How to Avoid Separation Anxiety Using the Crate

Dogs often dislike being crated because they have learned that once they go into the crate, the owner is now leaving the home. Dogs do not dislike crates on their own, but they do not enjoy being left alone. Once the dog learns that being put in the crate predicts their owner is going to leave the home, the dog begins to dislike being crated.

Desensitizing the dog to the owner leaving the home is one of the most overlooked procedures that dog owners skip over. It is also one of the most important procedures in this guide. Desensitizing your dog to you leaving the home teaches the dog that you always come back to them and that crating is only temporary. When you spend time desensitizing your dog to you leaving the home in the correct way, you will be able to transition your dog out of the crate much quicker than if you skip over this step.

How to begin the desensitization process
To begin, you will place the puppy inside the crate with a few appealing chew toys and then sit on the couch for a couple of minutes. Now, simply get up and walk straight out the door where you normally leave your house. Stay outside for a couple of minutes and then walk back inside the home and return to sitting on the couch. Don’t look at your dog at any point when you leave or return back inside the home. You goal is to make it obvious to your dog that you leave the house often and come back inside often and that is just part of life.

The reason why most people skip over this step is because they only crate their dogs when they actually need to leave the home for an extended period of time. It is completely understandable why people skip over this step, especially for those who have to be away from their dogs for long periods of time. Dog owners feel bad crating their dogs while they are at home. However, the goal in crate training is to make the dog feel comfortable about being crated and desensitizing them to being alone by leaving for shorter periods of time is one the best ways to accomplish this.

As you continue the desensitization process, you should increase the amount of time you stay outside of the home while your dog is inside the crate. Work up to 5 minutes, then 10 and 20 minutes.

Trainer Tip
In the early stages of desensitizing the dog, you can give your dog a special chew toy inside the crate to help keep them occupied. This toy should be brand new to the dog.

Return to Crate Training Guide

Published on July 23, 2017

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