(Closed) wanting to crate train our 1 1/2 year old dog…

posted 8 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
Member
464 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

First, so sorry you’re going through this- I know your pain! I got my dog at 5 years old, and he had some separation anxiety issues (barking, tearing things apart, urinating, etc– he actually managed to pull apart a welded metal kennel cup). In the end, crate training was not for him (it exacerbates his anxiety), and he sleeps happily on my bed all day (I keep an extra set of sheets for him). Not every dog likes the crate, but there are things you can do to make things easier.

First, you mention “separation anxiety” and say she should know her routine. Separation anxiety is not just about routine. It is exactly what the name implies- anxiety about separation. Knowing a routine may not help any more than knowing planes are safer than cars would help an anxious flyer- some help, but not a cure. You have to figure out whether your dog has actual separation anxiety, or whether she’s simply having a blast tearing things up (and this is certainly an option- some dogs find this to be great fun). I recommend this booklet: I’ll be Home Soon, by Patricia McConnell. She’s an animal behaviorist, and she’s awesome!

As for the crate, its best to train her in small increments. It sounds like you’ve started this- so keep going. If she’s good for 30 minutes, try 45. Once she’s got 45 minutes down, try an hour, and so on. Speed up or slow down based on her reactions. Also, the crate should ALWAYS ALWAYS be a good place. A place she can go to get away from stress and relax and snooze until you come home. NEVER use it for punishment.

Another component is exercise. How much exercise is she getting? If you’re going to crate her during the day and expect her to sleep at night, you should probably take her on at least a couple of good, long, walks per day. Walks are great physical and mental exercise for dogs, and a tired dog is a happy dog. You could also leave her in the crate with a well-stuffed Kong toy (my dog likes peanut butter and kibble; and you can freeze it for an extra challenge).

For beds, I’m not sure I’d leave her with much for a while. You don’t want her to eat it and risk getting some fluff or a zipper stuck someplace in her digestive system. If she won’t eat a fluffy towel or a bathmat, you could try that, though. Good luck! 

Post # 5
Member
464 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Here’s an article by Dr. Sophia Yin about getting your dog to love the crate [PDF]. She’s also got one on her website about separation anxiety. Maybe you’ll find some good tips there!

Keep hanging in there! Once you’ve got a plan, try to be patient and stick to it. You may even consider seeking the help of your veterinarian, a qualified trainer, or even a veterinary behaviorist. Also, try to keep in mind that it doesn’t help to get too mad at your dog. I know it can be hard not to, but even if she seems to know she’s done something wrong, she doesn’t necessarily. She may know she’s in trouble, she may know you’re mad t her, but she doesn’t necessarily know why. Also, dogs are experts at picking up behavioral cues- she may pick up a “tell” that you’re angry and react accordingly before you even realize you’ve given her a clue.

Another thing to consider- have you tried acclimating her to different types of crates? Some dogs really do best in wire crates, but other dogs seem to like the cave-like security a plastic crate affords. 

Post # 7
Member
2607 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

MOST seperation anxiety is not seperation anxiety at all but simply the fact that the dog is bored, and amuses herself by tearing things up/chewing.  Throwing the ball until she can’t run anymore is fine for the evening…she’ll probably sleep like a baby that night.  But in the morning, she’s going to be fully rested and ready to go.  If YOU’RE not ready to go, she will entertain herself.  Leaving her in the yard probably won’t help, because most dogs, (especially ones that are alone), will not exercise themselves, even in a large yard.  Instead of running around playing all day, they will amuse themselves by digging holes, etc. – definitely not something your new grass will appreciate!  Smile

We crate train all of our foster dogs, and the youngest one we’ve fostered was six months old.  Dogs of ANY age can be crate trained.  What we do is toss a treat in there, (at the back of the crate, so they have to go in to get it), and if they don’t run in there to grab the treat, we guide them in by their collar.  As they go in, we say “Kennel up!”  We also give them a treat once the door is closed and they have turned around.  Over a period of a few days, repeating this every time we crate them, they learn what “Kennel up!” means and will go in the crate without having to toss a treat in.  In fact, our own dog, and a few other fosters we’ve had, will run into the crate any time we go for the treat bag.  Sometimes the wrong kennel.  Sometimes in the SAME one, (and we don’t foster small dogs either, so watching our 90 pound lab/golden mix and a 60 pound German Shepherd squeeze in the same crate is hilarious!).

We’ve had dogs that would chew up any bed we put in there.  If you haven’t already, get a plastic pan for the bottom to replace the one she destroyed.  Spray the new pan, (and probably the sides of the crate) in bitter apple spray to deter her from chewing it.  If she is one of the dogs who doesn’t mind bitter apple, (or loves the stuf!), try a product like “Phooey”.  If you need the Phooey, DO NOT get it on your hands.  I have never needed it, but our trainer said she got it on her hands and was tasting Phooey every time she ate anything for the next several days.  She doesn’t NEED a bed, but if you want to try one again, they make some that are basically a mat with rolled up edges.  OR, I’ve heard that ones made of a canvas type material deter chewing, although I haven’t personally tried them.

How long are you gone during the day?  Have you tried taking her for a long walk in the morning before you leave?  A tired dog is a good dog.  Even if you can’t physically exercise her, mental stimulation would keep her distracted, and keep her attention on appropriate things.  Invest in toys like Kongs that you can stuff – fill it with her food and a little peanut butter, freeze it, then give it to her in the morning before you leave, (especially if she’s in the crate, because being in the crate for extended periods of time is boring for dogs).  Also, there are all kinds of “puzzles” you can buy for dogs, (helpingudders.com has a bunch, if you are looking for example).  Rotate her toys so she doesn’t get bored with them.  On “It’s Me or the Dog” Victoria had an awesome idea for this.  She took a shoe organizer and put several toys in each pocket.  The toys from one pocket would be left out for the dog to play with while the owners were gone, then picked up at the end of the day and the toys from the next pocket brought out the next day.  This way, the dog had “new” toys every day and they kept him entertained better.

Good luck!  Hope this helps you a little bit!

Post # 9
Member
70 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

I’d also recommend that all meals occur in the crate.  Both of my girls are crate trained, and literally run to the crate in the morning to be fed :).  They also run there right after their potty break when I get home from work.  With a half-Lab, I’d have to assume that he’s pretty food motivated *grin*.

If you can manage it, work the crate into his routine in small increments.  You don’t want your dog to associate the crate with you leaving and ‘bad things’ happening.  All good things should happen in the crate.  This may mean that the first times he’s in the crate, it’s with the door open, or not fully shut, or only shut for a small moment and then opened back up.  Some dogs will make negative connections that become harder to break the more they’re reinforced.  Go as far as your dog will allow, and when he starts stressing back back down until he’s able to withstand that ‘next step’.

There’s also something called DAP that’s a pheromone which can potentially help calm an anxious dog down.  I’ve never tried it, but if you have an outlet near the crate (or can position it near one), it might be worth a try.

I’m also going to plug the idea of a nice long walk in the morning, and some sort of stimulating toys during the day to keep him occupied.  Deer antlers are popular now as chewables.

 

Good luck!

Post # 11
Member
2821 posts
Sugar bee

Ack.  Sorry, big dogs at that age are a lot to handle.  Our dog could literally jump over my husband’s shoulder who is 6 feet tall at that age, once he filled out (not fat) he couldn’t jump as high.  For our dog he really settled down around 2 years old so it is probably is temporary, though if we don’t exercize him enough he starts getting into mischief even now.  Will she rip apart blankets?  Our dog would just play with the blankets but couldn’t rip them apart. 

Post # 12
Member
396 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2011

Sorry your going through this with your pup but honestly; you sound like you have a lot of excuses. It doesn’t really matter if your a morning person or not. Your dog is and she is ready to go @ 6am weather you are or not. You owe it to your dog to exercise her in the mornings. Throwing the ball isn’t enough. She needs a good 2 mile walk @ least once a day. Plus playing and stimulation other than that. If it’s raining you wear a jacket. If it’s cold you wear layers. If it’s dark you bring a light. You took the dog on so you need to do anything you can to get her some exercise. That is exactly why she’s chewing soo much. She’s bored. A tired dog is a happy dog. You’ll hear it over and over again. Believe me; I know it’s a lot of work. That’s what soo many people dont’ realize when they want a puppy. They think oh; he’s just so adorable. But they don’t realize the amount of effort you have to put into having a pet. It’s just like a child. Sometimes it’s more work than a child. It sounds to me like the main problem here is bordom. I would find a way to get her some exercise during the day. Either have a family member come and walk her or hire a dog walker or something.

Post # 15
Member
2821 posts
Sugar bee

Is there any friends or acquaintances with dogs.  Our neighbor luckily got a dog around the same time we did and they played a lot, which was helpful.

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