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First-time dog owner working on crate training

698 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Lafluh43
Hi, I am a first-time dog owner and I just got a miniature poodle who is 2 months old 4 days ago. Most of what I read indicates that I should keep her in a crate for naps during the day and at night.

Most websites also say that I should never force her in a crate, but instead lure her in. But luring her does not work. I've put in toys, food, treats, etc. These are things that she enjoys outside the crate but honestly she seems to know that it is a crate and that I will shut the door. She went in quietly and voluntarily when I had friends over yesterday, but she had just had a scary encounter with an aggressive Pit Bull (fortunately, she was unhurt, and I am being more careful now) and I think it affected her behavior. That was the only time she's ever quietly gone in without crying.

Some people say to leave the door open and put fun things in there, but she will grab it and play with it outside. One time she pulled out the whole bottom pad so she could get at a treat I placed at the end.

So I've just been placing her in the crate and putting on headphones. She eventually goes to sleep, but I'm worried that I haven't, as the dog books say, made the crate inviting enough for her. A lot of articles say to never force your dog in, but if I didn't do it she wouldn't use it.

And I exercise her a lot - today I took her for a 10 minute and then a 30 minute walk before I put her in the crate. I could tell she was tired so that wasn't an issue. I'm trying to follow an exercise/ potty schedule, so I take her out often, and she's only peed 4 times in the house (which seems like a lot, but she also pees and poops a lot)

I so appreciate anyone's input on how to get her to go in the crate voluntarily and without crying and barking. I get stressed out about being a good first-time dog owner, and I want her to be happy and well-trained.
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Hi. And welcome. :)

Imagine I locked you in a room. It has a comfy bed, maybe a TV or some books. But you cannot leave it freely.

What would you call that room? A bedroom? Or a prison?

What would you do if I put a piece of cake on the table and left the door open? Would you eat the cake in the room, or rush outside and eat it there?

How would you feel if I locked you in that room again. And put earphones in? You'd probably cry yourself to sleep too, wouldn't you?

Do you see what I'm saying?

So I've just been placing her in the crate and putting on headphones. She eventually goes to sleep, b
Leaving her to cry it out is teaching her to self-soothe, which can cause separation anxiety when she's older. She needs to see that being in the crate doesn't necessarily mean you're leaving her, or that she's about to be locked in.

A lot of articles say to never force your dog in, but if I didn't do it she wouldn't use it.
Going back to my bedroom analogy. After I locked you in the room, would you then choose to use it yourself? Or would you be worried in case I came along and locked it? ;)

Some people say to leave the door open and put fun things in there, but she will grab it and play with it outside.
So let her. Make it a game. Throw a treat to the end of the crate with the expectation that she will rush in, grab the treat and rush out. A bit like the foundations for Fetch. Give her her meals in the crate, but leave the door open and sit beside it. Work up to closing to the door and then immediately opening it again. Work up to locking the door, unlock, open. Then increase the length of time between closing the door and opening it again. Then work up to feeding her, closing the door and stepping away - just for a second. Then go back and open the door again. Rinse and repeat.

Fill a Kong and give her that. Repeat the above, door open, door closed and immediate open, door closed, pause, open, door closed, longer pause, open, door locked, door unlocked, door open.

If at any point she starts to whine or panic, go back a step for a few more days.

Self Soothing & Cry It Out Are Neurologically Damaging Here Is Why - Simply Behaviour Dog Training Courses effect,
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She mostly doesn't get treats in the crate. I think twice she grabbed a toy, but only when it was at the very front of the crate, and she doesn't always do it. Even if I feed her I have to put her bowl on the very edge; she won't even go in for that if she's hungry.

I think if someone were to offer me a locked room with lots of entertainment, I would be pretty happy for a few hours. I only put her in there when she is so tired she's about to fall asleep, it seems a bit unfair to say I'm imprisoning her. Does that mean we imprison babies when we put them in their crib for a nap?

The other thing is that with this gradual process of crate training: where do I put her when I have to leave the house? Or when I'm asleep and can't supervise her? I feel like those who espouse the process you describe don't really answer these questions.

Sorry if I seem defensive, but I really want to be a good dog owner and do the best I can for her. But I also can't realistically watch her 24 hours a day and want to make sure she is rested. I will keep working on this process, like feeding her in the crate, but in the meantime I will have to put her in myself.

Fortunately she has gotten much better in the last few days as I've been working on an exercise/ potty schedule. She only whimpers for maybe a minute or less when I put her in the crate now. I know whenever she lies down under my chair or the sofa that she is tired, so that's when I put her in her crate.
Of course you want to be a good dog owner - we all do. And clearly, you're doing the best you can.

If she's only happy to take toys or treats from the front of the crate, then that's where you start. Put the toy/treat here and let her take it. Let her leave. You need to work on building her trust ams forcing her anywhere is doing the exact opposite.

As for where are you going to out her when you can't supervise - have you tried a puppy pen instead of the crate?

Leaving her to cry or whimper is teaching her that the only comfort she'll get is that which she gives herself, which can lead to separation anxiety in the future.
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