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Discussion Starter #1
Sorry in advanced for this lengthy post... But here it goes! I’m hoping to find some help! My baby boy is now 17 weeks old and I have had him since he was 12 weeks old.

The major issue I’m having is his seeming inability to be alone...
If I am not within his visual rage, the whining is almost instant and he tries to find any way he can to find me and get to me.. It is a mix of whining, barking, crying and jumping on the gate or pawing at his crate. If he is with me, he is virtually silent and barks at nothing (not even the doorbell). If he is blocked from getting to me by a baby gate, he will jump on it and bark and cry to try and get to me.

I am having the same problem with his crate... He knows what “go home for a cookie” means, and he will happily trot off ahead of me and go into his crate for the night. I give him his cookies once he is laying down... But he will not settle down whatsoever unless I am within his sight. Sometimes he will wake up and just peek to see if I’m still there. This will become a problem because if I need to leave the house and have no one to watch him, I absolutely need him to be 100% crate trained day or night - not only for my sake, but for his comfort and security too.. If I even leave him in his crate to go brush my teeth at night, he will wake up and the crying begins.

I really do not want him to be an anxious dog, and I’m fearful that this is the path we are on. I have tried to leave him for short bursts and just go to the next room and when he becomes persistently noisy I’ll calmly tell him “it’s okay”, without him being able to see me... But he does not seem to calm down at all.

I don’t know how long is too long to leave him barking and crying (in his crate, and also in other safe areas of the house), before I should intervene. He’s only 17 weeks old so I’m not sure..

I’m hoping someone here has/has had the same issue and can help me!! Thanks.



 

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I think you need to leave him cry, whimper, yell, yoddle, whatever it is.

You might have uintentionnally created this situation by giving him the attention he asks for when whining.

When i had Beckie (she’s a little like your dog, but she’s learned to settle in a crate), it took 3 weeks of whining in the crate at night before it stopped. She still will howl a bit when I leave, for a few minutes. And dig under the fence to try and come to me if I’m in the front... But she’s very manageable now.

Since he’s been doing that for a long time now (6-8 weeks I suppose) the habit is formed and it will take at least half that time to reverse it.

I would get help from a trainer, to boost your confidence and make sure you succeed. If not, then you’ll need to make sure he has peed/pooped and has no other need before putting him in a crate. Then don’t talk to him, don’t go to him. Only when he’s been quiet about 5 minutes, you can go. And don’t make a big fuss. Just open the crate and don’t look at him, don’t pet him, no high pictched sound. Be very casual, no emotions. No fuss when putting him in the crate either. Just close the door, no talking or petting once he is inside.

Good luck.
 

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I think that as he is so attached to you, and the crate is going to be an essential tool for you, I would try separating the being alone and the being crated, just at first. Leaving him to cry it out now he is used to getting your attention may give him an aversion to being crated, which would give you another problem to overcome. I would try teaching Wait and Settle. Wait means staying where he is while you take a step away, and then come back to calmly reward him for staying in place. Little by little build up to moving further away, and then being out of his sight for a split second. Once he really understands the game, build up to being out of sight for a minute or two, teaching him that it is safe to let you out of his sight because you always come back. Meanwhile also teach Settle - lie down calmly with a chew, or just resting. We all tend to reward our dogs for doing something - Sit, Down, etc - and forget to reward calmly snoozing! At first he will probably bounce up as you praise and reward him, but in time he will grasp the idea.

Crate Games (google them) will help to make his crate a good place to be. Combining the games - Wait in the crate, Settle in the crate - and building up the time you leave him should be easier on you both than trying to ignore his puppy howls for help.
 
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This is often a difficult transition for puppies as they get attached to their forever home and its peeps. Very young pups do need a lot of attention regarding multiple feed times and lots of potty trips. Add onto that play time and the pup often comes to think that they are at the center of your universe and that you are there to always do their bidding.


I agree with fjm about taking a gentle approach to teaching settle so that the pup can learn to not be needy in following you all over the place. To help not make the crate a major source of worries separately do work to make sure the crate is fun. Do Susan Garrett's crate games for sure, but you can also have some of your other fun things (like eating) happen around the crate and then in the crate with the door open and such.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
I think you need to leave him cry, whimper, yell, yoddle, whatever it is.

You might have uintentionnally created this situation by giving him the attention he asks for when whining.

When i had Beckie (she’s a little like your dog, but she’s learned to settle in a crate), it took 3 weeks of whining in the crate at night before it stopped. She still will howl a bit when I leave, for a few minutes. And dig under the fence to try and come to me if I’m in the front... But she’s very manageable now.

Since he’s been doing that for a long time now (6-8 weeks I suppose) the habit is formed and it will take at least half that time to reverse it.

I would get help from a trainer, to boost your confidence and make sure you succeed. If not, then you’ll need to make sure he has peed/pooped and has no other need before putting him in a crate. Then don’t talk to him, don’t go to him. Only when he’s been quiet about 5 minutes, you can go. And don’t make a big fuss. Just open the crate and don’t look at him, don’t pet him, no high pictched sound. Be very casual, no emotions. No fuss when putting him in the crate either. Just close the door, no talking or petting once he is inside.

Good luck.


Thanks for the input. How long do you think I should let him cry in his crate at night before it’s “too much” and may actually start associating the crate as being scary?? How long did you let Beckie cry before you’d intervene??
I’ve been really good about not making a fuss when I let him out, as well as not giving him attention when he’s in it. I just give him his cookies and that’s that. Right now, if he whines for a while I will quietly open the door and we both head straight for the back sliding door and he goes outside. Majority of the time he will pee and then we come back in and back to his crate where he will settle for the night.


 

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I think that as he is so attached to you, and the crate is going to be an essential tool for you, I would try separating the being alone and the being crated, just at first. Leaving him to cry it out now he is used to getting your attention may give him an aversion to being crated, which would give you another problem to overcome. I would try teaching Wait and Settle. Wait means staying where he is while you take a step away, and then come back to calmly reward him for staying in place. Little by little build up to moving further away, and then being out of his sight for a split second. Once he really understands the game, build up to being out of sight for a minute or two, teaching him that it is safe to let you out of his sight because you always come back. Meanwhile also teach Settle - lie down calmly with a chew, or just resting. We all tend to reward our dogs for doing something - Sit, Down, etc - and forget to reward calmly snoozing! At first he will probably bounce up as you praise and reward him, but in time he will grasp the idea.

Crate Games (google them) will help to make his crate a good place to be. Combining the games - Wait in the crate, Settle in the crate - and building up the time you leave him should be easier on you both than trying to ignore his puppy howls for help.


Thanks, that all makes a lot of sense... If I leave him alone and he starts crying or barking, should I be saying “it’s okay” when I’m out of his sight, or just leave him?
That’s the other thing I’ve been very unsure of - should I be putting a toy in his crate with him? I worry about him chewing his bed if he’s frustrated but I also don’t want him thinking his crate when he’s in there is play time?
Also, when you say separate the being crated and being alone at first - what do you mean?


 

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I mean practice Wait and Settle out of the crate, keeping the crate just for fun crate games for the time being. Ask him to sit, step back one step, then forward and treat. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Then two steps. Then three, four, five. When he is reliable, add the cue Wait! Build up to enough steps that you very, very briefly go out of sight behind the door. Slowly increase the time you are out of sight. Do the same with Settle - a comfy bed, a good chew, and teach him it is safe to let you out of his sight. Once he has really understood the ideas, ask him to Wait in the crate, door open, while you take one step backwards, and once more build up slowly. The aim is never to push him to the point where he gets anxious and cries - you don't want him to feel that the only way to get you back is to howl.

I would have some extra special chew toys - a Kong or another really safe one - that only come out for daytime settling in his crate. The crate needs to be a safe and happy place - food helps!
 
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I mean practice Wait and Settle out of the crate, keeping the crate just for fun crate games for the time being. Ask him to sit, step back one step, then forward and treat. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Then two steps. Then three, four, five. When he is reliable, add the cue Wait! Build up to enough steps that you very, very briefly go out of sight behind the door. Slowly increase the time you are out of sight. Do the same with Settle - a comfy bed, a good chew, and teach him it is safe to let you out of his sight. Once he has really understood the ideas, ask him to Wait in the crate, door open, while you take one step backwards, and once more build up slowly. The aim is never to push him to the point where he gets anxious and cries - you don't want him to feel that the only way to get you back is to howl.

I would have some extra special chew toys - a Kong or another really safe one - that only come out for daytime settling in his crate. The crate needs to be a safe and happy place - food helps!


Do you think that by having one of his crates in my room for nighttime is actually a bad thing if I want him to be fully crate trained and able to be alone in his crate for short periods during the day?


 

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I second the idea about kongs. They can be wonderful for dogs that are already anxious about the crate. I always put chew toys in the crate. A bored puppy is an unhappy puppy.

The ideas about separating the crate from being alone are very important. You need to work on them as separate issues. I would work on this both with a settling command as fjm mentioned, but also with regular confinement. Gate him in a small area with really nice play toys and chews and have him get used to being there while you are in the house but not visible. Never, ever give attention to him when he is whining. He needs to learn that whining gets him the opposite of what he wants. Telling him "it's okay" is not teaching him to settle. When puppies are young they have the ability to self soothe, and this lessens as they age. It is much easier to let a young puppy cry it out than it is an older dog. It is important to let the puppy calm himself, wait a bit, and then go in and let him see you for slight reassurance to affirm that everything is fine. Otherwise you are just reinforcing his anxiety. It might take some time to work through this because at his age he's probably built up some stamina.

I do not personally let a dog sleep in my room, as I believe it sets them up for separation anxiety.
 

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I second the idea about kongs. They can be wonderful for dogs that are already anxious about the crate. I always put chew toys in the crate. A bored puppy is an unhappy puppy.

The ideas about separating the crate from being alone are very important. You need to work on them as separate issues. I would work on this both with a settling command as fjm mentioned, but also with regular confinement. Gate him in a small area with really nice play toys and chews and have him get used to being there while you are in the house but not visible. Never, ever give attention to him when he is whining. He needs to learn that whining gets him the opposite of what he wants. Telling him "it's okay" is not teaching him to settle. When puppies are young they have the ability to self soothe, and this lessens as they age. It is much easier to let a young puppy cry it out than it is an older dog. It is important to let the puppy calm himself, wait a bit, and then go in and let him see you for slight reassurance to affirm that everything is fine. Otherwise you are just reinforcing his anxiety. It might take some time to work through this because at his age he's probably built up some stamina.

I do not personally let a dog sleep in my room, as I believe it sets them up for separation anxiety.


Thanks. I’m wondering if he is whining and barking and just won’t stop, when do I intervene? How long do I let him go on?


 

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Thanks for the input. How long do you think I should let him cry in his crate at night before it’s “too much” and may actually start associating the crate as being scary?? How long did you let Beckie cry before you’d intervene??
I’ve been really good about not making a fuss when I let him out, as well as not giving him attention when he’s in it. I just give him his cookies and that’s that. Right now, if he whines for a while I will quietly open the door and we both head straight for the back sliding door and he goes outside. Majority of the time he will pee and then we come back in and back to his crate where he will settle for the night.


It took 3 weeks for Beckie. I never, ever let her out when she whined. I knew she didn’t need to pee, or poop, or drink or eat because I had taken care of that before putting her in (no eating at least 2-3 hours before). I only let her put when she had stopped whining for about 5 minutes (3 is acceptable in the beginning, but look at your watch, and start over if he whines).

See, by letting him out when he whines, you have taught him that whining = being let out. This is what you have to undo. And it will take longer than a new puppy, because he has formed bad habits already (whining to be let out).

Oh, and one thing : you mention he whines to be let out, pees and then settles again. If he does that, he’s being a good boy ! It’s not the same situation at all. If he whines after being quiet for a long time (like a few hours), then it means he wants to relieve himself. And then you do let him out, but make it very boring : no talking, no petting, just going outside (in your arms so he doesn’t pee in the house), peeing and back to the crate. He should stop waking up in the middle of the night to go around 4 months, maybe sooner, maybe later.

Some dogs never stop whining. I would say if he hasn’t stopped or made good improvements in 4 weeks, then you might have to find another solution, like an x-pen, or gating in a small area. But again, same principle, no coming out when whining !
 

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It took 3 weeks for Beckie. I never, ever let her out when she whined. I knew she didn’t need to pee, or poop, or drink or eat because I had taken care of that before putting her in (no eating at least 2-3 hours before). I only let her put when she had stopped whining for about 5 minutes (3 is acceptable in the beginning, but look at your watch, and start over if he whines).

See, by letting him out when he whines, you have taught him that whining = being let out. This is what you have to undo. And it will take longer than a new puppy, because he has formed bad habits already (whining to be let out).

Oh, and one thing : you mention he whines to be let out, pees and then settles again. If he does that, he’s being a good boy ! It’s not the same situation at all. If he whines after being quiet for a long time (like a few hours), then it means he wants to relieve himself. And then you do let him out, but make it very boring : no talking, no petting, just going outside (in your arms so he doesn’t pee in the house), peeing and back to the crate. He should stop waking up in the middle of the night to go around 4 months, maybe sooner, maybe later.

Some dogs never stop whining. I would say if he hasn’t stopped or made good improvements in 4 weeks, then you might have to find another solution, like an x-pen, or gating in a small area. But again, same principle, no coming out when whining !


Thank you so much. This is all so informative!!
He will be totally quiet at night in his crate as long as he can see me. He sleeps through the night without wanting to go out, except some nights where if he had to pee about an hour before sleep time and he goes out, then he might have to go again soon after I put him in his crate.

So if he barks and whines for like 30 minutes or even an hour straight, I shouldn’t intervene?? Won’t be become frantic? Or will he slowly learn that it’s ok. I should just ignore it and when he stops, then the clock starts for 3-5 minutes of quiet time, then reward??
No letting him out when whining, meaning that if he barks and whines for however long, I should always wait until he goes quiet for a few minutes?

I just want to make sure I totally understand because I worry that what if I leave him alone and he is frantic and then he becomes even more scared - is that a possibility? Or just what I’m worried about


 

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Thank you so much. This is all so informative!!
He will be totally quiet at night in his crate as long as he can see me. He sleeps through the night without wanting to go out, except some nights where if he had to pee about an hour before sleep time and he goes out, then he might have to go again soon after I put him in his crate.

So if he barks and whines for like 30 minutes or even an hour straight, I shouldn’t intervene?? Won’t be become frantic? Or will he slowly learn that it’s ok. I should just ignore it and when he stops, then the clock starts for 3-5 minutes of quiet time, then reward??
No letting him out when whining, meaning that if he barks and whines for however long, I should always wait until he goes quiet for a few minutes?

I just want to make sure I totally understand because I worry that what if I leave him alone and he is frantic and then he becomes even more scared - is that a possibility? Or just what I’m worried about


Yes, you got it right. It’s hard to do, but it pays off. Don’t let him pee 1 hour before bed, he needs to peed 1 minute before bed. Teach him a pee command. Keep saying it exactly when he does it, then praise (not in the middle of the night, cause no talking).

Maybe to reassure yourself, put down a camera in front of him and watch it the next day. As I said, most dogs will eventually accept it, even if they’re not crazy about it. Once they have learned that screaming gets them nowhere.

In the very rare event that he would hurt himself trying to get out (it would be very, very, very uncommon), then you would have to find another solution, as mentioned.

You could start during the day, where you can watch him, but he can’t see you. He needs to learn to relax and settle down even if he doesn’t see you. Maybe a kong with a little bit of frozen peanut butter in it to start ? Try to make him succeed. So if he’s been minding his own business and not whining for 5 minutes the first time, let him out and praise, without high pitch sound or exaggeration. Then slowly increase.
 

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Thanks. I’m wondering if he is whining and barking and just won’t stop, when do I intervene? How long do I let him go on?


I would personally try waiting it out unless it sounds like he is physically harming himself. If that's the case you have a more serious problem. But simply whining and crying should extinguish eventually. But set him up for success. Make sure he is good and tired, and provide him with really nice chews or a kong. Of course this applies to simply being confined alone, not in the crate. You can simultaneously be working on crate games and teaching settle so that eventually you'll have him used to being alone, and used to settling, and used to the crate. Then you can put them all together safely. Don't forget that your attitude plays a huge role in how he views things. If you're thinking "poor sad puppy all alone" he will pick up on it. Make sure you are treating it like a nice fun time place where he gets to experience nice things. Experiment with chews that he really likes. Stuff like dehydrated tripe, bully sticks, yak cheese chews, etc. You should be able to find something he likes well enough to forget about you not being in eyesight.
 

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I would personally try waiting it out unless it sounds like he is physically harming himself. If that's the case you have a more serious problem. But simply whining and crying should extinguish eventually. But set him up for success. Make sure he is good and tired, and provide him with really nice chews or a kong. Of course this applies to simply being confined alone, not in the crate. You can simultaneously be working on crate games and teaching settle so that eventually you'll have him used to being alone, and used to settling, and used to the crate. Then you can put them all together safely. Don't forget that your attitude plays a huge role in how he views things. If you're thinking "poor sad puppy all alone" he will pick up on it. Make sure you are treating it like a nice fun time place where he gets to experience nice things. Experiment with chews that he really likes. Stuff like dehydrated tripe, bully sticks, yak cheese chews, etc. You should be able to find something he likes well enough to forget about you not being in eyesight.


That sounds good. I just didn’t want to risk making him more fearful by letting him whine and cry for a while. I am wondering - I currently am sleeping in the same room with him.... Do you think that it is okay? I have a crate upstairs and a crate downstairs.. Both have separate beds and what I thought would work is that his upstairs crate will be only for sleeping (never during daytime) and his downstairs crate will only be for daytime. Do you think he will be able to learn the difference between them and that his daytime one he may be left alone?


 

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I would not let him cry. He cries because he's miserable. He's young and afraid. Yes, at some point he'll give up the crying because of pure exhaustion, but that's not what I want to do to my pup.
My puppy was like yours. Now he's 6 month old and can take it much better when he's alone. He keeps eating when I go out of sight or even when I leave the apartment. All without making him suffer for 30 minutes or an hour when he was a baby.
 

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That sounds good. I just didn’t want to risk making him more fearful by letting him whine and cry for a while. I am wondering - I currently am sleeping in the same room with him.... Do you think that it is okay? I have a crate upstairs and a crate downstairs.. Both have separate beds and what I thought would work is that his upstairs crate will be only for sleeping (never during daytime) and his downstairs crate will only be for daytime. Do you think he will be able to learn the difference between them and that his daytime one he may be left alone?


I don't know because it might work for some dogs and not others. If you can have him sleeping in a room without you it's probably better for now. I don't have personal experience because I can't allow dogs in our bedroom because of my boyfriend's mild allergy. But what I've always done with my current pup is to let him fall asleep on the couch with me for a while, then when he is good and sleepy I take him out for a last potty trip and then he goes into the crate. He is usually sleepy enough at this point that he is happy to go in the crate and immediately falls back asleep. Maybe something like this could work with your pup. They are much more accommodating when sleepy. You may be able to let him sleep in your room without issue after you've worked through his separation anxiety.
 

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I would not let him cry. He cries because he's miserable. He's young and afraid. Yes, at some point he'll give up the crying because of pure exhaustion, but that's not what I want to do to my pup.
My puppy was like yours. Now he's 6 month old and can take it much better when he's alone. He keeps eating when I go out of sight or even when I leave the apartment. All without making him suffer for 30 minutes or an hour when he was a baby.


Well that’s what I’m fearful of, I don’t want him to be traumatized and I feel so confused about whether I’m doing all the right things with this process of crate training, or if I’m screwing up..
What was your technique for crate training so your dog was OK during the day and night???


 

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Yes, you got it right. It’s hard to do, but it pays off. Don’t let him pee 1 hour before bed, he needs to peed 1 minute before bed. Teach him a pee command. Keep saying it exactly when he does it, then praise (not in the middle of the night, cause no talking).



Maybe to reassure yourself, put down a camera in front of him and watch it the next day. As I said, most dogs will eventually accept it, even if they’re not crazy about it. Once they have learned that screaming gets them nowhere.



In the very rare event that he would hurt himself trying to get out (it would be very, very, very uncommon), then you would have to find another solution, as mentioned.



You could start during the day, where you can watch him, but he can’t see you. He needs to learn to relax and settle down even if he doesn’t see you. Maybe a kong with a little bit of frozen peanut butter in it to start ? Try to make him succeed. So if he’s been minding his own business and not whining for 5 minutes the first time, let him out and praise, without high pitch sound or exaggeration. Then slowly increase.


Do you think having a kong in his crate is OK through the night? Or during the day without supervision?
I’m wondering your opinion on me having a daytime crate, and nighttime crate - do you think it’s OK for him to sleep in my room in his crate, but then during the day I train him to be alone in the daytime crate?? Do you think he can learn the difference?? If not, then how do you think the best way is to now change his nighttime crate routine so he can no longer see me and no longer be in the same room as me??
His crying/whining sometimes sounds very desperate and I don’t want to traumatize him


 

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If I'm pulling all the pieces together correctly, the primary issue is that he's unhappily vocal when you're out of his sight. Is that right? Has he ever done anything more than vocalize? What's the longest time he's vocalized before you intervened? Did he ever stop without you coming to his "rescue"?

I would follow fjm's advice about training him to learn to Wait and to Settle, to learn that he'll be ok if you're out of sight because you will come back.

I would follow Dechi's advice about taking him out just before he goes to his crate for the night and to learn to pee on command.

While my boys were still young pups, we had bedroom and living area crates. I think he'll generalize once you get him learning in both places that he's ok even when he can't see you.

My personal preference is to have my poodles in the same room when I sleep. I know where they are at night and if they're well. I find this particularly important while they're still young, and when they're old. Do you use a cover over the bedtime crate?

It won't be that long before your boy will be old enough and reliable enough to be at home alone. Is your plan to always crate him when there's no one home or just til you know he's reliable on his own? Someone suggested an ex pen which can be an alternative to a daytime crate. Mine are mini's and were seven and a half months before we left them alone, uncrated but babygated to two rooms for a couple of hours. Until then, we left them crated if alone for a short while. We'd stop the car a few houses up and I'd get out to listen for squalling pups. They were quiet til DH pulled the car into the drive and opened the garage door.

I later got an inexpensive camera to keep eyes on my boys (and to hear them, and let them hear me). This has given me peace of mind, and amusement while out of the house.

Mufar42 provided a link to Susan Garrett's free 4 video seminar's. You may find them helpful:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/freedogtrainingworkshop/

https://www.facebook.com/SusanGarrettDogAgility/photos/p.2480222818665990/2480222818665990/?type=1&theater

I've meant to ask before, what's your boy's name?
 
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