Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good Things Come to Those Who Crate

Maggie used to be a crate barker (and sometimes whiner). Like in a hardcore kind of way. We did all of the normal things to get her to settle like giving her awesome, treat-filled Kongs, putting on classical music, feeding her in there, working with her going in and out in shorter increments, blankets over it to help her feel nappy, and my favorite method of making her crate into a magical treat maker (ie hiding treats in there). The pooches also sleep in there right now because we need them to like their crates (and 95 pounds of pup in our queen size bed is rough).

Once we brought Nigel home, she magically stopped barking. It's like she was just telling us before, "I am soooo lonely when you leave me!!!!" We're so happy the girly has chilled but now we have to work some more with the mister.

Nigel is quite the whiner and even tries to dig a little bit. We're thinking that he just needs some time to adjust to our schedule because I was on break but now we'll be on a real routine. And if it took Maggie almost 4 months to be chill in her crate, Nigel deserves some time to get there.

We can't even imagine being at the point when we can leave them out together but we hope we'll get there someday.

What have your crating experiences been like??!

And of course, enjoy a few mushy pics. Nigel is posing underneath our new sign we got as a gift (thanks, Mom!!).



10 comments:

  1. Ray has always been pretty good in the crate, though I know he didn't love it. His safety zone is under the kitchen table so I ended up putting an old blanket there for him but he never whined in his crate. He also would leave his kong until uncrated then go get it and bring it to his "mat." I began leaving him out more and more but we had some issues, which I documented recently in the blog. Like how I got new carpeting in the family room. :-/
    I'd still like to get to the point of givng him a little more freedom again, but it might take a while.

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    1. It seemed like the carpet incident was quite an event. It's hard because we really want to leave them out but we know they're definitely not ready and can't be left alone together for SURE. Nigel likes to squish his big 56 pound self underneath a rather small chair in the family room. It's a little amusing...one day, hopefully we'll both think back about those times when the dogs still had to be crated and be happy they've matured and calmed down!!

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  2. Hurley once hulked out of his crate and then proceeded to tear up our carpet. :(

    I figured out that giving him food in the crate was the culprit, not separation anxiety. He inevitably would fling a morsel outside of the crate and then spend seconds, minutes, hours, who knows, working at the crate to get out of it. At that point, he would be so amped up that something would get destroyed.

    He's a very specific dog with very specific problems. Sigh.

    On the other hand, Maggie & Sadie love their crates. We took a trip this weekend and Maggie chose to hang out in the familiarity of her crate over just on the floor nearer to us. That's what I like to call crate magic. :) Good luck on your crate training! It's so essential and Nigel will be a happier dog for it!

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  3. Good thing you figured out why he was breaking free! Nigel did that a few times at his foster mom's (my mom's) but he hasn't tried to do it yet here in LA. I love that Maggie chose her crate. Magic indeed!!!

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  4. Tess used to be terrible. It took me 2 months to get her to go inside all the way, but it's totally been worth it.
    I've given up on trying to get the pooches to be good out of the crate while I'm gone. Tess would probably be fine, but she's anxious which leads to pee stains. Ed is way too destructive when left to his own devices. We're good with the crates though. We like that they are used to being in them. It makes it alot easier to travel with them, for sure.

    Good luck!!

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    1. We've also found that having Maggie's crate for travel is really easy. We agree that the crates are good...we know they'll be safe and they won't get into anything!

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  5. Athena was a crate barker when we first got her...and she always destroyed anything that we put inside of the crate. She would also sleep inside the crate at night (she doesn't sleep in it at night anymore) and would start whining and scratching at the door at the wee hours of the morning.

    Then, one day we decided to buy an actual dog bed to put inside of the crate (we had tried a couple of different crate pads, but Athena destroyed them all). I don't know why we thought that buying a big fluffy expensive bed would be a good idea and that it wouldn't get destroyed. But, it has never been destroyed....and it's been about 4 months! The bed is one of the oval shaped ones that has nice firm sides for curling up against.

    When we first started working on crate training with Athena we would videotape her and then watch it when we got home. It was very interesting to document at what point she would realize she was home alone and start barking.

    Now we crate Athena a few times per week for up to 6 hours and she does well. She doesn't bark much anymore and she goes to her crate on her own even when we are at home. She just likes hanging out in there. She also very much knows that her crate is her "safe place." If she does naughty things she will run to her crate afterwards because she knows that nothing bad ever happens in there...lol Her crate has also worked wonders in teaching her not to beg for our food at dinner. We tell her "crate" and she runs there and waits for a treat (which I'm pretty sure she thinks comes directly from our plates). So, she associates the crate with getting all sorts of yummy things.

    Also, we have a wire crate and a plastic travel crate. Athena actually prefers the plastic crate and I think it's because it's more enclosed. I feel like if we got a crate cover for the wire crate she might like that one better.

    There was one point when I thought that Athena would never be "crate trained," but I'm now happy to say that I no longer worry about leaving the house and having her in the crate!

    Good luck with Nigel and way to go Maggie!

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    1. I'm so tempted to get crate covers for both of them. Last week, we put a blanket over Maggie's crate only to come home and find that she pulled it inside the crate! I had to stop putting her crate pad in there a while ago because she was having accidents a lot. But evidently, she's rebelling and wants something soft and cushy. At night, she LOOOVES her big comfy dog bed. We think maybe Mr. Nigel needs one too. Right now, he's using our camping dog bed in there because we had it already.

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  6. That's so sweet that Maggie stopped whining when she got a buddy! For as hyper and nutty as Kaya was as a puppy, she was always so easy and mellow at home so I guess I lucked out. She would tear apart her toys in seconds, but never bothered with things that weren't hers. One time I came home to find her huddled in a corner, thumping her tail rapidly and looking very guilty. I never found a single thing out of place so it remains a mystery!

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    1. Hahahaha!! I wonder what it was that Kaya had gotten into...

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