Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Crate training a puppy

I don't know how common crate training is in Europe, I'm sure it is, but I'd never heard of it until I came here. Quite honestly when I first did, I thought it was barbaric. Locking a dog up in a crate most of the day.
Until I got a little midget who chewed everything!! Laptop cables (in fact cables of any kind), an entire sofa, CDs, clothes, shoes, rugs...you name it Boomer destroyed it and that's what he managed when we were watching. Thank goodness he left the actual structure of the house alone (doors, walls etc.). Crate training was for our sanity and his safety.

I'm thinking of this now because I'm glad we did it. Boomer sleeps a lot, all day and all night if we let him. He has deceptive bursts of energy, but that's it bursts, the rest of the time he is sleeping. I've noticed being home how much I'm disrupting his routine. He goes to his crate to sleep when he gets too tired and in the last while it's becoming his sanctuary. Thunder, crate...ear cleaning, crate!!
How did we do it?
When he was teeny tiny he would involuntarily fall asleep. That's when he went into his crate. No fuss and no anxiety just a chronically late mom.

He got a heated pad under his crate liner...again so sleepy.

He wasn't so interested in food then but once that changed he got a treat every time he went into his crate, even now. At first it was really high value treats (I.e. Ones he'd do anything for) now almost anything is enough because he likes going in.

Potty:
When he was tiny rather than confining him completely he had a pen attached to his crate. The pen had a clear shower curtain ($2) underneath it and had a bunch of scented pee pee pads. The curtain could be cleaned and changed out every few days...no permenant pee scent in the house. 
This felt fairer for when he was physically incapable of holding it for as long as we were gone. We went home every lunchtime to let him out (advantage of working close to home) but a puppy can only hold it for approx. an hour for every month old it is. Obviously that stretches the bigger it gets.

When we entered the house no one talked to him. He was let out and went straight outside. It didn't matter if we were gone for 2 minutes or 2 hours. Then the praise and excitement was for peeing outside rather than us arriving home.

Eventually, because most dogs won't pee or poop near their bed, and he was getting really positive reenforcement, he began to hold it more and more and the pen was just for toys. When the "indestructible" pee pee pads began to be torn up rather than be used they went bye bye.

Eventually just the crate was used. We wanted to be sure that a.) Boomer was happy and not anxious and b.) we weren't going to get a visit from animal control because he was barking and we didn't know. So, we set him up his own Skype account. Volume muted, auto answer etc. We checked in often. Especially leaving the house. He went to sleep within 2 minutes and slept until about 5-10 minutes before we came home when he stood up, stretched and calmly waited for us. That's when we realized he didn't need the pen and we freed up some living room space. 

I've left Boomer out free on occasion when I left but I actually think he is calmer in the crate so that's where he goes to this day. I know we are lucky some dogs have chronic anxiety issues and never take to crate training but I just thought I'd throw this out there in case anyone needed some pointers and its an excuse to put up some adorable pictures.


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