View Full Version : Speration Anxiety - Help

7th June 2012, 09:25 AM
Am looking for some advice on how to stop my cavalier - Lady from crying and scratching my kitchen door every night at bed time. She is roughly 4-6 years of age and is a rescue dog. She has been with me for a week now and other than the night time problem she is and excellent wee thing and I love her to bits but I hate hearing her cry and throw a temper tantrum every night, plus my kitchen door is now looking the worst for wear!!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated


8th June 2012, 05:07 AM
Have you considered trying crate training? Crate training Lady could help with her separation anxiety, and save your kitchen door!!

There is a ton of information about how to do it effectively on cavaliertalk. My little guy suffers from separation anxiety too, but has become much better since we worked on the crate training. He came to us at 5 months, and was not crate trained. Before crate training, we tried leaving him just on the porch before we went out during the day (even though it was a short time). He would run from window to window and cry terribly. We slowly acclimated him to the crate, using positive reinforcement with treats like the Ian Dunbar books describe (you can find the links to his books through a search on this forum). We realized that he benefits with not seeing us leave (we put a kong towards the back of the cage, and position his crate just out of view of the door). Now, he views his crate as his haven. When we have to leave him for a bit, he jumps right into the crate and is content (we find him sleeping when we return 90% of the time).

It helped greatly with his nighttime routine as well. We would give him a treat, turn out the lights, and head to bed. We would not give him any prolonged good-night kisses or attention... simply closed the crate door and walked the other way after giving him a carrot. For the first few nights, he would cry usually for 15-30 min. We would let him cry it out, making an EXTREME effort to not give in to his cries (the first few nights I cried a bit hearing him). After a week, it eventually he stopped all together. He came to expect the routine...into the cage, get a treat, lights out. He would occasionally let us know in the middle of the night if he had to pee, but was making it through most nights without a peep! As a side note, my husband and I now let him sleep in bed with us now that he is almost a year. He was just fine in the crate, but we love his cuddles :)

8th June 2012, 08:52 AM
We had this with Leo when we first got him. My kitchen door looked very simular to yours!
We established a routine where he would get in his bed and have half a bonio biscuit.
I used to leave a radio on quietly as a bit of back ground noise. I also placed one of my T-shirts in his bed so he would smell me.
It took about a week but the whinning got less, and now he's perfect, not a peep.
It takes patience and kindness but you'll get there if you persevere.
Good luck

8th June 2012, 11:05 AM
Hi Guys
Thank you so much for the great advice. I tried closing the kitchen door a few times yesterday and leaving Lady sitting there for a few minutes in the hope that she would begin to realise that I am coming back and not leaving her forever. By tea time last night she sat in the kitchen and waited for me to return without scratching the doow down. At bed time last night I turned out the kitchen light closed the door and went to bed. After a few minutes there was a little bit of whining but she settled down within 10 minutes and there was no door scratching . Hip Hip Hoorah! Lets hope that this is the end of the door scratching. I like the idea of putting a T-Shirt in her bed so she can smell me. I might give that a try if I have to go out during the day.
Will keep you posted


8th June 2012, 03:27 PM
Hi, the advice about crate training is great however, you have 3 options here.

1. you just give up and allow him to sleep where he wants, which I'm guessing is with you

2. you go with the tried and true method of cry it out....believe me I understand this is VERY hard but it is also the best most effective way to training a child to go to bed at night as well. You are heartbroken with your dog try it with your child:yikes (adding a t-shirt well it sounds good but my Fletcher would eat the t-shirt!!!! Believe me you DO NOT want to risk that)

3. you can crate train and then go with the cry it out way....however, I think this would only add to the stress "I'm alone and I'm crated" But it will save your kitchen door. And crate training is a great idea.

Sorry there is no magic pill for this issue. Going back in to comfort him will only reward him for crying. I would try really hard to make sure he gets a good exercise session in during the early evening hours. A tired dog is a happy one. Fletcher gets a nice long walk before relax time (when the kids are in bed and its just the grown up and Fletcher time) However, since going out of town a few weeks ago and my husband being the soft puppy parent he is Fletcher has been sleeping with us at night. I don't mind that was my goal all along but he's a puppy sooooo.....

When my oldest child was going thir this stage I thought I was going to lose my mind. She's the subborn kind. I used to go the the oter end of the house, put in ear plugs, read and try to take my mind off of the LONG mins to took her to calm herself down.


8th June 2012, 07:43 PM
Being she is a rescue...and you have only had her a week...she just needs some time to adjust.
I think crate training is good..but since she is 4 - 6 yrs. old..it may be a bit harder for her to get used to if she has never dealt w/ it before. Crate training when they are pups is best.

Have you thought about maybe purshasing a pen instead & set it up in the bedroom so she can SEE you?
Then perhaps slowly move it out to your kitchen after maybe a month?...when you notice she is calm & starting to adjust?

If she is good w/ you thru the day ( try coaxing her to the pen by putting treats in there when she seems tired & ready for a nap.) Then she won't associate the pen w/ punishment.
Just never know what a rescue dog has been thru...so patience is the key.

This would work w/ the crate too..if you can get her to go in. Crates can be scary at first if they have never been in one.

Best of luck to you...please keep us updated.
Would love to see a picture as well ! ;)

9th June 2012, 01:16 PM
Hi Melissa
Thanks for the advice. We have now had two nights without Lady scratching the door and whaling like a mad thing! She seems to be more comfortable with me leaving the room, so hopefully she has settled. She goes for two walks every day and also has play time in the house and is quite happy to sleep all evening on the sofa, its just bed time that upsets her but lets hope she is getting used to her new routine and has finally realised that I am not leaving her for good!!
Our next challenge is to get her to play nicely with my sisters cavalier, we have had one or two instances where she has snapped at my sisters dog.

Anyway we are just back from a long walk on the beach and Lady is now snoring her head off!!!


9th June 2012, 01:22 PM
Thanks Diane
You are right, it is so difficult to know what a rescue dog has been through and god bless her all she wants is love and plenty of hugs. She snores really badly so I dont particularly want her in my room as I will get no sleep at all!!!! As I said to Melissa, she does seem to be getting more used to being on her own at night and I dont really want to go down the crate route as I think she is a bit old and would probably suffer more anxiety. I will perservere with the night tine routine and sure I can always paint the kitchen door , the more important thing is that she is happy. Will post a pic as soon as I get to grips with my new camera!!!

Thanks again


9th June 2012, 05:10 PM

I'm glad that Lady is settling in. It sounds sounds like she is starting to get used to her routine!

10th June 2012, 01:57 AM
Hi Melissa
Thanks for the advice. We have now had two nights without Lady scratching the door and whaling like a mad thing! She seems to be more comfortable with me leaving the room, so hopefully she has settled. She goes for two walks every day and also has play time in the house and is quite happy to sleep all evening on the sofa, its just bed time that upsets her but lets hope she is getting used to her new routine and has finally realised that I am not leaving her for good!!
Our next challenge is to get her to play nicely with my sisters cavalier, we have had one or two instances where she has snapped at my sisters dog.

Anyway we are just back from a long walk on the beach and Lady is now snoring her head off!!!


Raising/training dogs is a lot like caring teaching for children. I have not been a puppy parent for long but I know children, dogs are just as smart (I mean can understand and learn the same amount as a young child). Be consistent, firm, calm and allow time....its the best way. Changing the rules, get impatient or giving in to undesired behavior is permission and reward. Sometimes its hard and takes a LONG time.

I have no real dog advice about snapping with your sister's cavalier except do not allow it. SUPERVISION and being active in their play, you and your sister should be sitting with the dogs playing and avoid completion like don't have 2 balls have 5 or 6 plenty. Also it is also ok the tell both dogs NO!!! I Time will help I bet. Before you know it they'll be best friends.


10th June 2012, 09:37 PM
Cavaliers are know as "companion spaniels or comfort spaniels", they don't like being left alone and need human company. As suggested earlier, I would put some kind of crate in the bedroom then gradually move it out. My dogs sleep in their beds in our bedroom, it does get a bit busy if they all decide they want a cuddle at the same time.:)

11th June 2012, 05:00 PM
Sinead'..Glad to hear that Lady is doing better at night for you.
Can I give you some advice on when you take her to your sisters?..and how she re-acts to her dog?
If Lady snaps at your sister's dog again..this is what I would do. ( much as it may sound mean..it will not hurt her).
Immediately put her in a submissive position by laying her on her back in front of your sister's dog. Keep her there till she is calm. Let you sisters dog come near..smell her, etc. Lady is only doing this because she is so unsure of herself. ..but she still needs "your" leadership. Continue to do this every time she behaves badly.
Another tool to get dogs that act out aggressively ( whether it be from "fear" or some other factor)...is to take them BOTH on a walk together. Do this on a regular basis. Since dogs are pack animals...they will soon realize neither are a threat. Lady just sounds like she unfortunately has had a lack of socialization. Being she is a rescue... I doubt if the previous owner cared much. You can change it for her..and have a well-balanced dog. Try to keep her as socialized as you can. It just may take a little work.
Best of luck to you ~ hugs~

11th June 2012, 08:20 PM
While I respect that many have different training views, I cannot stress enough that I consider alpha rolls and any kind of forced, submissive positions to be absolutely abhorrent–there is plenty of evidence that they are damaging to dogs and can actually create a dangerous, fear aggressive dog. All a dog is learning by being forced into such a position in front of another dog is to be even more fear aggressive. This type of training method os advocated, unfortunately, by some of the TV trainers because they make for good TV and seem to bring quick results. And they leave a train of dogs in their wake that then end up having further problems. But this is based on totally misrepresented studies on wolves. Contemporary canine and wolf researchers have stressed again and again, that this was isolated behavior in semi domesticated wolves forced into artificially close proximity and in no way represents normal behavior. Indeed, doing rolls like this tends to be extremely aggressive behavior that creates more aggression. Dogs and wolves in the wild very rarely sink to aggression either within their packs or even between packs. I have a lot of links already posted in the training section that really debunks the mistaken theory behind this kind of approach to training and I hope that anyone who is considering using this will read more widely to understand why such an approach should be avoided.

It is not that unusual for one dog to snap at another (my Lily is a snapper, generally meaningless) –it is not necessarily a sign of aggression, and often is actually a useful and polite way in which some dogs tell another dog, often a rude dog or a more pushy dog than they care to deal with–to back off. It is not generally instigating a fight, and is rarely a dangerous precursor to anything worse. I have had plenty of dogs go through a period like this, especially if they are rescues from unknown backgrounds and may be very uneasy. All introductions, dog to dog, it should be done carefully, and if a rescue dog is uncomfortable, then I would suggest working with a CPDT qualified trainer (you can find them in your area on their website) to help work out whatever her issues are.

Without knowing the situation in which she snapped at your sister's dog, it is hard to know whether her dog is just being too pushy for your new dog, or she is uneasy around other dogs, etcm or this is just short term. Most of the time as I said, this is trivial and I'd just leave them be -- if you are having real issues then maybe talk to a good trainer for example at Dog Training Ireland for some professional advice. But really, her life has gone topsy turvy, she is being flooded with new experiences that she may find overwhelming, and she needs time to get used to all this. Snapping is defining space for an anxious or nervous dog, most of the time, and your sister's cavalier if well socialised will just give her space and they probably will be fine within the next few meetings.

Cavaliers in particular are extremely gentle and sensitive dogs, and any kind of punishment based training can absolutely break and destroy them.

I completely agree with the approach of walking dogs together to let them socialise in a neutral environment. This is what I always recommend to people whp took my rescues.

11th June 2012, 08:40 PM
Further reading:


http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/experts_say_dominance-based_dog_training_techniques_made_popular_by_tele vis


And this study:

http://drsophiayin.com/blog/entry/new_study_finds_popular_alpha_dog_training_techniq ues_can_cause_more_harm_t

The highest frequency of aggression occurred in response to aversive (or punishing) interventions, even when the intervention was indirect:
• Hitting or kicking the dog (41% of owners reported aggression)
• Growling at the dog (41%)
• Forcing the dog to release an item from its mouth (38%)
• "Alpha roll" (forcing the dog onto its back and holding it down) (31%)
• "Dominance down" (forcing the dog onto its side) (29%)
• Grabbing the jowls or scruff (26%)
• Staring the dog down (staring at the dog until it looks away) (30%)
• Spraying the dog with water pistol or spray bottle (20%)
• Yelling "no" (15%)
• Forced exposure (forcibly exposing the dog to a stimulus – such as tile floors, noise or people – that frightens the dog) (12%)
In contrast, non-aversive methods resulted in much lower frequency of aggressive responses:
• Training the dog to sit for everything it wants (only 2% of owners reported aggression)
• Rewarding the dog for eye contact (2%)
• Food exchange for an item in its mouth instead of forcing the item out (6%)
• Rewarding the dog for "watch me" (0%)

11th June 2012, 09:32 PM

I totally respect your view on training...and what you shared has some very valid points.
I am no expert...so I apologize if I have offended you..or anyone else with my opinions.
My views have come from training our dogs thru the years..and working w/ skilled obedience trainers.
I think what you said was great. If an owner feels they need help w/ their dog..then seek a skilled trainer whose methods you "agree with".

Putting a dog in a submissive posture doesn't have to mean you have them in a death grip. All it is is holding them on their side still they acheive a calm state of mind. I am sorry we disagree in that. Also... a dog "will" lay on their back in a submissive position when another dog approaches ( at times) if you watch them.

There has to be some sort of method used to show them it is NOT permissive behavior to snap..growl..or bite.
I would NEVER be "mean" or "abusive" to an animal. It is not part of my nature. So breaking a dog "spirit" is entirely contrary to what I would ever want to achieve...but I do however believe we ARE to be the leader.
In a pack..there is always a leader.

Like I shared when I came to the forum...we raised LARGE dogs most of our lives. We also had a few rottweillers.
( not that I would ever own one again..but I came to love them)
We DID put them in a submissive posture ..and it did not break their spirit. This was "only" done a few times when they acted aggressively towards another dog. And after this training.. these dogs were dogs you could have around anyone and they could be trusted. Putting a dog in a submissive posture ( on thie side or back) is in no way hurtful.
We do not believe in hitting a dog..grabbing a dog in an angry manner ( EVER!!)...that IS abuse. This method is not harse punishment IMO. We had to have control of a 140 lb dog. (A little snap at another dog doesn't go over well when it's a large breed.)
An intelligent owner can determine whether it is... like you said..their way of telling another dog to back off..or if it is actual aggression to where they want to "hurt" another dog.

Now I know that Rottweillers and Cavaliers are totally OPPOSITE in nature.
Cavaliers are a gentle breed...so I understand what you are saying.

BUT ( and this where we may disagree)...NO dog..whether small..medium or large should be allowed to snap at another dog...ever ! That's just my opinion.
Allowing such behavior gives them an "okay" to possibly act that way to a child. ( whether it is fear related or not)
And you sure do not want your dog to bite anyone.

Bottom line...> I am sorry if my post offended anyone. I truly am !

11th June 2012, 10:40 PM
My old rescue cannot be without me as well. We had to crate him because he would bark all night long trying to get into bed with us. Not that I didn't want him in bed but he tends to smother me when I am lying down. I don't know your situation but your dog will be happier in your room with you. You can try a doggie bed, or a crate. I imagine, if she is like my rescue, she will calm down once she knows you are near. We have our rescue dog's crate in the bedroom with us.

Dzee-I have owned rottweilers too, they are a great breed. I have a male rottweiler now and since finding the cavalier he may be my last but I will forever love the breed.

12th June 2012, 08:08 PM
Hi Melissa

Thanks for the advice. Lady is doing really well. She is playimg much better with her " cousin" and is generally more settled. She still gets herself worked up so plenty of postive reinforcement for good behaviour is working well and whilst she still has her naughty moments she is great fun and fantastic company. I cant get my computer to upload photos of her but as soon as I get it sorted I will post some photos