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Another Alone Training Question


Guest jlbfitz
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Guest jlbfitz

Hi, everyone.

 

We adopted our first greyhound Gilly last weekend. She is an only dog.

 

She has a pretty confident personality and isn't the kind of dog who follows us around the house. We've been avoiding her when she asks for affection, and only offering it when she is lying quietly on her bed.

 

We've been working on alone training since we got her, but still not having much luck. We have stepped up to leaving the apartment for short intervals, and sometimes she is fine. Other times she howls like she is being tortured. We've watched her on camera -- she doesn't seem too upset. She mostly just lays in her crate and howls. Sometimes she will get up and howl, but very rarely. Sometimes the howling is constant, sometimes it is only at the beginning, sometimes it starts up a few minutes in. To our understanding she crated well in her foster home, but they had other greyhounds, so I'm sure she felt less alone. We are careful to avoid interacting with her both when we leave and when we return.

 

Is this the kind of thing that will work out with time? Right now we are working on our alone training several hours in the morning, and several hours in the afternoon, attempting to duplicate my likely work schedule. She gets a walk before we start, a bathroom break at noon, and a walk at the end of the day.

 

At this point, I don't know what to do. The longest we have left with incident was twenty minutes yesterday, but today she cries after only a few minutes. Should we backtrack to a shorter time? Should we push through for a longer time, and hope she will eventually cry it out and sleep? We love her, but we are feeling overwhelmed right now.

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I have generally felt like there are two types of SA in the newly adopted dog. There are some dogs that have true separation anxiety (i.e. the dog that gets severely worked up and never seems to accept that her people always come back), and there are many that just have transient separation anxiety (i.e. it resolves once the dog adjusts to the new home life and figures out that her people are indeed always coming home). In the dozen or so fosters that we have had I think I've had ONE that didn't cry at all in his crate, and he was a lurcher that was treated pretty well - he was allowed to go in the house, played with the kids, etc, but was crated in the garage overnight so I suspect he was pretty used to being crated and having his folks leave and come back. Other than him, every dog we have ever had has cried and howled in their crate for some period of time. After a few days most of them have settled and been fine. We have had one foster that absolutely could not be crated, however she was fine if left muzzled in the house (she had crate anxiety, not separation anxiety). I think some degree of anxiety is normal in the transition period - everything is new and different, and they are alone for the first time. But once they recognize what the new routine is the majority of them relax and do not truly have separation anxiety. For these dogs it is just about doing general alone training, as you have been, and waiting them out. An Adaptil diffuser or collar could be helpful for reducing stress levels during the transition.

 

The other sect of dogs, of course, are those that truly have separation anxiety which does not resolve over the first couple of weeks. I have been fortunate and never really had to deal with a dog in this category, but others here have and probably have better tips on that.

 

And then of course, you should rule out whether it is separation anxiety or crate anxiety. I'm a huge fan of crates, but not every dog can be crated. I'd recommend trying without the crate (use an ex-pen, baby gates, muzzle or some combination) to rule that out. If it's the crate then that's an easy fix - but I'd recommend working on crate training because I think it's really important for a dog to be comfortable with being crated as you never know when you will need it.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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She's still adjusting to your home as it's only been one week. Everything is incredibly new to her, and she's lost all she has ever known, (twice - the track and foster) so it might take a while for her to come around to things in your home.

 

Have you given her something to do when she's in the crate? Often filling up a Kong with peanut butter and kibble should keep her busy for 15-30 mins (freeze it and it might last even longer). This does a few things, reinforces that going into the crate is a good thing, and takes her mind off of you leaving.

If she's comfortable in the crate, making it more den-like by putting blankets on would be helpful.

Also think about putting on a radio softly in the background so the home isn't dead quiet.

 

Acclimatizing her will take some time and work, but be patient and she'll reward you!

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I don't know who told you to ignore her when she seeks out affection, but my personal opinion is that ANY time a dog comes to me seeking affection, he gets it, however briefly. If I'm busy, I might give him a pet and then say, "OK, go lie down now" or something.

 

My dog hated his crate. Unbeknownst to my adoption group, his foster mother found out really quickly that he hated his crate and stopped using it. When he came to me, I was told he was "used to it." Well, he wasn't, and it almost drove us both over the edge!

 

If your dog is housebroken, you might consider just leaving the crate door open and seeing what happens.


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I don't know who told you to ignore her when she seeks out affection, but my personal opinion is that ANY time a dog comes to me seeking affection, he gets it, however briefly. If I'm busy, I might give him a pet and then say, "OK, go lie down now" or something.

 

My dog hated his crate. Unbeknownst to my adoption group, his foster mother found out really quickly that he hated his crate and stopped using it. When he came to me, I was told he was "used to it." Well, he wasn't, and it almost drove us both over the edge!

 

If your dog is housebroken, you might consider just leaving the crate door open and seeing what happens.

 

 

Was gonna say both of these things, so I will just second what GeorgeofNE said

Amy and Tim in Beverly, MA, with Chase and Always missing Kingsley (Drama King) and Ruby (KB's Bee Bopper).

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  • 1 month later...
Guest jlbfitz

I wanted to come back and update this so that anyone who reads it in the future will know what finally worked.

 

We found out our pup was way less stressed when we locked her in the bedroom than when we left her in her crate. I think she is more comfortable in the bedroom -- she likes having a little more freedom of motion. And it breaks her line of sigh to the apartment door (we have a small apartment, so she could see it from her crate). She continued to whine in the bedroom, but much quieter. However, for future readers, our behaviorist did say that a lot of dogs wouldn't like being confined in a small room like that -- and a gate might be better. Our girl is probably the exception, in that she actually seems more comfortable with the door because it blocks her line of sight.

 

We also got a Baby Monitoring app that allows us to correct her through the app from a distance. The behaviorist said it was odd that she wasn't an immediate whiner. Rather, she'll sleep, then wake up, realize she's alone, and start whining. So, now, whenever she whines, we correct her through the app.

 

For the first week, I stayed in the apartment (but locked her in the bedroom). When she got used to that, I started leaving the apartment and correcting her through the app. Now (about four weeks in from starting this system) I rarely have to correct her.

 

We also stuck to a really rigid routine, including weekends, so that her day was always the same.

 

Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I really appreciate the mass of knowledge available on greytalk.

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