View Full Version : Crate Training A Pyr with Seperation Anxiety

01-17-2013, 07:15 AM
We just adopted a Pyrenees/Golden Retriever Mix that is somewhere between 7-10 months old. She is super sweet, only about 55 pds at this point and 24" tall at the shoulder. When we are home she is mellow and lays most of the time (both inside and outside, definitely was an outside dog in her previous home). We are having two issues with our pup...severe separation anxiety and hating of the crate. We bought her a 42" crate so it is plenty big (she can stand and turn around in it). When we leave her in it when we are home she cries and whines, if we leave her in it and we leave she chews at it and bends the wire bars. She has rubbed her nose raw trying to get out.

We are now working on treats and feeding in the crate and it is slowly getting better when we are home, but if we leave it is still bad.

We made the decision to confine her in a room rather than crate her for now when we leave...well that didnt work so well. She chewed on the window sill one day and the next busted a hole through the door and got out. She has not been destructive and is house trained when out, but we still would like for her to be crated when we are not home.

Looking for suggestions and tips on working on these 2 issues. She currently is in puppy day care now every day while we are at work while we are working to solve the crate training issue.

01-17-2013, 08:46 AM
My suggestion is to try a smaller crate or a vari kennel that way it is dark when she is in it and your aren't home. I also suggest you put something that smells like you in it and keep the radio on in the room she is in. Smaller space means less moving, the dark kennel is suppose to be relaxing same with the smell of your clothes and the noise is to help her feel less alone.

01-18-2013, 08:33 AM
Congratulations on the new pup! I take it she was not crate trained prior to coming home with you? I am glad though that you are able to put her in day care for the time being while you sort the crate issue out.

If you haven't tried already, I would start by trying what Tsuni suggested of covering the crate so that she doesn't have visual outside of the crate. For some dogs that works.

If covering the crate doesn't work for your girl, then I think you need to go back to the very beginning. You are already doing that by feeding her in the crate. The most basic of basics is to feed and give particularly yummy treats only when she goes into the crate to teach just going in and out of the crate. Once the dog is comfortable going into the crate to get her food/treats, then you move to the next step. My suggestion is, while you are working the basics of going in and out of crate, also work with her, outside of the crate, basic obedience, particularly the "stay". When she's ready to move to the next step of crate desensitization, ask her to go into the crate then ask her to sit or down and then ask her to "stay". When you start, just do a 10 second "stay" and treat her handsomely and praise. Then slowly work up the "stay" to 1 minute, 3 minutes. The objective of this exercise is for her to associate being in the crate quietly as another behavior option that you approve of. At this point you should be doing all these exercises without closing the crate door. When she is comfortable doing a long "stay" in the crate, then I would give her a chewy, or a kong, something that it'll take her some minutes to finish and let her eat that in the crate. That's when you start closing the door partially. When she finishes eating, ask her for another stay first before you open the door completely (af first the door would only be partially shut) and let her out. This stage is for her to get used to that the door being shut is not very different than when it's open. You work that up to shutting the door completely. Once you can shut the door completely, you prolong the duration where she has to "stay" before you open the door. From there you then work on asking her for the "stay" and then walk out of her sight for just a few seconds to begin with, the build that up.

The reason I am suggesting incorporating obedience into the crate training is that you are teaching the dog another way of "being" while in the crate. Dogs that form bad habits literally do not know how to behave otherwise in a given situation unless they are taught to behave differently. It's easier to teach them another way of being if you can ask them to perform a command that they have already learned to do. That way they can focus on performing the command and not allow the brain to go into panic mode as they've conditioned themselves to do inside the crate.

This process is not overnight. Because her anxiety as you descdribed seemed fairly severe, the desensitziation will probably take some time. On the other hand, as she gets more familiar with you and family, she may calm down more and the process may go faster than expected. So prepare to have the patience of a saint but be flexible to make adjustments as needed. Hope some of this will be helpful to you!