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 Questions on crate training...

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SolitaryHowl
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PostSubject: Questions on crate training...   Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:00 pm

Hello everyone,

Let me just start out with some background. I have an 8 year old husky rescue (we've had him for 4 years), who has separation anxiety. A week or so ago he destroyed some rather expensive things in my parent's house, because he was left alone. I know, it was their fault for leaving him alone in the house, they know it was their fault, etc. My Dad was against crate training for so long, and we tried to crate train him once before but it ended up in total failure (we got a wire one, but being a both a crate-noob and a dog-noob, I left it closed & locked during his first night.)

Long story short: he has to be crate trained, or he'll be rehomed, because they won't put up this anymore: we practically have to make sure the dog can come with us everywhere we go, or that the car temperature is safe enough for him to wait in (he's perfectly okay with waiting inside the car, for HOURS), etc.

I have 4 months to fully crate train him, starting in May when I get home from school. I'm in contact with a local trainer, but would like some second opinions on a few things:

1. Can the crate be bigger than what you would normally use (example, if you were housebreaking him), seeing as he's already housebroken? He's about 80 pounds, and 26 inches from the ground to his withers. He wouldn't be left in the crate for very long, probably 4 hours max, and not everyday. The crate is mainly for when we leave, the house is big enough that he can escape and be alone from everyone else, and he sleeps upstairs in my Mom's room.

I was told to get a 'Sky Kennel' crate (40” L x 27” W x 30” H) , but their 'Giant' one is a little bigger with dimensions of (48” L x 32” W x 35” H).

Again, he's 26 inches high from the ground to his withers. Not sure how long he is, but I can measure him when I get home. When he lies down, he really likes to stretch out, which is why I thought maybe the bigger crate would be better.

When we first got him, we attempted crate training with a wire one. We got one that was of appropriate size (enough to turn around, etc), but he seemed very uncomfortable and squished in there. Like I said, he loves to stretch out...

Not sure if his separation anxiety will be better or worse with a bigger crate. He may feel less 'trapped' with a bigger crate??

I realize his SA issue may have to be sorted out separately. Thinking of working on his SA first, then crate training him. Or should I crate train him and take care of his SA all at once (with aids like the Thundershirt, DAP defuser, etc), or is that a bad idea?

2. What are the differences between a wire and an airline crate? Which one would be easier to work with in my situation, with a senior dog that has separation anxiety?

3. Where should the crate be located? Should it in be view of the front door or any windows, or is that a bad idea?
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TheBadGuppy
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Location : Toronto, Ontario

PostSubject: Re: Questions on crate training...   Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:17 pm

What happened when you tried to crate him before? How does he react now to being in a crate?

Not to say that you should give up on the crate training, but have you considered confining him to a room, or an area with a baby gate?

I also have a husky that has/had separation anxiety, and was not crate trained when we first brought him home at the age of 4mths. We tackled these separately simply because of scheduling, and also his extreme dislike for his crate!
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SolitaryHowl
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PostSubject: Re: Questions on crate training...   Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:36 pm

@TheBadGuppy wrote:
What happened when you tried to crate him before?  How does he react now to being in a crate?  

Not to say that you should give up on the crate training, but have you considered confining him to a room, or an area with a baby gate?  

I also have a husky that has/had separation anxiety, and was not crate trained when we first brought him home at the age of 4mths.  We tackled these separately simply because of scheduling, and also his extreme dislike for his crate!  


He whined, cried, and broke the crate.

When we left him alone in any room, he tries to dig underneath the door (ripping up my carpet), and/or tries to go out through a window. A few weeks after we got him, we left him alone in my room (after crate training didn't work). He tried to dig underneath the door, , he bit through the window screen, walked along the roof, and jumped down (from 2nd story) onto the ground.

A week ago or so ago (4 years after the first incident), he was left alone in Dad's office - he had full range of the place. He chewed up the blinds covering the front windows, thankfully he didn't try to dig but there was a little bit of blood on the windows.

The baby gate idea wouldn't work - he's learned to jump over them as we had to use them in the past to block stairs.
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TheBadGuppy
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PostSubject: Re: Questions on crate training...   Wed Feb 12, 2014 11:55 am

We had very similar issues. Gus would hurt himself trying to get out of his crate. Since my husband and I both are working/school during the day, we started putting Gus in daycare while we were not home. When we did get home, we practiced desensitizing him to our departure cues. So things like putting our coats and shoes on, and then sitting back down. Opening and closing the door, and then sitting back down. Repeat repeat repeat until he just ignores all those cues. This is to help him to stay calm when he realizes that you're about to leave him. Slowly start walking out the door, and then coming back in. If he stays comfortable, add a few minutes to this routine. It is A LOT of work, and extremely time consuming.

At bedtime, we made him sleep in his crate. Started with his crate in our bedroom. Waited until he was calm and fell asleep, then we would turn off the lights and go to bed. If your dog is very reactive to being in a crate, then you might want to start even slower with this. Feed him in there. Toss treats in there. Give him tasty treats to chew on in there. Reward him everytime he goes in there. Once he started becoming comfortable sleeping in there, we slowly started moving his crate out of our bedroom. But it was probably 2-3mths of 3am whining! Stay strong! Don't give in haha.

We still do not crate Gus while we are gone. We have an area at the front door that we gate off for him. Gus also easily jumps over a baby gate, and we had to mount a SECOND baby gate on top of the first one. It is basically a door now! The smartass still managed to open the top gate and jump over once, but we fixed that quickly.

Separation anxiety is not something that you can fix overnight, or even over the period of a week. We have had Gus for 10mths now, and it took us 5-7mths starting from desensitization. In his confined area (his room), he would howl and cry, and pee whenever we left him alone for too long. The key is to try and start as slow as possible to keep his anxiety at a minimum. You're teaching him that when you leave, it's not a big deal. You will ALWAYS come back. We still keep him confined in his room during the day, and have a dogwalker come if we are not going to be home for 6+ hours.

Hope this helps!
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SolitaryHowl
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PostSubject: Re: Questions on crate training...   Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:42 am

Thank you, Maggie! I'm sure your advice will help - I've never crate trained a dog before, hence the 'noob' questions.
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