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How to Crate Train a Puppy with Separation Anxiety

MLK9 Dog Training, (865) 213-7775

Your dog deserves to be comfortable and happy, whether you are by its side or not. If it has separation anxiety, it will show extreme stress from when you leave it alone until you return. A large part of puppy training in Knoxville, TN, involves crate training dogs with separation anxiety. While tedious and complex, the process can be gratifying in the end. Seeing your dog comfortable in its crate is one of the most satisfying things.

Crate Training Your Dog with Separation Anxiety

Crate training a dog with separation anxiety can take many months. The key is to remain patient and calm throughout the process. Below are steps that you can follow for crate training your anxious dog:

Introduce the Crate to your Dog

The first step in crate training is introducing your dog to the crate. Place the crate in a quiet corner of your home. Your dog must feel at ease with it in the room. Once the crate is set up, keep the door open and encourage your dog to explore it. Don’t pressure or force it into the crate at any point. You can praise your dog or reward it with a treat every time it looks into the crate. Sometimes, your anxious dog may refuse to even go near the crate, especially if it has had a bad experience in the past. Below are certain things you can try in such situations:

  • Scatter your dog’s favorite toys around the crate to lure it.
  • Sit next to the crate and speak to your dog excitedly. This will pique its curiosity.
  • Dismantle the crate and only keep its bottom tray out for your dog to explore. You can gradually assemble the crate as it gets confident.

Make the Dog’s Crate Inviting

Dogs with separation anxiety tend to associate crates with negative experiences. And why not! The crate will keep it away from you! It is crucial to make the crate a fun and safe space for your dog. Below are ways you can make your dog’s crate positive and inviting:

  • Put a cushioned bed in the crate. You can place a bolster bed. It has raised edges that will help your anxious dog feel secure.
  • Place a blanket covered with your scent.
  • Feed your dog its meals close to the crate. Then, gradually move the food bowl inside. This way, your dog will associate the crate with a positive experience like mealtime.

Slowly Increase Time in the Crate

Once your dog gets used to the crate, encourage it to stay in the crate with the door closed:

  • Wait till your dog is in the crate. Give it a treat and slowly shut the door. Don’t lock the door, and avoid loud noises.
  • You can open the door in five seconds and give your dog another treat.
  • Repeat this method, slowly increasing the time you keep the door closed. Avoid paying attention to your dog when the door is closed.
  • Once your dog can stay comfortably in the crate for at least 15 minutes with its door closed, you can try the same process with the door locked.

Sometimes, your dog may start whining as soon as you lock the door. It can be tempting to open the door and scoop it in your arms. Avoid doing this, as it will only hinder its progress. Letting the dog out once it whines reinforces negative feelings toward the crate. Instead, wait till your dog stops whining, and then let it out. You may want to take a step back when you begin training again, as whining is usually a sign that you pushed your dog too quickly.

Leave Your Dog Alone in the Crate

Getting your dog with separation anxiety comfortable in the crate when you are not in the room is by far the most important and trickiest step. While it is difficult, it is not impossible. Following the steps given below can help:

  • Walk a few steps away from your dog once it is inside the crate.
  • Go back to the crate after a few seconds and reward your dog.
  • Repeat this process, increasing the distance and duration slowly.
  • You can leave the room once your dog is confident about staying alone in the crate. But ensure you leave the room only for a few seconds at a time. 
  • Your dog may get excited or whine again when you return to the room. Ignore it till it calms down. Then open the door and give it treats.

Tips for Crate Training a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Below are a few tips for crate training your dog successfully:

Pick the Right Crate: Ensure the crate is the right size for your dog. It may feel claustrophobic in a tiny crate and make a mess and still comfortably move around in a large one.

Leave the Room Quietly: Don’t make a fuss or create loud noises when leaving the room. Your dog can sense your fear and anxiety. So you must stay calm. 

Reward Your Dog for Calm Behavior: Treats and rewards are crucial to successful crate training. They will only reinforce the desired behavior and help your anxious dog associate the crate with positive experiences.

Never Use the Crate as Punishment: Sure, your dog can drive you crazy at times with all the barking and mischief. And it can be tempting to use the crate as a “time out.” But don’t ever do this if you intend on crate training your dog. It will start associating the crate with punishment and negativity. It will never think of it as a safe and comfortable place and will only get more anxious every time it sees the crate. 

Give Your Dog Time to Adjust: A crate is a new place for your dog. While some dogs may take a few days to adjust to it, others may take weeks. Be patient. Eventually, your dog will get used to it and be calm. 

https://www.mlk9.com/programs/puppy-training/ can help you train your dog with separation anxiety. Our training programs are designed to address your dog’s specific needs, and our experienced trainers will create customized plans to suit you and your dog.

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