My new dog can't be left alone.
May 20, 2007 1:47 AM Subscribe
I just adopted a dog which apparently has separation anxiety issues (and we have cats). We had planned to initially leave him crated during the day. What can I do to help him through this transition?
posted by team lowkey to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My girlfriend and I went to the SPCA this afternoon and found a 1 and 1/2 year old Australian shepherd which we fell in love with (Cody). Apparently his previous owner got pregnant and couldn't devote the time to keep up with him anymore. He is a super sweet and smart dog, and seemed like a great match, since my girlfriend wants a dog to run with, and he is full of energy and eager to please.
So we played with him all day, decided to adopt him, and took him home. We introduced him to the house and then took him for a long walk to make sure he was good and tired.
He had settled in on the couch with us for a couple of hours, and around 11 PM, we decided it was time for bed. Every adoption place in the area had insisted on crate training for the first month and a half, so we bought a crate and were hoping he would take to it. We filled it with toys, and he had been in and out of it all evening without any problems.
DRAMA! As soon as I left the room, he started whining and then barking. Continuously. The SPCA had recommended that if we could put up with it to just leave him alone so we didn't reward the behavior. My girlfriend sided with this advice, so we left him for about 1/2 an hour. But we have a joint-wall tenant I was worried about keeping up all night. And I was concerned that he would develop bad associations with his crate, which is supposed to be his safe place.
I went to the room with the crate and let him out. I started training him by holding treats in the crate and saying "Go to bed". He has no fear of the crate at all. He eventually got tired, crawled inside and went to sleep. I closed the door and put a sheet over the crate. He slept soundly.
Then I made the mistake of going to the bathroom. I wasn't gone 2 minutes, and he started barking. I came back into the room, and he went right back to sleep. He's beside me in the crate now, calm as a Hindu cow.
So here's where the real issue comes into play. It appears the crate isn't a problem; he just can't be left alone. We have two cats, who sleep with us. We were told (and we agree) that the cats should have a room where they are safe that the dog can't go. We have have a one bedroom unit, and the bedroom is where the cats spend most of their time. So it would be very difficult (nay impossible) to allow the dog to sleep in the room with us, even in the crate. Plus, we had thought we could leave the dog at home during the day (we are going to walk him in the morning and evening, and hire a walker for the middle of the day), but if he can't take five minutes, I can't imagine he can handle five hours alone.
So... help? I think I'm going to camp out with him tonight, since I can't think of anything else to do, and it's gotta be stressful enough for him being in a new home. But what do we do Monday? Will he get better as he learns to trust us more? My googling says that dogs with separation anxiety problems shouldn't be crated. We can lock up the back two rooms of the house (where he is sleeping) and give him access to the backyard, but the folks at the SPCA said this could lead him to develop boundary issues trying to protect the back yard all day. That doesn't mean just barking, but high stress and possibly trying to escape. They said keeping him crated will make him feel safer and more protected. But really, it seems the problem is just that we can't leave him alone at all. We will start on training immediately, but that might not be soon enough. Anything we can do to make him feel comfortable quickly?