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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there,

Hoping someone has some tips. We have a Cavachon that's a little over 8 weeks old and we've only had her for a week. She's very smart and affectionate and was basically house trained within a few days.

We started crate training (treats and food in crate, games in crate etc.) her and the first night we had her downstairs in the crate and it seemed ok, a bit of whining but it correlated to potty time. The second night she whined more and we decided to bring the crate to our room. I let her fall asleep on my lap and then put her in, all in all not too bad but she did sometimes seem to whine even if she already had a potty break. It was much better in our room though. We did the minimal contact thing with night time potty but she would always be whining when we put her back in and we were concerned for the neighbors. I made sure to never take her out while whining and praise silent moments in the crate. She was still waking up about 4 times a night.

Recently we went to the vet and she recommended us to give tough love and place her where we'd want her in the long run which is the living room and to just let her whine. That night we did and she only whined 11 minutes when we put her down and about 4-7 minutes the other times we brought her back from her bathroom break. It seemed like progression. However the day after she first settled in about 11 minutes again but after the second potty break she cried for almost 2 hours and got herself so stressed she regurgitated her food. We caved and brought the crate to the room. Making sure to not let her out when whining, she would fall asleep when I spoke to her reassuringly and I even played some relaxing puppy music which seemed to help a little.

The day after we bought a puppy playpen and set it up downstairs thinking maybe she just needs more space. All her favorite toys are in there. We again played games in the pen, fed her in the pen and generally made it a good time. At night I slept downstairs next to it, put on the puppy music and while she whined a bit it was much better and never as distressed as previously.

Today during the day we put her in the playpen while we were sitting on the couch next to her to see how that went. She quickly became hysterical even though we were just there next to her, we were trying the tough love thing again by not acknowledging her while whining and praising quiet. She again got so distressed that she regurgitated her food. After that we took her out and I went back to square one again. I got special treats that I'll only feed her in the pen, play with her in the pen and only leave the pen momentarily not giving her a chance to whine. I'm however worried for tonight.

I sometimes leave her alone on the couch or on the rug unconfined for short periods and she seems to be mostly fine with that. This leads me to believe it's not the being alone that scares her but realizing that's she's confined.

Her only room is the living room, we don't let her go anywhere else but we don't own the furniture so I would prefer her getting comfortable with being confined.

I realize we haven't been very consistent so far since we kept trying to find what works for her and getting to know her, but letting her get so distressed that she vomits doesn't seem right to me and worries me that it will actually cause more trauma.

She doesn't mind playing games near and in the crate and if we put her in there after she's fallen asleep somewhere else she doesn't mind the crate but it's very telling that now that we have the playpen she chooses to sleep outside of the crate (crate is in the playpen)

My plan is to sleep next to her playpen again tonight and slowly sleep further and further away from her until I can finally sleep in the bedroom again. I realize she's very young and we only have her for a week, but I don't want to reinforce bad behavior.

I also got an adaptil calming collar hoping that that will help.

Thanks for reading this lengthy message. I guess I'm just looking for some advice on how to make it better for her. Am I right in sleeping next to her instead of giving tough love? Should we give tough love when she gets so distressed that she vomits? I don't let her out of the playpen when she whines but my presence does seem to calm her. Is this normal puppy behaviour?

Thank you!
 

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Try leaving her in there, leaving the room for like a second, coming back, and throwing a "party". Slowly increase the time. Make a game out of it.

But yes, if she's vomiting because of the stress of being left, "tough love" is probably a bit too much at this stage. You don't want to leave her, then run over if she whines, but it's ok to stay with her, as long as you don't put up a fuss every time she whines.

She's very young. You may want to pet her crate or pen in your room and sleep on the floor right next to it You may need to talk to her and pet her through the bars for a bit, when you first settle her in, but don't do that in response every time she whines..

Try putting a dirty shirt of yours or something else that smells like you in the pen, that may be comforting.

Spend a lot of time with her in the pen and you just outside, interacting with her: talking, playing, praising, etc.

Make sure she has blankets/pillows and toys in there- make sure it's a cozy little "den".

The plan with sleeping farther and farther away does sound good. Just don't try to rush it. At such a young age she's used to being with a bunch of littermates, so being alone is a huge jump- probably bigger than she's ready for at this point.

(just making sure: you did get the puppy adaptil collar, right? not the adult one?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks Kensi! I will try that. Does making a big fuss out of leaving and coming back not encourage seperation anxiety?

I'm not sure if it's being alone she minds this much, she just gets panicked when she realizes there's no way out and claws at the gates or the door of the crate.

So the collar was marketed as puppy/small on the website I got it. But I realized later that adaptil junior actually exists as well. Is there any danger in giving her the adult one?
 

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I personally feel like the cry it out/tough love approach isn't appropriate when a puppy is exhibiting extreme, prolonged distress. It's not a mental state that's really healthy to expose developing puppies to more than absolutely necessary (obviously sometimes people have to leave the puppy home alone for necessary shopping/errands/work commitments, so confining them in those circumstances to keep them safe is unavoidable), and it's not an emotion I want my puppy to associate to their pen/crate area if at all possible.

You may need to just start with you moving back and forth just outside her pen, then stepping a tiny bit away and immediately coming back, and working up from there. This is an old video but still a good demonstration of what this might look like and techniques to use:

Also make sure the puppy has access to a lot of appropriate toys and chews inside the pen, so she has options for things to entertain herself with and self-soothe. Starting out you might want to freeze several portions of her daily meals into stuffable food toys like the Kong Classic so you can leave one with her in the pen. Chewing and licking are naturally calming behaviors in dogs, and getting the food will be intrinsically rewarding her for doing a calm activity while confined, so this can be a powerful tool.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you, will check that out! When she's that distressed she has no interest in toys or food. Oddly enough she doesn't even like peanut butter, but I will try to stuff the kong with kibble.

I agree I think all the distress is actually counter productive to all the work we've been doing to make her like her crate/ pen.

Appreciate the tips!
 

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Thanks Kensi! I will try that. Does making a big fuss out of leaving and coming back not encourage seperation anxiety?

I'm not sure if it's being alone she minds this much, she just gets panicked when she realizes there's no way out and claws at the gates or the door of the crate.

So the collar was marketed as puppy/small on the website I got it. But I realized later that adaptil junior actually exists as well. Is there any danger in giving her the adult one?
(assuming you're talking about the game where you leave for a moment, then return) If you leave and she starts whining, and then you come back, yes, you'd be encouraging it. The goal is to come back before she starts freaking out. You may even need to just act like you're gong to leave the room-take a few steps away, and then come ack and make a fuss- at first. Then walk almost out of the room, then work up to disappearing for a short time, etc. The goal is to praise her for any tiny amount of time she can spend alone without giving her the chance to even start freaking out. Hope this answers your question.

Since you said she's fine playing games in the crate when you're there, yes, I'd imagine you're right- that a lot of it is that she's confined as well as alone. Does she let you actually close her in the crate when you're there?

You may want to ask your vet, and check the warnings on the collar package. It's possible that the only difference is the size of the collar, but it's possible that it's a different type or stronger concentration of medicine in the adult version, so I'd be cautious using it for her- it could be too strong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you! I will try that. I hope we don't undo all the work by having her enclosed at night, but she's so small I can't have her roaming around for her own safety.

I wrote to Adaptil and they said it shouldn't make a difference. Also she's been sleeping so much better now, I think the collar in combination with the training is really helping her. We just have to make sure to go slowly with her since she seems to need a bit more than other puppies perhaps.
 

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What kind of crate are you using?
If it is one of those open wire crates she will have a very much less secure feeling. I would suggest covering the crate with a towel, but some puppies will drag the towel into the crate and chew it up.

Far better to get a plastic crate and put a towel over it so it is more like a den. A towel that comes over the door can be helpful too.

THEN leave the room and be silent. She may whine a bit and stop but she should feel quite safe and secure in there and be much less agitated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi thanks for replying! We have a wire crate but covered with a blanket that smells like us to make it really look like a den. She still prefers to sleep out in the open uncovered.
 
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