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Discussion Starter #1
Good Day all,

As I mentioned in my introduction, I am not new to dogs, however, I am new to puppies. We got Calvin, a Bernedoodle, three days ago. He is almost 3 months old and was bred on a farm with kennels set up much like an Animal Humane Society. The breeder free fed him and his siblings, and let them come and go out of the kennel into the outdoor pen. The outdoor pen was closed around 10pm at night and was opened in the morning.

I set up his crate in a corner of the living room, next to the couch with lots of toys he loves to chew on. When we got home Sunday, I waited until the evening to introduce the crate. We played the games, made it fun and he accepted it quite quickly. Because he was so new to the crate and our home, I slept on the couch Sunday night to take him out for potty and consoling him. On Monday, I spent the entire day getting him more comfortable to the crate, more games, letting him stay in it with the door open, to eventually closing the door and keeping him comfortable. He seemed to be accepting of the crate so far., had naps in it, played in it.... I started to extend the times he was in the crate and I would mull about in the kitchen, which he can plainly see from his crate. Only minor whimpering at this point. I read elsewhere to command him with... 'Calvin, quiet'. The evening came and my wife and I had to step out for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, no kids were around to keep him company, so this was his first solo event in his crate. When we got home he was howling, whining, crying and barking. I did not immediately go to him, however in hindsight, I did not wait long enough for him to stop, before letting him out. Monday night came and I slept on the couch again, consoling him and letting him out to go potty. There was whimpering and whining through the night but because I was close, I understood it to be a need to go potty, which he did when I took him out.

Tuesday I spent more crate training, leaving him in for longer durations, lots of play outside and in. This is really when I noticed the whining in my absence. I started to extend the time away from the crate, letting him know I am around but did not let him out if he was whining. At this point, I put a blanket over the crate and left the front open, and then I tried to lower it bit by bit until all the way down in the front. This immediately prompted barking and whining whether I was close or not. Tuesday night I tried the tough love approach. I'd say he slept about 35 minutes from 9pm to 530am, as he was whining, barking and yelping for the rest of the time. I did not go out and console him, nor did I acknowledge or correct him but took him out for potty breaks.

Two observations I can comment on too. When he is simply chillin' in his crate with the door open, I can leave the area for extended lengths of time and there is no whining but as soon as I close the crate door and walk away, the whining starts. Second observation is similar. I setup an exercise pen in the backyard to contain him as the yard is not puppy proofed yet. As soon as I closed him in and walked away the whining started and led to barking when I entered the house.

Today will be much the same as yesterday, I will lock him in the crate, leave the area and come back, extending the time as the day goes by.

I now believe our first two nights with him were not done properly and has taught him some bad habits. Does anyone agree with this? I am open to some suggestions or comments, but for now, it's tough love.


Thanks in advance,

Sleepless in Edmonton.
 

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While it sounds like you are trying to do what's recommended (starting with a small amount of time, and gradually extending it), it has to be at a pace the dog is comfortable with. If the puppy whines after being alone in the crate for 5 minutes, the next time it should only be in the crate for 4 minutes. Its also a good idea to sometimes do very short repetitions (walk out of the room and then back in again), which is 1) really easy for the puppy so makes the next long repetition easier to endure, and also teaches the dog that the length of time you'll be away varies, rather than always getting longer, every single time. Build up the duration very gradually (1-2 minutes at a time, or however much the dog can tolerate) so that they remain comfortable at every repetition. This helps the dog learn that the crate is a safe place to be and helps condition them to be comfortable in it (because they never get the chance to become worried or distressed).

IMO it is pretty easy to tell if a dog is bored/annoyed/attention seeking/trying to get their way or truly distressed/panicking. Dogs who are just trying to get something they want usually bark/wine for a little while, and then settle down. Dogs who are distressed/panicking do not settle down until the thing causing them to panic is gone. You can't learn to self-sooth when you are panicking, so "tough love" doesn't work for dogs/puppies distressed when crated and has a very high chance of poisoning the crate in the long term. Ignoring a dog that is in distress doesn't teach them anything except if they are in trouble or severely afraid, you aren't going to help or protect them, so they aren't going to trust you.
 

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Thanks Gingerkid! I've done more research since I posted this and your kind advice mirrors what I've read and I've already started to make some adjustments. Thanks for clarifying what I suspected after researching more!!


PH
 
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