TL;DR- My dog licks his kennel and cries when he is in there for longer than 3 minutes while I am in the room. Just me. If I leave, he is fine. If it is all night long, he is fine. If I'm walking around in the room, he is fine. Sometimes if I am not present and sitting next to his kennel, he won't eat his food.
This is the first time I have reached out to anyone regarding my first ever dog, Jasper. He wandered up to the yard of a friend of mine who couldn’t keep him because of his own dog not getting along well with others. We searched for his owners (he could sit and was potty trained) but no one came forward. We then tried to find a home for him and had no luck, but by then he became family. He took to his crate pretty easily. Didn’t take but maybe a day or two for him to get used to it, and maybe a full week for him to understand ‘kennel’. He catches on very quick. He has very much latched onto me the most. He has been a part of the family since March 28th 2018, was neutered after 2 months of being with us and is now 3 years old.
• He voluntarily gets in the kennel with the single command 'Kennel'.
• When it began he was in a medium crate that was pretty snug for his size. We gained a new dog, Lucy, that is bigger than him and had a bigger kennel.
• When Lucy came, we had to switch him to eating in his kennel because they both were food aggressive toward each other. Previously he would graze his food during the day, having complete control.
• He sleeps in his crate at night (as do the other pups). He always has, but some nights he got to sleep in the bed with me so he gets upset sometimes about bedtime in general.
• We also gained a tiny dog (she's a foster), so we brought out his old kennel for her. 50% of the time he chooses to sleep in that during the day.
• He has a bed in his kennel as well and usually also has a blanket in there. He does not chew up his bed or blanket during these moments or during the night.
The issue. [I’m sure that this is a form of separation anxiety, but everything I have seen out there describes what to do in the opposite way.]
The past couple months I’ve been noticing a behavior develop with him in his crate. It started when he was in the smaller crate. He would cry and lick the air/the kennel, constantly. The behavior got worse when we took in Lucy, and we noticed he started to voluntarily go lay in Lucy’s bigger kennel and just sleep there during the day. I started to consider that maybe his kennel was just too small for him (or at least too small in his opinion). We got him a bigger kennel, the same size as Lucy’s. It did not stop the issue.
We started to keep track of when he does this. He only does this when I am in the room. Anyone else in my household can put him in there and he does not react the same way. It's pretty clear its anxiety, so ignoring him does not work (we tried, as painful as it was). When we are up and walking around, he stops. The traditional method of walking away for 5 minutes and so on, doesn't work because when I walk away he stops altogether. It also means that whatever the official plan becomes, I am the only one that can actually work on it with him because he only demonstrates the behavior with me. Sometimes if I am not present or sitting next to his kennel, he won't eat his food.
This evening he did it when I gave him his dinner in his kennel, he refused to eat and just cried/licked the kennel the entire time we ate dinner. I am at a loss because I don't know what I can do to help him. I feel so bad because it's not just boredom, but genuine anxiety and fear. But I can't figure out why he is fearful of the kennel ONLY when I am in the room. As soon as he is let out, he goes back to normal and doesn't come to me or act like he was fearful about being separated from me.
If anyone has any advice, I'd be over the moon.