Separation Anxiety Part 4 – Crating.

Dare I say it? Are we all sitting down?

***checks over shoulder, touches wood, and whispers***

“I think Annabel is improving!”

On our last diary entry for Annabel’s separation anxiety, I was feeling a little defeated. Whilst I know of much worst cases (howling and destruction etc) to have a soiled housed so many times, for so many days, then SO many months . . . Well it’s demoralising. And it’s untenable to put up with it permanently in a family home.

So the crate was introduced.

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It is very easy to relay our human thoughts and emotions onto our pets. My 4year old daughter was initially upset at us seemly “locking poor Annabel in a cage” and I must admit it took a bit of getting used to for me as well. But to a dog, a den can actually feel very safe, and thank goodness, she uses it happily and under no duress.

In order for Annabel to accept the crate, we implemented a few little tricks:

– Positive Association. Annabel finds nice things in her den. Tripe sticks, treats etc.
– The cage was put up by Mr Furrbuddies whilst we were out on a walk, and placed in the same spot as her bed, so everything was changed in a very low key way. Minimum fuss.
– She was not “put in it” and confined straight away. The door was left open with her old bedding in it for her to discover in her own time. I was surprised how quickly she climbed in and settled.
– The cage’s roof and sides are covered, making it more like a natural den for her. (This is a really top tip to help them settle. )
– My old unwashed T shirt was also put in.

She does have to be in it a lot until we can break the habit of her soiling. It is not a bladder issue, it is a progressive and highly addictive behavioural condition. The theory is that a physically healthy dog will never willingly soil the area they sleep in, and so Annabel will learn to hold on and eventually break the cycle.

We have increased her walks so she’s tired out, and we never release her immediately when we get home/come back into the room. (It’s better if she doesn’t associate the cage with being left alone, to keep it a happy place for her. )

We have had over a week accident free since implementing this. Go Annabel! I’d urge anyone who’s struggling with housetraining or separation anxiety issues to give this method some research and possibly give it a whirl. I knew of crating – obviously, but for some reason always held back. I do think though, that with Annabel it was absolutely necessary. . . and hey, it IS working.

The past day or two, we have even felt confident enough to have short trials of leaving alone her in the house, gated in the kitchen, but with her cage door left open.

TOUCH WOOD

Pee free!! Yey!

Hopefully we can build on this.

And hopefully we can persuade Fluffbomb that we have not put it up as a bunk bed!

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Does anyone else have any crating experience or opinions? I’d love to hear them?

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Separation Anxiety Part 4 – Crating.

  1. Such a positive start – that’s very encouraging!

  2. So pleased you have had a good response to the crating. My Cavaliers have generally loved their crates, I think it is us humans who struggle with the idea. Sadly there are people who use crates to excess, the dog becomes just a toy to take out and play with for a bit and then confined to a crate 😦 and that can give them a bad reputation; but used sensibly and reasonably they are a wonderful tool. A safe den for the dog away from crawling babies and toddlers too!

    I have a Cavalier who came to me a few months ago with severe anxiety on being separated from us, so I do understand your struggle and have found your blog really helpful, thank you.

    We are getting there, it took two weeks before we could close a door without him screaming the house down. We still can’t leave him, but fortunately there is always someone here or if necessary he can go to my friend’s where he settles too.

    He is learning that it is ok not to have constant attention and that he doesn’t always have to be with us to feel safe and secure. He now has a very strong bond with his litter brother who has been here since tiny, so that is helping.

    I love Fluffbomb on her bunkbed! Perhaps you could put a bed for her on there just worried she could catch her paw through the crate wires and hurt herself.

    I hope that Annabel continues to improve, she is looking fabulous!

    • Aw thank you what an encouraging comment! Fluffbomb (a boy by the way despite the effeminate name!) has a bath mat under the sheet over the top so he’s fine. Always good to hear about others success stories. We are unfortunately having a few issues now with the crate which is frustrating after such a good start – I will be blogging about that shortly and getting some advice in the mean time. That you SO much for reading and commenting. Xx

  3. Pingback: Seperation Anxiety – part 5. When crate’s go wrong. | Furrbuddies

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