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 New Husky Owner--sooooo grateful for this forum! Does Crate training Help with Separation Anxiety & Aggression?

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Princess Mononoki
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PostSubject: New Husky Owner--sooooo grateful for this forum! Does Crate training Help with Separation Anxiety & Aggression?   Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:31 pm

It has been torturous not having dogs in my life for the past 15 months. I reached a breaking point and stopped listening to my head and chose to follow my heart so earlier this week I adopted an 11 week old Husky/Malamute puppy named Milo.
Yes, I did research on the breed before adopting him, and even though I thought I knew what I was getting into, I had NO idea! It is day 6 of owning little Milo and I am feeling a little traumatized! This forum has been my refuge over the past 3 days and has been crucial in helping me cope with a husky puppy and getting a grasp on how to raise this wild boy into a civilized dog. I can't thank you all enough, (who are regulars here with oceans of wisdom!), for the time, advise and council you have dedicated to helping people like myself. Its that kind of dedication that probably comes from being a qualified Husky owner. You all are great! Thank you Thank you Thank you

MILO's STORY
I am actually the third owner of little Milo. He was purchased from a "breeder" (at 6 weeks). We adopted Milo at 11 weeks old.
Milo is super cute and a bit feisty, but overall I could see a lot of potential in him. He is also calm and responsive and of course, quite intelligent. I have been following a lot of advise from various websites and especially this forum on what to do, but I think I just need some clarifications on the crate training/separation anxiety issues and i would welcome any reassurance or other insights to my situation.

CRATE TRAINING
Milo came with a very large crate (for a large breed dog). We have it set up in our living room, where my Hubby, Patrick and I spend most of our time. The first night we brought him home, he slept in the crate for the first half of the night 8:30pm-1AM, then I took him out for potty break and then he slept in our bedroom, on the floor (no crate), next to our bed in a safe area that was blocked off.
I have been taking time off of work to spend with him and we really bonded on day 2. So much so that when we put him in the crate that night, he had a melt down. We may have been giving him more attention than we should have while in his crate, trying to reassure him etc., but now I know to ignore him when he is having his fits and only give him attention when he stops crying, while in his crate. I learned so much about crating at this forum, creating a positive environment in the crate, feeding him in the crate, hiding treats, and leaving the door open, until its time to close it and then walking away. So we kind of had to "re-start" the crate thing on day 3. He did pretty well with "liking" his crate, but sure enough once we close the door and he realizes he can't get out, he has a fit for a good 3 hours. Each night has gotten easier, and although he cries louder, he doesn't cry as long.

My questions about this are: Is it confusing him to be in the crate while we are home and in the same room with him? Am I incorrect in crating him for half the night and then letting him sleep in the bedroom with us (not crated) for the second half of the night?
The idea of crating him (in the living room) for the entire night while we go off to bed, seems like it would play to his separation anxiety.

SEPARATION ANXIETY/BITTING
I am realizing that Milo has separation anxiety. I understand that he was taken from his litter too early and because we are the 3rd owners its probably his worst fear to be left alone. He has grown REALLY attached to me. I am hoping to include Milo on many of the things in my life, but not always. I certainly don't want to instill his attachment to me by taking him everywhere.

Patrick, has been helping me work with Milo and staying with him while I leave the room, and come back, leave the house and come back, and then me being away for an hour and returning.
He has gotten better, but still follows me around the house--even when he is napping, he will hurry to wake up and try and lay on my feet while i pause for something. I thought it was cute at first, but then he began gaining a foot fetish with me and I learned the potential danger of having a dog/puppy get underfoot.
On day 4 his biting began to get out of hand where he actually attacked my legs and clung to them like a cat. I did the "yelp" noise recommended, which worked a few times, constantly trying to divert is attention to another object that is ok to bite, like his chew toys, but that only work a few times. Treats SOMETIMES work. Putting him on his back to get him to "submit" only escalated his aggression and he actually showed me his teeth! Ignoring him is great, if I can get away from him when he bites me. Once Patrick intervened, I was able to leave the room. I waited until he calmed down to come back in the same room but he pretty much repeated the same thing. As did we. I would leave the room, wait for him to calm down (while Patrick restrained him) and then I would come back in. We did this for a good HOUR. What can I say, I think we got some results!

Once he calmed down, we gave him his favorite peanut butter kong in his crate and closed the door. 3 minutes of silence feels like a lifetime! The crying was almost unbearable. But the next morning Milo seemed like a different dog. He still tries to bite me and go for my legs but its not so dramatic that I can't get away from him. I just didn't understand HOW to leave the room with this little beast is clinging to me. I am wondering if I am not being enough of a pack leader or if he is just testing his dominance with me?

SOCIALIZING
Milo is so shy. But as he is gaining confidence we have been observing an aggressive side to him with toys, food and rushing ahead of me. So far the fact that he is so attached to me makes it pretty easy to get him to stop doing something I don't want him to do. I either ignore him or I leaving the room and he follows me.
I am training him to WAIT until I say "ok" with eating his food & entering the house. I have even been feeding him from my hand. I am concerned that as he gains more confidence and willful he will be less interested in me. How long will ignoring him work to stop him from unwanted behavior?

I know I have brought up several topics in this little novel I just wrote. Forgive me. What ever input anyone has on my situation, I will welcome. Thanks for reading!


Last edited by Princess Mononoki on Sat Feb 09, 2013 3:17 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : too long!)
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PostSubject: Re: New Husky Owner--sooooo grateful for this forum! Does Crate training Help with Separation Anxiety & Aggression?   Wed Feb 06, 2013 10:49 pm

First, relax!

The alpha theory is something I don't subscribe to. I don't think these dogs are trying to take over the world or our households. Try focusing instead on teaching him you are the provider of all that is good and fun. Doing so and training with them with create a bond and respect. Much better than being tougher and more aggressive.

I don't think you're confusing him by crating him while you're in the same room. However he really needs to become accustomed to you being away while he's being crated.

As for him following you around, try to ignore him. Don't reward him for that behavior. With my Aussie he used to panic if I walked away from him- especially if he was barricaded by a door, fence, or crate. So when walking around the house I just ignored him as he flew over the gate and was constantly underfoot. He gradually began to understand I was boring and not worth following every moment of everyday. If I am gone for a large part of the day, he is a bit more clingy but I don't reward that with attention- even then.

For the biting... Is it possible to keep a leash on him so you can remove him from you and walk away and close a door between the 2 of you? I wouldn't suggest pinning him to the floor again... I do a lot of trust work with my dogs to get them to belly up so I can inspect and give scratches. That is something you can work on too if he feels that vulnerable when you did that to him.

For the "aggression" can you be more specific?

In general he sounds like a very smart puppy who is learning very quickly how to manipulate you! Lol

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PostSubject: Re: New Husky Owner--sooooo grateful for this forum! Does Crate training Help with Separation Anxiety & Aggression?   Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:01 pm

I agree with Kristina, the dominance theory is outdated. Instead of forcing a dog to submit and listen, I like to teach my dogs to respect me, with positive interactions and some aspects of NILIF (nothing in life is free) training. Forcing a dog to submit can cause fear aggression, and distrust.

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PostSubject: Re: New Husky Owner--sooooo grateful for this forum! Does Crate training Help with Separation Anxiety & Aggression?   Thu Feb 07, 2013 12:20 am

By forcing him on his back when he is already worked up, it's no wonder he reacted the way he did. The "alpha" roll really has no business being used on a baby in my opinion. He doesn't understand what you are trying to convey to him, and you are only upsetting him by doing that. It's much more productive to just ignore him completely when he starts this. If he starts biting you, leave him alone. That means BOTH of you have to leave him alone. You won't really make any progress if just you leave and Patrick is still there for him to fixate on, which eventually that will probably happen. He needs to learn that when he gets mouthy, he gets left alone, which no puppy likes.

The dominance theory is, like stated above, way outdated and has no business being used on a baby. Look into the training threads here for more information. Positive reinforcement works WONDERS with puppies. At this age they WANT to please you and go NUTS when you praise them like crazy and load them with healthy treats. He will learn much faster if you both stop butting heads and just make things fun and exciting for him.
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Princess Mononoki
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PostSubject: Re: New Husky Owner--sooooo grateful for this forum! Does Crate training Help with Separation Anxiety & Aggression?   Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:51 am

Thanks for your replies. They are very helpful. I will take it to heart to relax more. I never knew puppies could be so intense. But maybe I'm just not use to it (yet).

Still wondering if crate training him for half the night (until 1AM) and then letting him sleep in our room for the second half of the night is ok?

I will work with him learning to be alone more and more without another person.

The biting seems to have gotten under control. This is where I saw the most "aggression" come out. He will steal my shoes or pants and it turns into a tug of war. I usually resort to just walking away, then he'll drop it. He can be possessive of his toys even though we are just playing, but I don't think its a huge deal. Working with a leash to correct him when he bites will help for sure. Being able to leave the room was by far the most effective when he is mouthing me & bitting. And, yes, of all the things I did to get him to stop biting me, putting him on his back on my lap only made things worse and I will not do it again. I like the concept of "Being the provider of all things good and fun". We will build more trust with the tummy rubs.
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