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Teaching a puppy to like his play pen

1201 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Moonstream
I have a 4 month old puppy (Russian bolonka) and he is housetrained and stays in his crate all day while I am at work (dog walker comes 3x a day to walk him, feed him, etc.) and he also sleeps in his crate, which is in the living room. He does not seem to mind his crate at all. He whines a little when I first close the door and leave for work but he stops basically immediately and doesn't whine when the dog walker leaves him in there. I am assuming he sleeps for most of the day. I have a doggy camera but can't really see well inside the crate.
The crate is connected to a play pen. He plays in the play pen when the door to the pen is open and I'm home. However, when I try leaving him in there to go throw out the garbage, etc. he freaks out and jumps on the walls and cries. For this reason, I always have to crate him when I go anywhere and I would like to start transitioning him to the play pen so he has more freedom when I'm gone for short periods of time.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!
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It sounds more like separation anxiety more than anything. Is there any real big reason why he needs to be in the playpen if your pup likes the crate? It sounds like your pup feels more secure in the crate, so I'd just leave it there unless there is a serious issue.
I would think that perhaps he thinks the crate means, "Ok, mom/dad is leaving. I have to stay here. It's fine," and he thinks playpen means "Ok, mom/dad is leaving and if I cry and scream enough perhaps they'll let me come with." It's not that uncommon. Personally, I would just ignore the crying. It will teach the dog, "Sometimes mom/dad leaves me in here real quick, then they come back. Just like the crate."

You could try giving him a little snack, like a kong stuffed with peanut butter to occupy him for those few minutes you step out.
Personally, I don't use playpens to confine the dog when I'm not there. It only takes one successful try for the dog to realize they can move it/get out of it if they want to, and IME once the dog understands they can escape it, you've lost all use from it. I mainly use to playpen to teach the puppy to settle independently of people in a safe environment, and as an alternative to tethering.

Playpens need to be "loaded" with a positive association just like crates. Playing game where they go in and out on cue, making sure they have enough toys (that rotate), and giving them special chews/treats only in the pen (pupsickles, kongs, trachea/bully sticks, etc).
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