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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new here and in need of some advice, it sounds like other people here have dealt with similar issues.

A month ago I brought home a terrier mix Pete from a rescue. He is not only adorable (looks like a little fox!) but has a great temperament, gentle and very loving. He's been socialized in a lot of situations and acted like a champ, friendly with dogs but not super interested, really a people dog.... maybe a little too much so.

He had been at the rescue for a few months and we were told he was crate trained so we set one up in our kitchen thinking it would be a nice haven for him in an unusual environment. The first day he was literally on our (especially my) heels all day. He walked right into the crate and lay there for a few minutes in the afternoon. When evening came I sent him in there and went upstairs to bed. He proceeded to SCREAM and intermittently claw at the door for 3.5 hours with no break. I know you cant let them out when they're frantic but by midnight I was desperate and clearly he was too. I went downstairs and sat for half an hour till he fell asleep, I thought I could sneak away but as soon as I moved he was awake like a lighting bolt and I decided to take advantage of the lull to let him out instead of letting him get going again. He whines when he cant see me for a moment and refuses to go outside alone.

I'm home most of the day but I had a few appointments that required me to be out for 3 hours at a time, I'm pretty certain he barked the whole time and I came home to a puddle of drool. Another time we left him in the house with my brother (who got locked in the bathroom for an hour... hilarious) and when we came home Pete was barking at the door and had COVERED our front hall with sweaty pawprints, not one or two trails but layers of solid pattern. I have done LOTS of research and have been trying to get him used to being alone... all the standard stuff, no intense greetings or goodbyes, desensitizing him to triggers like opening the door, leaving for a few seconds then a few minutes. He still whines but wont start barking until about the 20 min mark.

He doesnt seem to destroy things or soil the house *thank god* but I can't spend my whole life inside my house... I've been assuming its SA but we're at the 5 week mark and have seen only minor improvements. I really want to fix the problem and make darn sure I don't make things worse. Advice? Suggestions?

Any help or support would be appreciated.
 

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Oh boy, this is definitely not a fun situation to be in, neither for you or the dog.

You seem to be doing all the right things though, and as you probably know SA is not something that goes away overnight. I hope we'll be of some help! :) Now, does he start whining the moment you're out of sight? I have read that at the beginning, departures should be as short as the dog can handle, so that you return to him before the onset of anxiety. My pup would also start whining/jumping his baby gate when he was left alone and I found that if I left him for a very short amount of time (then gradually increasing that time) and he didn't whine, if I rewarded the good behavior (staying quiet) with treats and/or affection he improved a lot faster. After I rewarded him I would leave and if he would whine I would wait until he stopped (even for a split second!) and reward him immediately.

Also, I take it you let him roam free when you're away from home? If not, my mistake; it's what I assumed from the information you gave us! It might be beneficial to give him a small, safe room where he cannot destroy or get a hold of anything potentially dangerous such as a bathroom or the laundry room and install his crate there. That way you can keep him in the room (if you don't want to completely isolate him by closing the door it may be best to start by installing a baby gate that he cannot jump over) when you are gone. You would have to accustom him to his room by gradually increasing the time as you are doing with his crate. To help further ease his anxiety, leave many treats dispersed in the room and in his cage, and give him many toys (interactive toys/stuffed toys tend to keep dogs busy for a while as well as Kongs filled with yogurt or other yummy freezable and dog-safe food). The purpose of all this is to allow him to feel comfortable and safe and also to keep you at ease when you are gone since you know he cannot eat or destroy anything. I know you've said he doesn't do such things but if his anxiety increases he might find new ways to release his stress.

I wish you luck and I hope we'll be able to offer valuable insight! :)
 

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I think it is too early to determine if it is SA yet. He has only been with you for a month...he may still be adjusting. Is it possible? yes. But...not sure yet.

What do you leave him with when you are gone? Any treats, kongs with peanut butter, etc? Do you only crate him when he is alone?
 

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I would take the crate and place it next to your bed at night so if he whines you can drop a hand into the crate and he will settle. You will only need to od that for a couple of nights then you will be able to slowly move the crate further and further away.

For day time situations, you need to make him really tired. If he does not retrieve a ball teach him and then use this to tire him out just before you leave. A tired dog will sleep for several hours. When he wakes up he will need something to occupy him - a frozen kong, treat balls etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies... He was being given freedom of the house when we are home and crated when we are not. We THOUGHT he was housetrained but this afternoon we discovered he has been sneaking downstairs to the basement and peeing in the MIDDLE OF THE COUCH! Silly dog. I was happy that occasionally he was leaving my side, I thought it signalled a little more independence. However, we will be keeping a closer eye on him from now on. Because he is always crated when we are away the accidents must be happening when we are home and are not a symptom of SA. I think he just doesnt know how to ask to go out because he has never gone in the house in front of me. We'll get a little bell for the future.

Just today I started playing games with the crate and he now runs in happily, still doesnt like being left alone but he seems to be okay with the crate itself now. I got "I'll be home soon" by patricia mcconnell and have started doing some of the exercises including a frozen kong when I leave for a moment. Hopefully he's just settling in and those measures will prevent it becoming a long term issue. I'll keep everyone apprised of our progress!
 

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It's good to take your time with dogs. Everything needs to be taken week by week. Crate training, staying alone etc. The dog also needs know that his frantic behavior is unfavorable to you and himself, so perhaps ignore the behavior or ask him to be quiet. Consequently walk, play and feed him. Keep the same times every day. Get his energy out of him with structure - not just running about and doing as he likes, but bringing you the ball or brain games. Feed and water him in the crate and leave him in there for half an hour. Let him walk in and out of the crate without closing it. Put a tasty treat in there for him and close the cage so that he wants to get in, and then let him get in there and enjoy the snack. Ignore him sometime of the day. For example, go cook, go iron and let him do his own thing. Then when he is asleep, come back and give him a nice rub. When he is asleep in general give him a nice rub. Try using your voice less - terriers can be really sensitive to the tone of your voice, and may become more hyper even if you do not intend it.

I hope some of these things work. Good luck to you - just remember he is in a good home, and he has no reason to be distressed - so don't encourage or give attention to it. Rather praise the things you find positive.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
BREAKTHROUGH!!

Today as I was doing chores around the house I noticed he wasnt at my side. I decided to investigate (my couch really doesnt need another layer of pee, one is probably enough;) and I found him curled up asleep in his crate!!!! He went in by himself and settled in there for the first time. I gave him a good belly rub and quite a bit of chicken. I think hes feeling more comfortable with me out of sight and starting to regard his crate as a cozy home and not a terrible cage where he is abandoned. I think that will make things easier on all of us. Man, those crate games are pretty great.

I can also tell he is more comfortable here because he has started to get a bit cheeky. At first he was very passive (and well behaved) except for when we left him alone but yesterday I found him on our kitchen table eating our leftovers! This leads me to ask, I really like positive training methods but in a situation like that surely a correction is necessary... I don't want to put him in his crate or otherwise give him a "time out" since the last thing I want is for him to think being left alone is a punishment. When food is in front of him a stern "no" just won't do the job, the food in his mouth is worth more than my disapproval. What are my options here?
 

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If you don't want to crate him while you are out then you need to do a quick "dog proofing" of the house to make sure any food left out is put away or out of reach. Once a dog learns that counter surfing means delicious food, he'll do it again and again.

As far as teaching leave it, you can definitely teach and reward it with positive reinforcement. Here's an example video: Teaching Leave-it

However you can't tell the dog to "leave it" when you're not around so management is the key (meaning you need to put away food if you are leaving the room or can't watch him). The less he practices the behavior the less it'll happen.

Counter surfing can also mean boredom. Taking him out more and giving him doggie puzzles is always a fun way to keep dogs busy and out of trouble. Things like the Kong and other puzzle toys that hold food (Buster Cube, Tug a Jug, etc) work well.


Edit: If you catch him in the act of something you can use an interrupter like clapping your hands or making a loud noise. When he looks up you either lure him or put him on the ground and give him something else to do and redirect.
 

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I will try exercising him more and start teaching "leave it". I was actually just in the next room for a moment. I think the ship has sailed on avoiding the behaviour cropping up, while I was doing the dishes I had my back turned and caught him at it again, this time when there wasn't even food on the table!! I might have to get sneaky, leave something up on the table and watch with a mirror to correct him BEFORE he tries to jump.
 

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I will try exercising him more and start teaching "leave it". I was actually just in the next room for a moment. I think the ship has sailed on avoiding the behaviour cropping up, while I was doing the dishes I had my back turned and caught him at it again, this time when there wasn't even food on the table!! I might have to get sneaky, leave something up on the table and watch with a mirror to correct him BEFORE he tries to jump.
Which may or may not work. Dogs are smart. They know when you are gone and when you are unable to correct them. So, even correcting him will be hit or miss and you still would have to make sure to either keep him out of the area or put all potential fun/interesting/yummy things off the counters when you are gone. That's why management is usually better in the long run because they learn, over time, that jumping up on counters means nothing because there is no food to reward it, even when you are gone.
 
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