Hi everyone,

This is not a Doodle specific question but know it's friendly bunch on here so thought of no better place to call for help. I have a 9 week double doodle puppy. He's wonderful in everyway. He's been home with us for around 10 days now.

I am struggling because of two problems which are clearly related. I think the main one is separation anxiety. Luckily I work from home so we are together a lot but i do have to pop out to walk the kids to school, pick up groceries etc and in the future when hes more settled Id like to get back to the gym, have a night out etc.

He cries and cries everytime I leave him and if I shut him in his crate he will typically poop. At night he hates the crate and again cry and cry and usually poop. So only 10 days in I've broken all the rules and he's sleeping on my bed where of course he is a little gentleman and we have no problems. 

I know many people are happy for their dog to sleep on the bed. I never thought Id be one of these people but just to get some sleep, in 10 days

I've become one. However I realise that whilst hes quite small now, I think he's going to be a really big boy so I don't feel this can be a long term solution and I fear I'm making him even more clingy by letting him be close to be all of the time.

I have now pretty much given up on the crate, collapsed it and put it outside, at least until I can clean it properly. So I have been thinking should I get a puppy pen so he can play safely whilst I make a meal etc. I can then leave him in the puppy pen when I take the kids to school. I doubt the mess would be as much to clean up as it would be in our stone floored dining room/kitchen area which would be easier to clean. 

When he poops in the crate, because it's so confined he is messed up with it all over him, the bed and the bars of the crate when I come home. He doesn't seem like the type of dog that is interested in his own poop so my thinking is if he fouls the pen, he'll leave it be until I come home to him.

Also, the pen feels more open in comparison to the crate and I can put him in to play whilst I potter in the kitchen to get him used to it.

I know it's early days but I really need some expert dog owners' advice on 1) the play pen, 2) the sleeping 3) the anxiety when left alone.

Thanks for reading this far :)




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  • How often has he been in the crate with you there nearby?  Is his crate in your room when you're sleeping (I mean when it was still up and being used)?

    After you thoroughly clean out his crate, what if you kept it open and fed him in there with the door open for a few weeks?  Just to re-set his expectation of crate time.  And play games with him to get him used to going in and coming out?  I ask all this because I'm such a die hard crate fan.  I would be lost without the crate.  We adopted an 11 month old rehome many years ago who CRIED and WAILED in her crate for hours--with us in the room (at night while we tried to get to sleep).  But we didn't give up and eventually she was okay with being left in a crate long enough to get out of her puppy chewy phase.  I think you shouldn't completely rule it out but maybe work on comfort and not closing the door for a bit while you leave him in the xpen.  Also keep in mind some puppies can climb out of expens ;-)

    • Thanks Adina. I know that crates are a good idea and I wanted to embrace it hence getting it all set up before Sonny came home. I think its my pup. He has such separation anxiety, a confined space like that seems to make it worse. I also live in a UK semi detached victorian property so Im so worried about his crying disturbing the neighbours. I've definitely not ruled it out just yet and your words provide some comfort.

      Thank you!

  • Our doodle was easily crated - I'm sure his breeder  began the process; however our Springer Spaniels - neither were crated, one had serious anxiety even as a puppy.  We also solved the night crate problem with the up on our bed trick.  It worked and continues to work for us.  If you feel the crate is just not for your pup, like our Springers, an ex-pen or baby gates in doorways limiting access to the whole house is a great idea. Make sure the barrier is tall enough for you to continue to use well into adulthood. This is an expen - it can be fastened together with carobiners or clips or it can be stretched across an opening. You can get them at pet stores but I have found them cheaper on Amazon.3367076974?profile=RESIZE_710x

    • Thanks for this. It looks like a really flexible solution. I think a baby gate for the kitchen AND a pen might be the solution. Food for thought but it's really helpful to hear you say crates are not always for every dog. Makes me feel like I havent failed :) thanks x

  • I was thinking about this this morning, lying in bed scrunched among the dogs. I think a lesson that we could probably all use, myself included, when we're talking about puppies is to start life the way we mean to go on. It's cute when a puppy puts their little paws up on your shin, but it's not as cute when a 70 pound dog smacks you in the chest and bowls you over. Better to teach them from day one that jumping isn't acceptable. Because how will you ever explain to them that it was okay before but now they're too big? Sure, you can still train them, but it's infinitely more difficult than if you had put a stop to it before it became a habit. 

    The same goes for the bed. I think you're making your life a lot harder by letting him sleep with you now, knowing that later you don't want him to. I love dogs in my bed, and I started letting Katie sleep with me from day one, but if I decided today that it wasn't the thing to do I think I would have a very difficult time keeping her out.

    I think if you want him to crate at night you can start by putting the crate on your bed, or on a raised platform beside it. That way you're close. You can put your fingers in and let him know that he isn't alone. He's never been alone before. I imagine it's really scary those first few days when they've been removed from their litter and they're on their own for the first time. It might scare the poop out of him. You also have a better indication, being so close, when he needs to go potty in the middle of the night. 

    I also think crate training is important. What if he needs to stay in a crate overnight at the vet? Or he needs to be kenneled? Or if there is some disaster situation and the only way he can travel is crated? I liked Susan Garrett's crate games (available on youtube) for teaching good assosciation with the crate. 

    I also have and like ex-pens. My one caveat is that while some puppies respect boundaries beautifully, others climb, jump, and can otherwise injure themselves trying to get out. They sell cloth tops for them on Amazon and I felt much more comfortable using one knowing that they weren't going to hang themselves trying to go over the wall. 

    I also think that puppies don't naturally like being alone. But that isn't the same thing as a dog who has separation anxiety. I think you have to slowly teach them that being alone isn't bad. Leave the room for a few seconds, come back. Don't make a big deal of it. Over time gradually increase the time you're gone. I leave the dogs in the house and go out into the garage to throw the laundry in. No big deal, mom always comes back. Over time and with a little maturity, in my experience at least, they learn that being alone isn't a big scary thing. I would try to practice so when you want to go out to dinner and a movie it isn't a shock. It's just a normal part of life. But you have to work up to it. 

    Last thing, I think what you're dealing with is so normal when you bring home a puppy, especially if there aren't other dogs in the house. It's exhausting and messy and definitely not a Hallmark commercial. We've all been there. This really isn't the best part of owning dogs - even though they are the cutest little things in the world. But it really gets better!

    • Stacy,

      Thank you for your considered message. So many of your points resonated with me. I totally agree. If I don't want the dog on my bed in the future, it's not fair to let him on now and it will be difficult to change it up later. This is why I needed to post to get some ideas and people's input who are more experienced dog owners than me. Everyone's points have been so good. I've been wracking my brain for what I think is the perfect solution. See below my message to all to see what I've decided. Your point at the end about it not being a Hallmark commercial made me laugh. You are so right. I knew it would be tough and it is - and stinky and tiring but it is also so incredibly rewarding. Thanks again. Very reassuring!

  • To just echo what Nancy (of Nancy, Ned, Clancy and Charlie) said, if you choose to get an ex-pen or gate, make sure its tall enough.  When Echo was about 12 weeks old, I got an expen that was at least 3 times the height of Echo (she's a mini, and her adult weight is 18 pounds), and she was able to climb out of it.I think the ex-pen was about 3 feet high.  I think you can get covers for some ex-pens.  I didn't get one, because Echo outgrew the ex-pen by then, but its something to consider if you choose an ex-pen.

    • Thank you Nancy. My little fella is pretty energetic and I get the feeling given half a chance he'd try to climb any barrier in front of him so this is great advice. Cheers!

      • Melissa,  I don't know if you could get one tall enough.  Our just under 17" tall 28 lb ALD went over our 5.5 ft tall cememt block wall (had some vines on it) and easially went over our 41 inch gate.  If there is a will there is a way.  

        • P.S. I did teach our Sydney to be okay with his crate.  His crate which is always open (until needed to be closed) would have 'surprise treats' in it to encourage him to use it as his man cave.  

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