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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my puppy cries, whines and barks in her crate whenever I leave the house for 10-20 minutes then falls asleep. She also does the same thing whenever she is in her crate and needs something (water, potty, etc.) as well as when she wants something (attention, to stay awake) or sometimes when we leave the room or watch tv. My trainer said I should start by making sure all her needs are met, then walk around the corner into the hall, click if she stays calm, then come back and give her a treat. Walk down the hall to the door, click if she stays calm, then come back and give her a treat. All the way up to out the door and around the block.

Unfortunately, it feels like this doesn't work. Sometimes I can get all the way to the car without an issue, other times she starts to fall apart right away. Sometimes she does good to some point in the middle then progressively falls apart earlier and earlier.

When she falls apart, I wait a minute after she falls calm again then return and say nothing, then try again until I get fed up and she is falling apart when I walk around the corner or even when I'm in the room. At that point, I leave the room for 30 minutes after she gets calm again and usually she is asleep.
 

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I just ignored mine. Then would just make sure she's NOT whining when I eventually open the crate. All my puppies got used to it after a few days.
 

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It really isn't unusual, and 10-20 minutes isn't that long. As long as all her needs are met, you can ignore her. She will learn that no amount of fuss will get her out of the crate.

It also helps to play crate games to build a positive association with it. You can look up "crate gams" on this forum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I looked up and started crate games. Another trainer said she might not be entirely comfortable in her crate, though when she wakes up and I'm gone, she gives a few whines then settles into patient waiting. If in her crate while I'm there and I am either not looking at her or she isn't busy with her kong, she whines and cries for about 10-20 minutes. It's just I've been ignoring her whines and crying for 7 weeks now and she still hasn't gotten any better, in fact she may be a bit worse. It's driving me crazy.
 

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How often is she being crated? If you're crating her when you're away from home AND when you are home she may be going stir crazy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
She is 16 weeks old. Yes, we do crate her while we are home and while we are away. I'm usually only gone to run errands for 2-4 hours a day. She gets about 2-3 hours of play and training every day with some days having more time for play or training, broken up throughout the day into 20 minute increments unless we are at puppy class or scent training class (which are an hour long each). We have found that if we make her playtime longer than 20 minutes at a time, she gets over-amped and into trouble then ends up spending more time in timeout than in play. She generally gets bored with tug, fetch and chase (her chasing us) for about 5 minutes each, with an additional 5 minutes of settling and chewing a nylabone next to us, that makes a good rhythm. I also make sure to spend periods of her in her crate on the couch nearby the crate does not always mean I'm leaving the room. She has no fear of her crate, she is fine in here and will even play with her toys in there if I'm in the same room. She just doesn't like to be alone and does not play with her toys in her crate when left alone. She only trades off between, whining, sleeping and eating in her crate when left alone.
 

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Would it be good for her to spend her time outside in the yard ,
I think dogs are confined for to many hours , they need room for running around.
She is telling you she needs freedom too run outside and be a dog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Would it be good for her to spend her time outside in the yard ,
I think dogs are confined for to many hours , they need room for running around.
She is telling you she needs freedom too run outside and be a dog.
Unfortunately, that is not possible at this time. We have contractors working on one portion of the yard putting in a retaining wall as the side of the hill was running off and exposing roots after all the rain we got. She likes to eat the barrier cloth under the rocks. And she likes to chew on electric cords, which we have outside right now until we can afford to have the electrician fix the outside lights. We plan to get those settled but it will take a few months. We didn't expect our puppy to be quite so intent on the barrier cloth and electric cords as she is. This is our first puppy and we were very under prepared in this department. We thought since we had a fenced in yard with grass, shrubs and rocks we would be fine.
 

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Would it be good for her to spend her time outside in the yard ,
I think dogs are confined for to many hours , they need room for running around.
She is telling you she needs freedom too run outside and be a dog.

It's never a good idea to leave a dog (especially a puppy) outside in the yard unattended while the owner is gone. That's a good way for them to get stolen, get into trouble, as the OP mentioned with the barrier cloth, escape, or be picked off by a wild animal depending on location.

OP, you're still doing fine. This crazy phase will pass. It's all about them learning boundaries, and that they don't have to be doing something every single second of the day.
 

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What might help is not only continuing to ignore whining... But also rewarding calm and quiet behavior. So after maybe 10-15 seconds of quiet, casually throw a treat into the crate. A few seconds (and eventually, minutes) later, still quiet? More treats. A casual training session, if you will. Yes, food can amp up a dog and that might happen at first. But if you slowly increase the period of quiet before reward, you can also teach your pup to very quickly calm down too. In the beginning stages when I did this with my pup (who is wired, all the time), of course he would spring up and think a training session was happening. But now, he won't even get up for the treats. He'll just lie there when I toss it to him (or when it comes out of the treat dispensing machine) and eat it from a settled position. "Shaping calm" is technically what you're doing. It works if the timing of your treat delivery is good and you're very precisely marking calm body language.

Ignoring is great because you aren't reinforcing unwanted behavior. But the flipside is no desirable behavior is being reinforced either. Some dogs learn to be quiet through habit (ie, they learn nothing exciting happens when they're in the crate and they choose to settle down eventually). But some dogs are just more vocal and whiny than others. Some dogs and puppies do it even when they learned it doesn't earn them anything. My older dog naturally settles and chills out if there's nothing going on. My younger dog has always been a whiny dog and although it is pretty much nonexistent today, he whines because that's what he does, not necessarily to get anything from me. I spent zero effort teaching my older dog to settle. I am still working on it with my younger guy.
 

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So my puppy cries, whines and barks in her crate whenever I leave the house for 10-20 minutes then falls asleep. She also does the same thing whenever she is in her crate and needs something (water, potty, etc.) as well as when she wants something (attention, to stay awake) or sometimes when we leave the room or watch tv. My trainer said I should start by making sure all her needs are met, then walk around the corner into the hall, click if she stays calm, then come back and give her a treat. Walk down the hall to the door, click if she stays calm, then come back and give her a treat. All the way up to out the door and around the block.

Unfortunately, it feels like this doesn't work. Sometimes I can get all the way to the car without an issue, other times she starts to fall apart right away. Sometimes she does good to some point in the middle then progressively falls apart earlier and earlier.

When she falls apart, I wait a minute after she falls calm again then return and say nothing, then try again until I get fed up and she is falling apart when I walk around the corner or even when I'm in the room. At that point, I leave the room for 30 minutes after she gets calm again and usually she is asleep.
Also, the game that you're playing where you gradually move farther/disappear for longer may be unnecessary. From the information here, it sounds like your dog doesn't really have separation anxiety, if she loves her crate and is generally fine being left alone, and especially if she calms down as quickly as you mentioned. It sounds like normal puppy stuff and some attention seeking behavior. Have you tried giving her a high value food toy right before you leave? For puppies who are generally crate trained, I'd recommend focusing on the calm behavior when you're home, and pairing departures with high value things like stuffed Kongs.

The step-by-step process you are doing is not bad! But it is a lot of work and the dogs who need it are ones who have severe separation anxiety and cannot settle once they are over threshold.
 
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