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 Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors

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jandralee
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jandralee

Female Join date : 2014-09-21

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PostSubject: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptySun Sep 21, 2014 8:58 pm

Hi,

I need advice on my husky Leila's separation anxiety. She's about a year and 6 months old, and her separation anxiety just developed. I adopted Leila when she was a year old, and she came with a crate from her previous home.

However, soon after I adopted her it became very clear that she had some issues with resource guarding her crate and her food. We quickly trained that out with her food (adding eggs and other treats to meals), but she continued to hate it when anyone approached her crate - and if she thought she was in trouble (even if she wasn't), she'd hide and stay there for hours and get very aggressive. I chalked this up to her previous owners. We aren't positive, but we believe she was given free reign to do as she pleased in the house.

Eventually, we removed the crate from the house and let her have free reign of the kitchen and living room during the day.

At first, when I'd leave for work there was no problem. My roommate at the time was home most days, so even though she paid little attention to Leila, the dog was never really alone.

Fast forward - I now have a new roommate who worked the same hours I did. Everything was fine for a few weeks, until Leila began peeing and pooping in the kitchen every day - sometimes multiple times a day. When I came home, it was dry and caked to the floor. She was doing it immediately after I left.

Then the chewing began, and a few valuable things were destroyed. We tried to be positive with her - I felt awful because she was so anxious - so we started hiding treats around the house, buying her countless new stuffed toys (which are nightmares for us, but she doesn't like her Kong much - even when filled with food - and will always prefer a stuffed toy).

We tried reintroducing the crate just before leaving on vacation - and my roommate was set to watch her for a week - and we updated the plastic crate with a new blanket in it and tons of toys.

When we were gone, one day she even soiled her crate! I came home heartbroken for my puppy - she was so glad to see us and had been so upset during our absence. We vowed to only board her with a cage-free professional next vacation.

However, now we're back at square one. Right now I'm working from home, so I have the ability to be with her most of the time, but I can't leave for more than 2 hours without her peeing in the kitchen. She's getting better (I think she's thrilled we're back), but it's still a hassle.

I'm hoping to get a new job too so I'll be gone again soon, so I want to find a solution before that happens. Currently I'm trying to condition her separation anxiety away by leaving for short periods of time and coming back on a very regular basis. Hellos and goodbyes are practically non-existent, except when we arrive home and the kitchen is clean (she knows when she hasn't pooped or peed, and she'll hide in a corner with her tail wagging - waiting for us to find out that she was good!) Then treats are in order.

I want to reintroduce a crate to her, but she has such a strong aversion to it. I have the time and energy to start small and go through the whole process over again with her, but I'm wondering - do you think she might do better if I get her a new crate? She's got the same plastic crate that her previous owners gave me - and it came with scratches and dig marks in it. Maybe she has a negative association with it?

I was thinking about getting her a wire crate that she can see out of - starting fresh - and teaching her that the crate is only a safe place, her place, and never used for punishment.

Does anyone have any similar experiences? Should I even bother with trying to reintroduce a crate to her? I know so many huskies like having a "den" so I thought that might give her a sense of security when I leave for work.

Thoughts? Advice?

Sorry for being so long-winded!
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aljones
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aljones

Male Join date : 2014-08-18
Location : Terlingua, Texas

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PostSubject: Re: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptySun Sep 21, 2014 9:56 pm

No problem with being long winded but may I make two requests - would you mind giving us a name so we know what to call you. And while it's not so important in this message, it also helps to know where you are, some questions are best answered by someone who's local to you ("Where can I get TOTW in Tanganyika?" for example.)

If Leilas aggression is only crate related then you've only one problem, if it extends too far to other things (food, toys or you for example) then it becomes more of an issue. If you're comfortable that it's only possession of the crate then what I'd do is to get a new crate, and I like the idea of a completely different style. Then take the time to introduce it to her - very slowly and very carefully. While her crate should be her safe, quiet place that shouldn't extend to aggression if you do something with / in / around it.
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jandralee
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jandralee

Female Join date : 2014-09-21

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PostSubject: Re: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptySun Sep 21, 2014 10:12 pm

Sorry! My name is Jandra, and I'm in Nashville. She very rarely gets aggressive about something else - she got food aggressive the other week for the first time in months, but she had refused breakfast and had an active day. She has to "earn" her food and she tried eating before she had done everything we asked. Got pretty upset when we took the food away until she did!

Other than that, her aggression luckily has been very limited to the crate or - heaven forbid - when she once replaced the crate with a corner of the house as "her spot". It was in front of a door!
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aljones
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aljones

Male Join date : 2014-08-18
Location : Terlingua, Texas

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PostSubject: Re: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptySun Sep 21, 2014 11:09 pm

My immediate reaction here, Jandra, is that it's not true aggression, it's fear being displayed as aggression (I know, in either case it still comes out as aggression).  The fact that you say that "if she thinks she's in trouble" ... pretty much follows in that same line of thought.

It really sounds to me like someone, in some fashion, knowingly or otherwise,  pretty badly abused her and she found out that she could protect herself in her crate.

I'd take crate training, with - as you suggested - a new crate very, very slowly.  If she's comfortable with you, then you don't want to blemish that forming bond by pushing her.
 
Take the steps that have been outlined here. It's a lonh thread, but I think everything you want to know is pretty well wrapped up in the first post. Let her get completely comfortable as you go along.   For example, I'd bring in the new crate, set it up and completely ignore it until she starts looking at it - and it's a good bet that she will eventually.  Then start tossing treats in it, don't make a big deal out of it, if she's uncomfortable then let it take that bit longer.  

I have a dog who's food possessive - to the point that she's bit me four times over the past three years. After the first time it's all been my fault for not paying attention to the warnings ... stupid!  She's fine as long as I don't reach toward her dish once I verbally release her and tell her it's hers! But she's also about 4 (a rescue, so I don't really know) and everything takes longer when they get older.  It's only a matter of time till we're both comfortable with me being able to handle her food while she's eating ... just like it's only going to be a matter of time before Leila accepts the crate - patience is the key here!

Now go update your profile so I don't have to try to remember who Leila's owner is, eh?  (( At my age, the memory gets a bit sloppy! ))
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jandralee
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jandralee

Female Join date : 2014-09-21

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PostSubject: Re: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptyMon Sep 22, 2014 12:20 pm

That's what my initial reaction was - that something had happened with the crate and her previous owners - but I wasn't quite sure. Here's hoping a new crate works!
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aljones
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aljones

Male Join date : 2014-08-18
Location : Terlingua, Texas

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PostSubject: Re: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptyMon Sep 22, 2014 8:53 pm

Do let us know how it goes, please. And, btw, thanks //al
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jandralee
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jandralee

Female Join date : 2014-09-21

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PostSubject: Re: Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors   Help!! Separation Anxiety Terrors EmptyMon Sep 22, 2014 9:28 pm

Thank you! I appreciate your help!
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