Post # 1
About a month ago, my husband and I adopted an 8 month old Mini Australian Shepherd. Overall, he is a very quite, well behaved dog. But, we are having trouble leaving him home alone. When we leave he goes in a crate with toys, treats, and worn articles of clothing. The moment the door shuts behind us, he going nuts and begins barking nonstop. In addition, when just my husband leaves, the dog paces around for hours, scratches at the doors, and whines. All of this makes me believe he has separation anxiety. But on the flip side, he is perfectly fine being left in a car.
We need some quick helpful advice. Is his behavior the result of separation anxiety or a lack of crate training?
Post # 2
Hey there! I also have a mini aussie (boy) and he’s about 6 months. we have had him since he was 7 weeks though! Aussies are very people needing dogs, they also call them velcro dogs because they get so attached lol. Our puppy Cooper, has similar issues but I do think he has separation anxiety. His main problem is he won’t eat much while we arnt home. I’d recommend getting and ex pen instead of the crate. It’s basically a big play pen. it helped because Cooper has more room too play and sleep and isn’t as confined. if he continues to whine when your husband leaves id try playing with him, if that’s not helping di put hi in his pen until he stopped whining and not encourage his behavior. Our boy doesn’t bark much after we leave, so I can’t really help with that 🙁 Also, try nylabone healthy edibles bones, that will keep him busy! Good luck!
Post # 3
- Wedding: January 2013 - Harbourfront Grand Hall
mrschmura: Maybe he understands that you come back quicker to the car than he does when he’s left in the crate. Could you put him in the crate a few times when you’re not leaving home so that he knows it’s not always a bad thing?
Post # 4
mrschmura: I went to the vet yesterday to diagnose our dog’s separation anxiety, she’s a australian cattle dog/ aussie shepherd/ lab mix. She always had separation anxiety, but we recently moved and it got way worse. She used to be like your pup, but now she has been ripping up the house. I would see your vet, separation anxiety needs to be treated. Our pup just started prozac, breaks my heart to have to drug her, and we have to give her a serious therapy program in our home. Since it was just yesterday I don’t have too much info, but feel free to PM me if you’d like to know anything else!
Post # 5
mchitt329: We have tried leaving him in the crate when we are home. He lasts a minute before he starts getting stressed.
Post # 6
mrschmura: Hm, How big is the crate? Also have you tried leaving the radio or television on for him? When I kennel my puppy I turn off the lights, turn on the fan, and put the radio on for her to relax. I also kennel her in a darker room so that it encourages her to sleep during our time apart. When you first got the dog did you let him out of the kennel the moment he started whining? Maybe he knows he will be let out if he complains enough….
Post # 7
I am not a professional by any means but I would suggest crating him when you are home. Put him in there and start low like maybe 20 seconds before he starts sooking and let him out and treat him and give him heaps of praise. Slowly increase the time from there. Just a suggestion but I have no experience.
Post # 8
I had a very similar situation when I adopted my dog about 3 months ago. I completely sympathize with you, it is very stressful, and something that I wasn’t anticipating having to deal with when I adopted my dog. I can tell you my experience which turned out good, but it wasn’t without a lot of frustration (and some tears) getting to this point. We adopted a 9 month old Australian Shepherd. He was in a kill shelter in Alabama (so sad to think about since he’s such a sweet and handsome boy!). The organization that we adopted him through is based in DC, and they brought him up from AL to a boarding shelter in TN until they could ship him up to DC. Needless to say, he went through a lot of shuffling around before he ended up with us! He is super affectionate and was really well behaved from the moment we met him. My first mistake was thinking that since he was calm around my husband and I, he would be calm if I left him. The day after we brought him home, I needed to go to the grocery store. We have a workout room in our house that’s pretty much empty, so I put him in there when I left, thinking that he couldn’t really do any harm in an empty room. Well I came home to the carpet being dug up from the walls and shredded and the blinds torn off all the windows…and a very scared/anxious dog! In hindsight, it was stupid for me to think that I could take a dog that had just been through a pretty tramatic experience and just leave him. My fault! He was super affectionate from the start, and would follow us around like a shadow everywhere. If we left the house even to get the mail, he would go from window to window looking from us. The crate was also not happening. The combination of these things made me think he had separation anxiety, which made me really sad since you read horror stories online about dealing with it. We enlisted the help of a trainer who came to our house. He was really good at assessing the situation and observed him and said he really did not think he had true separation anxiety, but rather had been through a lot and being an Aussie was prone to getting attached to people, and was moreso now since he’d been shuffled through so many different situations. His assessment was that he just really really really didn’t want to be abandoned again so wanted to keep tabs on us. Well that was good to hear but didn’t help our near term problem of not being able to leave the house without the dog freaking out! The first thing we had to do was start bringing him to doggie day care during the day when we were at work. There was no way we would be able to crate him for even a short time now, so doggie day camp it was. The trainer said that this would actually help his training too because it would get him in the routine of us leaving, him being in a safe and fun place, and us always coming back and bringing him to his home. He emphasized that much of the issue is teaching the dog that you will always come back. We worked on crate training every morning and night. First just throwing treats into the crate with the door open and letting him go in and eat them and come right out. We fed him (and still feed him) in his crate. Once he’s comfortable going into the crate for a treat, we had him go into the crate and stay for 5 seconds with the door open. Rinse repeat up to a minute. If the dog hasnt’ learned the “stay” command yet, you might have to work this separately. Basically we slowly worked up. We got 3 kongs and filled them will soft food and had him stay in the crate until he was finished. Basically, the idea is to very slowly work up without letting them get to the point that they are at all anxious. If you’ve waited until they are anxious you have let them stay in too long. It’s also a balance of timing because if the dog starts barking, you can’t let them out or else they will learn that if they bark enough you will let them out. Always wait for a quiet period before opening the door. This can be very tricky, but try to stick with it. As you can tell, this was not a short or easy process. There were times when I thought we’d made progress and then it seemed like we were back at square one. I was sure we would never be able to leave the house again without the dog in tow! At first, if there were times me and DH both needed to be gone, even if only for a short while, I had to bring the dog to a friends house to watch him. BUT, with hard work it has gotten A LOT better. We’ve had my dog for about 3 months now and can leave him for about 4 hours in the crate alone. This is major progress from where we were before! He still follows us around the house, but has become a little more independent and will sit and nosh on a bone in a different room sometimes, etc. I think the following is part of an Aussie’s personality to begin with since they want to keep tabs on you, but mine has gotten better over time and it seems like he is more confident so willing to keep tabs on us from a bit further away now 🙂 Sorry for the essay, but stick with it, it will be worth it in the end!!! Here is our monster 🙂
Post # 9
We just adopted a greyhound and crate him in our bedroom at night and when we have to go out. I don’t make a big deal out of leaving. I tell him to kennel up, give him a few treats and leave the radio on. He’s been fine but we did anticipate the possbility of SA. Some good ideas I read about: Make sure he’s been out and exercised before leaving; have one special treat like a kong filled with tasty stuff and frozen that he only gets in his crate when you leave. Remove it when you return. Leave him crated for varying lengths of time – dogs can’t tell time so it helps if he doesn’t know when you’ll return. Don’t make a big fuss when you return. Don’t go to him right away – let him hear that you’re home. Don’t punish for anything that happened in your absence. Never respond to whining. You may also try some Bach’s Rescue Remedy before you leave (natural de-stressor buy it in Sprouts, Whole Foods etc). Good luck 🙂
Post # 10
DZMeadowz: Thanks for your story of success. It is SO helpful to hear success stories when you are in the midst of dealing with this. It just seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for us yet.
We just spent $600 at the vet yesterday for help with our pup’s separation anxiety. Like your pup, he came from multiple shelters and rescues all before he was 12 weeks old! I don’t blame my little guy for being so anxious!
It’s so difficult because I feel so trapped at home with him. He absolutely can’t be left alone. Thank god for Petsmart Doggie Day Camp!! We can’t afford to take him every day, but it helps a couple times a week.
We’ve got a lot of crate training in our future. The trick is to not get too close to his threshold (the point where he gets so frustrated you can’t do anything anymore). We were told to throw treats from the back of the crate, not the front.
We’ve tried the Thundershirt and DAP difuser, but now he’s on doggie prozac and another short term anxiety med. Here’s to hoping for success!
Post # 11
lauraashley09: We have a 4 month old Aussie Pyrenees mix and while I don’t think she had SA, she certainly had a really hard time being left in the crate. She would scream, cry and scratch at the door. I thought it would never end. She figured out she was being lured into the crate with treats and that made her even more afraid of the crate. She would go willingly into the crate to be fed, but as soon as the door closed, she freaked. We didn’t have the time to slowly introduce her to the crate because my DH and I both work full time.
One day, I threw a small hand full of kibble into her crate. She came thundering into the room and went straight into the crate to hunt down the food. I closed the door and quietly left. She was so distracted as I left, she didn’t even notice I wasn’t there anymore. I started pairing that with the crate command and leaving the house isn’t so awful for anyone now. Every once and a while, she throws a fit, but she quiets down quickly and we never make a fuss about it.
I’m not sure that it’ll help your dog, but things like this do get better. I had to keep a strict routine and stick with it for weeks, but it’s worth it. Hopefully your dog’s SA gets better!