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Christine King

Sugar

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Hello, I have rescued a 11yo Kelpie from animal welfare a week ago. That's not a long time, I know,  but I have never had a dog before and she (Sugar) has separation anxiety. She grew up, as I understand it, on a farm, and from the way she was chasing a friend's dog and nipping at his heels she has been a sheep dog. She looked in her element that day. She is a gorgeous old girl. But when I leave her alone she barks and sometimes cries. I am epileptic and so proper sleep is ESSENTIAL. I had the idea that she would sleep outside or in the lounge room, but no. She has to sleep right at the foot of my bed and she makes all those noises dogs make and snores as well! It disturbs my sleep and I am very worried I will end up in danger of having a fit, which would also mean I would have to not drive. I need to get her into the lounge room at night when I sleep and that includes having my bedroom door closed, so I don't have to wear eye coverings and earplugs. The stress of training her into her new environment is affecting me. I don't want to take her back to the animal welfare (and I'm a long way from doing that), but it may be the only solution in the long term. I bought her a thunder jacket and just tried that on her. That was OK until it came to taking it off her - she freaked at the noise of the Velcro and kept backing away from me. I'm afraid I've done more harm than good with that thunder jacket. I'm sure she'll be OK in a few hours, though. I walk her every day, we have a routine. I give her love and affection but am also aware that commands are a different thing and that there is a need to be assertive when I give her commands. She is very obedient for the most part, knows "come" , "OK",  "stay" , "wait", "in the car", "no", "lie down" and "outside". She sits down on the floor if you open up the door to let her out to relieve herself, to let you know she doesn't need to go. She knows to sit and wait for the OK command before eating her food. She follows me everywhere, and does seem to be less anxious when I go to the bathroom and close the door than she was a week ago. She is perfectly calm sitting in the car and enjoys her walks. I let her off the lead whenever I can so she can have a run. I live alone and have no other animals, and have no intention of getting any more. I need, at some point in the future, to be able to leave her alone at home for a few hours here and there without being upset. I wonder if that will ever be possible, or should I just give her back now before it becomes even sadder for her. She has definitely bonded with me, but only licks me occasionally, only wags her tail occasionally. A lot of the time she looks afraid, unsure, scared, but not aggressive with it. She has nipped me a few times, but not bitten. I really want this to work, for my sake and hers. She really is a beautiful dog. Hoping for some suggestions.

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

I'd be contacting the rescue group you got her from, and asking about the behaviour.  It's worrying that she is nipping you.  It sounds more fear based, but I'm concerned that the rescue group  let you adopt a breed that is a working dog, when you have your own issues to deal with. 
 

I'm sure some more experienced people will come in to reply, did she come from a foster carer or straight from the pound situation?  It sounds like you are doing all the right things, my own dog is better with the thundershirt on, but hates the noise of the velcro being undone.... it has lessened over the years, but she still dislikes it.

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"Certified Mutt Case"?! I love it!! Sugar spent her whole 11 years of life on a farm (I am pretty sure) before both of her owners had a stroke.  That stuff started in September last year, but not sure when the second owner got sick. Someone looked after her for a while after both her owners were unable to, not sure how long for. Then that person surrendered her to the animal welfare, giving a list of the commands she knows, etc. This is what I was told from the list they gave the rescue people: excellent with young kids; likes being with other dogs; would chase cats but doesn't; trained to wee on command of "be clean"; must sit before food and eats on command "OK"; eats mainly dried food with occasional chicken necks and some vegetables; likes being with men; knows to wait to be invited through open door. Plus the commands I spoke about before. I called the rescue group 3 days after I got her in despair. They said that "unfortunately" (I hate that word) separation anxiety is common in these situations and that as far as they were aware she didn't have any problem with sleeping on her own in the cage she was in. But they wouldn't, would they? They weren't there at night! They said they would contact the person who surrendered Sugar to them and give that person my number and ask them to PLEASE contact me. But they haven't heard from that person and neither have I. I'm thinking maybe a crate is an idea. I shuddered when I first read about crate training, but was I thinking like a human? Do dogs cope with being in a crate? For reasonable amounts of time, of course. I'm supposed to think like a dog. Fair enough. But I wish people  knew how to think like an epileptic. 

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RuralPug   

My foster dogs all sleep in crates indoors every night, they are fine with it. Most dogs are fine with sleeping in crates if introduced properly to them and especially if given their meals in their crates.

Here is an article about introducing your dog to a crate and getting them to accept the crate in a single weekend.

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