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  1. #1
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Exclamation Crate Training Feels Impossible

    Hi!! I am a brand new member here, and a brand new pyr puppy owner. Technically Poogan (7 weeks old, we've had him for a week) is a mix Ė his dad is 50/50 pyr and newfie, and his mom is 75/25. He definitely seems to favor the pyr genes. We also have a 5yr old mastiff mix (Baloo), whom we adopted at 2.5yrs old.

    I have been attempting crate training Ė this is my first time ever, being that Baloo was post-puppyhood when we got him. We were very lucky that Baloo has always done great on his own... no accidents, never gets into anything, no separation anxiety, no need for a crate. SO, I am totally lost with this whole crate training thing and have been doing a lot of reading up on it. I feel like I really NEED to crate train Poogan, because I want to be able to leave without him going potty in the house, destroying things, etc... most of all I definitely want to avoid separation anxiety.

    Poogan happily eats all of his meals in his crate, and is open to wandering in there to grab a toy. We are working on a command for entering the crate, which he is happy to do for a treat. He does NOT voluntarily enter and lie down in there; he did once or twice last week, but not since then. If he is already asleep, I can *sometimes* transfer him to the crate (door open) and he'll sleep in there for maybe 5-20 minutes before removing himself. Most of the time when I try to transfer him he'll immediately wake up and remove himself to go back to sleeping on the floor, usually in my general vicinity. We can do this song and dance ad nauseam, he simply will not settle in there.

    Most everything I've been reading says to practice by closing the door for a short period of time and then gradually increase the time they're in there, and to not give in to their crying because then they'll learn that crying gets them out. My problem is that Poogan is not ok with ANY time confined in his crate Ė he FLIPS. Even just 30 seconds and he is crying, barking, yelping, scratching and biting the door, trying to rip his blanket, panting heavily, etc. Sitting next to the door sometimes helps him calm down; walking away from the crate makes it worse. Letting him "cry it out" doesn't seem to do ANY good. Obviously it just increases his anxiety about being in there, and on top of that he doesn't get the sleep he needs. My husband and I read The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete, and they say to give a loud bang on the crate and say a stern "no" to stop the crying, which I don't like but my husband has attempted... I feel like that just creates MORE negative associations with the crate.

    Help!! What do we do? Is this normal or excessive crate anxiety? How do we get past it? All I want is to be able to leave him in there so I can take Baloo on a walk or go to the gym, grocery store, etc!! And I don't want to just lock him in there and leave because I feel like that fosters separation anxiety. I'm at a total loss of how to get him to comfortably relax in there, even for just 10 minutes.

    P.S. It is a 48" crate with a divider, in our living room. We initially had it in our dining room, which was removed from the family. We thought maybe he'd be happier if he could see us (he hates it either way). I have a blanket draped over top, but not covering the door. There is a crate mat inside, with some soft toys to snuggle with and a few chew toys.

    P.P.S. He does pretty well at night. We tether him next to our bed and he sleeps about 3-5 hours at a time. In general he really likes sleeping on the floor, with his head tucked underneath a chair.

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  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Congrats on the new puppy!

    Ok, first, ditch the Monks' book, immediately, please. Their techniques are considered unnecessarily heavy handed these days.

    Your pup came to you at 6 weeks? Typically it is highly recommended that pups stay with their littermate until 8 weeks because they benefit tremendously from learning social skills from their littermates. A pup taken away from its family at 6 weeks can be a lot more challenging than a pup that has had 2 more weeks with its siblings. A 6 week old can be much less secure and sometimes can act aggressive because of the insecurity of being on its own and survival instinct kicks in. That is not to say the problems cannot be overcome, just a bit more work.

    Crate training is in many cases 80% tough love. With some pups, you do really just have to tough it out. If your pup is willing to eat in the crate, then perhaps you can practice closing the crate door when the pup is eating. But I would go ahead and encourage you to try to leave him for short periods of time and let him cry it out. First you wait a minute, two minutes. If he's screaming, wait for a break in the screams and go back without making any fuss at all, let him out and calmly praise him in a low key fashion.

    At least in my experience, crate training is not what creates separation anxiety. My current young adult has SA. He's the first dog that I've had with SA. His personality is the culprit for his SA, not the crate training. Ren came to us at 8 weeks and was crate trained from the first day. He was crated during the day when we were at work and crated overnight. He did just fine from 8 weeks to 4 months. Then at 4 months he decided he was going to have SA. I spent 6 months working with him to teach him to stay home alone during the day. I had to re-crate train him.

    In comparison, his aunt Bijou before him was horrible to crate train. She screamed and screamed for HOURS each night until I finally gave up after 2 weeks. Notwithstanding, she most certainly did NOT have SA. She just didn't see the point of being crated while we were home and complained loudly and dramatically by throwing herself at the crate door repeatedly. But when we crated her and left the house, I found that she would protest for a couple of minutes, but when she realized we had left the house, she would shut up and go to sleep.

    You won't really know if he has true SA unless you actually leave him in the crate and leave the house and see what happens. But of course you need to practice with leaving him for short durations first so that you minimize the trauma as much as possible.

  3. #3
    Puppy (New Member)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    Congrats on the new puppy!

    Ok, first, ditch the Monks' book, immediately, please. Their techniques are considered unnecessarily heavy handed these days.
    Thank you! Do you have any favorite books you'd recommend?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    Your pup came to you at 6 weeks? Typically it is highly recommended that pups stay with their littermate until 8 weeks because they benefit tremendously from learning social skills from their littermates. A pup taken away from its family at 6 weeks can be a lot more challenging than a pup that has had 2 more weeks with its siblings. A 6 week old can be much less secure and sometimes can act aggressive because of the insecurity of being on its own and survival instinct kicks in. That is not to say the problems cannot be overcome, just a bit more work.
    Yes, I was surprised too but they insisted it was fine... I would have preferred 8 weeks but at this point, what's done is done! Things have been going well so far. I think having Baloo has been helpful because, while very patient with Poogan, he does let him know when he's out of line. The only "problem" I have noticed is that Poogan is quite shy Ė though not aggressive Ė around new friends at first, especially dogs. But I expect that to get better with more socialization!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    Crate training is in many cases 80% tough love. With some pups, you do really just have to tough it out. If your pup is willing to eat in the crate, then perhaps you can practice closing the crate door when the pup is eating. But I would go ahead and encourage you to try to leave him for short periods of time and let him cry it out. First you wait a minute, two minutes. If he's screaming, wait for a break in the screams and go back without making any fuss at all, let him out and calmly praise him in a low key fashion.
    This is essentially what I've been trying, so it's nice to hear it's on the right track! Just so frustrating/sad that he never seems to get better. Maybe I'm just impatient! I would LOVE if he would just put himself back to sleep in the crate after I transfer him in there while he's napping. That would be a huge win. As it is, he leaves every time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    At least in my experience, crate training is not what creates separation anxiety. My current young adult has SA. He's the first dog that I've had with SA. His personality is the culprit for his SA, not the crate training. Ren came to us at 8 weeks and was crate trained from the first day. He was crated during the day when we were at work and crated overnight. He did just fine from 8 weeks to 4 months. Then at 4 months he decided he was going to have SA. I spent 6 months working with him to teach him to stay home alone during the day. I had to re-crate train him.

    In comparison, his aunt Bijou before him was horrible to crate train. She screamed and screamed for HOURS each night until I finally gave up after 2 weeks. Notwithstanding, she most certainly did NOT have SA. She just didn't see the point of being crated while we were home and complained loudly and dramatically by throwing herself at the crate door repeatedly. But when we crated her and left the house, I found that she would protest for a couple of minutes, but when she realized we had left the house, she would shut up and go to sleep.

    You won't really know if he has true SA unless you actually leave him in the crate and leave the house and see what happens. But of course you need to practice with leaving him for short durations first so that you minimize the trauma as much as possible.
    I'm really curious about what he'd do on his own! I've heard from others as well that their dogs were fine in the crate unless people were home, then they just wanted to be out with people. Poogan always seems to want to be in the same room as me (which I love), but I do want him to be ok being alone too. Thanks for your help and input!

  4. #4
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I agree with Jewel about the Monks. I have no doubt that they mean well, but in the time that they have been putting out books, literally decades worth of progress has been made in the world of behavioral science. Unfortunately, the Monksí theories and practices have not kept up.

    I really like Dr. Sophia Yinís book, How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves, particularly the first half of the book, where she explains the Science behind her methods. I will say that, at times, in the book, she does seem to have expectations of how the dogs *should* respond that arenít entirely realistic for the Livestock Guardian Breeds, who have been bred for thousands of years to think for themselves and make their own decisions. Other than that, itís a good book.
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  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member)

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    My 10 month pyr old hates the closed crate. It's specifically the closed crate, he is perfectly happy and calm to be left at home alone, and he keeps some of his favorite toys in the crate and goes in there randomly to trade out. I should say it's confinement he hates, because the time he accidentally locked himself in a dark bathroom, he was NOT happy, either. In the closed crate, he used to wail and moan and bark and drool an ocean when he was a baby. We found that leaving the tv on and leaving right away helped a little. We got a yummy meaty bone that was only ever given while he was confined in the crate. Eventually, he learned there was no convincing us and he stopped the noise. But he still drools an ocean, he is sopping wet whenever he leaves his crate. We keep a towel nearby, and only crate him when absolutely necessary.

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by PoogansMom View Post
    LOVE if he would just put himself back to sleep in the crate after I transfer him in there while he's napping. That would be a huge win. As it is, he leaves every time.
    When you want him to stay in the crate, close the door and tough it out. By putting him in yet giving him the choice of walking out you may be inadvertently teaching him to expect that he can always leave as he wants. Thus when you close the door, he immediately goes into a tantrum because he's expecting the door to be open, because it should be open. It's called crate training because they have to learn to accept the crate.

    The screaming is hard to bear, I know only too well. I spent many hours listening to Ren screaming in the 6 months I spent working with him to overcome his SA. He's not completely cured yet. We still can't leave him alone once the sun goes down. The one time I was foolhardy enough to assume that since he had learned to stay home alone during the day it would be ok for us to go out to dinner with friends, wrong. I got a text from my neighbor in the middle of dinner that he was screaming and she could hear him from inside her house and she was worried about him.

  7. #7
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Recommended reading is Patricia McConnell - I bought her puppy primer to read with our 9 yo (human) daughter to further engage her in training and I am reading ďthe other end of the leash.Ē

    For the crate - try moving it into your room at night so pup can hear you and know youíre right there, especially since she does ok with the tethering. Also try peanut butter smeared onto the back side, so she can have a go at that for a bit to help calm her. A Kong with some kibble at the back of the crate can also be enticing.

    We brought ours home at 7 1/2 weeks... the first 5 nights I had her sleep with me in bed (Iím sure folks would say thatís bad) because she SCREAMED in the crate missing her bros and sisters and I think feeling scared. Then we transitioned her to crate in living room with no issues. Sometimes itís just a period of adjustment/reassurance.

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