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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ask the Dog Trainer: Crate Complications

by Michael Baugh, CPDT-KA, CDBC
(c) Carrie Boyko
Fancy That; a Roof on a Crate?
I've Got One Too--No Problem!

To: Ask the dog trainer column

My little heinz 57 rescue dog is almost perfect. She is quite well crate trained but has 2 odd quirks. When I got her a new crate that has a solid lid we started having trouble with it. She does not have visibility through her roof; now it is solid. Everything is higher than her, when her crate is on the floor. She will whine until I take her out. If I put her in her old crate she is fine. How can I get her used to her new crate? I like this one better for our travels since it collapses easier. I thought she would like the side door that opens like a garage door but instead she fusses about the roof. She has always liked to be within sight of me, and this roof is an obstacle.
Dear reader:

Change is always tricky business isn’t it?  My Dad, for instance, loves his Grand Marquis.  He’s had several over the past 20 some odd years.  He won’t look at anything else.  I, on the other hand, love change.  Let’s mix things up a bit to keep life interesting; that’s my motto.  Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum (or more importantly, where you dog falls) change can be a little stressful.   Fortunately, you can help smooth out the transition.

First, make the new crate awesome for your dog.  Assuming Skittles is willing to go in the crate, leave her in there for short visits of 10-15 minutes.  (If she won’t even go in, watch this video to learn more about teaching her the ins and outs of crate training). Include a delicious stuffed Kong Toy to make the deal even better.  I like to stuff Kong Toys with a full doggie meal, not just some peanut butter and a few treats.  Let her out before the Kong is finished and when she’s not whining.

Whining is a non-starter in my book.  I can’t help thinking of my Dad again.  “Why would I waaant a Honda?  This is a good caaar.”  Sorry, I’m getting off track.  Never let Skittles out of her new crate when she’s whining.  That just lets her know that whining works.  And, when whining works you get more of it.  When my dad whines about a Honda the conversation about a new car usually ends.  I guess I should try some dog training mojo on him.  Anyway, don’t let whining work.  Wait her out until she’s quiet for just a moment.  Then tell her what a brave girl she is and let her out.  Quiet and patience wins the day.
And, don’t fret at all about the new crate not being good enough for Skittles.  I’m sure it’s wonderful.  Sure, the new crate doesn’t have the sunroof that the old crate had.  That really shouldn’t be too much of a concern, so long as there is ventilation and she can see out of the crate somehow.  I especially like the side door.  That must be quite nice.  I think you compared it to a garage door.

Speaking of garage doors, my dad’s old Grand Marquis just rolled past the 100,000 mile mark.  He’s thinking about replacing it.  Of course, they don’t make Grand Marquis anymore.  So, he’s looking at a Crown Victoria.   Ah, the more things change…

Houston Dog Trainer, Michael Baugh CPDT-KA, CDBC is the director of training and behavior at Rover Oaks Pet Resort.  He drives a Ford Focus.

Thanks to the folks at Pet Gear for providing Oliver with a solid-topped, multi-door crate. His also has a "garage door" and is used in the cover photo as an example. Additionally, this highly flexible crate has a large rooftop door for placing a dog inside through the top. We love it. If you feel the same, feel free to click the ad below and order the size you'd like for your pooch:


Hawk aka BrownDog said...

Hi Y'all!

Great post. Never realized that a crate change would make any difference to some dogs. I have 2 different kinds of crates, although I no longer get confined unless there are workmen in the house or we are traveling.

Y'all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog

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