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Crating for seperation anxiety?

852 Views 19 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  mwv
First off, I am new to forums, but I have been lurking and reading for a while.

Hello, and my name is Matt.

Ok, so I just got my dog Zoe about 1.5 months ago or so. I adopted her from the pound and they estimate her age is in between 1.5-2 years old. I wasn't working when I originally got her, but now I have started up again. She has recently started eliminating on the floor. I take her out at least 5 times a day to go to the bathroom, and she gets plenty of exercise. The thing is that she will not go to the restroom if I leave her home with someone, but when people are all gone, she seems to always poop in my room. She if VERY attached to me, and I think it might be seperation anxiety. My roomate says that she paces between my bed and the door when I leave, and when I am around, she never leaves my heel. I have reprimanded her when she does poop, and I reward her when she goes outside.

Will crating help this? I work in 4 hours shifts, but she will go right after I take her out, and I will only be gone <2 hours. She knows she shouldn't because she tucks her tail and runs to her bed when I see it. She will also go sometimes when I am asleep.

I want to help her but I don't' know what else to do. I cant' help get mad at her, so I don't know how you guys let your dogs poop on the floor and not say anything to them.

Any and all help will be appreciated.

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Thank you for the response. I do feel bad about putting her in a crate, but I don't think she will care. She likes small cramped spaces anyway, and hopefully it won't bother her.

Also, am I being abusive? I will walk her over to where she made a mess and point at it, and tell her "No, bad girl!". I have occasionally swatted her lightly, but since really reading here, I have tried not to. I tend to lose my temper, but never am I violent with her.

EDIT FOR CLARIFICATION: I know swatting her is bad behavior on my part, but my main concern is that it is exacerbating the problem now. Since reading around her, I don't physically punish anymore.
I never thought about the body posture, voice tone thing.

I dog-proofed my apt before I got her, so there is no where for her to hide. She always poops/pees in one of two spots in my room anyway. I was going to get some enzymatic cleaner today when I get her crate, to see if that helps.

Yes, she is a pretty small dog, she is a 14.5lb Manchester Terrier (possibly mixed). I have strayed away from the potty pads because I don't want her to confuse pooping on pads with pooping house.
Why not in the bedroom? She sleeps in my room as it is, and with a small apartment in Austin, I don't know where else she could go.
Because she will still be able to see you and hear you. That would be defeating the purpose of crate training to cure separation anxiety. Since she isn't a big dog, you can try and get a crate that will fit in your kitchen or living room, and put a blanket it over it. I had my dog's crate in the bedroom, since Texas doesn't have basements, and the garage is to hot (we're stationed at Fort Hood)-but I finally moved him out and put both of them in a different room all together.
Yes, I live in Texas also, so I know the pain of the heat :p. I have no where to put here though, so I will keep her at the foot of my bed.

First off, I don't think that you're dealing with separation anxiety, I think you have a dog that is not fully house trained, and I do think crating will help. I think anywhere you want to set up a crate is fine, it all depends on your personal preference. Some people crate in the room where they spend the most time, others like someplace away from all the activity. Just pick a spot and see how you like it. Do a search for crate training and housebreaking and you'll find alot of good info...I personally don't like to punish for a mess that I didn't catch the dog making.

True separation anxiety is severe and usually involves extreme destruction, barking, panic, and even the dog injuring itself in an attempt to get out of the crate/room/house and get to you.
Thank you, this was very insightful. I was at the store earlier getting her new crate and the onsite trainer told me that it sounds like she knows where to poop, but not where NOT to poop.

Interestingly enough as soon as I put the cage down she went right in. I didn't eve have to put her bed/blankets in right away. I put that all in there, along with her kong toy, and she has been very content since I got it. I am leaving it open right now, but I'll see how she does when I leave and it's closed.

Thanks for all the help everyone :). I am new here, and to owning a dog by myself, so this is really helpful. :D
Thank you all for the timely responses. Yesterday night was her first night in the crate and she did really well. She is regularly returning to it and she goes into it and lets me shut it no problems.

Question: Does crate trainging really teach "don't poop in the house"? or does it just eliminate the possibility of her doing it?

Sorry this is short, I have had a lot of stuff to do today... :(
Ok, so I thought I would follow up with how everything is going. She has done beautifully until tonight.

She loves her crate and has no problem going into it or letting me shut it. She usually goes back there whenever she is bored,tired or wants to play with her toys.

Ugh... but tonight was different. I had taken her out and fed her normally. When I took her out around 9:30-10am (which is normally when she poops) she hardly did anything. I left her out there after she peed, but she seemed to be uninterested and refused to even sniff around. I spent way to long out there waiting (15mins??) and she still didn't go. So I took her back inside, where she laid down in her crate and hung out for a while. Around 1am, when I was finishing a paper, she started sniffing around where she has pooped indoors before. When I looked at her, she laid down. Then she stood up a bit later, and turned a circle or two, after she was sniffing. I thought she might poop, but then she just laid back down. I went back to my paper, until I heard her get up again, but it was a little too late. She went right there where she always does. This is the first time I have caught her in the act, so I punished her immediately. She tried to run into her crate as soon as I yelled at her and busted her, but I managed to stop her and scolded her. Afterwards, when I let her go, she hunched in her cage, and sat for a bit. I went to get the leash to take her (and the poop) outside. When I came back in, she refused to leave her crate. When I reached in to pull her out, she snapped at me and bared her teeth. I realize now she felt cornered, but at the time, I just got mad. So I drug her out of the crate where she ran underneath my desk. When I tried to grab her again , she snapped at me. I popped her on top of the snout, and pulled her back out, where she was shaking and obviously scared.

Now, I understand that she was cornered and in my anger, I should have let it calm down a bit before I went to get her. However, is this sort of behavior acceptable? She has only ever done it when she is trapped in a small space, right after I have swatted her for something (which has not been that often.) She never does it in the open and she is always visibly shaking and scared. I want to fix this, and I understand that some of this could be my fault. What should I do when this behavior occurs?

Now I feel terrible, because she is scared and timid when I call her, and she is so far from aggressive. I truly don't believe she is an aggressive dog, so maybe I am just expecting too much for her not to get defensive and retaliate when punished. Please help :(

I know I am new to this, and I understand it's something that WE need to work on, not just her. I appreciate everything, and be kind to a new owner. :eek:
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Please, never, ever punish a dog for being afraid. When you caught her pooping, you probably terrified her by yelling and charging. First of all, that was a bad way to go about inerrupting her. Instead, you should have used an interrupter word like "Ah!" or "Sht!" Don't YELL at her, just say it firmly at a normal volume. Then just lead her straight outside to finish. There's no need to scare or punish her, just make your dissaproval known. Also, instead of yanking her out of her crate when she's obviously scared, give her some peace and leave her alone for a minute, then try to coax her out with a toy or a treat.

You should never get angry at a dog. If you find yourself getting angry, cool off for a minute and address the situation when you're calmer. Oh, and even if she's taking forever to go, don't just give up and go in. She gave you lots of signs and you ignored them. Everytime she looks like she might have to go, even if it is several times before she actually does.
A couple of clarifications before everybody thinks I'm some psycho. :p I wasn't yanking her out of the cage, I very calmly just put my hand in there to get her out. That is when she growled, and got defensive.

I don't get so mad that it makes me rage or anything. I was very frustrated, but I don't feel like I acted out of anger or anything. However, you are right, I should really calm down. I don't get violent or anything crazy, but she probably senses the difference in my voice. I think when I get mad like that it really scares her, and that is probably not a good thing for her or me. I tried to punish right as she did it and right after though, so she wouldn't confuse why I was punishing her. I didn't' want her to think I was yelling at her for sitting in her crate or anything. The part that really bothered me though, was afterward when she bared her teeth...

Also, when I saw her going to the bathroom, I didn't yell in a rage, i was just trying to distract her. She finished before I could get to her. I was on a video call for work, and could not readily hop up as fast as I would have liked. :(

I realize now how obvious it was that she had to go, but when she just laid down, I figured she was just laying there. Maybe it was just late... :eek:

her standing up and turning around was her letting you know that she needed to go...next time stand up and take her out...prevention is the best cure
As I said up there, I thought she was just laying there. I clearly was wrong on that one :(
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Here's a thought - if you get frustrated, try 'shaking' yourself before you interact with your dog. The body shake is something dogs often do when they switch from an excited state to calm one. Obviously, you're not a dog, and you probably can't shake like a dog, either, but dogs are pretty good about translating behavior signals. A quick head-shake might help let your dog that even though you were upset before, you're not anymore, and now it's ok. The downside is you look like a complete idiot if you try it in public (but not as much as the time I instinctively started yelping in the elevator to teach a puppy bite inhibition. I sounded like Beaker).

For me, controlling my body language is the single hardest thing about dog training. Dogs notice the thousands of little things in your behavior that you never even thought of - which direction your feet are pointed, whether your shoulders are tense or relaxed, how far your knees are bent, whether your weight is shifted forwards or backwards, whether your pupils are dilated - and will probably interpret them correctly. I have distinct memories of my comical attempts to seem excited and happy that my dog was pooping outside at 3AM in subzero weather. I doubt my dog bought it, but I think she appreciated the effort.

This sounds weird, but the best way to control your body is to approach it like an actor. The American 'method' style of acting is about harnessing your emotions to influence your body language - get control of your emotions, then let that direct your behavior. The British style is the converse - control individual elements of your body to invoke an emotional response. Generally, people will find one style comes more naturally to them than the other, but the effect is the same - you need to figure out how to signal your dog that 'Everything is ok' without using your voice. Eventually, you find yourself doing it all the time, instinctively - and your dog will start acting that way, too. I've never acted a day in my life, but I find that it works.
haha, I appreciate the advice. My neighbors probably think I am a nutter after seeing me congratulate my dog every time she pees or poops outside :D
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