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I set up my 10-week-old border collie's playpen (x-pen) in the computer room, where I spend the majority of my day. A couple weeks ago, I started telling her "good quiet" when she's lying quietly in her pen and turning the back of my chair to her when she whines or barks at me. This has worked wonders for her behavior when I'm in the room. But when I leave for a couple minutes to use the restroom or make a quick run to the kitchen she starts barking and whining and acts like the world is coming to an end.

This week, I started leaving the room for a few minutes several times a day just so that I can go back and reward her when she quiets down. This is not working as well as I'd hoped. There are times when I have to leave the room for real (kitchen run, restroom visit, etc) and I might miss the pause in her hysterics. Other times, she just does not get quiet long enough to give her a treat.

Today I left her in the playpen while I went to shower. When I stepped out, I greeted by little furball. She climbed out of her 3-foot-high playpen! Thankfully, she was not injured. I fear this issue will escalate if I don't figure out how to 1) train her that she belongs INSIDE the wire walls and 2) train her to enjoy spending time alone so it does not lead to some sort of separation anxiety.

BTW, she has toys in her playpen: two balls, chew keys, cardboard box, nylabone and usually one of her Kong-type toys -- though it is filled with kibble for only one (maybe two) of her meals.
 

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When she is in the pen, you need to do gradual desensitization. Just-leaving is technically flooding (ie, deal with it). This would mean she's calm in the pen, you stand up, sit down. If she is okay with that, you stand up, walk around, sit down. If she's okay with that, you stand up, walk to the doorway, go back and sit down. Stand up, go halfway out of sight, go back, sit down. I'm oversimplifying it, as true desensitization works to the dog's comfort levels and never puts the dog over threshold.

Alternatives to desensitization: occupying her attention with a food project before you depart, adding a counter conditioning component by purchasing an automated food dispenser.

In situations where you NEED to leave the room, she has now learned to climb so a pen is not an ideal option for those situations. If she needs to just 'deal with it', which is realistic for most families, I'd recommend crate over pen, and draping the crate for part of the day. If she can see you all the time then she is always 'on' and observing your movements. By removing visual for parts of the day, she can't build anticipation and react at your departure. A lot of dogs grow out of this if these anxious behaviors are not practiced (by providing a food project or removing visual) and it is a normal part of puppy behavior at this age.

It is also important (in my opinion) for puppies to learn to be alone even if there is someone home all of the time. I am not saying you need to do things the way I did. But for example, when Brae was young it was just habit that when I cooked, he was in his crate with a Kong. Or when I showered, he was in his crate with a bully stick. So instead of him thinking, "wait, why are you suddenly disappearing?" it became routine. Of course, I faded the drape over time but that then he was very accustomed to the idea that not every waking moment is about him.

Overall, some may disagree but for SOME puppies I think crating is kinder than X-pen. The pen provides more freedom. But a puppy like mine (and maybe yours, not sure) was MORE anxious when given more freedom at that age. He was certainly not settling or self entertaining. The moment he was crated, he would chew on his toys, calm down, and even sleep. So the big picture for me is, I used a lot of restriction at first but my pup seemed happier and less stress because of it. But of course, my lifestyle/household layout is different than yours. So it's up to you to find that balance.
 

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When she is in the pen, you need to do gradual desensitization. Just-leaving is technically flooding (ie, deal with it). This would mean she's calm in the pen, you stand up, sit down. If she is okay with that, you stand up, walk around, sit down. If she's okay with that, you stand up, walk to the doorway, go back and sit down. Stand up, go halfway out of sight, go back, sit down. I'm oversimplifying it, as true desensitization works to the dog's comfort levels and never puts the dog over threshold.
^This^ is a great suggestion. I'll try this over the next couple of weeks to see how she responds.
Food projects don't work well for us yet. Dry kibble in a Kong disappears in minutes. If I add even the tiniest bit of pumpkin or plain yogurt (she loves both), she gets frustrated trying to get the kibble out and quickly gives up on it.

The pen provides more freedom. But a puppy like mine (and maybe yours, not sure) was MORE anxious when given more freedom at that age. He was certainly not settling or self entertaining. The moment he was crated, he would chew on his toys, calm down, and even sleep
Yes! This is very much my girl. She is just now learning to self-entertain but only for a couple minutes at a time and ONLY if I'm in the same room. I had not wanted to keep her in her crate for the majority of the day, like some poor little puppy mill pooch. But perhaps I've taken that concern too far. She's in her crate only at bedtime or when I need to leave the house for an hour or two. If I put her in the crate she will sometimes whine a bit but will settle down quickly if her crate is draped and her stuffed triceratops toy is in there with her.

She has proven that she will not soil her crate when confined for up to 3 hours, sometimes 3.5. though when in her playpen it's Anything Goes. I take her out every 90 minutes, sooner if she's had a full meal and still her poo times are unpredictable. Sometimes she'll poo before her meal, sometimes immediately after and other times an hour after eating. She turns 11 weeks tomorrow. Still young but maybe it's a good time for more crate confinement and formal potty training.
 
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