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Discussion Starter #1
The pup (5+ months old now) sleeps all night in the crate in the bedroom.

In the morning, you'd think she'd be busting to get out. Nope.

When I approach the crate... very softely and gently... she very slowly and sweetly rolls into submission or just strikes other forms of deferential postures.

I literally have to reach awkwardly into the crate and lift her.

This has been the case from her first night in our home... and we've had her for 12 weeks now.

It's not the biggest problem. I think I've heard of this before...

Any explanation?
 

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Possibly the "very softly and gently" approaching her crate is putting her in the mindset to worry. Try just opening it normally, walking off and say let's go or outside or whatever command you give.

Greta doesn't like to get up early. At five, when I click on the lights, she covers her face and sighs, while the others jump ready to go lol.
 

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I was thinking the same thing. Being soft and gently walking towards her may make her "feel" unsure of what your intentions are. :) It may be a bit frightening to her........
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My gentle approach was a result of her shyness. Initially, I would simply approach the crate as usual.

When I approach gently and stay low and softly encouraging, she will nudge toward me and even step a foot out of the crate.... but then back off if I reach to lift her. Once I get a hand under her, she is fine and there is no struggle really. Once downstairs, she fine... no signs of worry.

So that's another feature: I have been carrying her up and down the stairs. She happily waits for the her lift upstairs when we go to bed. Being picked up doesn't seem to trouble her at all.

First thing in the morning, though, it is a bit of a hassle.

On the other side of the coin, I do not want a dog that nags me to get up in the morning.... barking from the crate... or is otherwise overly anxious to be released. Because of this, I am reluctant to provide direct edible treats in the morning.

Maybe this shyness will be one of those puppy phases that passes.
 

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I agree with the other posters in thinking your dog is worrying on how you're behaving when you approach the crate. When Luke used to be crated, I would just simply walk up, open up the door, and wait for him to come out. If your dog does begin to bark, ignore her till she's quiet. Then reward when she is, she'll soon figure out that she gets your attention only when she's quiet.

As for the stairs, I read somewhere that dogs don't see stairs the way we do. They just see a far way down and don't know there's a second, or third, or fourth, etc step for them to hit. My brother actually taught Luke to go down the steps as he put his front paws (only) on the second step. Luke jumped down and it was a repeat, and then bam...he went down! We were all so pleased!!

I think if you just show her, be confident about it too, "Look sweetie, another step! Good girl!" and put her two front paws on it. Perhaps she'll figure it out. That's what we did. I don't know if there are any other ways. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks... and I am sensitive to the problems associated with body language in general and the baffling or worrying signals they might send to the dog. When I first got her , I just approached her crate as normal... day after day.... she would get real shy and I didn't think much of it.

Lately, I was a little annoyed at having to reach so far and so awkwardly into the crate to get her and decided to approach her more gently and use more sweet coaxing.

As for the stairs, I have been carrying her somewhat deliberately. It might be a bad idea, but I like that the stairs form a barrier.

I've had dogs that didn't know how to deal with stairs in the past.... and they all learned when encouraged. If it becomes a problem for my current pup... or turns out to be a bad idea for her to be ignorant of stair climbing... I'll teach her.

Lord knows that she can leap up on stumps, logs and ledges!
 

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Why can't she come out on her own? Some nervous or fearful dogs see a threat in someone reaching in, or even standing facing the crate. What does she do if you open the door and walk away. I would give her time to come out and approach you on her terms, that way she should take to you faster and not be as worried.
 

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I used to keep a treat jar next to my bed specifically for this problem. I'm not a morning person. My dog picked up on that immediately and went into appeasement mode every morning. She never attempted to wake me or whine for treats in the morning. There was some improvement that has stuck(as long as I'm in a good mood).
 

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I agree with juliemule and spirit-of-cotons. Can you go say Hello, open the door, then turn around a leave?

Not sure what you do about the stairs... You can wait at the stairs, at the base of the stairs (and let her see you walk away while she's at the top?), or you can go fix breakfast, then go back upstairs and get her. You won't have to do this forever, just until she recognizes a consistent pattern...
 

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My take on this is that effectively crate-trained dogs tend to see the crate as a den or refuge that is "their space." She might feel threatened by you reaching in there for her every morning, and be giving appeasement behaviors to try to keep you from doing that. She might also not like being picked up as much as you think she does. I agree with those who have suggested letting her come out of her crate on her own, or perhaps luring her out with a cookie.

I know you like the stairs being a barrier, but there's a little learned helplessness there that I'm kind of uncomfortable with. Dogs should know how to climb up and down stairs. I think you should get a baby gate instead.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm uncomfortable with the "learned helplessness", too.... it was just an experiment that I can easily change, though.

My appeasement behaviors began after I noticed that her morning shyness was going to be a daily event... I'm repeating myself, but just want to be clear.

A bit more information: In any other context with the crate, she will literally leap into me quite happily. Further, I have done a little work on teaching her to remain in her crate when we open the door!!! (including the front door of the house)
That's pretty ironic! At any other time of the day,though, this dog is not a crate-exiting problem.

Now, as to why I don't (or didn't) just open the door and let her walk:
I acquired her 13 weeks ago. She was a kenneled pound dog. She was 12 weeks old. I had no knowlege of her ability to hold her pee/poo. She had a few accidents in our first few days with her.... and THAT was with a tightly managed crating schedule.

Her longest stretch without being able to relieve herself occurs through the night... about 9 hours. Because I was unsure of her ability to "hold it" on the way to the front door after the long night (and because she was a bit small for the stairs), I went ahead and carried her out to the front stoop... and only during the morning routine.

Because of this thread, though, (and because time has a way of passing without notice)... I agree with the posts here. Although I think my initial protocol was fine, the pup is now probably old enough to step out of the crate and make her way to the stairs without risk of piddling.

I'll step away and see how she does.

My only hope is that she doesn't just remain in the crate! I could improve me chances by introducing a high interest reinforcer... hmmm.... I'll have to think on that.

Ohbehave
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That's a good point.

She is far from reliable, but she "knows" the come command. She is a notably independent "hound" type personality... unlike my other, easy dogs that I have had, she doesn't spend a lot of time looking deep into my eyes to know my wishes.

Your point brings up an interesting idea, though. Forget the morning ... why not go upstairs and go through the same routine that we do downstairs (there is a downstairs crate, too).

Downstairs, we have had to work on NOT exploding from the crate when the door is opened. Perhaps I can bring her upstairs, have her go into the crate.... then tell her to stay... and THEN release her. ... for a reward when she gets to me.

Rinse and repeat

It's kinda obvious now that you prompted me.

Granted, there is something very uniquely different about her during the morning. It's a different dog. I'm not expecting an upstairs rehearsal to instantly generalize to the real-thing, morning routine.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just began on the stair climbing skill. The fact that it is laminated wood, I'm sure, makes things a bit more stressy for her... but she made it half way up the stairs after much repeated practice. I quit while we were ahead.

I figured that was good enough. For some reason, behaviors seems to take a leap for the better on the following day.

Not sure if any of you have noticed this, but there is something about "sleeping on it" that makes things even better tomorrow. This holds true with people, too.
 

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I definitely agree.

Also, my dog had a thing about stairs too, and she mastered going up the stairs well before she mastered going down them. Which makes sense if you think about it - going down the stairs probably looks steep and scary to a little pup. We also have hardwoods.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Ok... it's clear now. What looks like "morning shyness" is a fear of the stairs.

She can now go up the stairs rather easily....only slightly worried, but also happy.

If she goes half way up, she can be turned to go back down.

But once she gets most of the way up, she seems far more worried and refuses to walk back down.... instead, she goes to the top floor and then (if I attempt to pursue her directly), she will dodge and hide from me to avoid capture!

Considering that being carried down the stairs only amplifies the "falling down a cliff" vision... because she is up high in my arms as we turn down the stairs... that perspective is even more severe than when she is on the top step looking down.

So, if I can fix the stairs issue, I'll solve the "shyness" issue.
 
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