Welcome to PetForums

Join thousands of other pet owners and pet lovers on the UK's most popular and friendly pet community and discussion forum.

Sign Up

Preventing seperation anxiety with Cavachon puppy

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Ceca, Mar 14, 2021.


  1. Ceca

    Ceca PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2021
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi everyone,

    Hoping someone has some advice. We have an almost 14 week Cavachon which we've had since she was 8 weeks old. She's great in every way but she's quite clingy which I've been told is a) normal for small puppies b) common for Cavachons. We are however very aware that life will at some point go back to normal and we'll have to return to work at least a couple of days a week. So I'm super aware of making sure she doesn't develop seperation anxiety. So far I've tried the following:

    1. She hated her crate but now tolerates her crate + playpen at night. Crate is covered and had a nice cosy bed and opens up to a playpen in which we have some water and a peepad just in case. We give her all her meals in that area and sometimes play games in there. Lots of treats whenever she chooses to go in there herself. She would still never choose to just hang out and chill in there. When I give her a kong or a toy in there, she takes it and then leaves her area to eat it somewhere else. After weeks of doing this, I feel like she'd still rather be anywhere else than in there.

    2. Because of this she never chills or naps in there during the day. I have tried to leave her alone in the living room downstairs every now and then when she's eating so she doesn't immediately try to protest when I leave the room. That works for a bit but it works because she probably doesn't realize I'm gone. I'm having a real challenge doing the alone time training since she doesn't even like to be in her pen for a little bit.

    3. Every now and then she wakes up way too early and I put her back in her area to get some more sleep after bringing her outside to toilet. She usually wakes up around 6 but last night for example it wasn't even 5 yet I can see her distress through the doggy camera in her pen when I do that. I try to let her cry it out as to not enforce the whining but it's just getting worse. Not sure if this is an extinction burst or if I'm making it worse by doing this. Leaving a kong does nothing, she just ignores that and tries to escape on and off for an hour or so. She did manage to escape 2 times before we put a roof on her pen so the memory of that "reward" probably keeps her going now. This morning she cried for 45 minutes on and off before going quiet for a bit and then crying again at 6 at which point we decided to go down and let her out since it's more her usual wake up time. It's important to note that she's just crying for us at this point, since she already had gone toilet. Whenever we do let her cry it out a bit she seems even more needy and agitated during the day.

    I'm not sure what to do anymore. Is she maybe still too young to do alone time training? Or is she just a very clingy dog, I think she's too young to already have seperation anxiety, but how do we prevent that? How can we get her to wake up later as well?

    Thanks for reading!
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    10,428
    Likes Received:
    23,073
    I'm afraid leaving her to cry it out is old fashioned advice, and is only reinforcing that being in her pen, or alone, or whatever, is a bad thing and nobody comes to rescue her. It certainly won't make the pen and crate into the happy place you want it to be.

    At this stage, meeting her emotional needs is just as important as meeting her physical needs. I'd suggest having her bed in your room for a while so.you can reassure her and settle her. It doesn't have to be forever, once she is sleeping through the night you can start to move her bed, in stages, towards the room you want her to use.

    By you being there for her, you won't make her clingy, you will help her develop her confidence by protecting her from the scary night time and she will grow in confidence as she learns there is nothing to fear. You are not ”rewarding her crying,” you are meeting a fundamental need of an infant.

    Hopefully you wouldn't leave a child who was afraid of the dark to cry themselves to sleep, alone. Your puppy is the same. The dogs that stop crying don't do so because they suddenly realise everything is ok, they do it because they have given up hope. It is an extreme example but in trauma victims, it's the silent ones who are most damaged.

    This article explains the science behind it.

    http://www.simplybehaviour.com/letting-dog-cry-cause-permanent-damage/

    It is a good idea to start helping her develop independence soon though, and Emma Judson's Flitting Game, described about ⅔ of the way down this link is a good way to start.

    https://www.thecanineconsultants.co.uk/post/separation-anxiety-fact-vs-fiction

    From the Flitting Game you can progress to leaving the hose for two minutes or so, then come back. Or less, if she can't tolerate two minutes. And build up from there. The key to avoiding SA is to be back before the dog becomes distressed.
     
    Burrowzig, Sairy, O2.0 and 4 others like this.
  3. Ceca

    Ceca PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2021
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the reply! We actually had her in our room for 2 weeks until the vet recommended to keep her where we want her in the long run before socialization ends and to let her cry it out. She's pretty fine with it at night time, barely whines when we put her down then, it's just the times whenever she does wake up early she cries for us. She falls back asleep when we're with her downstairs then until about 7 or 8 so she's just crying for company in the mornings and not because she's super awake.

    I don't think we should have her back in our room now when we've actually made quite a lot of progress. I was hoping after a month she now knows we won't leave her forever and that we always come back.

    Thank you for the links, will check it out!
     
  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    10,428
    Likes Received:
    23,073
    Vets are great for diagnosing and fixing physical stuff. But they are not behaviourists.
     
    Sairy, Lurcherlad, Sarah H and 4 others like this.
  5. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2017
    Messages:
    14,393
    Likes Received:
    35,574
    How long is she in her crate over night you say she’s ‘just’ crying for company but she’s a tiny baby to them we are their whole world. Now it’s lighter my two are up earlier. You are aware she’s not keen on her crate but tolerates it this isn’t ideal. I would go back to basics with night time routine keep her close and slowly move away.
     
    Sairy, Lurcherlad, Sarah H and 2 others like this.
  6. Emlar

    Emlar PetForums Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2020
    Messages:
    183
    Likes Received:
    255
    Our puppy is 4 months and sleep downstairs on his own. Most nights he is great, but some nights he has an accident or something wakes him up. He will then cry or howl for us to come down, which we always do, and after a bit of reassurance he settles off to sleep. I'm definitely not an expert as he is our first pup, but we want him to know that we've got his back and if he's upset we will comfort him. I reckon that'll make him more confident and independent in the long run.... hopefully!!!
     
    Sairy, Lurcherlad, Calvine and 2 others like this.
  7. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Messages:
    13,505
    Likes Received:
    16,159
    As the others have said, leaving her to cry only teaches her that you are not going to come save her. This is going to create the separation anxiety you are trying to avoid. Think about it. She cries because she is scared or unhappy. You come and see to her, she is happy and reassured.

    Or. She cries because she is scared or unhappy and no one comes. She is always going to be afraid to be alone, because no one ever comes.

    I'd bring her back to your room for a few weeks, make that crate a cozy safe place not a lonely place where no one ever comes.
     
  8. Ceca

    Ceca PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2021
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the replies and advice!

    To be honest we won't be taking her back to our room since most nights she does go to sleep without issues and that took a lot of work. She just wakes up early, but I'll continue doing what I did before and go down when she calls in the morning and try to sleep a bit more downstairs with her. To be honest I usually do enjoy the snuggle time, but I worry that it's getting earlier and earlier and was concerned we were maybe rewarding her to get up earlier. She's fed at 8ish usually. She wakes up before sunrise every day, but in summer it gets light here at 5 already so that's definitely a concern.

    She is usually put in her crate + playpen at 23h ish, but she usually already naps before that on the rug or couch. So that's about 6 to 7 hours in her little area overnight.

    The reason we tried to just put her back sometimes is that she's a light sleeper and we have creaky stairs. When we've waited for her to settle before for about 15 minutes, the moment you make any type of noise to go back upstairs she shoots up wide awake again. As you can imagine this gets old quickly at 4 or 5am in the morning.

    I think even adult dogs (especially the companion dog kind) if given the choice would choose to sleep in our room (or even better, our bed!) if they could so I think it's challenging to know when you can transition them down because we do want her to sleep downstairs in the future.

    For people who have done this before, at what point do you know it's time to get the dog to sleep downstairs?
     
  9. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2016
    Messages:
    10,428
    Likes Received:
    23,073
    You do it in stages. A few nights outside your bedroom door, a few nights at the top of the stairs, a few nights at the foot of the stairs - if she cries at any time you are going too fast and need to go back to the previous step for a few more nights.
     
    lorilu, Sairy and Lurcherlad like this.
  10. Ceca

    Ceca PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2021
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks

    Oh I forgot to mention when we started putting her downstairs, we didn't just do that but slept next to her crate and playpen for the first couple of nights. After that we went upstairs after she had fallen asleep and she's accepting this now at night time, just not in instances when she does wake up early. Perhaps we need to start sleeping next to her crate again when this happens.

    Just want to clarify that it was a process and it did in fact happen in stages since we got her (first in our room, then we slept downstairs etc.) so that's why I'm really hesitant bringing her back to the room because it means all our work was for nothing.
     
  11. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2016
    Messages:
    6,689
    Likes Received:
    21,090
    With the lighter mornings have you tried covering her crate with a dark blanket to keep it darker for longer in there?
     
    Lurcherlad likes this.
  12. Ceca

    Ceca PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2021
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Her crate is half covered so I will try that. But she always wakes up just before sunrise when it's still dark out. I think it might be the seagulls making noise as we live by the sea.
     
  13. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2016
    Messages:
    6,689
    Likes Received:
    21,090
    Yes it could well be the birds waking her. There isn't a lot you can do about that really. Maybe after she has had her early morning get-up bring her upstairs to bed with you.
     
  14. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2009
    Messages:
    18,522
    Likes Received:
    12,575
    It will, unless you black the room out. Dogs naturally wake with the light.
    Bird noise won't help.
     
  15. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2009
    Messages:
    13,505
    Likes Received:
    16,159
    You might try leaving a radio playing softly all night. This will allow her to get used to background noise, and maybe the gulls won't seem so noticeable to her.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice