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Old 07-08-2008, 01:43 PM
 
4,541 posts, read 13,121,704 times
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It always amazes me when people talk about crate training and how wonderful it is and how their dogs love it. This is my second dog that completely melted down in a crate and wasn't going to change.

I came home yesterday after being gone for a couple of hours and my 3 month old puppy met me at the door. He broke out of his crate. He'd not damaged anything... but, he's only about 3 months old and obviously I don't feel good about leaving him alone in the house, yet.

I bought him a wire crate so he can see out and it's plenty big for him to grow. I put him in with a toy and a treat. The crate is located in the living room with the door left open so he can go in and see that it's not always a prison. I put him in for short periods of time and let him out... all of the things that you're supposed to do.

I had to run to the store today and was only gone for maybe an hour. When I came home my baby was soaking wet... the floor in front of the crate was soaking wet... He had a complete meltdown.

When I left I gave him a treat. It wasn't like punishment. Shouldn't be a bad thing but... I'm beginning to think that crate training isn't going to work for him.

He had been a stray when I adopted him at the Humane Society. Maybe he'd been locked in a cage when he escaped?...

Do you think I should keep trying to crate train him or do you think it's cruel?

I don't want him to have a heart attack.

Any suggestions?

Last edited by World Citizen; 07-08-2008 at 01:59 PM..
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:16 PM
 
Location: St Augustine
604 posts, read 4,308,825 times
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you were lucky this time he didn't destroy anything. I also had and have a dog that hated the cage. The humane society recommended a crate but i thoguht it was "mean" too. but my previous dog ate the carpet ($1500 to replace), the sofa ($800) the lineoleum in the laundry room ($200) the casing off the door frames, the blinds, the bedspreads etc etc. We eventually went back at 9 mos and got the crate. After a couple years we didn't need the crate but he still ate some stuff (anything out of the pantry, kids toys etc), after he passed and we got another - I refused to come home w/out a new cage. She didn't like it much either but it was always a joy to come home and see her, I never had to worry or freak out in anger b/c something else was ruinned. She's 2 1/2 now and we don't use it anymore, we just close the doors to the kids rooms as she likes barbies and marker/crayons still.

Good treat to entertain dogs are the kong toys from the pet store. Buy a few a put peanut butter inside and freeze them.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:24 PM
 
Location: Deep in the Heart of Texas
1,479 posts, read 7,032,481 times
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I think traumatic separation anxiety such as you describe is more common in dogs that have been in shelter environments. Just being in a shelter is stressful enough, but being in a cage surrounded by other keening, whining and barking dogs is enough to make many dogs anxious. Considering that many of them were probably dumped, abandoned and/or mistreated, it's no wonder that by the time they are adopted they've learned that bad things happen to them when they are left alone.

Most dogs can be trained to love their crates; I've had great success with most of the rescue dogs I've cared for over the years. At three months, your pup isn't too old to learn. He's experiencing normal separation distress. Pups aren't used to being alone, so you need to teach him that being alone can be fun. What I've done is make everything good happen in the crate. Start with the crate door open. Play games with the dog in the crate. Get him to go in and out by using a favorite toy, or treats. Only feed him in the crate. Once he goes in and out without fear, shut the door part way, only for a second. Give him a treat. Gradually increase the time the door is closed. Always reward him when he goes in.

Gradually progress to leaving him in the crate with a Kong or something else he really likes that will take a while for him to eat. Go away, just out of eyesight, then come back and before he's finished with the Kong, take it away. Do this several times a day. Increase the amount of time he's in the crate until he can stay in the crate, happily occupied with his Kong or chewy, for an hour or more. If he becomes anxious, back down on the time and keep the rewards coming. This process takes me a couple of weeks. During that time, I practice the going away and coming back part of the desensitization. I get my car keys, open the door, then sit down, open the crate and play with the dog. I pretend to leave, then come right back. I get into the car without getting my keys. I open the garage door but don't leave the house. I try to make the act of leaving a non-issue. I don't greet the dog enthusiastically when I return and I don't make a big deal when I leave. Alpha dogs don't tell the rest of the pack what they're going to do--they just do it.

Oh, and exercise, exercise, exercise. Before you leave the dog alone, make sure he's tired. Tired dogs are happy dogs!

There are good descriptions of separation anxiety and tips on how to handle it here: Separation Anxiety - Helpful Dog Info - Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue.
Separation Anxiety In Dogs.

I'd recommend reading "I'll Be Home Soon!" by Patricia McConnell. She has lots of advice for treating canine separation anxiety. You can find it on Amazon for under $10.

Good luck.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:38 PM
 
4,541 posts, read 13,121,704 times
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Tamcin,

Actually I bought a baby gate for my previous dog and was able to leave him in the kitchen. He never hurt anything... (except destroying several crates / cages) He was also a shelter dog... a wonderful dog... but he hated the crate!

This little guy is also going to be a good dog. He's totally submissive - except for the crate...

Leorah,

Thank you. I'm going to print out your post so I can refer to it.

I have been wanting the book by Patricia McConnell for some time. I have others by her. It must have been in the cards that I was going to have another baby who needed it!

He's such a sweetie. I don't regret getting him...

I've been wanting to learn more about dog training for some time. It seems that I have the perfect candidate.

Thank you so much!
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Right were I should be!
1,081 posts, read 1,473,104 times
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Default crate googley moogley!

We have used the crate more as a 'safe' place for our dog when we first got her. We put a t-shirt I had worn to bed a couple nights (so it smelled like me) on a blanket and gave her a tennis ball for chewing. We put the crate in the corner and covered the top with a blanket so she had the 'cave' effect. she could see out, but she felt protected in it. She would go in there to escape from the cats (one was 23 lbs to her teeny 6 lbs) and she was safe.

We put one of those pee pads at the front so whenever she got out, she peed. (Eventually we moved it to the door so she would learn to go to the door when she had to go.) YES- We changed it often!!! During the day, we left the door to the crate open, but at night it was closed.

As she grew a little and we made sure her chewing was channelled properly, she would nap outside of the crate more and more.

After about 3 months, she didn't need it at all and we got rid of it.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:10 PM
 
7,079 posts, read 34,517,375 times
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What most people don't understand that crate TRAINING is just that: TRAINING. You can't just put a pup in a crate and close the door. It's a PROCESS and there's a method to follow to TRAIN the dog to like (even LOVE!) his crate:

Crate Training | The Humane Society of the United States (http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/our_pets_for_life_program/dog_behavior_tip_sheets/crate_training.html - broken link)
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:13 PM
 
4,541 posts, read 13,121,704 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siobjuan View Post
We have used the crate more as a 'safe' place for our dog when we first got her. We put a t-shirt I had worn to bed a couple nights (so it smelled like me) on a blanket and gave her a tennis ball for chewing. We put the crate in the corner and covered the top with a blanket so she had the 'cave' effect. she could see out, but she felt protected in it. She would go in there to escape from the cats (one was 23 lbs to her teeny 6 lbs) and she was safe.

We put one of those pee pads at the front so whenever she got out, she peed. (Eventually we moved it to the door so she would learn to go to the door when she had to go.) YES- We changed it often!!! During the day, we left the door to the crate open, but at night it was closed.

As she grew a little and we made sure her chewing was channelled properly, she would nap outside of the crate more and more.

After about 3 months, she didn't need it at all and we got rid of it.
He sleeps in the bed.

We've only had a three accidents in the house since I've had him. (11 days)
He's very smart.

I also will be getting rid of the crate when he's a little older and better trained.

I wish that my current kitchen was built in a way that I could child proof it and gate it.
If I were a dog, I wouldn't like a crate, either!

Last edited by World Citizen; 07-08-2008 at 04:30 PM..
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:01 PM
 
Location: West Hartford, CT
103 posts, read 385,519 times
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Crate training isn't for every dog. One of my dogs absolutely hated being in the crate - turns out he was kept locked in a cage his entier puppyhood and any confinement freaks him out.

I, too, orginally thought he had to be crate trained but after months of working with him to work up to leaving him alone - every time I left the house and he was in the crate he urinated in the crate. I could have just taken him out - and if he was really stressed, he'd poop and then dance around in it just to make sure it got all over the walls around the crate.

Once I stopped trying to get him into the crate and just gave him a bed, I could leave him home for 8-9 hours with no accidents and no other mischief in the house.
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:28 PM
 
4,541 posts, read 13,121,704 times
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I agree. My last dog went through several crates - absolutely destroyed them. Then, I put him in the kitchen... everything was o.k.

I got on the internet and did some researching today about separation anxiety. Since I've only had this puppy for 11 days, I can't believe it's all about me... but rather all about the crate.

I did crawl into the crate with him for a while this afternoon and we sat there ... and I closed the door. He opened it and I let him. He came back in when I called him. I forgot to feed him his dinner in there but I will feed him his breakfast in the crate tomorrow morning. I would really like to see crate training work - just to say I achieved it ! But, I won't abuse him, either.

From what I read today, some want to call separation anxiety a "mental illness" - which I think is kind of cute. And, of course, therefore you need professional help... which is what they offer.

I'm an animal person from way back. I've been through all kinds of training classes with all kinds of animals in my lifetime and I don't always agree with their training methods.

At this point, the only thing I know for sure is that now I wish I'd bought a larger crate so I'd be more comfortable in it!
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Old 07-09-2008, 03:48 PM
 
Location: Beautiful place in Virginia
2,658 posts, read 10,474,944 times
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Do you have toys to keep your dog occupied? That is what I do to deter any destructive behavior. I also take him on long walks to get his energy out. A dog that is kept in the house without the ability to expend energy will become destructive, in my opinion/experience.
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