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How to Whisper and Listen to Your Dog part 2

To really understand your dog and to become your dog’s best friend , it’s very important not to make the assumption that dogs are all alike.

Making assumptions, especially assumptions about the causes of behavior leads to bad consequences. When I adopted Sasha she was about 1 year old and had been in 2 shelters. All the standard advice was to accustom her to being in a crate at night or whenever I was not at home.

Those who have been following these posts know that Sasha comes to work with me, so it was not often necessary to place her in a crate during the day.

Nighttime was a different story, so I tried to do what the experts said. The result was disastrous. I’ll write about the details another time. The short version is that the experts –all except one very experienced trainer from whom I learned a great deal–insisted that Sasha had what they called “separation anxiety,” and that she would gradually get used to being in the crate.

I tried confining her to one room instead of in the crate: disaster again.

Nothing improved until we threw out the assumption that every dog who acts up when crated has separation anxiety. It turned out that Sasha is perfectly happy being left alone for a couple of hours as long as she is not confined. When I leave her, for example to meet with a client who has allergies, she has the run of the whole house. She is not destructive. She doesn’t have accidents. She jumps up on the sofa and sleeps. She’s happy to see me when I get home, but not frantic. She doesn’t have separation anxiety; what she has is confinement anxiety. The crate wasn’t solving problems: it was creating problems.

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