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Hello all! New member to the site and looking for some advice from trusted and learned individuals!

About two weeks ago I adopted a 9-month Australian Cattle Dog/Siberian Husky from the SPCA. They say he was brought in my the police because of neglect...has never lived inside, though was not malnourished. Not sure how to go about training him as he has some very strong issues.

Biggest of which is separation anxiety. While no one is home he was put in a crate in the basement (partially finished) with a toy and a blanket. Crate is plenty large for him and space is warm and dry. However, when I got home that day the tray in the bottom was outside the crate, cracked in half, the blanket and carpet (which had been outside) were bundled up inside, and he had gone the bathroom everywhere! Today, I tried a different experiment of just leaving him in the basement to roam, thinking maybe he didn't like the confined space. He apparently spent all day at the top of the stairs and absolutely demolished the basement door and the stairs with huge claw and teeth marks, even breaking some of the trim. When I'm not home he will cry and howl for hours on end!

Next is potty training. He seems to know the concept of going outside, as he will go to the door if he wants to go out, but he also seems perfectly content to go in the house. If upstairs, he will go into the hallway and do his business. Not sure how to solve this if it seems like he understands the point and choses not to anyway.

If anyone could PLEASE help I would really appreciate it! He's a great dog, great personality, but clearly suffering from intense, literally violent separation anxiety!
 

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Good for you for taking on this dog! :)

Some dogs who have separation anxiety love the crate, because it makes them feel safe, as if they were in a cocoon. Your dog is obviously not one of these!
Other dogs who have separation anxiety don't do well when they are isolated. They want/need to be able to see out. So, being in the basement may be making his SA worse, if he feels far from the part of the house he knows, with lots of light and windows, etc. This makes a bit of sense, as you said the second day, he spent most of his time at the top of the stairs.

You left one toy? You could try leaving more than one safe toy. Safe meaning, make sure it has no pieces about to come off, or hasn't been chewed to the point of being harmful, swallowed, etc. You could try a kong, stuffed with peanut butter, and then frozen overnight. You could actually probably get a couple different kong type toys and fill them with different things, like peanut butter, cottage cheese, kibble, etc. That may keep him occupied a bit, so he isn't as upset.

You could also try leaving music on for him.

And, before you leave for work, you could try a nice, brisk walk, to tire him out. And, exercise also relieves stress, so a walk may help with the anxiety.
Other than that, I don't have much to offer for the SA, but hopefully someone will come along soon to add.

If you could, maybe you could move him upstairs, to a dog safe room, and just block of the door with baby gates (even two high, one on top of the other, if he can jump).

As for potty training, dogs do have a tendency to potty wherever they happen to be whenever they need to, especially dogs who have been neglected. This dog never lived inside. He has always been able to just squat and go whenever and wherever he needed. So, I'd advise you to potty train him from scratch, even if he seems to get the hang of it sometimes, I'd still say, start over. Keep him in your sights at all times, when you're home. That way, you can catch the signs, the sniffing, the circling, and take him out before it's too late. You can tether him to yourself with his leash, or tether him to a large, stationary piece of furniture. Or, just keep your eyes on him, and don't let him wander. And, take him out way more often than you think you need to, because even if he doesn't go each time, you are still laying the foundation for what you want him to do.

This is a type of dog that will need lots and lots of exercise. If he has been neglected before coming to you, and just kept in a yard without much exercise or attention, he is going to need to adjust to being inside with people. And, I would suggest that you walk him at least 2 times a day. As I mentioned, exercise may help some of his anxiety, and walking together, as well as doing some training, will help build a bond.
 

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This is the newest development. Thank you for your suggestions, they really sound great. This time I tried a KONG frozen with peanut butter, a soft, cuddly toy, a blanket, a carpet under the crate, and left the lights and TV on. This solid carpet with a rubber underside, was absolutely ripped to shreds. I could vacuuming most of it up. I feel like I can't leave the house!
 

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Man, that sounds like an extreme case. He's only that way when left alone? Imagine the state of mind he must be in, to go ballistic like that day after day.

Can you take about 10 days off and spend it with him? The poor guy needs to learn that he can trust you. Start with just basic obedience training and leash walking -- it's more than just good exercise and fun. These are important bonding experiences -- they set the tone for your relationship. And boy does he need exercise. There's no way any human can walk enough to tire that dog out. He needs to run -- is there a dog park nearby? If you don't know whether he's good with other dogs, try to find a time when no one else is there. Swimming is good too, if you can get him to swim. I'm no professional, but that's how I would approach it.

As far as housebreaking, I don't believe this ever happens: "he understands the point and choses not to anyway." More likely, he understands that the toilet is outside, just hasn't yet grasped that the floor is *NOT* also a toilet. Keep a close eye -- housebreaking depends on you preventing him going potty indoors until he figures it out. Sounds like he's almost there.
 

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You both make some great points, thanks again for all the suggestions! Unfortunately, there have been even more developments. Three times now he has actually escaped from his crate! Same crate as in previous post, wire with a double-locking door. In fact, after his first two escapes when one lock appeared somehow unlocked, I secured them with wire ties. Today, he STILL escaped (crate appears undisturbed, locks still locked and fastened), destroyed a couch, and shifted an area rug. Oh yeah, this rug also had the couch and a treadmill on it. I am not going to be able to keep him if this keeps up. Ahh!!!
 

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You adopted a dog with two very very very active breeds making him up. Maybe it isn't so much as severe separation anxiety as it is severe I need to burn off a lot of energy and no one is providing me an outlet to do so!

Any breed of dog can be super destructive if they aren't given a proper level of physical AND mental stimulation. You have a dog that HAS to have a job to do! You're seeing what can happen if he doesn't.

A tired dog is a good dog - as the saying goes. Take him running, give him multiple training sessions a day - give him puzzle toys to work his mind. Sometimes mental exercise can be more tiring than actual physical exercise. If you or someone you know has a fenced in yard or you have a park with a fenced in area that allows dogs - take him there let him run and chase balls or sticks! You'll see an immense difference in his demeanor with a proper outlet for his energy.
 

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You both make some great points, thanks again for all the suggestions! Unfortunately, there have been even more developments. Three times now he has actually escaped from his crate! Same crate as in previous post, wire with a double-locking door. In fact, after his first two escapes when one lock appeared somehow unlocked, I secured them with wire ties. Today, he STILL escaped (crate appears undisturbed, locks still locked and fastened), destroyed a couch, and shifted an area rug. Oh yeah, this rug also had the couch and a treadmill on it. I am not going to be able to keep him if this keeps up. Ahh!!!
Ok I have a pup who likes to take things out of my wife's purse, she swears he unzipped the purse, extracted her wallet then zipped the purse back up, and took her Macy's card out. I found the wallet in the backyard, snapped shut, the card in question, which has teeth marks (although it still scans ok at the store), was a few feet away. I'm skeptical about her purse being zipped back up.

But if your guy unfasted the wire ties, unlocked and opened the door, closed and locked it from the outside, and replaced the wire ties, then I think he's got mine beat. ;)

If you're using zip ties, I'd advise against it, they'd take too long to remove in an emergency.

Niraya is right, exercise the body, stimulate the mind, that's the first step.
 

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If it's really truly separation anxiety (try upping the exercise first), it's a mental illness. He may need meds to reset his brain chemistry. Definitely talk to the vet about meds before giving up on this guy!
 

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I have a Husky Mix that had severe separation anxiety similar to what you are describing. He broke through a closed, locked window and jumped out the 2nd story twice. In cases that severe, medication may be necessary before he is able to benefit from any training. My dog did not respond at all to any training attempts until we put him on Clomicalm, then he was able to calm down enough that I could work with him. I would suggest talking to your vet about medication as soon as possible and then starting a training plan. I have also found Bach's Flower Remedies to be helpful. You might also want to consider working with a professional trainer. Huskies & Cattle Dogs are both extremely high energy dogs. They need serious exercise such as walking or preferably running several miles a day. Running alongside a bike is great if you can do that. Before you can expect to get any positive changes from training make sure you are running him daily.
Once you have done all those things, you can start the desensitization process. Start by doing everything you would normally do to get ready to leave but then don't leave. Put your coat on, jingle your keys, etc. Wait until your dog is calm and then put all of it away. Next start the whole process again and wait until your dog is calm and then leave the house but come back immediately. If he is calm then calmly reward him but do not make a big deal of it. If he is not calm, ignore him until he is calm and then calmly reward him. Do this multiple times a day and slowly increase the amount of time you stay away. It is a long process but it does help. My dog was eventually able to get off medication and be at home alone with no issues.
It sounds like the crate is making him more upset, however it is sometimes necessary to keep a dog safe. You need to decide what is best for him (and you) regarding where to keep him when you're gone. He will probably be less hysterical if he's loose in the house but could also do significant damage or hurt himself.
 
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