Hates being alone, or actual separation anxiety? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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Hates being alone, or actual separation anxiety?

Sorry if I'm spamming the board... I'm day 3 into GSD puppy ownership and am trying to make sure I'm getting everything right. My last puppy was a Great Dane, over 12 years ago. Needless to say, from what I remember, the puppies are quite different!

We've been slowly acclimating our 8.5 week-old pup to his crate. The first night was horrible... he cried constantly about being locked in there at night, even though his crate is right next to our bed. I took him outside regularly throughout the night for potty. The next two nights, he has been better. Whines softly for a couple of minutes then drifts off to sleep, only whining in the middle of the night if he needs to go potty.

During the day is when the real problem starts. He seems to hate being alone, even for just a few minutes. I left him in our room briefly (it's puppy-proofed) to get something from downstairs. I was gone for maybe five minutes, and the entire time, I could hear him screaming bloody murder. Same thing for when I had to leave him briefly to shower for ten minutes.

I've been trying to keep him in his crate for short increments throughout the day, and he cries nonstop while he's in there. He generally has no problem going into his crate and doesn't seem to fear it. He gets all of his meals in it and often gets treats when he's in there. I even hide some throughout the crate so he randomly finds goodies when he's in there. He just hates being left alone after I close the door to it. I've tried leaving chews, stuffed Kongs, etc. in there with him, but he's in so much distress that he ignores them. I left him in his crate for about half an hour this morning after a romp outside, and he cried for about twenty of those minutes. Ten minutes after he stopped crying, I came back and he was asleep.

I work full-time, and while I am off for the next two days, I worry that he won't be adjusted to my absence when I return to work. I still have a dog walker coming in every other hour to take him outside for half an hour at a time. My partner also works 5 minutes away from home, so he is able to stop in on his lunch break and spend an hour or so with the pup.

I'm not sure how to get him to stop crying when alone... does his behavior sound like separation anxiety, or is it just normal puppy behavior? I've tried researching online, and there seems to be a lot of conflicting information on what's "normal" for a puppy and what's not.

Last edited by Storms; 09-04-2018 at 11:45 AM. Reason: Typo
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 11:53 AM
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To me, it sounds like normal puppy behavior. He doesn't know your routine just yet. Katsu (my girl) would cry when I crated her in the morning to go to work for the first week or so, but now she goes in willingly. Definitely give it some time. If he doesn't seem fearful of the crate, I would wait and see if he adjusts - I'm positive he will. Congratulations on your new puppy!

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 12:01 PM
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We brought max home at 8 weeks . I remember thinking the same thing will be grow up to have separation anxiety???? Lol no he did not. they are babies babies at that age. Max was my shadow at that age when I first brought him home. He would sleep on my feet when I brushed my teeth and got ready. It took him a few days to like the crate the first night we slep down stairs nex to the crate with door open the second night he slept in our bed and third night I brought the second crate we had and put next to my bed close enough where I can drape my arm over the crate. That did the trick. He is almost 4 and still follows me around and and rest his head on my feet but has no separation anxiety. Look up crate games it may helps with the adjustment.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Katsugsd View Post
To me, it sounds like normal puppy behavior. He doesn't know your routine just yet. Katsu (my girl) would cry when I crated her in the morning to go to work for the first week or so, but now she goes in willingly. Definitely give it some time. If he doesn't seem fearful of the crate, I would wait and see if he adjusts - I'm positive he will. Congratulations on your new puppy!
Thank you. I feel that as a new owner, I'm constantly looking for reassurance that everything I'm experiencing is "normal."

Before getting him, I read tons of puppy and GSD books and spent hours looking through this forum for tips and advice in preparation. Now that I have him, I feel like all the information I learned just vanished from my memory. I've never had a newborn baby, but I imagine this is what first-time parents feel like.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 12:32 PM
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The first one is always trial and error with lots of second guessing. Everything went much more smooth with Katsu as a second dog. Hang in there! Once he settles into your routine, it'll be much easier. Just remember to have fun with your puppy.

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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 06:40 PM
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Sound like normal puppy behavior. And with no response from you should eventually stop.



It's good for your puppy to become accustom to your coming and going as normal and expected activity in the house. It's one of the most important training you'll do as I think separation anxiety can be headed off before it becomes an issue



When you crate your dog and leave do it with as little fan fare as possible. No kisses, no good-byes. Don't even address the dog. Good-byes have no meaning to dogs. Put yourself in your dogs place. If you're talking, fussing petting, saying good-bye as you leave your dog is thinking, "Hey! You want my attention because you're interacting with me and then you leave without me! Did you forget me? What the heck???" Etc.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 08:40 PM
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I agree with everything PRoberts said.

To add on a few things, if the puppy is crying or whining, I'll cover the crate with a blanket or at least enough of it to where they can't see. They don't like crying or barking at a wall basically. Has worked well with my puppies.

The first 3 nights are usually tough. I ran some music and some YouTube videos with puppies on a beach for her the first few nights. Not sure if it helped but she was fairly quiet. I would also put her in her crate (like PRoberts said, no emotion. Don't make it a big deal. Make it seem like it's supposed to be normal) and then I would lay by the crate but I wouldn't show her any attention. Would usually sit on my iPad or read a book. When she would drift off to sleep, I would sneak away.

Seems to have all worked. I got a puppy who doesn't cry much in the crate and goes into the crate on command. I also don't use the crate for punishment ever and have a very consistent schedule of crate time.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 09-04-2018, 09:39 PM
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Normal (GSD) puppy behaviour. GSDs are one of those 'Velcro' dogs. I brought my pup home at 7 1/2 weeks of age. And boy did he CRRRRRRRRY and WHINE for the 1st week. Especially the first night. I was living in a studio apartment with a connected balcony to the neighbour next to me. That was where I put his crate.

The 1st night, he cried ALL night in the crate, I had to move his crate in my bathroom with the door open. He cried and cried until he was tired and fell asleep but at least the neighbout wouldn't hear him, or barely.. . The next day, after a walk and a meal, I put him in the crate in the balcony. And then I was cooking in the kitchen while listening to music with headphones, and then a couple minutes later I could hear him SCREAMING like crazy. I went out to the balcony, and... The couple who was my neighbout were at their balcony looking at my pup to see what's going on. I had to explain that I had just brought him home the night before and he was now crate training and that was why he was crying almost constantly. My neighbours were definitely worried if the dog was being abused or sthing lol.

Now, don't give up on crate training. It's one of the most necessary basic training for a dog. It took me 2-3 weeks until he dialed down on the crying. Ignore, ignore, ignore. Don't say a word when you leave him otherwise he sees it as 'Oh she's interacting, that means she's leaving, I'm gonna cry now so she doesn't leave' and you wouldn't want that! And also, train your pup to go into the crate. My command for it is 'Crate!' He goes in right away now. I've moved to a one-bedroom apartment and his crate is in the living room, and I always keep it open when I'm home. He goes in there voluntarily quite a lot, he sleeps or chills there. He definitely loves his crate now. And if you follow through with your training, your pup will too!

Funny story, my crate is size 48", not the best brand/make, he can definitely escape from it if he really wants to. When I had to leave town twice, he stayed with a sitter from Rover and my cousin. Both the sitter and my cousin told me that he broke out of the crate multiple times and complained about the crate.

Meanwhile with me, he NEVER even tried. When I leave and when I go home, he's in his crate chilling calmly, never ever jumps at me or whatever when I let him out the crate. He goes out of the crate slowly, with his head down.

When you reach that state, that's when you know you've done him well. He definitely trusts that I will come back for him no matter how many hours I leave him at home. And he's okay with that because he knows I will never ever not come back for him.

Follow through with your training! A GSD will always surprise you by how intelligent, loyal, trustworthy they are!
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