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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is where I worry I am seriously doing something wrong, or ignoring signs of separation anxiety, etc....

Here's what's up. I got an 8 week old German Shepherd mix puppy (but mostly GSD) five days ago. I began crate training her immediately. She seems to enjoy the crate, and uses it for security, but only seems to like it when I'm around. She's fine sleeping in it next to my bed at night and doesn't whine much. If I go to another room, sometimes she whines for a few minutes then goes to sleep. But sometimes, she begins whining and then what I call "flipping out" - biting at the crate bars, flipping over her bed or tugging at it so hard the whole crate moves (it's one of the plastic travel crates for now). I've tried to wait this out but it'll go for 20 minutes or more before I feel like I need to do something.

I put tasty treats in there - stuffed Kong, peanut butter-filled hoof, Nylabone, squeaky toys--and she loves them, but again, only when I'm there. Not interested even a little bit if I'm not next to her.

I ignore when it's just the whining, but I worry that if I keep ignoring while she "flips out", I'm going to cause her serious psychology harm and/or foster development of separation anxiety. I guess my questions are....are these the signs of SA? Is it normal in an 8-week old? Should I ignore when she is "flipping out"? I went in there just now and sat next to her until she calmed down again, and she's fine. I didn't let her out of the crate. I think she whines for ME, not because she wants out of the crate.

Will this go away on its own if I keep ignoring?

Sorry, I just worry that I'm in over my head and I'm breaking her. I'm a single puppy parent with a full-time job, so SA is not an option.
 

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Being upset when left alone and crated is totally normal in an 8 week old puppy who hasn't been acclimated to a crate before. It might go away on its own, but it may not. It is encouraging that she sometimes whines for a couple of minutes and then goes to sleep, however.

Personally, I wouldn't let her keep flipping out - you're right to think that it could do damage long-term, and I also think you're doing the right thing to come back into the room until she calms down. I wouldn't interact with her, just stay in the room until she calms down, then give her a really good treat.

I would work specifically on leaving her alone in the crate. Crate her, walk out of the room then immediately back in. Gradually increase the amount of time that you're out of the room, by seconds at a time to start with. If, while you're working on this, she flips out, come back in and wait until she is calm, reward her for being calm, and then try again but for half the time as before.

I can't promise that it won't be frustrating, but you might just have to take it slow.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
What about leaving her alone while I have to leave the house? I'm especially worried about this. I don't plan on ever leaving her alone longer than 2 hours in the crate, but I'm the equivalent of a single mom here and I have to get stuff done!! I've left her for about an hour so far, twice, and as far as I can tell she didn't do any damage or flip out (she was always quiet when I got home). So...I don't know. I feel like I'm in over my head and don't know what I got myself into, especially as the more I read, the more it sounds like GSDs are prone to separation anxiety. I really should have known that before adopting her. :(((

Maybe my friends are right and I'm just stressing myself out. I am REALLY STRESSED OUT.
 

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It is really, really normal to feel totally overwhelmed with a baby puppy. They are needy and adding any dog (puppy or adult) disrupts the household routine while you figure each other out.

Its so tough, I know. I do know that my girl was sometimes worse when I was in the home but not in the same room when she was crated, so it might be easier for her to be crated when you are out of the house?

You could also try confining her in an ex-pen, which would give her a bit more room.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for all the advice! Yeah, I've been debating the ex-pen...right now I have my sun room baby-gated off, but she wines at the gate and tries to squeeze through if I'm in another room. But at least an ex-pen would keep her from destroying my sun room trim if I'm ever gone for a while! She is quite the little biter/chewer...currently obsessed with my socks and trying to figure out how to get her to knock it off...:)
 
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