Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Puppy - Separation Issues and Kennel Training

by Natalie
(British Columbia, Canada)

I have a 4.5 month old Aussie that we are struggling to crate train, and leave alone. I'm looking for help/guidance from other Aussie owners!

We work from home so the puppy is rarely alone, which we knew from the start might cause an issue, so we have been incorporating kennel training into the daily routine. Since the day we got her at 10 weeks we have been putting her in her kennel twice daily. We started for just 2 minutes, and have escalated to 2 hours. In the past few weeks we began leaving the room she was in, and going to another room while she was in there. When we're out of her site she whines, cries and howls a lot. She does not sleep in her kennel.

We only put her in the kennel after a lot of exercise (in the hope that she'll be exhausted and fall asleep) and always with toys, big blankets, and treats - whether a few small chewy treats, or a peanut butter kong.

We have been feeding her in her kennel 3 times a day. Once a day she also chews on a veal chew stick (her absolute favourite thing), and she chews it in her kennel. We also play find it games in the kennel, putting kibble into the folds of her blankets for her to search out which she loves.

There is no problem getting her in the kennel, she runs happily in. We have tried having a blanket on it, but she seems to prefer it without a blanket. It is a metal bared kennel.

We have only left her alone at home in her kennel 3 times. The first two times it was for 20 minutes and 30 minutes. We have left her alone in the car (in the back of our minivan which has no seats, with toys and treats, and the windows cracked, its about 10degrees here now and no sun so she's not at risk of over heating) multiple times at varying lengths - from 5 minutes to 1 hour.

Every time we come back to let her out, she is terribly stressed out and cannot calm down for about 5—10 minutes

We left her at home alone in her kennel last night for 2 hours. It tool her almost 30 minutes to calm down, and we discovered that she broke a tooth, most likely chewing in the bars to try and get out.

I'm so distressed about this, and feel absolutely horrible that she's under so much stress. But, I'm at a complete loss as to what to do. I have done so much research and tried everything that has been suggested, but she hates her crate. And, clearly, I cannot leave her in there alone anymore without supervision as she broke a tooth last night.

My questions - are all Aussies like this? Have I missed any important training tactics? Should I just keep working at it for the next few months? Or should I try to leave her in a small room of the house instead?

Thanks for your help!

Comments for Puppy - Separation Issues and Kennel Training

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Separation Issues
by: Fran

Don't know if this would be of help to you. We, too, work at home. We had separation issues with our mini Aussie - anxiety, stress-barking, incredible yelping/screaming upon our return whenever we left her. Her crate was not an issue because we never crate-trained her. (She simply uses it as an additional bed to rest in when she wants.) We found that when we were gone, she was most comfortable in our well-fenced backyard (with shelter & water). She also has access to the inside of our home. I think she feels less confined this way. Being unable to move around widely seems to bother her and I know that being left in a small room would drive her crazy.

When we first became aware of how stressed she was when we were gone, we started over, leaving her for only for five or ten minutes at a time and working up to longer periods. At the same time, we tried to reduce the obvious actions that preceded our departure (picking up a purse, rattling keys, putting on a coat, etc.) Instead, we did those things early on and several times a day to desensitize her to them. (We don't have to do that anymore.) We also leave her with the equivalent of a peanut buttered Kong. (She can't resist butter or bacon grease on a huge unchewable beefhide bone.) Now, although she obviously doesn't want us to leave her (head drops, etc.), she almost can't wait to get her special treat to lick.

Some say you should low-key your return. However, our girl badly needs to be recognized and re-accepted. So, upon our return, we praise her for a "good wait/good job" and send her to get a toy so we can play chase with her for a few moments. This redirects her energy into something more manageable; she calms down quickly; and she can't bark while has a toy in her mouth. :)

Hope this helps. Good luck!

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