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Discussion Starter #1
First off, sorry for the long post. Just wanted to get everything in ;)

We have a 7 month old mini schnauzer who is having some issues when left alone. Some background: we've had her for about 2 months now. When we first got her, she barked and made a fuss any time she was left alone in the crate (even for a few minutes). She would be quiet and happy if in her crate with us in the room. We tried extinction (no good-barked for over an hour) and gradual exposure (totally variable response; could work up to over an hour one day and the next day bark after 1 minute). We walk her and play like crazy before she goes in the crate so we know she's tired. We've left her with a kong and treats to keep her busy. Our exits and entrances are totally boring. Finally, on the recommendation of a behaviorist who we have been working with, we've used correction (shaking of a can with pennies). The behaviorist conceptualized it more as boredom and frustration at being alone rather than separation anxiety. This worked like a charm! About 3 trials and out puppy has been amazing and quiet. We still do all of the other positive like rewards for being quiet, toys/food to keep her busy in the crate, lots of exercise and stimulation before crate time, and boring entrances and exits.

Here's the catch. She seems to somehow know when we are within "can" distance. I can be in the other room and she's quiet. I can be upstairs and she's quiet for up to an hour. After that she starts to bark but as soon as she hears me moving she stops (I think she knows that moving means the can will come out). Obviously I won't shake the can when she's quiet, so I've lost the opportunity to correct the behavior. When I stand close enough that I could correct, she's silent! I don't want to resort to a bark collar or anything, but can't figure out another way to correct when I'm not physically present. It's just so frustrating because I know with just a couple of corrections she would learn (seems to learn quickly from the others) and I feel like we've tried all the positive reinforcement for queit behaviors that we can.

Any ideas would be appreciated
 

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You didn't wait long enough and you rushed it. Go back to the slow exposure and ignore the barking completely.
I agree. While doing this, praise her and give her a good treat (something she will only get while being in there) even if she's quiet for a few seconds. Then GRADUALLY increase the time interval. Eventually (and it may take some time) she will get the idea that attention is earned by being quiet, and barking is completely ignored. But it sounds better to me than shaking a can of pennies (which has stopped working). Granted I'm not behaviorist, but my pup learned quick that his crate is a good place to be. Also, be sure that you are making the crate as comfortable as possible, and make sure you work hard to let her know that the crate is in fact a safe, good place to be. The only place my pup gets anything for free (treats, attention) is when he is being good in the crate. And he always gets something for going in there.

Hope that helps. Keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You didn't wait long enough and you rushed it. Go back to the slow exposure and ignore the barking completely.
by "over an hour" i mean 3 hours straight to the point she got so distressed she started coughing and throwing herself against the crate. We had several occasions of this every time we tried extinction. We never attended at all when she was barking and ALWAYS waited for at least 30 seconds of quiet before we would go into the room to let her out (that was the most we could get once she started barking). Our behaviorist seemed to think that this wasn't something that would extinguish. I guess I wonder what is extinction and at what point it becomes dangerous for the dog. We did try graded exposure pretty slowly, but were perplexed at the variability in her response (over an hour one time, less than 10 minutes the next). Maybe we just need to keep going with that.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the suggestions. We do work very hard to make her crate a nice place. We give her treats when she is quiet and prolong the length of time we wait while she's quiet to treat. I think she's ok with the crate, in fact, when our family is home at night and the crate door is open, she will often go in there and rest for a while after she plays.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We try to keep her pretty active. She gets a short walk as soon as she wakes up and then I take her out for a longer walk (usually at least 45 minutes) after breakfast and then we play in the yard off leash before she would go in the crate. I know she's tired because if I'm in the room, she'll fall asleep almost immediately. I'm definitely up for continuing with the gradual exposure. We really did try to follow it pretty precisely and tried to time things so we got to her when she was quiet with a reward (the correction came only when we couldn't get a second of silence in which to reward her after she stopped barking; and she was escalating so badly we were worried). I guess we'll just keep at it and back up to starting with just a few minutes.
 
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