Crate training a dog with separation anxiety can be challenging and dangerous for the dog. If your dog has extreme separation anxiety, consult your veterinarian or local dog trainer.
My dog Ellie is an example of a dog with mild separation anxiety. She comes to work with me and hangs out with me all day on the weekends and evenings, save for when I have plans with which I can’t include her. Because she spends so much time close to me, she has a hard time being apart. I also might mention that she has this extreme phobia to a beep that randomly goes off on my cable box, so when she hears this, she tries to claw her way out of my house.In order to prevent future destruction, I decided to start crate training her. I keep the crate in a separate room from the cable box and keep another TV on to drown out the sound of the beeps.
The main key to training a dog with separation anxiety is “tricking” the dog, or desensitizing it. When you start to put on your coat and shoes, jingle your keys, or whatever it may be in your ‘getting ready to leave’ routine, your dog will begin to worry. They recognize these signs as “I’m about to be left all alone for an unknown period of time” and this triggers the anxiety. In order to desensitize your dog to these triggers, you will have to start practicing them on a regular basis when you are not about to leave.
For Ellie, it’s being put into the crate. As soon as the door shuts, she would begin to shiver and worry. In order to desensitize her to this, I would put her into the crate at random times of the day, then continue about my day in the house. She would start to realize that I haven’t left and that the crate is not a bad thing. To progress, I would put her in the crate, then shut the door to the room (something I do when I leave the house) so that she gets used to that concept. I am gradually coming to a point at which she can’t recognize whether or not I am still in the house. I am successfully ‘tricking’ my dog!
Have you successfully trained a pet with separation anxiety? Share your story with us!