My 11-week old female LabraDoodle, that we have had for about 9 days now is not taking to her crate well. Initially, she was going in there (her crate) on her own accord and even taking pup naps in there with the door open. But now we have to literally shove her in there at night and when we leave for work.
We know not to use the crate as a punishment and we've not. But, these past few days it's been a chore to get her in there. She doesn't make a mess in there when she's in there. It's just that we do not sleep at night anymore.
She will not eat if her food is in the crate, however, she will eat if it is within a few inches of the opening. I need some suggestions and help that work with a full-time person who doesn't have time to pamper the pup with 2 hour breaks and such. Thank you. This is our and my first dog/puppy.
By Catherine from Arlington, TX
I had the same problem 7 years ago tomorrow. When Cody was a puppy he didn't take to the crate. He did at first when I would leave it open. It got worse though. I would close it at night and then he would poop in it. Just not right really. Cry all night etc. I came to realize some dogs just can't. Mine is one of those labs. I sent him to training school at 4 months. While he even at 8 years still gets in trouble, I am happy that I didn't make him stay in a crate.
People say they think it's their "home", only few take to it like that. He has a bed and that is what he needs. I know some people will say I'm wrong but in my case I could not have a better dog. By the way, you should not put your food in the crate if that is what you choose to do. The food and water should be in an open location. If you choose the crate that is their place to sleep. Even a bed in there with a blanket and toys is helpful. (11/25/2009)
Oh and a side note, you haven't had her for long. Shoving her in there feels like punishment for her. When I tried, but eventually decided I wasn't going to use the crate, I did as I said before, I threw a few toys and a treat into it. As a puppy he would spend so much time eating the bone he would fall asleep. I am not knocking the crate training, but as I said, my dog thrived without it. Are you worried about her chewing stuff though? Mine did that til he was 2. It's just what they do. :) Good luck, and welcome to having a dog. (11/25/2009)
We raised guide dog puppies and this is how we trained them to accept the crate:
1. Puppy should stay overnight in a crate. By your bed is best.
2. Keep pup awake as long as possible, until about 10-11pm.
3. Give the puppy an opportunity to keep "busy" outside just before
4. Best if you are ready for bed too.
5. Place puppy gently in crate. A toy or one biscuit can be used.
6. After you shut the door on the crate it's best not to leave the room. Time for you to read or turn the light out.
If the puppy whines, ignore it. See if it settles down. If the puppy's volume gets louder, you may soothe it with a short verbal, "it's OK puppy," just so it remembers you are there. DO NOT take it out of the crate or open the door and physically comfort it. The puppy may cry for a long time. Ignore it. Try putting a radio on low or the ticking of a loud clock sometimes helps. If you are reading, turn the light off. If the light is off, turn the light on and start reading. Be visible to the pup so it knows you're there. Give it very little verbal acknowledgment and give it no physical acknowledgment.
If the pup wakes up in the middle of the night, it may have to go outside. Take it out of the crate and carry the pup outside. You don't want the puppy relieving in the crate or having an accident on the way out. Give some verbal and physical praise in greeting, but don't play. The puppy should do its "business" within several minutes. Wait and see if it needs to do both, but do not wait more than three minutes. Praise only when the puppy relieves and then finishes.
Bring pup back inside, put it back into the crate and resume sleeping. You can put a toy in with the puppy, but ignore if it whines or barks. After a few days or weeks the puppy will be growing bigger, and learning to control its elimination desires. You will not and should not have to get up in the middle of the night after this point. Plan to be a little tired for a few days or weeks. This will pass. (11/25/2009)
All good advice, but if I may add my 2 cents worth;
As a breeder of GSDs and GRs I crate train an average of 6 puppies a year, because all my dogs have to be comfortable in crates for when we are showing, competing, or flying to/from competitions. The crate I use for training is in the bedroom beside my bed (I don't have a bedside table, just a crate). When/if a new puppy frets, whines, etc. I put my fingers in the crate through the wire so he/she can smell me and feel the warmth. It usually helps them settle.
We actually train our dogs to like their crates by feeding them their meals in the crate, and making sure they are not left there for extended periods of time. As for night time breaks, I sleep in a light tracksuit so I am up and running for the back door real quick smart if they start to cry during the night.
Is it necessary to crate train? No. Is it desirable? That depends on you and your lifestyle. 2 things in its favor; 1) no surprise package to step in when you get out of bed and 2) puppy is safe from puppy mistakes like chewing live wires. The most important thing you can do with your dog is train him/her to be the dog you want them to be; love him/her and enjoy him/her.
By the way, we have a number of crates around the house because my dogs love their crates so much. Many of them have the doors taken off for ease of access, especially when two or three of the GRs decide to share! (11/25/2009)
I've found that it helps to praise your puppy and give a treat when they get inside. That helps them to associate the crate with something "good." For a while, I kept an old blanket of mine in there with my dog, Tina, so she could smell it and feel more comfortable. Having a bed (or a blanket wrapped around an old pillow is what I used) and her toys helps. Also, I would cover it up with blankets/towels, blocking all light from going inside as to give her more of a den feeling. I believe that helped her to sleep, as well.
I'm not sure how well this works for other dogs, but I play soothing music in there w/ her. At first, I did it to tune her out (lol), but I still play it today (she's 2 1/2) and she seems to like it. In fact, she barked more when it wasn't playing. Now, I only put her in the crate when I'm working (I work from home in customer service. Can't have a dog barking in the background) and she jogs in there with no trouble at all. The crate was also a HUGE part of her getting potty trained.
Good luck! (11/26/2009)
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