We are crate training our 12 week lab puppy Ciara. She will sleep in her crate at night without any problem, she will go in there for naps during the day (if she is overtired and nippy she gets put in there with treats and goes to sleep really quickly). Sometimes she will whine but if someone is nearby (like reading the paper next to her) she'll settle down in no time.
The problem is only when we put her in the crate to leave the house, she will whine and howl like nothing else and I don't know what to do. I've tried putting her in with a stuffed kong but then she just eats what is in it and starts howling. When we've left when she has been asleep she is still howling when we come back and I can only assume that this has been going on since it started.
To try and make the crate a pleasant place and not just somewhere where she is alone we've put her in during the day when we are in and we hang out around it. But she still seems miserable when we leave the house with her in there. We don't have a massive flat and I think that a dog could easily hear movement from other rooms even if she can't see or be near us. I wonder if it is really obvious to her that she is on her own when she can't her us potter about? or if we've inadvertently rewarded whining by moving around, walking by (but not looking at or talking to her) when she makes noise and now she thinks that will happen if we are away as well?
I know she is a just a puppy, and don't want to leave her on her own for ages. It is just that sometimes we both need to be out of the house for an hour or so and in the future that might be even longer.
At the moment this is fine, because my partner and I can both work from home, but it is not a long term solution and I am worried that she will develop separation anxiety if she is can never get used to be away from us.
So, sorry for the long rambling post, what I want is some advice on how to train my puppy to be left on her own and not howl and be miserable!
I feel keeping her in the crate while you're home is just a temporary issue. Eventually she will be able to have the run of the flat (when you are home) as soon as she understands your rules. For now, while a pup, she needs to be in her crate when you are unable to supervise her. In no time she will most likely enjoy her crate and go in on her own with door left open. Just continue to make the crate a pleasant thing for her to retreat to.
The trick to seperation anxiety is reassurance.
It may take a few days, but will solve the problem.
Put her in the crate, put your coat on, go out and come straight back in. Repeat the exercise leaving her alone for more and more each time rewarding her with treats so that she has something to look forward to.
Depending upon the pup, she may pick it up quickly but don't expect immediate results and take it slowly.
She may take a day or more to become desensitised and rushing it will slow the learning process down. For the first session, I would set aside half an hour at least but any longer and she may become disinterested.
It's not cast in stone so you need to judge how it is working yourself and adjust appropriately.
What Samson said, in addition - do not make a big deal of coming and going. No grand goodbye! be good! I'll miss you! or Hello!!!! I missed you!!! Were you good?!?! - too upsetting for them. You go out, you come in. Try ignoring her for the first few minutes you come back so she doesn't feel that it must be a bad place because as soon as you come home she gets released.
You are not inadvertently rewarding whining by ignoring her - you are doing the right thing! If you cater to her every whim, you will have a hot mess on your hands. It is tough, it can be heartbreaking to watch them "suffer" and stressful to wonder if your neighbours are getting annoyed, but just like a human baby your puppy is a baby. This will pass, just be consistent and take the advice offered. We have all been there!!
great advice not to greet at all when you come home. We wait until we've put coats away, kicked off outdoor shoes etc. then let Molly out. She does paw at her wire crate, and bark and whine but we ignore. We even make her sit before she comes out. Not always great, but she's learning. Be consistent - that's the key.