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  1. #1
    Road Dawg

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    Default Drool and nerves in crate

    Max is learning a lot and is a great dog. We think that some day we will be able to let him roam freely in the house when we aren't there...but we aren't there yet. He seems to like his crate OK...but he does not like to be locked into it, particularly if there are people in the house. It doesn't seem to be separation anxiety, but specifically stress about being confined away from us. He has no issues with being closed into a room or small space WITH one of his people or with our aussie.

    Whenever Max thinks it's time to go into the crate for us to leave, he tries to insist he needs to go outside to potty or walk away anywhere that isn't toward his crate. When he realizes it's inevitable, he will walk himself to the crate and go in, but always seems surprised when we close the door. When we lock him in, he drools a small lake and sometimes whines/howls. After about 5 minutes, he calms down and naps or chews toys and is always calm when we return. Drooling a lake and whining for 5 minutes isn't the end of the world, but any hints on helping him to be less stressed?

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mom to the Max View Post
    Drooling a lake and whining for 5 minutes isn't the end of the world, but any hints on helping him to be less stressed?
    Have you worked with him on the crate is a place where he gets really awesome treats? That is work with him when you are not going out, just give him nice treats in the crate, first with the door open then close the door. With Ren I used a kong stuffed with super high value treats. I let him work on the kong and then when he's done I let him stay there for a while and let him out when he's quiet. Other than a kong I've also smeared the inside hollow of a marrow bone that is cut in half length wise with peanut butter, or can food, or whatever else that would stick. Anything that Max would like that would take a few minutes to eat. Once you get him used to getting his yummy treats in his crate, you can leave him a treat when you leave and maybe it would help to reduce stress.

    Ha, about drooling a lake... I bet Max is nowhere near what I went through with Ren. Ren has separation anxiety that I've been able to help him overcome to a certain extent. When he was really bad at 5-6 months old, he would drool so much that the entire crate pan would be covered in his spit and his crate is a 48" long crate. So much so one that it looked like he peed in it.

  3. #3
    Road Dawg

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    Yes, Max will cheerfully take treats to go in the open crate. He will go into the open crate to shop for toys he's left there. And if we are in the room, we can close the crate for a few minutes and his response is more confused than upset. These reactions are with or without treats. Similarly, his reaction when closed in and left is the same with or without treats. His favorite thing in the world is a bully stick, and we give it to him only in his crate. He stands there like Groucho Marx with it hanging from his mouth, wailing. Then he settles down and chews it after about 5 minutes.

    We have thought Max peed in his crate from drool, especially the first few times he was shut in there. He also has the XXL wire crate, and he can cover about half the pan. We have odd hours, so he just spends 2-4 hours crated on most weekdays. We tried to just gate him into a hallway instead, he didn't get upset at all, but he took that more as a puzzle challenge!

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Chester, my non-Pyr has SA, and is likely going to have to be crated when left at home for the rest of his life. Otherwise, he panics. He has tried to break through a front door, and has been known to try to jump through closed windows. Heís better now, but it took some work.

    I agree fully with what Jewel says about working to get him to associate a closed crate door with AWESOME things. Chester had already been getting meals, kongs, and long-lasting treats like doggie ice cream and greenies in his crate when his SA exploded. Now he gets virtually all meals, treats, kongs, and high-value chews in there. If he canít finish the treat with more than a few bites, the door gets closed. I try to view everything he loves as an opportunity to build that positive association with his crate. It has helped him tremendously.

    From what you write, it does sound like Max could have SA. The thing about SA is that the symptoms can vary greatly from dog to dog. Chester didnít really drool. If he thought I was about to leave, he would avoid his crate, then flat-out refuse to go in. When I did finally manage to get him in there with the door closed, he would scream and try to bite and dig his way out.

    The other thing about SA is that it is far too often minimized. Prior to when Chesterís was at its worst, I had sought help from one trainer-type behavior consultant, who refused to work on it, and from our behavior specialist vet. She at least helped us find the right combination of meds for him (he was already being medicated for Generalized Anxiety Disorder before the worst of his SA began). For Chester, the meds are a necessary component, but we also needed behavior modification, as well.

    NOTE: while meds were crucial for Chester, they were not magic, and are not necessary or appropriate in all cases.

    Knowing what I have been through with SA, I would strongly recommend that you contact the woman who finally helped us:
    http://www.fairviewbehavior.com

    I would also strongly recommend that you set up a Nest camera or something similar in the room that has his crate. Knowing the full extent of what happens when you arenít there is immensely helpful.
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  5. #5
    Road Dawg

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    I'm really not sure separation is the issue. I had a standard poodle with SA, and he was a hot mess when he was alone. But Max is only stressed by the closed crate door, and he wigs out when he knows we are home in the other room worse than when nobody is home (or nobody is home to his knowledge). He is imminently bribe-able outside the locked crate, but will put aside a treat given in the crate to see if he can pitch a fit and earn freedom. If nobody is home and all is silent, he calms down after a couple of minutes and takes the treat. What's more, when we come home he is always calmly chewing or fast asleep. If someone comes home and he hears them, he will leap up from his nap and stand wagging his tail and waiting for release...but if the door isn't opened within 5 or so minutes he begins his screaming and drooling again.

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Max sounds more like my Bijou than Ren. Ren has SA. Bijou did not.

    When we first got Bijou, I started crate training from day 1. I failed miserably with her. She threw epic tantrums for HOURS EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I gave up after 2 weeks of less than 5 hrs sleep a night. The funny thing was, while she threw epic tantrums night after night, when we put her in her crate to leave for work every weekday, she would scream for a couple of minutes then promptly calm down. Everyday when we got home from work, she would be calm and rested from napping. Also, even with her epic tantrums, she never stress drooled. So I knew she didn't have the classic SA. She had the dominant bitch personality and just didn't want to be crated while we were home. Fast forward a couple of years and Bijou was being trained for agility competition. That bratty behavior of not wanting to be crated while I was around became an issue because she had to be crated at competition and I could not be right there with her all.the.time. I spent about 8 months working with her to stay quiet in the crate regardless of where I was. What I did was I would take her to agility trials when Bro was trialing (Bro too was an accomplished agility dog) and had kongs stuffed with SUPER DUPER HIGH VALUE stuff. I'd give her the kong and walk away. It took months but eventually she learned to stay quiet in her crate.

    As I said in my previous post, my current adolescent Ren has SA. Ren cannot be crated when we are gone. The crate makes him more anxious. But nevertheless I worked with him on being crated while I am home. It took a little while but I now can give him a kong and close the crate door. He would work on his kong and when he's finished he would lie down and wait quietly until I let him out. There was no magic to it. I just practiced with the kong stuffed with that SUPER DUPER HIGH VALUE stuff every morning to get him to associate crate door being closed to the SUPER DUPER HIGH VALUE kong. Then I would let him sit an additional minute more each day after he's finished to let him out. For me it isn't just about crating Ren while we are out, I need him to learn that the crate isn't a bad thing. Ren is also in agility training now so he will eventually be competing. Soon I will have to start working with him on crate training at agility trials so that he learns all about staying in his crate at show sites.

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    As you are the one who lives with Max, you are certainly in a better position to say whether or not separation might be contributing to his behavior. The fact that he seems to be better if your other dog is in the room with him is what made me suspect Isolation Distress or even SA. Again, SA and ID arenít necessarily diagnosed by the symptoms the dog is displaying, but instead, by the underlying emotional state causing the symptoms. Chester and Ren went through the worst of their SA at roughly the same time. Both Chester and Ren were sent into full-time panic mode at the thought of being separated from their human/s. However, Chester and Ren displayed somewhat different symptoms, and responded differently to different treatment methods. Again, Iím not saying that in your case, separation is definitely the issue. However, I also donít think it can be ruled out just because his behavior differs from that of dogs youíve had in the past. I have certainly been wrong in the past, and itís entirely possible that I am now.

    Sebastian did not have SA, but boy did he sure hate his crate, and really, confinement of any kind. It was actually that issue that brought me to the forum. With him, I never was able to find a solution. He didnít care if the door was open or closed, he wasnít going in there. I started keeping his toys in there, and if he wanted to go in to get a toy, it was lightning fast, and kind of looked like he was playing the ďhot lavaĒ game with the crate pan. Once I bought him his (really) big boy crate, I tried getting in there with him. Still, no. He was having none of it. If I tried confining him, he would bark non-stop and try to bust his way out. There was never any calming down for him. I knew it wasnít SA or Isolation Distress because he really did seem to seek out and enjoy his alone time. He never followed me from room to room the way some dogs do. I could leave him with a babysitter, and he would show no emotion when I left, and none when I got back.

    Things were different with Chester. For one, as a non-LGD, Chester is a far more cooperative and eager-to-please dog than Sebastian. Also, I had learned a whole lot between the time Sebastian came home and Chester came to live with us.

    With the help of a thundershirt and some BBQ Brisket (without sauce), I was able to get Chester comfortable going into the crate in a couple of hours. Then, we worked on getting him comfortable with the door closing. By the next day, he was able to eat meals in his crate with the door closed. Up until that point, I had been putting his bowl in the back of the crate. He would step in with the front half of his body, but leave his hind feet sticking out so that I couldnít close the door.

    Where in the house is Maxís crate? If itís in a low-traffic area, you might have more success if you move it somewhere where he can be crated without feeling isolated. Sebastian has a sort of FOMO where he will loudly protest if I am doing something that he wants to be a part of, but canít. He was insufferable the day I laid sod in the back yard. This behavior is not rooted in fear, but in sheer brattiness. I eventually let him come join me in the back for a bit, just to shut him up.

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    A few things:

    If Max is starting to panic in the crate after 5 minutes, try doing exercises with him where you have him crated with the door closed for less than five minutes. If he starts to show signs of panicking, let him out, and take a break to let his mind reset. Gradually increase the amount of time that he is in his crate, but try not to let him get to the point of panic. The more often he panics, the more difficult it is going to be to get him to associate the crate with everything he loves.

    It may be worth it to experiment with different tools to see if they seem to help take the edge off of Maxís fear. I found Chesterís thundershirt to be useless for him in most capacities, but it really seemed to help him with crate training. Likewise, Sebastian responded well to Adaptil (Formerly known as Dog Appeasing Pheromone) When he was stressed from moving. Chester never did show any response to it, but Chesterís anxiety is largely inherent, as opposed to Sebastianís situational stress. Both our behavioral vet and the CAAB we worked with recommend trying an essential oil blend called Calm-a-mile. Different dogs respond to different things. It may be worth doing some experimentation to see if you can find something that helps Max.

    If you havenít already, you may want to consider putting Max in a breakaway collar or removing his collar while he is crated. There have been cases where dogs have accidentally hanged themselves during crate-related panic attacks. (FWIW, I started putting my two in breakaway collars when Chester got his collar wrapped around another dogís lower jaw. Fortunately, we were able to get a pair of scissors and cut the collar off of Chester before he was strangled to death.)
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  8. #8
    Road Dawg

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    I think we are making progress. If we block the path to the back door and tell Max to go to his crate or start to lead him that way, he will walk into his crate and wait for us to close it. Today when I put him in there, it was 10 minutes until I left the home, and I heard his tail wagging against the bars for a minute and then silence. But this was without house noise, if he thinks he is missing a good time, he will still yell about it. We still see some drool in the crate, but it's a lot less. So hopefully the trend will continue toward calm and uneventful crating.

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