Crate Training a Dog with Separation Anxiety

A frequent question I get asked or see posted online is how do I crate train by dog with separation anxiety? Or, should I use a crate when training my separation anxiety dog? A lot of people will read in online forums that a crate helps your dog feel safe and secure so they want to use the crate to help their dog with separation anxiety. Maybe you have seen ads for “indestructible crates” or “separation anxiety crates.”  Unfortunately the reality is that crating a dog with separation anxiety almost always makes the problem worse. A dog who is suffering from separation anxiety is in a state of panic. By putting your dog in a crate this just confines the panic to a smaller area, the crate. It’s common for dogs with separation anxiety to slam into the crate, injure themselves, break teeth or even break out of the crate when confined.

But my dog is fine in the crate at night when we go to bed, he feels safe and secure. Why doesn’t he feel this way when we lock him in the crate and leave him alone? For most dogs, context is everything. Your dog may be okay when in the house at night when you are home with him but once you have left him, this is a different context for your dog. He’s now alone and in a state of panic and is not okay with being in the crate.

During separation anxiety training, you are always working with our dogs under threshold. What does this mean? Well it means you are not allowing your dog to get past the point where they are experiencing panic and anxiety. Therefore you don’t have to worry about your dog destroying your new sofa or urinating on your new rug, because you won’t be allowing your dog to get to the point where these will happen. Most dogs seem to relax and learn better when allowed access to a larger area of the home and are not confined to a crate, as well. This doesn’t mean you need to give your dog the run of the house during separation anxiety training. But it does mean you should allow your dog in a safe area of your home that is not just a tiny crate.

Another thing to consider is that you may need to use the crate as a sleeping place for our dogs or to keep them safe when a delivery arrives to your home. The last thing you’d want to do is to create a negative association for our dogs to the crate if they are fine going into the crate at times when you are home with them. This can cause even more problems for you down the road.

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Separation Anxiety Dog Pro