Separation anxiety

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Bobbiedg

In Dogs

Hello,
I adopted Chloe (11 month old Lab mix) about 3 months ago. She's an awesome dog all around except for her separation anxiety and it only seems to be getting worse since I've started working in my home. She follows me EVERYWHERE and I feel like I'm constantly tripping over her!
I crate her when I leave the house, but my neighbor told me she barks and carries on for a very long time. (Note: I've never left her in there longer then 4 hrs.)
She's quite the escape artist too, so we have to lock all the doors on the crate. She tries her hardest to get out of it so much that the crate has ended up in another part of the room and the tray underneath is across the room as well. I put many chew toys in there with her, along with a Kong stuffed with treats, but instead of chewing on those she will destroy her bedding, blanket...etc. so I had to eliminate those items.
As I mentioned before, I crate her when I have to leave, because if I don't she will find something of mine (not my husbands) to chew on.
She never chews on anything (except her toys) when I'm home. I'd also like to mention she likes her crate, because when I'm home she lays in it quite often.
I've tried leaving the house without making a big deal about it for a minute and walking back in (again, not making a big deal upon my return) and repeating the processes, but it's not working. Help! :)
I'd also like to mention, her foster parents told me she was found wandering on the side of the road. I have a very hard time believing that, because she is awesome off leash. She never leaves my side and always comes when she is called.
I'd appreciate any advice you could give me. Thank you! :)

Bobbie G.

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JohnVanOlden

In Dogs

Reply To: Bobbiedg

Hi


    It's good that she likes her crate and goes in while you're home.  It's also good that you are working at home now because you can work on her anxiety issues much more than someone who works outside of the home.
    Dogs associate different environments with different behaviors, and you want your dog to associate her crate with calm behavior.  Once this happens, you should be able to be able to leave her there when you're not home.
    Put the crate in a part of the house that doesn't have a lot of traffic.  Your bedroom or something like that is best.  Your office or family room isn't a good place.  
     Generally I suggest to my clients that in the beginning of training they crate their dog for about 1/3 of the time they are home and awake.   This means in the crate with the door closed.  It doesn't have to be a continuous time.  You can break it up into some here and some there.   When she's in the crate, I'd only put one thing to chew on in there, so that she's not overstimulated by too many toys, etc.
     When she's in her crate, she needs to stay calm and quiet.  If she fusses too much, you'll have to go in and tell her "No" possibly by making a loud noise on top of the crate.  (If she's in a wire crate, if you bang on the top or something, be sure she doesn't see your hand coming down because this can scare her).   Dogs aren't like babies, like when new parents want their child to sleep through the night they will sometimes try to let them cry to see if it stops and they go back to sleep.  If you do this with your dog, she'll begin to associate her crate with this frantic behavior.
     When she's not in her crate, the more consistent you can be with her, such as keeping her on a leash or under control (like teaching her a "place" command in your office) the calmer she'll be in general.
     If you try a few times to calm her in the crate when you're home and you're not successful, I'm afraid it might be time to call a professional trainer.  When doing this, be sure to interview several, ask for references, and make sure the trainer is willing to spend enough time with you to explain exactly what the issues are, exactly why they are occurring, and EXACTLY what his/her plan of action would be to help, and why it will work. 
     Hope this makes sense and helps.

John Van Olden
www.JohnVanOlden.com
www.GoodDogBlog.com

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Bobbiedg

In Dogs

Reply To: JohnVanOlden

Thank you John, I really appreciate your wise advice. I will do everything you advised me to do. Wish us luck!! ;)

Bobbie G.

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