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Hello, I recently got a new puppy. She’s a beautiful almost 3 month Sheppard mix. She is sweet and loving and super smart. In the 2 weeks I’ve had her I’ve been able to teach her so much, but I’m having real trouble with what I’m guessing is separation anxiety. I’ve been crate training and while she doesn’t seem to have any aversion to the crate itself, she simply will not tolerate being out of my presence while in it. The second I am out of her sight, even if she isn’t in the crate and I just go into another room that’s gated off, she starts crying. That very quickly will escalate to howling which just doesn’t stop. The past 2 times I’ve crated her and left the room to try and get her used to it, she urinated in the crate. This is distressing because she is very far along in potty training and sleeps the night in the crate without going. (The crate is at the foot of my bed and elevated at night so she can see me). This is concerning to me because I live alone and at some point I will have to return to work. I have a neighbor who will be able to come take her out and play with her for a bit but she will have to spend sometime on her own and I can’t have her howling the entire time. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Is this still to be expected at this age and is she likely to grow out of it? It seems very extreme. She literally sounds like she’s being tortured which breaks my heart. Wondering if this is something I might need professional help with. Thank you for reading and any help you can offer.
 

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You need to do more work making the crate a positive place. Feed her in the crate. Put her in the crate with a Kong filled with something good (fill it with plain yogurt or peanut butter and freeze it and give her that). While she is eating LEAVE the room and then come back before she is done. If you are feeding kibble, do it in a toy (like a Buster Cube) so she has to work to get the food out. Skip a meal at night. In the morning she will be more hungry. Feed her regular morning meal in the crate and leave the room and then come back. Same with the Kong.. give it to her in the crate and while she is working on it leave and come back.

Eventually you will have to give her the Kong and leave and NOT come back. If she begins to howl, do NOT come back until she is silent. Let her howl.

Because you have been coming back and (probably) saying things like "poor baby" when you do come back you are giving her more reason to be upset.

Put the Kong in the crate. Put the dog in the crate. Say nothing and leave and act business like. No words. Be quiet both by not talking and in your body language. If she starts to howl and carry on say NOTHING. When she is silent you can return and let her out.

When you return to let her out of the crate again be silent and business like no matter how much she jumps around and carries on. YOU remain calm and quiet and business like and do not talk. When she settles down you can then interact.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your reply, 3gsd4ipo. I have already been implementing all of the things you suggested. I assure you there have been zero “poor baby”s coming from me, lol. I feed her in the crate with a kong. Today, in fact, I did just that and left the room for about 15 mins. She howled the whole time and peed in the crate which she wasn’t doing before. That’s one of the troubling things about this. This pup is VERY food motivated. She wants to eat constantly, but the second she realizes I’m out of sight she will stop eating to start crying/howling. When I re-entered the room (at which point she’ll go quiet immediately), and payed her no mind for a minute or so of continued silence before letting her out, the Kong was still half full...
 

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You MAY be dealing with a true situation of separation anxiety in your Shepherd Mix puppy. If that is the case, medication from your vet is the only answer. However, at 12 weeks old that is a tough call. The anxiety of fear peeing is the concern.

I would try one more thing. Simply crate her and leave. Let her howl. Do not come back for several hours. Make sure she does not have a collar on in the crate. Is the crate a wire crate or plastic? Wire crates can leave them feeling "out there" and a plastic crate is more like a den.

If it is a plastic crate, put her in it and then turn it so the door faces the wall so there is nothing to see. If you can put a surveillance camera on her and watch her that would be good.. but I would put her in it and then LEAVE. Do NOT come back and do not come back for a few hours.

If it is a wire crate you can try covering it with a towel.. but beware.. she may well drag it into the crate and that could be a hazard.

I would try the leaving her and NOT coming back for a long time. I would do it quite a lot. Then, when you DO come back be very calm and boring when you do let her out. Say nothing. Just get her out to pee/poop.

At night I would not have the crate where she can see you. Yes.. sleepless nights.. until she gets it.. but you do need to try.
 

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Since we're talking hazards - if it's a wire crate that can be folded suitcase-like, use metal snaps or some other fastener to hold the front and back panels to the top of the crate so that the end panel can't come out of those clips and start to fold. You want to make sure that no amount of puppy fuss can start the folding process and leave a gap between end panel and top that could tempt your puppy to try to wiggle out through it. My dogs are all great in crates, and I do that anyway as a precaution because I've read of that happening with tragic consequences.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies. I have her in a wire crate but the front and back panels take quite a bit of effort to unhook, even for me, plus there is a divider in the middle as the full crate is too big for her at this time. There is no chance of it collapsing. I also have a cover for it, but as was said with the towel, she frantically tries to pull it off/inside. I just left her again for about 10 mins to do laundry and when I returned I could hear her howling from downstairs on the street I know it had been constant. As soon as she heard me on the stairs she stopped. She hadn’t peed this time but she did try to pull the cover off. I’m nervous about leaving her for that long in this state but I also don’t want to put her on drugs if I can avoid it. The cover has flaps on all sides. Should I cover the entire crate when I leave? That seems cruel to me but I’m not a dog.
 

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I'd try an airline type crate as a first, simple option. I had a dog who always acted like a wire crate was murdering her, but as just fine in a hard plastic crate.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the reply. I don’t think the crate is the issue. Again, she has no aversion to the crate. She enters it willingly and is often reluctant to leave it when I go to take her out in the morning. She is perfectly happy to stay in it with me sitting next to it. The problem starts the moment I go out of sight. She’ll do the same thing if I go into the bathroom and shut the door or go out of sight in a room she’s blocked off from by a baby gate.
 

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While YOU do not think it is the crate my experience says that it might not be helpful to be in a wire crate. Try getting a plastic airline type crate. It might do the trick. See if you can borrow one if money is the issue. You might find it works well and you need to leave her for longer periods of time.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks. This whole crate thing is new for me. Not the way we trained pups back in the day. I got the wire so I could adjust the size. Will try the plastic type. Thanks for all the great advice.
 

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Does the dog fuss or cry if you leave the room and she stays with another person? Is it just your presence, or she seems to need a human (any human) present? Do you know what her living situation was before you acquired her? In a home, in a shelter kennel, found stray?
Is she getting enough activity to tire her out multiple times each day? Could it be that she sees you as the sole source of entertainment? Does she nap in her crate during the day or follow you around the house continually every minute from waking to going to bed at night?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for your response. Actually all of it now seems to be getting incrementally better. She doesn’t immediately start crying when I leave her sight. She’ll nep in the crate during the day but I have to sit quietly by the crate till she nods off. She’s pretty good being left with other people but will cry for me after a time. She has started doing her own thing more and not so attached to my hip. She gets plenty of walks, play and training (she’s smart as a whip). The last couple of days when I’ve left her for short periods (I haven’t been able to bring myself to leave her for hours yet), she’s cried when I left but has stopped by the time I return which is definite progress. I have some DAP spray coming today. Hopefully that will help.
 
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