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Discussion Starter #1
Tessa apparently has it and I guess it is worse than I thought. I am sick today so I had to stay home. Dharma went to daycare and I had to go to the doc. I didn't crate Tessa while I was gone because she has been doing fine out of it and I find when I put her in it she howls and barks like crazy. Because I live in a town house I worry about the neighbors complaining so I am only feeding her in it right now. When Dharma is here she is fine out of it.

But today she was left alone for several hours. I came home to find that she has destroyed the screen to my gas fireplace. And I mean destroyed it. Ripped a completed L-shape in it. I will have to place the entire thing. I am going to have to seriously work on this or either get her used to the crate some how because next Wed I will be gone for over 12 hours and Dharma will be in day care for 8. She will have to be by herself during that time. Any suggestions on how to crate train her WITHOUT the barking and howling would be greatly appreciated!
 

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What makes you say she has separation anxiety? Did it looks like she was scratching at the doors or windows? Messing up the screen just sounds like boredom. How old is Tessa?

Have you been playing any crate games with her? I would be tossing treats in the crate and doing other fun things aside from just feeding her in it.

Toss treats in so she will go in to get them but don't shut the door. Work up to closing the door for a few seconds. And gradually build up the time that the door is closed. If you make it a fun training game, then Tessa will associated good things with the crate.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Tessa is estimated at around 10 years old. She didn't mess with the doors or windows but I just figured it was separation anxiety because if I go out to the garage to smoke a cigarette and leave her inside she barks and howls and scratches at the door for several minutes before she settles down. I figured she was settling down after a bit after I was gone as well. It wasn't until I came home and found the destroyed fireplace screen that I thought she was getting anxious and worried that I wasn't coming home. She also managed to get a bag of treats off of my kitchen table and knock them to the floor. I don't know how she did that though. Her hips are so bad that she can not jump up. She is so funny at times because she will be happy to see me when I come home and try to jump up on me but can only get her front paws a couple of inches off of the floor.
 

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It's possible that it is separation anxiety but I think (just like a lot of training words) it is thrown around quite a bit without full knowledge of what true separation anxiety is (not saying you did that).

Typically with separation anxiety, dogs are desperate to get out of the house (or crate) which is why I asked about the doors or windows. In these cases, you will see door frames scratched and ripped off, curtains pulled off or the crate destroyed. In some very severe cases, dogs have jumped through windows.

I see destructive behaviors like chewing inappropriate items (the couch, remote, fireplace screen or bag of treats) as housbreaking issues and boredom and not separation anxiety. Both Raven and my foster might make a fuss if I am right outside without them but neither have separation anxiety.

ETA:
Tessa is estimated at around 10 years old. She didn't mess with the doors or windows but I just figured it was separation anxiety because if I go out to the garage to smoke a cigarette and leave her inside she barks and howls and scratches at the door for several minutes before she settles down.
A dog with real separation anxiety doesn't settle down. They are in full blown panic at you being gone.
 

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If she only destroyed the firescreen it is unlikely that it is separation anxiety. With separation anxiety it's more likely that things near doors and windows would have been damaged. Only speaking from experience. Had a dog once with a severe case of it that broke out of her crate and severely damaged many things all of which were near doors and windows.
 

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There are also degrees of separation anxiety. But what's the point of arguing about semantics when the issue is that the dog panics and destroys things while the person is gone?

How about suggestions that might work?

I would treat this as a mild case of separation anxiety. So the goal is to counter-condition Tessa to feel good (or at least ok) with leaving, instead of panicking. If you can get Patricia McConnell's book, "I'll Be home Soon," that's what I would follow. Perhaps you can buy it on-line and download it.

In the meantime I would try to get her comfortable in a room or a gated area where she can do the least damage to herself and to other things.

Also, 12 hours is too long to leave any dog alone--can you find someone to come in to let her out a couple of times?
 

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There was no arguing about semantics but there was a discussion to find out what exactly was going on (and maybe a little educating in the process) as my advice would be different if it were separation anxiety vs just destructive because bored.

And there were also some suggestions to help get Tessa accustomed to the crate.

If getting her to view the crate as a good thing isn't possible by Wed, confining her to a larger room that is dog proof is a great idea. Have you tried the kong in the crate as well?
 

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My GSD Sinister used to destroy things when I left him alone and out of his crate.

My cousin and I work different hours so the dogs are only alone for 2 or 3 hours at the most. During that time I have been leaving Sinister out of his crate. I put peanut butter in a Kong for him and I have the Everlasting Treat Ball that occupies him so he doesn't become bored and destroy things and it's going great!

I would suggest getting stuff for her to play with or keep her mind occupied with while you are gone like

1) Dog Treat Puzzles
2) Everlasting Treat Ball
3) Kong with peanut butter in it
4) A device that dispenses a new toy every hour (saw it on an episode of "It's Me or The Dog")

Keep her mind busy :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My uncle comes to let both dogs out every several hours and walk Dharma when I am at work. He doesn't walk Tessa because her hips are too bad but instead lets her out in the yard. This is the first day that I have had Tessa that Dharma has gone to Day care. I would prefer not to crate her for that long, really because I also feel it is too long. Today I was only gone for about 2 1/2 hours with the doc's visit and the trip to the pharmacy to get my rx's filled and she managed to do quite a bit of damage.
 

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You'd be surprised how much damage a dog can do in 20 minutes when they're panicking. At least I was surprised when it happened...

It took me 7 weeks to counter condition Rafi to being left alone, out of his crate, while I was gone. It was worth it though because he's fine now.
 

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You could board her somewhere for the 12 hour day? That's what I would do. No advice on the other behaviors. This could be her first experience in a house? I have used a kennel inside - because it's bigger and "familiar" with some dogs but my main reason for posting was to recommend boarding for the long days.
 
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