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Puppy too attached to me?


Well-known member
I know Cavaliers are velcro dogs, but my 4.5 month old puppy cries or does a high pitched bark whenever I leave the room--even when my husband and kids are in the same room with her.

I'm a stay at home mom, so I am with her more than my husband and kids who are at work and school most of the day. I do have her play with her toys by herself a few times throughout the day (while I'm in the room, of course) and she goes in the crate when I have to shower or clean in another room, etc., and if I run an errand. She will sometimes cry for a couple minutes when I leave her in the crate, but usually settles right down.

My concern is that she cries/barks at the gate when she's not even alone! If my husband or kids are playing with her and I walk out of the room, she runs to the gate and cries and barks. I'm wondering if she's too attached to me? I don't want to create a separation anxiety situation. My husband and kids play with her when they are home, so I think they are bonding. The kids have only taken her outside for pottying a couple times. My husband takes her out for her last potty of the night.

Is it just a matter of getting them more involved in her care/playing with her? Like I said, I'm with her all day, so I know its understandable that she would be most attached to me, but it seems strange that she would carry on when I leave when she has other people who she seems to love, playing with her.

Should I use the crate more with me out of the room so she gets used to being without me sometimes?? It seems I live my life in the kitchen and laundry room which are Cori's supervised areas, so she is out of the crate most of the day.

Or is all this just part of the puppy stage and she'll grow out of it?

Thanks for any advice!!

Amy :)
The only time Bosco lets out that kind of cry is when I am outside the house and chatting with the neighbors and he is indoors. The cry is so annoying (and ear piercing) that I usually just go inside and let him out with me. Not sure what I would do if he acted like that when I was in the house but out of sight.
Thanks, Joan. Yes, this is an ear piercing cry. She's been crying like that today, too, when I need to put her in the crate. As I said, I'm home all day every day and I wonder if it makes the separation worse when it does happen. We've only had her for 2 weeks now. Maybe this is something they get used to in time or as they move out of puppyhood?

I understand this breed needs to be with its owners the majority of the time, but I feel like I can't even leave the kitchen for 2 minutes. There are just some things I can't do with her tagging along or it's not safe for her. And sometimes we are going to go out for a couple hours and can't take her with us.

I guess I have to go back to crate training. It's frustrating because I spent time crate training, building up the amount of time slowly, but the 3rd day we had her, I had to take my son to an appointment and I had to leave her for an hour. We had only built up to about 30 min. at that point. Life is just so busy (and we aren't nearly as busy as most families!) and it's hard to find the time to build up the crate time slowly--especially when she doesn't tolerate it for long. Now, she's crying if I have to leave for even 2 minutes--whether she's in the crate or just in the kitchen. I give her a yummy treat which she loves and I save it for crate time, but as soon as I'm out of sight, she gets upset.

By the way, she loves the crate and goes in there on her own as long as I'm in sight.

I wonder if it would help to teach 'Quiet'? In other words, tackle the noise rather than the crate training at this point. She must need to pause for breath occasionally, at which point you jump in with the word 'Quiet' and a reward. If she starts to get the idea, then extend it to 'quiet' and walk out of the door and back again, then slowly increase the time you are out of sight, always going back and rewarding her.Then move on to a short time in the crate, where again you go briefly out of sight but she still needs to be quiet and get rewarded for it. Tiresome and time consuming, I'm afraid! I don't think this level of separation anxiety is typical of Cavaliers - mine seem to work on the philosophy that life is going to be uneventful until a human reappears, so we might as well go to sleep!

Kate, Oliver and Aled
Thanks for your reply, Kate. I have been praising her when she gets quiet, just as you described, but only for a few days. Maybe we need more time. It *is* quite time consuming. I guess I'll have to work on it more.

I'm worried about this level of separation anxiety, too--whether it's normal Cavalier puppy behavior or not. She does seem to be extremely exuberant in personality. The breeder told us she thought she'd be a handful. Oh boy...

Amy :)
It seems I live my life in the kitchen and laundry room which are Cori's supervised areas, so she is out of the crate most of the day.
Amy :)

You may also want to crate her even when you are in the room to get her more comfortable in the crate. Give her a favorite toy or a long chew like a bully stick. You can be busy, and she will still be able to see you. Cori may even end up taking a nap. Just like babies, puppies need naps too! After a few days, you could leave the room for a minute or two and just work at leaving her longer.

How does she do at bed time? Any crying or fussing then?

Let us know how it goes.
It is very normal for a dog to bond with the person who is around most and does most of the main tasks like feeding, training etc. Also a puppy this young is simply showing a basic survival skill -- it cries when you leave the room partly as an ingrained behaviour related to not being abandoned by a parent.

There are many ways to start to address this (but frankly I would not be overly worried that such a young pup is doing this... :) -- nonetheless it is a sign that it's time to make sure you don't end up with a dog overly bonded to one person nor that you accidentally encourage and reinforce such behaviour).

If you are the person that gets up and feeds the pup all its meals, have this job rotate around the family. Even if someone prepare the food for kids to feed, say, let someone else start to be the one associated with food. Let them pick up the bowl. Let them start to do little walks with the puppy and do basic puppy training (if you haven't downloaded Dr Ian Dunbar's free After You Get Your Pupoy from the downloads section of www.dogstardaily.com, you should do that. Also pinned to the training section are lots of links to great dog training sites. www.dogsintheruff.com is great on puppy training for example) too and Dog Star Daily is full of articles and videos etc on puppy trainiing).

Crate training is a useful tool but what you really want is a dog that can be left alone for longer and longer periods, sometimes in a separate room out of eyesight of anyone. Ian Dunbar does go through managing this process. The key thing is to get a dog that can focus attention on, say, a stuffed Kong or other feeding toy (be sure to subtract the amount of food given in a kong from daily meals -- though Dunbar suggests feeding ALL meals using a kong as well). A dog that can focus on a favourite mind-engaging toy will be a lot happier left in a crate or in a room. This kind of gradual training should start around this age. But keep in mind that puppies are naturally distressed if "abandoned" as they see it) so you really need to start with very small increments of time.

Here's a podcast from the Dunbars about introducing Kongs etc to manage what is sometimes called separation anxiety(though the term is quite overused...).

Just wanted to say thanks for all the advice. After much patience and slow, incremental leaving times, Cori is doing much better when I leave the room now. She still whimpers, but only for a minute and it's not the ear piercing crying. We've got other issues, though. LOL I'll start a new thread for that. :rolleyes: