Such a thing as "Confinement Anxiety"?

  • You may remember some of my previous posts about our basenji Griffin. We've been dealing with a severe case of separation anxiety for months now. After trying every possible trick out there (pheromones, leaving the TV on, diapers, etc. - you name it, we tried it), we resorted to medication and put him on Clomicalm. That helped a little, but we were still dealing with accidents during a majority of the week. Well, last weekend, we tried something complelely unconventional…we left him loose in the house and not gated in his 4' x 3' area outside of our bedroom. It's been almost a full week and we have not had one accident yet. And what's even better is that he is completely calm when we come home and no destruction in the house what so ever! Before we could only leave him for 3 hours at most before an accident and at one point this week, we were gone for almost 6 hours and nothing was waiting for us when we got home.

    Now, Griffin is a rescue. We got him when he was only 9 months old and at that point, we were his 4th home. Apparently, he was locked up in a small bedroom in his first home and then bounced from one foster home to another and was crated most of the time. I'm wondering if he doesn't like to be confined because of his previous history and if he has just been looking for some freedom?

    I know I'm probably going to get a lot of people telling me that he would be better off in a crate or gated, but giving him freedom is what seems to be working and at this point, I want to use what works.

    Has anyone else experienced a claustrophobic dog? Is there any such thing as confinement anxiety?

  • My Max pretty much had the run of the house (and the backyard through his dog door). One time he accidentally shut himself up in a bedroom when I wasn't home (I had to start putting door stops in the doors so that he couldn't do this again). He destroyed everything in the room–tore the drapes off the wall--destroyed the phone--fortunately there wasn't that much in the room at the time. I'm sure he did this because of anxiety from being confined in a room. He never did that kind of thing when he had the whole house. But also--he was not overly destructive and was not a digger or climber/jumper. The two new basenjis I recently adopted do much better when they're not confined in an X-pen or crate. For now, they stay in a bedroom in my house when I'm not there with a dog door to an enclosed area in the backyard. Instead of putting them in an X-pen in the room after they tried to chew their way out of it, I put the X-pen around my desk/bookcase. Tyler and Zoey are much happier with the desk/bookcase confined instead of them being confined 🙂 This has been working out very well.

  • It makes sense to me. I have heard of other dogs with the same issue. Glad you found a solution. It's too bad he had to go through 4 homes to figure it out.

  • Sugar just hates to be confined to a crate. I've had her from a puppy, so I'm sure it was an anxiety thing. She would poop, eat it and scream for her life. She is slowly getting better. I've found the best thing I've done with her is to feed her in the crate. I first fed her with the door open, then closed and now finally shut tight. She has to wait until the other dogs are done their meals to get out, and she's getting better everyday.

  • Well, I don't know if it is claustrophobia, but we definitely have a dog who absolutely hates to be crated. He never worked himself up enough to urinate or defecate in his anger at being crated…but he did just about everything else, including destroying plastic crates, and his teeth. We found that he was reliable in the house when he was between 1 and 2 years old, and we never went back to crating him when we leave. He still must ride a crate in the car and at a hotel, and he barely tolerates it....

    Same thing, he doesn't care when we leave as long as he isn't in the it isn't separation anxiety per se...but I guess I would call it crate anxiety.

  • Manning had a similar experience with the crate. He started out just crying in the crate but then he turned into the little tasmanian devil inside the crate. He even started ripping up the plastic bottom piece in the crate (I now only have half of that piece left). So I did the same thing and left him out. I was a little nervous about leaving him out with the cats so I locked them in the room I keep all their cat stuff in. When I came home Manning had figured out how to open the door into the cat room and everyone was hanging out together on the rug at the front door. After that we discontinued use of the crate with no problems. I think its a great training tool but I'm with you…Manning is so much better without it.

  • I've always left mine loose in the house with a dog door out to the back yard. They're OK. The only time there was a problem was if there were health issues. I have a large thermal bed cover on the couch they crawl under and sleep. The couch is a cheap thing but I have another cover over that just in case of throw up. It's easy to wash.

  • Mine are all crate trained, but during the day I have a dog room with a doggy door outside so that they didn't need to be crated… Well, it didn't start out to be dog room...gggg, but works great....

  • When we just had Lexi, she refused to sleep in her crate. She would pee, poop, roll in it- throw it out every corner of the crate and have it all over her all the while shrieking like a woman being murdered. It was so unbelievable that such a cute LITTLE puppy could incessantly make that kind of racket. She eventually won the battle of getting to sleep in the bed… for a while.

    If Lexi is crated alone, she used to destroy anything she was close enough to touch. When my husband and his dobie entered the picture, we crated the two dogs together and they LOVED it. Neither would destroy anything and they always used each other for pillows. It was very cute. My parents have our dobie now as we moved to a tiny apt 700 miles away... so we went back to just one dog until last February when we rescued Miles.

    Miles howls like MAD when you crate him. He used to pee just by being inside the crate- before you even shut the door. But we have gotten him to the point (with treat training) that he will energetically get in his crate. We haven't gotten him to quit howling after he eats his treat though. Neither dog is destructive in their crates anymore, but I would definitely say that there are a lot of Basenji's with crate anxiety as well as separation anxiety.

    I would love to be able to leave our dogs out in the house, but I absolutely would never try it. I did that several years ago with Lexi & the Dobie and it was a very expensive mistake-- bye bye every set of blinds in the house- pulled down and shredded, bye bye entire couch-- back ripped open and all the fluff pulled out, bye bye duvet/comforter--holes galore. But those are just my dogs. So... they get the crate.

  • Keoki SCREAMS and tears up everything in his crate when crated alone. When he is in Jazzy's crate he goes right to sleep.

    My problem is: While she didn't complain about it at first, lately I hear her complaining at him in the crate. I don't think she is as crazy about sharing as he is anymore. Also, she is scheduled to be spayed this month, and I'm not sure he should be in there w/her for the days following surgery.

    I think I'll crate him alone for short periods in the day time and try to transition him to nights alone, but honestly, I am pretty sure it ain't gonna work, LOL.

  • She does need her peace and quiet after the spay…. and she most likely thinks he is getting to old and big to sleep with her... I used to have Maggii and OJ together as pups, but when they hit 12 wks, she kick him out... with a "get your own crate!"

  • Jazzymom, I know Jazzy will have to have her space after the spay so this may not be much help but what about an ex-pen?

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