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Crate Training

Sita's mom
February 2nd, 2005, 02:27 PM
Hi Everyone!

Although Ive had several dogs in my life, Sita is my first puppy. She is an 8week old Thai Ridgeback.

One thing I really want to do with her is Crate Training. But I'm having a great deal of difficulty getting it done.

If the crate door is open I can sometimes (rarely it seems) convince her to go inside to sleep. If I close her in she starts screaming. Yesterday I had to leave her for 2 hours and she apparently screamed the entire time.

Every time she goes in by herself she gets a treat and a 'good girl'. Every time she sits inside quietly with the door closed same thing. But that is VERY RARE! :sad:

Can anyone give me advice about how to make this easier on everyone? I'd appreciate anyone's help that would make this a more positive experience for Sita and a happier experience for me.


February 2nd, 2005, 02:50 PM
i asked a similar question about crate training when i first got my puppy. he was 11 weeks then and he's 15 weeks now. he cried bloody murder every night in his crate. now, we put him in and he doesn't make a peep. in our house, his crate is right next to my bed and i would talk to him and pet him through the crate at first to make it less scary. if she can't see you she's bound to panic.
as for being crated during the day, he's still not crazy about it but we fill the crate with toys and a kong of peanut butter and cheese which he chases into the crate.
all in all, this just takes time.

February 2nd, 2005, 04:25 PM
Here is a copy of an article we wrote for Animal Wellness magazine that will be in the next issue.
Relaxing in your favorite chair is a pleasure you look forward to and crates can be just that same haven of comfort to your dog. Crates are substitutes for their lair; it is natural for a dog to use a den as a refuge – a warm, safe, quiet hideaway.

In the first year of training your pup, a crate can be an invaluable tool and source of comfort. You may only use it once a year after that, but your dog will always have the capability of being crated and that is priceless. Your dog will have a safe haven, no matter the circumstances, for his whole life if you introduce your dog to the crate in a positive manner. However, if you punish him, frighten him or abandon him to the crate, then he may never be comfortable in the crate or confined spaces.

In all aspects of your relationship, it is your responsibility to teach your dog and help him be comfortable in the world, and good crate training can make both of your lives much easier, especially for a puppy.

•Handy for keeping your puppy safe & out of trouble when you can’t watch him.
•Great for keeping him contained & safe in the car – traveling in general
•Wonderful for potty training – naturally, pups should not soil their den.
•Gives you a break when you are overwhelmed by puppy energy.
•Helpful when visiting or at the vets– it is a place for the pup to feel safe.
•Calming to insecure or nervous dogs.
•Can help with ‘thunder-frightened’ dogs.
•Teaches dogs to be alone & self entertain – fending off separation anxiety.
•It is always a familiar home that travels with him everywhere.

•Crates are NOT a replacement for responsible training – avoiding problems does not teach.
•People can misuse crates and create anxieties – i.e. punishments
•Dogs can panic and hurt them selves if not properly trained to a crate.
•Dogs left for too many hours in crates, day after day, can become bored, sensory deprived, exhibit compulsive disorders, destructive, anxious and/or depressed.
•Dogs can become overheated in a crate that does not offer adequate ventilation.

Balance is the key in everything you do. If your dog spends time in the crate you must balance it with quality time spent with you. You got a dog to have a relationship; dogs thrive on relationship so make the best of it.

Kinds of crates to consider:

Plastic ‘Airline’ crate with solid sides – these are nice because they create a true den-like environment. They provide adequate ventilation, good shade, and are easy to clean, and somewhat transportable (depending on the size). Some dogs prefer a more closed environment, while others enjoy chewing through the plastic walls. Look for strong and easy to operate doors & latches. A must for airline travel.

Metal Grates – these are well ventilated, but heavy to move about. They can be broken down for storage or transportation, but the weight alone can make them more difficult. Some dogs do not like these kennels because they are too open in feeling, while others prefer them because they can easily see all around them. Dogs who panic can really do some damage to themselves if they paw or chew on the hard rails.

Mesh Kennels – These are fairly new on the market and are light weight, breathable, attractive and highly portable. Only good for older dogs who have proven themselves trustworthy NOT to chew or claw their way through the mesh. They usually break down easily for storage. Some are even designed to look like camping tents.

A sampling of companies who sell all sorts of crates:
Pet Gear – – a nice soft sided crate with a liner and a removable bottom for accidents.
Pet Mate – – good quality strong crates.
Precision – – has puppy panels so the crate can grow
with the pup.
Ruff Wear – – has dog tents called Mutt Huts.

Training your dog to the crate.

Whether you are training a young puppy or an older dog to use a crate – time and patience are the keys. Every dog is different and they are all going to react in their own unique way. Young pups can be easier to crate train, while some older dogs might have past memories of crates and will either love them or hate them. Crate training usually takes 1-3 days if you are consistent, persistent, patient and kind.

General rules & precautions:
•Crate should be big enough for the dog to stand up turn around & lie down again.
•NEVER leave a collar on a crated dog – they can hang themselves too easily.
•All interactions with the crate should be positive.
•Always praise your dog when he enters the crate – all steps in the right direction are rewarded.
•Keep the crate available to him so he can choose to go in when he wants to.
•Whining & barking can be ignored or stop it with a ‘startle’ noise & a firm “Quiet”
•Do not ‘coo’ at, or look at the dog when he is complaining – this rewards bad behavior.
•Do not shove him in and abandon him thinking he’ll just get over it.
•Do not abandon the dog to the crate and leave the house until he has proven his acceptance of it and even then only for short periods of time and increase the time gradually.
•If your dog soils the crate it could be too large, or the time in the crate was too long, or he was not eased into the training and is stressing out.

Day 1 –
•The crate should be on the ground with the door open or off, and in an area commonly used by the family (in the bedroom at night).
•While playing with your dog throw toys beside and inside for the dog to get.
•Feed him in front of or inside of the crate – go as far in as he will tolerate.

When your dog or puppy is sleepy, put him inside the crate and lay down on your stomach with your head blocking the doorway. Pretend your napping too; block your dog’s attempts to escape. Don’t make eye contact, stay calm, like you’re trying to sleep. Within 2-3 minutes your dog should lie down & sleep especially if a nap is what he needs. As soon as he falls asleep go about your business leaving the door open. Be aware when he does wake up he will need a potty break.

Day 2 – If things are working well you can combine days 1, 2 & 3 into 1-2 days.
•Keep throwing toys & occasional treats in the crate and beside it.
•Feed as far inside the crate as he is comfortable with - don’t shut door unless dog is comfortable.
•All naps are inside the crate & say ‘kennel up’ (or what ever association word you prefer).
•Quickly say, ‘kennel up’, let the dog go in first & then reward with treat & a warm voice.

Day 3 – Same as days 1 & 2
While you are watching TV or reading or on the computer – put the crate beside you and ask your dog to ‘kennel up’ & give them 3-4 good toys. Shut the door. If he barks you can either ignore him or stop it with a ‘startle’. A ‘startle’ is a short sharp noise, a clap of your hands, an intense (not loud) “HEY!”, or smack the side of the crate to startle (not scare) your dog. Don’t stare or ‘coo’ at him – this rewards bad behavior. Dogs will typically only challenge you 3-5 times and then they submit – so be patient. When he has been quiet for a little while you can let him out and praise his efforts. Lots of short times in the crate will help him understand that the crate does not mean you are leaving him for hours each time and he will be more cooperative about going in. Be inconsistent with the time by having him confined for two minutes one time and 15 minutes the next. Perhaps he is in the crate while you are quickly brushing your teeth, and the next time he is in there while you fix dinner. Try to increase time and distance; the time the dog stays in the crate and your distance away from the crate. This will help him be ready for the longer times you have to be gone. Do not expect young puppies to be good in a crate for much longer than a nap would last – they just don’t have that much bladder control.

Remember all dogs are different – some dogs don’t flinch at crates while others can easily be frightened by the crate. If the initial introduction to the crate is fun and comforting your dog will actually enjoy his den.

February 5th, 2005, 11:13 PM
Icky (short for Icharus), our 3-month old Boston Terrier, is having some problems with crate training. We've had him for 2 weeks. The first week, he did very well in the crate--didn't soil it. This week, we missed our alarm one morning (we're still being trained too!). He had an "accident" in the crate, our fault for not getting him out at his usual 6 am. Now he's peed or defecated in his crate almost every day since then. We don't know what to do! How to untrain this habit we unwittingly reinforced?

Icky doesn't exactly love his crate. The door is always open and he will go in to retrieve toys and treats, but otherwise he won't go in (and he always looks suspicious, as if we're going to slam the door on him at any moment). If we leave the room while he's crated, he whines very loudly. The crate is in our bedroom at night and by my desk while I work during the day (he's usually asleep in it). His breeder had him in a crate at night but let him run pretty free with 3 other adult dogs during the day. Crate is metal and open.

Saw some interesting facts in the previous post planning to buy a book solely about crate training, but wondering if you had any pointers for the meantime.

Thanks for your help!

February 9th, 2005, 10:25 AM
I have an 11 week old beagle named Spencer. As soon as we got him (at 7 1/2 weeks) I crated him the first night which went well. He had gotten into the cat carrier that we had and fell asleep so I just picked up the whole carrier and put it into the crate (the crate is big enough for a lab 24in x 36in).
The second night, we used the same trick but he when he woke up to pee, he refused to go back to sleep. All he did was cry and go crazy so I finally had to let him out. Since that night, we have been putting him to sleep in the carrier in the bed with us and he is fine. He actually likes it. We had him on the bed last night just running around and once he got tired, he curled up in his carrier and went to sleep. We just closed the door and he was fine.

As for a crate during the day, we haven't gone there yet. We are away at work for almost 10 hours during the day and that is just too long for him. I have read articles saying that if your dog can not hold their bladder for the length of time that you are gone, then he should not be in the crate. If you teach him early on that he can pee in the crate, he will always do it.

What we have done is set up the main bathroom for him with a baby gate so that he can see out. We leave a radio on for him during the day as well. We have it so that his bed is on one side of the room, the puppy pads on the other side (which he actually uses almost all of the time) and some toys for him to play with.

Now, we have had him for 4 weeks now and he still freaks out when we leave. Last week, I put him in the bathroom a bit early and just went and sat on the couch down stairs to see how long he actually cries for. After about 12 minutes he had stopped completely so I just snuck out of the house without him hearing me.

I have been told that eventually the dog will get used to you leaving and will realize that you will come back. I have been told to crate him while I am at home as well so that he doesn't think that crating always means that I am leaving. I have done this (while emptying the dish washer) and he was fine.

There are a lot of articles on the internet but just be careful what to believe. I am now thinking that maybe my puppy has separation anxiety and that is another issue to deal with.

Good Luck!