Number of Pets: 1
Pet Type: Dog
Pet Breed: Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd
From: Boston, MA
To: Lugano, Switzerland
I want to move to Switzerland after I graduate from college in 2015. I got my dog Ella in January of 2012 when she was three months old. I tried to no avail to crate train her, and unfortunately she hates being in enclosed spaces and has severe separation anxiety. So crating her ended with her gums bleeding and her destroying crates.
How can I successfully crate train my puppy? Also, if you have advice for her separation anxiety (the only thing that worked was pills plus another dog, but buying another dog is not an option for me at this point) I would greatly appreciate it.
This is an important question! Crate training can be a very difficult, time-consuming process, but it is also the best way to prepare your pet for travel. Unfortunately, it sounds like your dog might have built up some negative associations with her crate. This behavior can most likely be modified, but it will take lots of time, patience, and positive reinforcement of good behaviors.
Because your dog has an unpleasant history with her crate, it is best to start at the very beginning. Place the bottom half of her (airline-approved) crate in the middle of the room she most likes to hang out in. Be sure to put familiar bedding and toys in the crate bottom and reward her whenever she shows interest in or lays down in the crate. Once she becomes comfortable with the bottom, attach the top of the crate (but not the door) and repeat the process of rewarding her for going into the crate. Once she can do this confidently, add the door and repeat the process. Eventually you should be able to get her to stay in the crate with the door closed for increasingly long periods of time, and she should see the crate as a safe, pleasant space.
Getting your dog comfortable with her crate should help to reduce her separation anxiety. In addition, check out these tips for reducing separation anxiety in dogs. If you are currently giving your dog sedatives to treat her anxiety, know that you will not be able to sedate her during her flight, as doing do can be dangerous.