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Hi all,

I recently rescued an emaciated chocolate lab from a local resuce group. Grace is about 2 years old. When first picked up by animal control on 6/15, she weighed 43#. When I picked her up to bring her home, she weighed 53#. And as of yesterday, she's up to 59.3#.

She's a sweet girl. Has no manners, no training, and is not housetrained. We are crate training her (as we did with the other lab that we have). Everything was fine the first 4 days. She'd go right in, lay down, sleep, whatever. Would occasionally bark, but really maybe for only 30 seconds or so and that was mainly the first 2 days. After the first couple days, she's been quiet.

No accidents at all in the crate.

However, in the last 3 days, she is refusing to happily go in the crate. I don't want to force her in, though I have had to and let me tell you, its not easy with her. She can spin around and push herself out in the blink of an eye! Plus, I feel if I keep having to force her inside, then she's going to hit a point where she's going to forcefully tell me NO. I've seen it happen with other dogs (I'm a vet tech...the dog that gets aggressive when they go in the run and close the door is one of the worst!) I don't want it to come to that. I want her to want to go in!

She'll go in ok if her food bowl is full of food in the back of the crate, but that doesn't help for the times she needs to go in when its not feeding time.

I've tried tossing treats in toward the back...nothing, she sits very politely outside the crate and stares at the treat in the crate. Eventually, once there are enough treats, she'll put her front feet in and stretch as far as she can to reach some, eat them, and quickly back all the way out. I don't want to force her in at that point, because it seems to make the problem worse.

I'm at my wits end. Putting this dog in her crate is now taking 10+ minutes!

The crate is not too small, really its to large for her. (It's a great dane sized crate) So I don't feel as though she thinks theres not enough room.

Any hints/ideas/suggestions?

I'm open to pretty much anything!

Thanks!
Jamie
 

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well her being older prob doesn't help. I was going to suggest treats, but you have tried that. You need to make crating fun for her. Have you tried putting a sweatshirt opf yours in there for her to smell you when you are gone and she won't miss you as much? Lots of verbal praise everytime you see her in there on her own and a treat. Perhaps you haven't found the right motivational treat yet?
 

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What sort of treats are you using?
Do you only crate her for meals and when you are leaving? If so, she is learning the crate means being left alone.
Where is the crate kept? Is it somewhere where she can observe the goings on in the house?

Doing crate games with her (associating the crate positively with GOOD treats and with play time) can go a long way. If you google crate games their is some stuff on the net, there is also the DVD by Susan Garrett.

Have you ever clicker trained? If so, you can shape her going into the crate by clicking and treating for every small movement towards getting in the crate. Reward looking at the crate, reward a foot near the door, at the door etc. These treats must be very high quality, cheese, hotdogs or even meatballs for the hard stuff.

Make sure she is allowed to come out between rewards so you can encourage the in/out and that she starts to realize that going in does not always mean being SHUT in. The treat must be delivered when she is in the crate or "interacting" with the crate, not after she turns away or comes out. Timing is important.
Then you start working on shutting the door for a second or two, praising and then opening the door and rewarding her.
When you put her in it for longer periods make sure she has a kong filled with yummy (cream cheese, peanut butter...and frozen) or a beef chew or bone to chew on. She should only get these "special" treats when she is in the crate.

Good luck.
 

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This one of the few things I have taught Brutus. I taught him by simply feeding him his meals in there and giving the crate command every time he went in. I didn't shut the door while feeding him at first though eventually I did and as soon as he was done eating, I would open the door again immediately. He will now crate on command most of the time although he still barks in his crate. I'm convinced he only does this now on general principles as he no longer bangs his nose on the crate or scratches trying to get out. I think he feels a moral duty to object for whatever reason.
 
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