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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all.

My female, Ginger, has suddenly developed a very frustrating habit. She has been crate trained for the last year and a half without issue. My SO and myself just bought our first home a few months ago. During moving day, Ginger got panicked and busted out of her crate when she thought she had been left. Understandable. However, once we officially moved in, she still would not stay in her crate.

I boosted her exercise, as well her cuddle time. Started giving all meals, treats and kong toys in her crate again and praising her for relaxing in it. She still happily goes in her crate on her own and will even sleep all night in it without issue.

There are 2 to 3 days a week that she has to be crated for about 7 hours. Some of those days, she stays in all day no problem. Other days, I come home to her loose and damage done. She always goes back to her crate as soon as I come home and doesn't seem panicked or upset.

Then something terrible happened. This past Friday, my mother got home before I did and found Ginger stuck with her head part was through the kennel, choking. She was fortunately able to get her loose and no permanent physical damage was done (other than a few scratches). Her crate was completely destroyed. She then spent the rest of the night in full panic mode, refusing to eat and panting hysterically. By bedtime however, she was back to seemingly normal; she ate her night time treat and played with my other dogs. The vet cleared her physically.

Since then, even when I'm sitting right in the living room, she will try to bust out continually. No panicked behavior (wagging tail, loose body, no panting, soft eyes). There are points of the day where I need to crate her for an hour or so to clean or make breakfast or whatever the case may be. I'm just not sure what else to do to get her to stay put! I'm also afraid she's going to hurt herself.

(Background: 2 1/2 years old, hound mix, SA when first adopted but no signs of SA in almost a year until now. Two walks/jogs a day, plus yard time and play time with her friends. Puzzle toys daily. Cleared medically.)
 

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I would say dump the kennel. If you are concerned she is not safe left alone in the house on her own choose a laundry room or bathroom to leave her in so she does not get into any trouble. Is there a reason you don't want to leave her loose in the house. If she is potty trained why do you still use the kennel after a year?
 

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I suspect something happened* while you weren't there, it traumatized her and she associates it with the crate. I agree with Dawnben, either let her freeroam, or put her in a small, dog-proofed room.

*Construction, random loud noise, thunderstorm, who knows.
 

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I agree w the above posters, it sounds like the crate just isn't going to work for you anymore. Set her up w a small "dog room" you can shut her in when you need her out of the way.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Unfortunately, she chews walls and furniture if left loose all day and it's been a slow process to correct that (we jog and play tug before work every morning, as well as eat out of a puzzle toy, so it seems more anxiety related than exercise related). Her crate used to be her safe zone. I tried putting her in the bathroom and she ripped hunks of wood off of the molding and tore up her pads and nails (we were gone about an hour), so that won't work. And she jumps, climbs or knocks down gates.

Basically, she isn't safe when left out.

The confusing part is the fact that she goes to her crate on her own during the day to take naps or play with her toys and will sleep in there during the night sometimes without a single complaint or attempt to get out (we rotate who gets to sleep on the bed).

I used to have a dog walker come in on the 2 or 3 days no one is home. However, my dog walker moved out of state and my older dog makes it very difficult to find a new one.
 

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If she's so anxious she's eating walls, you should talk to a vet about starting prozac. There's only so much training you can do when the brain itself is malfunctioning.
 

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Poor baby. That is a really scary event -- scary enough to give me a chill, even though I am far away in every possible sense. I am so glad she suffered no physical injury, and that your mom came home early.

It sounds to me like your essential issue is separation anxiety. SA can be triggered by things like a move (to a dog, there's a big difference between "being left alone in this place I've learned to feel safe" and "being left alone in a new place," even if the crate is the same). When a dog is experiencing serious separation anxiety, it's like a panic attack -- the dog is so overwhelmed with fear that no rational thought is possible. I think your dog needs a behavior modification plan aimed at SA as soon as possible. Meds can be a huge help, especially considering how inflexible our schedules can be (real life does not always make things easy for dogs with anxiety disorders). Nicole Wilde's Don't Leave Me and/or Dr. Patricia McConnell's I'll Be Home Soon outline SA treatment plans, but consulting with a professional can be a tremendously useful thing to do.

I'm so glad Ginger survived that, and hope things get better for both of you soon.
 

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I highly recommend fluoxetine(prozac) for separation anxiety. It works very well. Talk to your vet about it.
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Meant to edit, but too late -- of course the fluoxetine works best when paired w a suitable training regimen.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Her SA is difficult to work with as it does not present itself consistently. Some days, she has no signs (i can be gone 8 hours and she's snoozing when I get home) and other days, she seems like a different dog. We already make no fuss about leaving, exercise thoroughly, and she never has any SA symptoms when we are preparing to leave.

I'm very cautious with medications as she has had reactions to just about anything I've ever given her, so my vet is very choosy about what she will try with her.

I may look into bringing my behaviorist back in to the picture, depending on what sort of budget I can set for it. Currently, Ginger is asleep, upside down, in her crate with the door open.
 
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