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I have just adopted a new 14month old pit bull. She is a pretty small one at only 38 lbs and she is very loving to both people and animals.

Our issue with her so far has been having her in a crate while we are gone at work. Thus far, she hasn't had to be in the crate for more than 3 hours. At first, we used a plastic crate that we already had in the house that fit her nicely, but she hated it no matter what I tried to make her comfortable in there. After she chewed a hole in it that she could fit her head through we decided to try one of the metal wire crates.

As soon as I set up the wire crate, and placed the dog bed inside, she was fine with going inside on her own and laying down for long periods of time...as long as we are home with her. As soon as we leave it is a different story.

Today, after I left for work(night shift), my girlfriend got home to find that she had gotten out of her crate and left the contents of our trash can and recycling bin strewn all over the house. She had also bent part of the crate in the attempt at getting it open and chewed a chunk off of plastic pan the sits inside the bottom of the crate.

I can figure out a way to better secure the crate doors, but I am concerned that if she is freaking out that much while we are gone she might hurt herself trying to get out.

It is my guess that this is a seperation issue rather than a crate training issue, since she is fine with going into the crate when I ask her to with no fuss, and since she often goes into the crate to sleep all on her own while we are home.

Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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It's not an instant fix, but you definitely should look up the "Crate Games" series by dog trainer Susan Garrett. There are tons of videos on youtube of people doing these games with their dogs, and I'm pretty sure I've seen the originals online/on youtube. This series focuses on making the crate a fun, positive environment and when you do them correctly, the dogs usually end up dashing into their crates by choice. Aside from crate games, you can feed your dog in the crate so it associates the crate with good things.

It sounds like she probably has some pent up energy, which is leading to her being destructive. Before I leave my dogs, I try to take them for a walk (letting them play in the backyard won't work as well as a walk.) If I can't do a walk, I at least try to do a few minutes of fetch, frisbee, or something that requires them to run like crazy. It may help if you give her something to occupy her time in the crate as well. I recently bought my new puppy a Kong Extreme, if you're not familiar with this toy, it's rubber and you can stuff it with assorted fillings (I use plain yogurt, apple sauce, and baby food) and freeze it to make it last longer. Be careful leaving anything in the dog's crate when you're gone, because although it is rare, dog's have chewed off pieces of the Kong before. I've observed my dogs chewing enough, that I feel comfortable leaving one in their crate for a few hours but I am not saying that it is safe. Oh, I also just ordered something called a Quado Bone for my rescue dog because his wire crate was empty and too close to the wall, so he chewed some drywall. Google interactive chew toys, maybe.

My dogs love their crates. I was working all through my dog's puppyhood, he would be crated for 8+ hour shifts and not have accidents or destroy anything. I also didn't give him the opportunity to destroy anything. Personally, I think it's really dangerous to leave bedding in a crate with a dog who could have any reason to become destructive throughout the day. Therefore, their crates are empty with the exception of maybe a Kong.

I have a tendency to ramble, sorry. Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that I think if she found her crate more rewarding, she probably wouldn't be trying to escape. You have to make her crate cooler than the trash can. If you need me to elaborate, or if I've just completely confused you, let me know! Good luck!
 

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As a temporary fix to help soothe her, you may want to try playing some music or leaving the tv on for her.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the replies.

Kathnewb, I will definitely check into the Crate Games. I started giving her a Kong with some peanut butter but she doesn't like it frozen. She seems to be getting more comfortable in the crate. I have been working on her crate training quite a bit in the last few days. She was in there for 2 hours yesterday with no issues.

As far as leaving bedding inside the crate. I actually found that, with her, she does better with bedding to lay on. The times that I left her in there without the bedding, she busted out and chewed up the plastic pad that sits in the bottom of the crate. I started leaving bedding and two unwashed t-shirts (one of mine, and one of my girlfriends) inside the crate as well so that she would have our scent close by. I have also started an antler for her to chew on.

This is really a learning process for me, because the other dogs that I have had rarely used crates, and, when they did, they loved them from the very beginning. I know that is pretty rare, but it just happened that way. I guess I just got lucky with them.

Animalcraker, I will try leaving a radio or TV on while I am gone and see how that works.

The real test will be this coming Monday when she will be at home for about 6.5 hours for the first time.
 
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