. That's a lot of stuff.
 

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My three year old dog has had severe separation anxiety since a few months after I got him at age sixteen months. He never had bathroom issues but destroyed my old apartment, knocked window air conditioners out of windows and almost jumped out of third floor windows and was dangerous the things he ate and chewed and having to be in a hot room on the third floor in the summer after destroying the air conditioning. The behaviorist actually told me it was safer to take him with me and keep him in the car with the AC on. So I feel your pain.

Medication made a huge difference but they don't like to medicate puppies as young as yours. My dog can't be locked in a crate for more than a few minutes he goes nuts and will hurt himself. He now goes willingly in his crate to hang out which is huge progress for him. He broke out of a crate at his last home.
Lots of people swear by crates, I've never crate trained any of my dogs but locked them in a room, and only to be cautious about my cats safety. I think it's good they have a crate to go into as a safe space to get away when they need a break or to put them in for short periods but I personally feel cruel keeping a large dog in a small space for a long time. That's just my opinion.
Is your puppy too young to go out in public yet?
My dog still gets upset if he's in public and can't see me so I work on that. If I'm in a public place I have a friend hold him to reassure him and leave for short periods of time. At the stable I'll tie him or put him in the horse stall and talk to him and gradually increase the distance I get away from him.
At home you just start by getting ready to leave, like with picking up your keys or putting on your shoes or coat. Putting up baby gates could be good so he can see and hear you but not be right with you.

Another thing is to give him his absolutely favorite best toys/treats in the world, but only when you leave. They disappear the minute you're home and never return when you're home. So these awesome fabulous fun things only magically appear when he's alone.
Never make a big deal out of hellos and goodbyes. No big exuberant greetings or dramatic reassuring goodbyes like the old Lassie Come Home movie reunions. That's tough for me because I love the exuberant welcomes I get from my anxious boy and I want to praise and reinforce that he's the best dog in the world when I get home and he hasn't destroyed the place and is nice and calm.
But you should just leave and come home with no fuss or drama. Good luck with that one!
 

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As others have mentioned working really slowly on the period of separation is important. Making the crate a positive place will help with this process. When I was crate training my puppy we fed every meal in the crate. This helps to associate it with something good and it will be a safe place. Never place the puppy in the crate as a punishment. My dog is fearful and his crate is a safe place for him when he gets overwhelmed if we have people over he will go into his crate and lay down.

We had his crate covered with a blanket, this actually helps dogs to relax in their crate, it makes it more cave like and there is less for them to see going on around them. One thought that I had for your puppy is to cover the crate on all sides but the door then you could practice being out of sight while still being in the room. You can put the puppy in the crate, then move to the side behind the blanket. Depending on what you think will be most beneficial you could either reach around and feed treats while talking to and praising your puppy for being good. Or you could just disappear behind the blanket continue talking to your puppy then let him see you again and reward.

This could be progressed to not talking and spending longer out of sight. This should help your puppy see that just because they can’t see you doesn’t mean you are not there. It will also help them to learn that you will always come back.

I hope that this helps.
 
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