How to Train a Husky to Be Alone

Medium
2-6 Months
General

Introduction

Imagine putting on your shoes, gathering your keys, waving goodbye to your Husky, and walking out your front door. You stay away for an hour and return to find... nothing different. 

Not what you were expecting to hear? You might find that situation rather boring, but that is exactly the point. Wouldn't you love for your departures and returns to be boring? If your dog struggles with being alone, departures and returns might be anything but boring right now. They might be anxiety filled, frustrating, emotional, and costly. 

Many dogs who do not know how to act properly when they are alone resort to destructive behaviors while on their own. Some dogs impale themselves trying to escape, others eliminate on your rug, and others destroy your property. Some dogs do this because of true separation anxiety, but most do it because of boredom and lack of supervision. Your dog simply figured out that shredding your pillow up was a great way to entertain himself and nobody was there to tell him otherwise or to enforce the rules.

Defining Tasks

Having a dog that can be alone is vital to life in Western culture. Chances are that your dog cannot go everywhere with you. If you live in the city or in the suburbs, close to other people, then noise and destructiveness from your dog can be an especially big problem, especially if you rent your home. Teaching your dog how to handle being alone not only makes fulfilling essential life requirements, like going to work, not getting kicked out of your rental apartment, and not replacing your couch thirty times, more possible, but it also saves your dog from a lot of stress and future confinement.

Teaching your dog how to be alone is not always a quick process. If you are teaching your dog before he has had the chance to develop any bad habits or separation anxiety, then the process will go much quicker and be much easier. Expect this to take at least two months, and possibly six months or longer if your dog has been struggling with being left alone for a while. Unlike a command such as 'sit', the progress with this will likely be gradual, opposed to instant. Remember to watch for signs of gradual improvement, so that you do not get discouraged while your dog is still learning. Any improvement in this area is worth celebrating and should provide encouragement for continuing the training.

The goals for most of the methods are to teach your dog: how to self-entertain better, how to be more independent, how to remain calm, and how to relax. Your dog also might need more confinement in order to prevent destructiveness and to learn appropriate ways to pass his time. The issue could be anxiety based or boredom based. In either case, Fido would benefit from you providing him with appropriate things to do while you are gone, such as safe food puzzle toys, and food stuffed hollow chew toys.

If your dog already struggles with being alone, and the training is not purely preventative, then you may want to utilize more than one method for teaching him how to be alone. For example, you can teach him how to relax and handle being alone in the crate using 'The Crate Method', while also working on teaching him more independence and self-control using 'The Obedience Method'.

Getting Started

To get started you will need lots of small, tasty treats. If your dog is very food motivated, then you can use his own dry dog food if your wish. If you are using 'The Crate Method', then you will need a crate that is large enough for your dog to stand up, turn around, and lie down. You will also need a Kong or other hollow chew toy, that can be stuffed with kibble and is safe for your dog to have when he is alone. 

If you are using 'The Obedience Method', then you will also need a long leash, between twenty and fifty feet long. You will also need a resource, such as Wag! Walking's Training Guides page, for how to train obedience commands such as 'stay', 'sit', 'down', 'place', and 'out'.  Another good option is a local obedience class that you can attend, where those commands are covered. You might also need an assistant to help you train your dog how to do the distance commands, such as 'down-stay'.

If you are using 'The In and Out Method' then you will also need a camera that will transmit live video feed to your phone, tablet, or other device, as well as a device to view the transmission on. Good options might include: video baby monitors with both a camera monitor and a viewer monitor, video security camera that can be viewed remotely from a smartphone or other portable device, a GoPro and GoPro live viewing application on a smartphone or tablet device, or two tablets or smartphones that can transmit and receive video feed on the mute setting on an application such as Skype or Facetime. You will also need a source of entertainment for your dog while you are away. Good sources of entertainment can include food stuffed hollow chew toys, such as Kongs, durable food filled puzzle toys, and automatic, computerized kibble dispensing machines, that are programmed to reward your dog for quiet and calm behaviors. With all of the methods, you will need patience, perseverance, relaxed body language, and a calm and confident attitude.

The Crate Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Introduce crate
To begin, you will need to get your pup used to the crate. Feed him his meals in the crate with the door open. Place treats into the open crate for him to find. Whenever you catch him in the crate looking for treats, go over to him and drop treats into the crate while he is inside.
Step
2
Close the door
When your dog is comfortable going into the crate, then stuff a Kong or other hollow chew toy with food, such as kibble, peanut butter, and treats. Encourage your dog to go into the crate, and when he is inside, give him the food stuffed Kong to chew on, close the door to the crate, and walk out of the room for three minutes. Be sure to read the ingredient label on any human food, such as peanut butter, and make sure that it does NOT contain xylitol or any other substance that is toxic to dogs.
Step
3
Return
After three minutes have passed, when your dog is quiet for at least two seconds, then walk back into the room and open the door to the crate. If he chooses to stay in the crate with his toy, then drop another treat into the crate for him every five minutes that he remains inside. If he wishes to leave the crate, then let him, but do not let him take the Kong out of the crate. The Kong is a special toy reserved only for the crate.
Step
4
Increase time
Gradually increase the amount of time that your dog must stay in the crate for, only freeing him from the crate while he is being quiet. Reward and encourage calm behavior by occasionally dropping treats inside the crate and by placing a food stuffed hollow chew toy inside the crate with him. Gradually increase the amount of time until you reach one hour.
Step
5
Crate while present
Crate Fido when you are at home for thirty minutes at a time, so that being crated will not be associated only with your departure and long periods of time.
Step
6
Start early
Work on crate training as early as possible. If your Husky is still a puppy, then introduce the crate in a fun way as early as possible. If your dog is older or is a recent rescue, then begin to work on crate training now. That way your dog will be comfortable being in his crate by the time you need to leave him in it for long periods of time. If your dog is new, this will also help him to learn balance between being with you and being by himself, while he is still getting attached to you and used to his surroundings.
Recommend training method?

The Obedience Method

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Effective
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Step
1
Teach basic obedience
To begin, teach your dog basic obedience commands, such as 'stay', 'heel', 'down', 'sit', 'place', and 'out'.
Step
2
Purchase a long leash
Purchase a long leash, between twenty and fifty feet long. Go somewhere calm, with lots of space, and secure objects that you can attach your long leash to, such as trees, secure fence posts, or poles. You can also have an assistant hold the leash instead of attaching it to something.
Step
3
Work on distance commands
Attach the end of your dog's leash to a secure object or have your assistant hold it. Practice 'down stays' and 'sit stays' with your dog from a distance.
Step
4
Practice 'place'
After you have taught the 'place' command, have your dog stay in his place while you move about your home without him. Gradually increase the amount of time that he must stay in his place for, until you have worked up to one hour. Practice this at least once a day, so that he will become comfortable being by himself in your home, while you are also at home.
Step
5
Practice 'out'
After you have taught your dog the 'out' command, which simply means that he has to leave the area, tell him "out" whenever he is being pushy or clingy. Do not pet him if he is pawing at you, whining for attention, nudging your hands, sitting on top of you, or generally being demanding. When he is being calm and polite, if you wish to pet him, then call him over so that you are the one initiating the interaction. When you are done petting him, end the interaction by telling him "out" or "place", and enforcing the command by making him leave or go to his place.
Recommend training method?

The In and Out Method

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Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Decide
To begin, evaluate whether or not your dog is a danger to himself when left alone. If your dog is not likely to do something dangerous, such as chew on a power cord or ingest inedible objects, then move onto the next step. If your dog is a danger to himself when left alone for any length of time, choose a different method .
Step
2
Hide a camera
Hide a camera somewhere in your home that will allow you to spy on your dog while you are gone. Good camera options for this are: GoPro cameras, video security cameras, video baby monitors with good ranges, or tablets or smartphones with a video application such as Skype or Facetime, that can be used on mute and viewed from another phone or device.
Step
3
Spy
With your your dog loose in your home, and your camera in place, casually gather your things and walk out your front door. When you get outside, stand or sit somewhere where your dog cannot see or hear you, then watch your dog on the camera from your smartphone app or other viewing device.
Step
4
Go back inside
Wait outside for five minutes. After five minutes, when your dog is calm for at least three seconds, then walk back inside while he is being calm. When you walk back inside, ignore your dog for awhile, and act as if nothing happened.
Step
5
Gradually increase time
Over time, as your dog improves, gradually increase the amount of time that you leave for. The goal is to make your departures and returns extremely boring and non-eventful. You want your dog to believe that your coming and going is extremely normal, non-eventful, and often short. Increase the amount of time that you leave for, until you have reached two hours or more, and your dog can remain calm while you are gone for that amount of time.
Step
6
Provide entertainment
When you leave your pup for thirty minutes or longer, give her something interesting and safe to do while you are gone. Things that can provide entertainment for her include: food stuffed Kongs and other hollow chew toys, durable kibble filled puzzle toys, or automatic computerized food dispensers that are programmed to reward your dog intermittently for quiet and calm behaviors.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Caitlin Crittenden

Published: 03/13/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Dame
Siberian Husky
3 Years
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Question
0 found helpful
Dame
Siberian Husky
3 Years

Having troubles with him staying home alone, ive tried letting him loose around the house and I’ve also tried kennel training and nothings working, he howls does
Loud the whole time and neighbors are complaining help!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ashlyn, There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety. The first step is to work on building his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is hard for him to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on); this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time on its own for some dogs. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video from SolidK9Training on treating anxiety. It will give a brief over-view of treating separation anxiety more firmly. This trainer can be a bit abrupt with his teaching style with people but is very experienced working with highly aggressive, anxious, and reactive dogs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Make sure you are implementing what he teaches there in other areas of his life too. Second, purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator or Garmin Delta Sport or Dogtra for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the smell - punisher lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation e-collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and he will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on him from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate him again. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or two more levels on another collar with less levels right now though because he has not learned what he is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if his level is 13 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 16 right now. The level you end up using on him on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for him. If he continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting him from outside when he barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when he is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Continue to put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him. Once he is less anxious he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more. First, he probably needs his anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead of barking, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Maya
Siberian Husky
1 Year
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Maya
Siberian Husky
1 Year

Maya is house trained, she does'nt cry for the first 20 min when I leave she is actually quiet and I leave her a couple of puzzles with treats which keeps her occupied. but when I get back from work I hear her from outside crying and screaming and once I get inside there is always something she broke or has it in pieces, she actually figured out how to open a locked door, and its really hard to leave her screaming since my neighbors do not like constant screaming or crying. please help me and she loves sleeping in her crate just when i leave her in the crate the crying gets worse.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
240 Dog owners recommended

Hi there. It sounds like she may have some separation anxiety going on. Because this behavior issue is complex, I have a lot of information to send you. With some time and practice, this is something that can be turned around over the next month or so. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. “Doggie Daycare” or hiring a pet sitter may be a better alternative for dogs that are initially resistant to treatment. It can be expensive, but prices vary. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains. Supplements Recently, supplements have been released to the public that can help dogs with anxiety. Purina created a probiotic that has been shown to reduce anxiety and provide a calming effect on some dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend this product for treating anxiety, or other products that contain L-Theanine or L-tryptophan.

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Koda
Siberian Husky
9 Months
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Koda
Siberian Husky
9 Months

I tried the 'in and out' method but he doesn't settle for more than one minute - goes right to the door and howls/paws at the door. i don't know whether to wait a few minutes to see if he settles or if that will make things worse or to try another method i always give him his kong but hes not interested when we leave & he is not crated.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
944 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, How does pup do when left alone while in the crate? If they don't do okay then, I suggest starting with crating pup and getting them used to being left alone in there first. If pup does fine when crated and you are just trying to get them used to being out of the crate alone, I suggest working on the Place command and the crate exercise below, to get pup used to staying somewhere calmly due to obedience and not just the door being closed, while you work up to being able to go into another room back and forth. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Work pup up to you being able to leave the room and them stay put. When they can do that, then work up to you leaving out the front door and coming back again. When pup can handle that and has developed some self-control through practicing those things, if they are still scratching and barking, I suggest setting up a camera to spy on pup from outside, like a tablet or phone with skype on mute or video baby monitor. Go outside. Whenever pup stays quiet and doesn't scratch the door for at least five minutes, return and sprinkle a few treats onto their place bed or into an open crate (but not right in front of the door because you want pup to start to stay on their bed or crate on their own when you are away), then leave again and repeat. When pup barks or scratches, briefly open the door, tell pup "Ah Ah" and spray a brief puff of air at their side (NOT face) with an unscented air pet convincer, then leave again. Don't use citronella canisters - they are too harsh, only the unscented air. Repeat the rewards when quiet and calm and the corrections for barking or scratching. As pup improves, gradually space out rewards and reward less often. Be sure to leave pup a dog food stuffed chew toy to work on as well, and/or purchase something like Autotrainer or Pet Tutor, and get a model that you can program to detect when pup is quiet and release a treat to keep pup entertained and rewarded for being calm. Also, be aware that many dogs are still in a late chewing phase until past a year, so monitor whether pup starts chewing anything while you are not there. If they do, they will need to be crated until past a year, then you can test whether they are ready again later. Eighteen months is when I find the average dog is ready for less crate time. Some are ready at 1 year though, and a few mature early and can handle it a bit sooner, like 9 months. You don't want to give too much before pup is developmentally ready though because if chewing happens regularly while you are away it can become a long-term habit and not just something pup will outgrow. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Creed
Siberian Husky
2 Years
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Creed
Siberian Husky
2 Years

Creed was in a six-month training program. I would come once weekly to work with him. He is crate trained but he has severe separation and won’t be in the crate without anyone being home. He has his puzzles, toys and his Kong but that will only get him so far. He’s opened up the crate before, bent it, ripped through it and tore up the floor. I’m just nervous he is going to hurt himself. I bought a new crate I keep trying it out, when he’s quiet I’ll give them a treat but it just seems like it never ends, he’ll pick and choose when to act out. He’s very vocal about not wanting to be in the crate alone. I’ve use the pet cameras but he’ll still go around the house and pees if I leave him outside the crate. He pees in the house rips up the blinds and has broken through the window. I don’t want to have to get a sitter every time I leave the house. What can I do to help him get through this, he just turned two in June.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
240 Dog owners recommended

Hello! It sounds like you have your hands full. I am going to send you a lot of information regarding more advanced separation anxiety. You had the right intentions with the Kong and toys. Keep that up. And hopefully with the additional information I am sending, you will find one, or a combination of methods that work for Creed. The first step in treating separation anxiety is to break the cycle of anxiety. Every time a dog with separation anxiety becomes anxious when their owner leaves, the distress they feel is reinforced until they become absolutely frantic any time they are left alone. Owners should give the dog an acceptable item to chew, such as a long lasting food treat when they go out. The goal is to have the dog associate this special treat with the owner’s departure. Treats might include hollow bones stuffed with peanut butter or soft cheese, drilled out nylon bones, or hollow rubber chew toys such as Kong toys with similar enhancements (place these in the freezer before giving them to your dog to make them last longer). Give the bone to your dog about 15 minutes before preparing to depart. The chew toy should be used only as a reward to offset the anxiety triggered by your departure. Hiding a variety of these delectable food treats throughout the house may occupy the dog so that the owner’s departure is less stressful. In an effort to prevent destructive behavior, many owners confine their dog in a crate or behind a gate. For dogs that display “barrier frustration,” the use of a crate in this way is counterproductive. Many dogs will physically injure themselves while attempting to escape such confinement. Careful efforts to desensitize and counter condition the dog to crate confinement before leaving them alone may be helpful in some cases. However, some dogs rebel against any form of restraint, including restricting barriers and, for them, crate training may never be a positive experience. Crate training and utilizing the crate while people are home can be a positive way to make the crate a safe place. If you utilize it when people are around, your dog won’t necessarily associate the crate with departure and being left alone. Creating nap time in the crate throughout the day can also be helpful. Building Independence Independence training can help fight separation anxiety and loneliness. Independence training can help build confidence and instill obedience. Independence training is one of the more important aspects of the program. It involves teaching your dog to “stand on their own four feet” when you are present, with the express intention that their newfound confidence will spill over into times when you are away. You need to make your dog more independent by reducing the bond between both of you to a more healthy level of involvement. Decreasing the bond is the hardest thing for owners to accept. Most people acquire dogs because they want a strong relationship with them. However, you have to accept that the anxiety your dog experiences in your absence is destructive. Essential components of the independence training program are as follows: Your dog can be with you, but the amount of interaction time should be reduced, especially where attention-seeking behaviors are concerned. You should initiate all interactions with your dog, and they shouldn’t be permitted to demand attention. If you give your dog attention every time they whine, it helps to foster the dog’s dependence on you and increases its anxiety in your absence. You should ignore your dog completely when they engage in attention-seeking behavior, and avoid catering to them when they appear to feel anxious. This means no eye contact, no pushing away, and no soothing talk or body language, all of which will reward their attention-seeking mission. Attention is encouraged only when your dog is sitting or lying calmly. The goal is not to ignore your dog, but to stop reinforcing attention-seeking behaviors so that your dog develops a sense of independence. Minimize the extent to which your dog follows you by teaching them to remain relaxed in one spot, such as their bed. To accomplish this, it is helpful if you train them to perform a sit-stay or down-stay while gradually increasing the time that they hold the command and remain at a distance from you. Providing a treat or toy and encouraging individual play time can be helpful. Once your dog has learned basic obedience commands, you can train them to hold long down-stays while you move progressively farther away. First, your dog should be trained to perform a “down-stay” on a mat or dog bed using a specific command, such as “lie down.” Your dog may have to be gently escorted to the designated spot the first few times. Initially, they should be rewarded every 10 seconds for remaining there, then every 20 seconds, 30 seconds, and so on. Once they have figured out what is wanted, you should switch to an intermittent schedule of reinforcement [reward], as this will strengthen the learned response. Each time your dog breaks their “stay,” issue a verbal correction, indicating that there will be no reward, and then escort them back to their bed. First, your dog can be made to “down-stay” while you are in the room. Next, they can be asked to stay when you are outside of the room, but nearby. The distance and time you are away from your dog can be increased progressively until your dog can remain in a down-stay for 20 to 30 minutes in your absence. Your dog should be warmly praised for compliance. Of course, they need to accept the praise without breaking the stay. Your dog should become accustomed to being separated from you when you are home for varying lengths of time and at different times of day. You can set up child gates to deny your dog access into the room you’re occupying (i.e. reading, watching television, or cooking). Instruct your dog to lie down and stay on a dog bed outside the room. As previously mentioned, you can provide an extended-release food treat or toy to keep your dog calm and distracted. Once they are able to tolerate being separated from you by a child gate, you can graduate to shutting the door to the room so your dog cannot see you. Allowing a dog to sleep in bed with the family can increase dependence. If you decide to prevent your dog from sleeping in your bed, there are some steps to take to establish this routine. First, you need to train your dog to sleep in their own bed on the floor in your bedroom. They may have to be taken to their bed several times before they get the message that you really want them to sleep in their own bed. Alternatively, you can train your dog to enjoy sleeping in a crate to prevent unwanted excursions. Do not use a crate if it causes more anxiety and distress for your dog. Once they tolerate sleeping in their own bed in your bedroom, you can move their bed outside of the bedroom and use a child gate or barrier to keep them out. Always remember to reward your dog with praise or a food treat for remaining in their bed. Develop Departure Techniques Many owners erroneously feel that if separation is so stressful, then they should spend more time with their dog before leaving. Unfortunately, this only exacerbates the condition. Everyone in the family should ignore your dog for 15 to 20 minutes before leaving the house and for at least 10 to 20 minutes after returning home. Alternatively, your leaving can be made a highlight of your dog’s day by making it a “happy time” and the time at which they are fed. Departures should be quick and quiet. When departures (and returns) generate less anxiety (and excitement), your dog will begin to feel less tension in your absence. Remember to reward calm behavior. Teach your dog that your departure and return are just normal parts of the day and are not times to be stressed. You should attempt to randomize the cues indicating that you are preparing to leave. Changing the cues may take some trial and error. Some cues mean nothing to a dog, while others trigger anxiety. Make a list of the things you normally do before leaving for the day (and anxiety occurs) and the things done before a short time out (and no anxiety occurs).Then mix up the cues. For example, if your dog is fine when you go downstairs to do the laundry, you can try taking the laundry basket with you when you leave for work. If your dog becomes anxious when you pick up your keys or put on a coat, you should practice these things when you are not really leaving. You can, for example, stand up, put on a coat or pick up your car keys during television commercials, and then sit down again. You can also open and shut doors while you are home when you do not intend to leave. Entering and exiting through various doors when leaving and returning can also mix up cues for your dog. When you are actually leaving, you should try not to give any cues to this effect. Leave your coat in the car and put your keys in the ignition well before leaving. It is important to randomize all the cues indicating departure (clothing, physical and vocal signals, interactions with family members, other pets, and so on). The planned departure technique can be very effective for some dogs. This program is recommended only under special circumstances because it requires that you never leave your dog alone during the entire retraining period, which can be weeks or months. Timing is everything when implementing this program. If your dog shows signs of anxiety (pacing, panting, barking excessively) the instant you walk out of the door, you should stand outside the door and wait until your dog is quiet for three seconds. Then go back inside quickly and reward your dog for being calm. If you return WHEN your dog is anxious, this reinforces your dog’s tendency to display the behavior, because it has the desired effect of reuniting the “pack” members. The goal is for your dog to connect being calm and relaxed with your return. Gradually work up to slightly longer departures 5 to 10 minutes as long as your dog remains quiet, and continue in this fashion. Eventually, you should be able to leave for the day without your dog becoming anxious when you depart. When performed correctly, this program can be very helpful in resolving separation anxiety. Other Treatment Options Obedience Training Obedience training helps to instill confidence and independence in your dog. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes daily training your dog to obey one-word commands. It may be helpful to have training sessions occur in the room where your dog will be left when you are gone. All positive experiences (food, toys, sleep, training, and attention) should be associated with this area of the home. Exercise Your dog should receive 15 to 20 minutes of sustained aerobic exercise once, preferably twice, per day. It is often helpful to exercise your dog before you leave for the day. Exercise helps to dissipate anxiety and provides constructive interaction between you and your dog. It is best to allow your dog 15 to 20 minutes to calm down before you depart. Fetching a ball is good exercise, as is going for a brisk walk or run with your dog on a leash. Even if your dog has a large yard to run in all day, the aerobic exercise will be beneficial since most dogs will not tire themselves if left to their own devices. This is incredibly helpful in dogs that are working breeds that need a job to expend energy and work their brains.

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Aria
Husky
2 Years
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Aria
Husky
2 Years

After being alone for some time starts to tear up the trash and get into the food. Has adequate amount of food but still destroys other stuff as well.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Aria may be anxious being alone for extended amounts of time. It is not unusual. I will suggest two things: crating or exercise pen area, and interactive feeders. Firstly, with the crate - a dog will sometimes feel more comfortable in the home alone if they are in a safe confined space. To make an exercise pen area, see this helpful article: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/how-to-set-up-puppy-long-term-confinement-area (no need to set up a litter area). Aria may relax more in a "den" setting. As well, Huskies are extremely active and busy. Leave an interactive toy (a sturdy one made for Huskies) that will provide mental stimulation while you are gone. There are several great types on the market. When you know that you will be out for a while, give Aria only half of the normal breakfast serving. Then, the rest can be given in the feeder. Another option is the Kong. Fill it with moistened kibble and a little dog-safe peanut butter (no xylitol as it is toxic!). Freeze it, and then give it to Aria before you leave for a long lasting treat. Find a new place to keep the trash, or put it in the cupboard with a child-proof latch. You don't want Aria to get into something that is toxic or dangerous. Good luck!

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