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Hi all,

I’m a first time puppy owner, and have a 12 week old blue merle great dane named Theo. I did a lot of research on this breed for almost a year before bringing him into my home, and he is the perfect pup for me! He is very sweet and loves cuddling, and has done very well with almost all of his training so far... almost. He is extremely food motivated which has made training a pretty successful process for both of us. He has learned several basic commands and understands many of the words i use wih him on a regular basis. I amso happy to see his improvement!! There is one skill he hasn’t yet improved on yet- crate training- and I am starting to feel it has almost gotten worse.

I have been working on training since he came home to me at 8 weeks old and have done A LOT of research online, as well as gotten a lt of advice from people i know who have had puppies, and I have followed all of the basic steps evergone seems to recommend cor crate training a puppy: give him long lasting treats that he only gets in the crate, ifnore the whining, take him out to do his business right before bed, etc... but nothing has helped the screaming. When he is alone in the crate, he does not just whine, he SCREAMS his lungs off like it is the very first time he has ever been alone in his entire life. The sound is absolutely horrendous! And even though his crate s in my bedroom behind two closed doors, you can hear his cries from outside of my apartment and all the way down the stairs and into the parking lot. I can tolerate whining, and some barking, as i expected those for the first few nights or week that he had to spend alone in the crate... but the screaming is too much and it is getting out of hand.

The most common suggestion you’ll find about stopping whining while training is to simply ignore it and the pup will stop within about 20 minutes or so, and with a few days will learn that whining will not get them out. I have followed this rule very strictly and absolutely do not give him any attention when he is loud in his crate, but the yelling FOES NOT STOP. He will go on and on for at least an hour, usually more, before he quiets down, and even then he only quiets down until he hears me moving in the other room or in bed, then the whole fit starts over again. He paws and bites at the crate doors, and had even figured out how to dig at the latch in just the right way to get it open and squeeze out so he can have a fit in the closed bedroom and destroy everything in sight... after coming home from work to this escaped pup twice i had to buy locks to put on the crate door so he cannot escape.

He will willingly enter the crate on command, in fact, e runs to his crate immediately whenever we’re in the room because he knows he gets good things when he goes in. Whenever I leave, he gets two peanut butted stuffed kongs and a treat for entering his crate, I close the door, and then leave the room. As soon as he has finished licking the peanutbhtter from the toys, usually 5 or so minutes, he begins to yell and does not stop, whether i’m in the room or not. I have tried crate training during the day bu gradually increasing the time he’s in and only letting him out when he is quiet, but it has not helped the yelling. At this point I feel i have tried everything and made no improvement and it has been almost a month f the same routine and training. I am starting to worry for both mine and my puppy’s sanity.

What am I doing wrong? Is there any way I can make my puppy feel more comfortable in his crate alone? Please help us before his noise gets me kicked out of my apartment!!
 

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Have you tried crate training while you are home and moving from room to room, AND rewarding for any periods of quiet?
 

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You might get a trainer like a treat and train that has a remote that rotates a disc so small treats can fall into the crate. Better would be one with wifi. A couple out there. Zero idea if they actually work or not. The treat and train is terrific but definitely old school. Since he screams when food is gone this might help. You would continuously treat when he's quiet slowly working to feed more treats less often then feed fewer and fewer treats using the remote. As you go on you would make the treats more boring too. I use puffed rice in my T&T for instance but might have started out with premium kibble. Of course the instructions are probably terrific and there are lots more great tips on how to teach him to remain calm when you are out of sight.

In my experience getting such a contraption will mean he will magically figure it out and learn to be quiet before it arrives. Totally worth it! Do not let on that you can easily return it, would ruin everything.

Do not assume he cannot escape because you locked the door latch. He could flip up the crate pan and squeeze through the large square openings on the bottom. He could bend the slot where the pan slides in to make an opening large enough to squeeze through. My frantic pup caught his foot in the door bottom. I put leash clips at the bottom corner and center from then on. Pull and push every single joint to see where it gives even a little bit and put a leash clip, carabiner or lock in each spot. Not fun coming home to a redecorated room, tragic to come home to a dog with a trapped paw or worse.

He sounds like he is a blast to work with, super smart and fun. Since he only screams after the food is gone seems he is extremely persistent more than developing separation anxiety. Persistence can be a lot of fun, such dogs work hard to figure out a puzzle and it is fun to work with that. I'm sure once you get through this he will come up with other shenanigans to drive you up the wall and in the end it will be totally worth it. My problem dog is persistent, so interesting watching him figure out how to get to The Ball which makes up for the other stuff he comes up with.
 

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Have you tried crate training while you are home and moving from room to room, AND rewarding for any periods of quiet?
This is good advice. Even if it's only a few seconds between treats at first. Slowly build up to longer and longer periods of time.

It's hard crate training in an apartment. He could have separation anxiety but it's also very common at his age to not like being left alone.

Do not assume he cannot escape because you locked the door latch. He could flip up the crate pan and squeeze through the large square openings on the bottom. He could bend the slot where the pan slides in to make an opening large enough to squeeze through. My frantic pup caught his foot in the door bottom. I put leash clips at the bottom corner and center from then on. Pull and push every single joint to see where it gives even a little bit and put a leash clip, carabiner or lock in each spot. Not fun coming home to a redecorated room, tragic to come home to a dog with a trapped paw or worse.
This. I strongly recommend you take his collar off when he's in his crate. My dog has been known (on more than one occasion) to push at the door until one of the latches wiggles loose, then he pushes on the door and squeezes thought the opening. He's 80 lbs! I can't believe he could fit through a space so small without hurting himself. If he had been wearing a collar there's a good chance it would have gotten stuck and he could have strangled himself. I use caribiner clips on the door now.
 

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Ok, so I can relate to that. We took home a puppy a week and a half ago. The puppy is our second dog. Our adult dog was not using a crate regularly, though it was crate trained as a puppy.

For about a week, we crated the puppy at night, not in our bedroom, and continued to let the adult dog sleep in our bed with us. The puppy would scream and scream. It was awful, but the popular advice is to just ignore. Not fun, when the puppy goes non stop for hours.

Last night, we crated our adult dog, in a separate crate, beside the puppy. The good news was, that the puppy was very quiet! The bad news, was that the adult dog was very unhappy to not be in bed with us, and cried a lot.

What have I learned? The puppy is not so much upset that it is in the crate, but rather that it is being separated from the pack / family, and left alone.
 

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The issue may be that he has had success escaping the crate. If he is let out of the crate (either his doing or yours ) even ONCE while fighting being in there, he will learn instantly that this works. If it happens randomly he is being reinforced in the strongest way to keep doing it (and doing it even harder!) because you never know WHEN it works.
 

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Have you tried moving the crate to where he doesn't feel so isolated? Like rkj mentioned, it might not be a crate issue, but feeling abandoned or isolated.
When Bella was a pup, she screamed and cried and carried on night after night until we moved her crate to the bedroom with us, and into the living room during the day. The screaming stopped immediately - she was happy in her crate being able to see us and knowing we were there and that carried over to when we went back to work and school...she just slept until we got home.
 

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Based on what you've described, I'd find a trainer / behavior consultant that specializes in separation anxiety (SA) to help. Again, what you've described doesn't sound like ordinary puppy protesting being crated or left; it sounds as though the puppy is panicking - and, if so, continuing to leave him alone in his crate will only make things worse.

Malena DeMartini is well-known for her work with SA, has certified trainers in various locations, and does remote consulting. https://malenademartini.com/

It's tough. I have a pup who does not like being alone. Fortunately I have another dog and he's fine with her, but it does make life more difficult.
 
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