Courtney’s job at AwesomeDoodle is to help you prepare for your puppy, and help you shape your puppy’s behavior, and socialize your puppy, once you get it.
Q: Hi Courtney, we could use some advice…we are having what I think is a big separation anxiety issue. At first I thought it was a crate training issue because other than sleeping at night, he doesn’t spend time in his crate. He prefers to lay on his bed or lay on the floor near whoever is in the room. Granted, he doesn’t have to go in his crate often because someone is usually home – especially over the summer. Now that everyone is back to school, there are times I need to put him in his crate – just long enough to go to the gym or run a few errands. The funny thing is, he goes in his crate willingly, but than barks like crazy until someone returns. I return to find his chin and front paws soaked in saliva – every single time. He then drinks a bowl of water and takes a nice long nap, right near wherever I am. We’ve concluded he just doesn’t like the idea of being alone. I worry that he’s going to hurt himself trying to get out of the crate. Is this a problem we can fix?
A: He needs to go in the crate for very short periods while you are home (not only when you leave the house). Throw a treat into the crate and let him go in. Leave the door open and keep letting him walk in and out. Then rapid fire treats to him in there and close the door. Keep throwing tiny treats in there and open the door back up, right before he starts to panic. Do this over and over until you can keep the door closed a little longer each time. You should be able to have him in the crate with you standing next to it without him panicking. Then build up to longer periods of time in the crate. In summary, you have to teach him to be in the crate when you ARE HOME. Right now, you have accidentally taught him that when he goes in the crate, you abandon him. I know that’s not the case, but in his mind, that’s what is happening. Try not to worry too much about this, as they usually grow out of it and become more trusting as they get older.
Q: Crate training has been a little more difficult (especially at night), but we are hoping that as he becomes a little more comfortable in the house and gains even more trust, it will get easier. Any tips?
A: Be sure your nighttime crate is right next to your bed so he can see you, smell you, and know you are right there with him. Cover all sides of the crate but the front to create more of a den-like feeling for him. Put a plush, cuddly toy in there. Some pups like a bed in their crate, some prefer the cold plastic bottom of the crate, and some like a thin towel. I would recommend experimenting with what you have in there to see if that helps.
With the crate right next to your side of the bed, if he’s having a hard time settling or wakes up a lot, stick your fingers in their and shush him. If it’s the middle of the night and he keeps going, then he might need to potty. If you’re taking water and food away 2-3 hours before bed time then he should be able to go all night with maybe one potty break. I would also recommend trying to keep him up for a couple of hours before bedtime so he’s nice and sleepy going in the crate. Also, work on saying “go in your house” or something like that and teaching him to go in on his own.