Dear Dr. Diane, We have a 10-week-old female Westie who hates the crate and when we leave for work she barks (I think) all the time. At least my neighbors hear her barking from outside. When I come inside she is so shook up and barks uncontrollable. I bought a spray that is suppose calm her down. I have used it twice so far. Should she be allowed to sleep anywhere she wants when we are home or should she sleep in her crate while we are home, too? She has taken awhile to sleep in it at night but finally adjusted to it at night. She really must stay in her crate while we are away because our house is not set up to fence her in a room. Please help!
As your Westie is doing well in her crate at night, it is my assessment that she is suffering from separation anxiety. Whenever you are home with her, she is comfortable. When you leave her alone, she misses you and becomes fearful, anxious, nervous or upset.
Make her crate as comfortable and “homey” as possible. Get her accustomed to entering her crate by giving her treats and rewarding her with a positive response each time she enters it. Leave some articles of your clothing that have your scent in the crate along with some of her favorite chew toys (a Kong filled with peanut butter or cheese) may keep her occupied for a while.
Begin letting her in and out of the crate in short increments – gradually lengthening the time she spends in there. Leave her in there, leave the room, and even the house, and then return – lengthening the time you are away from her as long as possible. She will grow used to the concept that you will return to her.
If possible, when you are away, have a friend or neighbor check up on her and let her out to play and go potty during the day. Leave your television or radio on to a station that offers soothing and calming programming.
Dr. Pomerance is an animal behavior specialist and an expert on topics such as deciding which puppy is best for your family, how to pick out a rescue, and on healing from the loss of a pet.
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