The Most Dog Friendly Community Online
Join Dog Forum to Discuss Breeds, Training, Food and More

New Aus labradoodle - can't be alone & have I poisoned the crate already?


New Member
Reaction score

Join our free community today.

Connect with other like-minded dog lovers!

Login or Register
Hi everyone. Extremely guilty new puppy owner here. My name is Lee and me and my Wife Becky picked up our Australian Labradoodle - Dug - on Saturday morning and have had 2 full days with him and 3 full nights so far.

He is unbelievably adorable and extremely intelligent. I think we have him toilet trained already where we're getting all number 2s outside and 9 out of 10 wees outside with the indoor wee being on a puppy pad.

One thing he absolutely isn't picking up - being left alone when not asleep in the day and crucially, not sleeping at all at night without us - which I've gone and made stupidly worse I fear.

So lets start with day and nights 1&2 - we have a crate that is in our kitchen and we had heard all the horror stories of fear of crate, fear of gate closed etc. Well, our boy didn't have it!! We put his Mum's blanket in the crate and hid some treats and he went straight in. After a few hours we were crating him up and he was sleeping for hours in it. He'd wake up, give a little whimper and we'd let him out and he'd be fine.

Then, night time came. So I should say we are trying our hardest to crate train where he is going to sleep in the kitchen as an adult. We've made the decision that our bedroom is our private area (our human crate I guess) and therefore we never want the dog in our room with us. I hope this doesn't make us seem cold.

However, I know this means we need to make allowances and go the other way if he's not allowed in the bedroom. That means Me on an airbed by the crate! He cried around every 45 minutes, then settled himself for 15-30 minutes sleep, then would cry. I let him out every time in the garden with no love or fuss to do his business. I soon learned that he is not crying for the toilet. I've already worked out that he only needs 1 wee between the hours of 10pm-7am (his bedtime) and that wee is generally about 4am.

But here's the issue. The more time I spend with him, the less he can be left alone at all. We aren't crating him when awake in the day because we have a big kitchen with nothing that can harm him and we have a see-through fence panel to our hallway and rest of the house. If we're standing even in full view of him but the other side of the fence, he now screams blue murder.

That brings us to the worst night yet and where I think I've broken our dog - night 3 (Sunday 20th November). With my Wife going back to the Office today and me working from home, we can no longer tag in and out. I mentioned I sleep on the kitchen floor and get woken up every 30-45 minutes by Dug so at 7am the first 2 days, she comes downstairs, tags me out and I get to go to bed from 7am-11am uninterrupted whilst she plays with him. Of course, this now had to stop because I am working from home today whilst she goes into the Office so we both need to be rested.

So on advice from other dog owners, Google, even the Breeder to an extent, we were told he's completely happy in the house, he absolutely loves his new parents thankfully, he seems to have forgotten his birth-Mum and siblings already. He knows he's in a safe place, both of us should go up to bed, he'll cry and scream and then settle. He might then get up an hour later and cry again, maybe that's time for a toilet break but nothing more. But essentially, he's had 2 full nights of me asleep next to his crate, he knows he's safe now so he should be okay eventually. This was the theory and advice.

Well, we put him in his crate and locked the door at 10pm. Sat with him for a bit until he stopped whimpering but he wasn't asleep. We then went upstairs to our bed. By the time we had left the kitchen he was screaming loudly. We then laid in our bed waiting for him to eventually tucker out. We went from 10pm until 11pm with constant, house-shaking screaming. He then must've passed out for around 20 minutes from exhaustion. Then at 11:20 to 12:20 he was screaming and crying and showing no signs of letting up.

I couldn't leave him anymore. I can't even say I was being selfless and say for his sake or because we felt bad. But my wife needed sleep to be able to commute to the Office and I didn't see the sense in none of the 3 of us sleeping. I went down and let him out for a wee. He then came back in and he was all over me, burying himself into me. After a few minutes and after the crying had stopped, I popped him in his crate and got the air mattress and put it right next to the crate. But this time, different! I've poisoned the crate. My head being about 2 foot away from him and my hand in the crate wasn't enough for him now. Eventually after 10 minutes, I opened the door, he got on the air mattress with me and then proceeded to sleep like a log until 4am, quick wee then slept soundly again cuddled into me until breakfast time at 7am.

At 730 this morning, I walked out of the kitchen to say goodbye to my Wife, he was in full view of both us through the puppy gate and it was literally 5 seconds and he was howling. He now has separation anxiety and I think I've broke him with the 2 hours of screaming.

He now won't go near his crate which he was going in fine for naps in the day. We've had 2 dinner events already, with my parents over on Sunday and friends over on Monday lunch and he slept straight through in the crate for hours. Now he is by my feet as I type this and prepare to work from home for the day. He used to be okay being left when fully asleep but now if I get up and go to the bathroom, go and brush my teeth, go and grab my laptop from upstairs - all less than 1 minute he's howling the house down.

So 2 things - I think I've poisoned the crate because he doesn't see it as a safe space even with me in the kitchen now. I'd be okay with him sleeping in the whole kitchen as its safe. It's essentially a large X-pen. But now because I left him so long crying, I can't even move out the room without major separation anxiety.

Finally, Dug is 8 weeks old. Everything in every book etc says start crate training/separation training immediately but is this wrong? I found an obscure bit of info on Reddit this morning that said it's hard wired in them to scream along until about 16 weeks anyway. If it's a case of we simply cannot sleep in separate rooms from him until 16 weeks, we can pause all sorts of crate training until that age but I'm not convinced that's right.
I put a link in your other post with recommended reading for puppies - it's here too - Useful Links & Recommended Reading

The crate training is a great piece written by a behaviourist who specialises in separation anxiety and explains it really well. It's fine to start crate training now (using that guidance) but I wouldn't leave him alone yet.

I'd suggest you read the 'First Few Nights' piece first for more about that.

What's really important to remember is that your puppy isn't unusual. If humans didn't intervene, puppies would be with their mother and littermates for many, many more months. Infants of any species are hard wired to feel afraid when they are alone in the night, the fear is there to protect them from being too brave and getting into trouble. Or eaten ...

What you read on Reddit is plain wrong. If a dog is screaming, it's because he is afraid. If he is afraid, he isn't going to settle to sleep, the fear is a far too powerful emotion, he simply is unable to relax enough to settle. At this stage, you need to be there for him to reassure him. Your reassurance is what will teach him that he has nothing to fear (because you will take care of everything) and that's where the confidence to be alone comes from. If you don't want him in your room, you will need to prepare yourself for sleeping in the kitchen for a bit longer.

Please have a look at these threads and do come back to us if you have any questions or think your situation is different. In fact, come back to us anyway, with pictures!
Also, for his anxiety about being separated from you during the day, please read this: Separation anxiety, specifically the section Start at the Beginning. It's fine, and normal, for him to want to follow you around the house, including to the loo, at first. Eventually he will realise that he doesn't need to do this, but he needs to feel safe at every stage.
Can only echo both of the above. Dug has been away from his mum and litter mates only a few days, being on his own is going to be scary and he will feel vulnerable, you have to remember he is still a baby! If you spend the time with him now to reassure him he will gain in confidence, this will be a great foundation from which you can build your relationship and training. Puppy's are hard work, no two ways about it, and they need to feel secure.
Also a vote from me re photos!!:)
I agree with the above : your puppy will be missing his mum and siblings terribly. A human being is a poor substitute, sadly. I do feel for you and your wife and am in awe of the efforts you've made, such as sleeping on the floor!

I don't think that's necessary though. I do think your boundaries on the dog's access to you are too strong. I suggest you always allow - but not necessarily encourage - your dog to sleep at night wherever they feel safe, and that will sometimes be with you or at least near your bedroom. You represent familiarity and safety, and it's just not reasonable to expect a very young dog to disregard that and to sleep alone somewhere that feels lonely and dangerous.

Every dog who has lived with me (and there have been a lot, over 20) has slept near me but, with the exception of three dogs, has eventually chosen to sleep elsewhere, often downstairs, but also just outside the bedroom, on the stairs and even in the bathroom. I never use crates, except for safe transport in a car. A crate has no place in a home that is shared with a dog, in my opinion, altjough I am a fan of stairgates

I believe dogs can make these choices if they are supported to feel confident and to have agency in other areas of their lives: choices of what to eat, where to walk, what to do, who to be with. Importantly, my dogs have all had unlimited access to me whenever I am at home. This brings reassurance and complete trust, to the point that they don't need to follow me around or get anxious if I go out.
I think that's something to aim for, but also encourage you to read the advice on isolation distress. One word of warning: do not use food to distract your dog when you are going out. I have known several dogs who developed food refusal because offering food, especially a stuffed Kong, trigged fear of isolation.

Good luck! Remember dogs are social animals who live in families, and their ideal situation is never to be alone.
Thank you everyone for the kind messages. We are trying! As requested, here's some pics of Dug:

Dug 1.jpg
dug 2.jpg
Wow, he is super cute!! Lovely:D
An absolute darling. Enjoy his puppyhood and spend as much time with him as you can. These months pass all too quickly, and you won't regret it.
3 days & you expect him to be ok being left totally alone ?
He will not have"forgotten" his siblings & mother, just the opposite in fact.
Have you ever had a puppy before ?
I've fostered numerous puppies over the years as well as having my own puppies. I would never dream of leaving a very young puppy alone for any length of time & never leave a puppy to cry/scream. I do invest a fair amount of time playing with puppies & teach them to interact with toys that entertain them & give out rewards. They have very short clicker training sessions, which help in making them use their brains & also tire them out without physical excursion. My foster puppies leave me with basic training & being able to be left alone, being confident & knowing that humans don't disappear forever.
Having a puppy requires a lot of patience & understanding of how to shape him/her to fit into your lifestyle.
I'm not a great fan of "day care"unless run by very knowledgeable owners & that have a structured routine & not just allowing the dogs to be together in a group. Puppies learn from adult dogs not other puppies, this is why I dislike "puppy parties"run by vets.
Hi CoCo. No, we’ve never had puppies or dogs before, we’re learning on the fly. It’s been 1 week now and thanks to this forum and other things, we have picked up a great deal in the week.

We are both now back in the bed and little Dug sleeps in his bed next to me on the floor. Friday night was his first night not on me and he climbed up the side of the bed a few times then settled. Last night he slept 7 hours next to me no problem. He’s such a good part of the family and turned out we just had a lot of bad/out dated advice for the first couple of days. He’s currently napping on my leg right now so luckily he still likes his stupid humans and forgives us whilst we learn.
The dog world is full of appalling advice, so I'm really glad you came here. You are making great progress, and please stick with us as between us we can help you through. I agree avoid vet puppy parties (and any other damn puppy parties) and keep away from all the tons of people who spout advice with no experience to back them up. Avoid daycare! I have seen some appalling mistakes made in so-called daycare. There are good ones, it's just I've never come across them.

If ever you are unsure what to do, mentally swap places with your puppy. Do the empathy thing. See him as a baby Martian, speaking no human language and completely out of his depth with what we want and how we go about it. It's really more than anything a meeting of cultures.
Hi CoCo. No, we’ve never had puppies or dogs before, we’re learning on the fly. It’s been 1 week now and thanks to this forum and other things, we have picked up a great deal in the week.

We are both now back in the bed and little Dug sleeps in his bed next to me on the floor. Friday night was his first night not on me and he climbed up the side of the bed a few times then settled. Last night he slept 7 hours next to me no problem. He’s such a good part of the family and turned out we just had a lot of bad/out dated advice for the first couple of days. He’s currently napping on my leg right now so luckily he still likes his stupid humans and forgives us whilst we learn.
That's a great result Lee, I am so pleased you asked the questions and heard the answers on this forum. I am smiling just thinking of Dug sleeping for 7 hours by his new family - that's the way to go, no doubt about that, so well done you.

Welcome to Dog Forum!

Join our vibrant online community dedicated to all things canine. Whether you're a seasoned owner or new to the world of dogs, our forum is your go-to hub for sharing stories, seeking advice, and connecting with fellow dog lovers. From training tips to health concerns, we cover it all. Register now and unleash the full potential of your dog-loving experience!

Login or Register