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crate training with door closed...need some help

1323 Views 6 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  OurPreciousLilWookie
I've been on DFC forum for three weeks but mainly on the "Raw Feeding" section as we started feeding raw to Wookie about two weeks ago and its going pretty well. I came across this section of the forum and wanted to see if we can get any help regarding the only hurdle we've had so far with the training. Let me give some background about Wookie
Wookie is about 2.5 yrs old and from what we've been told he's either schnauzer + bichon or schnauzer + poodle mix (at least the two being the two major breeds). He's about 15 lbs. We got him from a local dog resuce organization in August 2010. We did a six-week basic obedience training class (once a week) and that went pretty well. We've been following all the stuff that was taught with sit, down n other basic commands etc n he does it very well. The only problem we've had is with him sleeping in the crate with the door closed. We've been trying to get him to sleep in the crate for the past few months and nothing has worked really so far. He did sleep in the crate multiple times with the door closed but only with the crate right next to the bed. As soon as we moved the crate little further away from the bed (basically where he can't see us) with the door closed he goes crazy and whines literally non-stop for the whole night and will start digging in the crate as soon as the door is closed. My wife and I tried to make him get used to the crate by putting him in the crate during the day and he did good with the door open n did okay sometimes with the door closed as long as he can see us. So at this point we're really thinking if we should crate train him at all or just not worry about it anymore as he's not destructive or anything at all when we leave him in the house alone. He does whine when we both leave the house but as long as we don't make a big deal out of leaving the house he's fine usually. So what I would want to ask you guys is if we should really spend time n energy on this issue or just let it be as is? If we should work on this how we should go about training him sleeping in the crate with the door closed with the goal to move the crate eventually in our walkin closet which is about 8 or 10 feet away from the bed which isn't visible from the bed because of the curtains.
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First I must ask why you want to crate him at night? Is he still potty training or destructive over night? If so theres definitely reason to keep working on it. If not maybe just allow him to sleep on a bed next to yours at night. Many people crate their dogs at night which is perfectly fine, but when dogs (especially rescue dogs) have anxiety about being in their crate its sometimes more harmful to make them be in there when it makes them so upset. If he sleeps soundly next to your bed all night and keeps out of trouble I think that is a better option then the crate.

Another point I'd like to make is that when crate training you need to make their crate as enjoyable as possible. Do whatever you can to make them want to go in there freely. A part of making this crate their safe place is putting it in a safe place for them, which is a place where you happen to be or to spend time. Unless you're spending a good deal of time in your walk in closet, that isn't a good place for the kennel. It may only be 10 feet from your bed but your dog will know when it's being kept in a closet (not trying to make you feel bad about it but make you see that dogs can pick up on being someplace that isn't ideal).
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Thanks for the reply. First let me clarify, even if its a walk-in closet its almost like the size of a small room. Infact we've the crate in there for the past few months and at night when we says "Go relax" (his command to go to bed) he'd voluntarily go in the crate and lay down without any problem and sleeps there the whole night somtimes (with the door open though) or he comes out n sleeps just outside the crate (majority of the time) so I don't think he has issues with the crate being in the closet. Its something with him in the crate with the door closed (may be because of some past experience or something..not sure)
The only reason we want him to get used to the crate with the door closed is if we travel with him or if he needs to be boarded at the vet or some situation where he'd have to be in his crate with the door closed.
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I can see why you'd want him to get used to having the door shut on his crate at night. But to be completely honest with you, teaching your dog to sleep with the kennel door shut at night may or may not help him with other experiences in life like boarding or overnight stays at the vet. Both of those situations are very high stress for some dogs (especially yours from the sounds of it- has anxiety about being left behind) and all the training in the world wont prepare them for these events.

There's a reality that I've come to realize and that is some dogs do really, really well with crate training and others just don't (a lot of it depends on when/age you start crate training, past history of the dog and the techniques you use). The dogs that don't do well with crate training I say to not push it for fear of creating other resulting behavioral problems. I know that if we try and crate Shiloh (wolf/husky mix) she will hurt herself trying to get out. So we avoid having to put her through something like that at all costs.
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Thanks for your response. We are going to continue working with him with the door open/off and if we ever get to the point of closing it, that will just be an added bonus.

Luckily for Wookie, we have a local doggie daycare that is cage-free. All the pups sleep together at night while staying there, and it's pretty much like being at home with a gigantic living room made of grass :)
I think it's possibly a "rescue" thing. I know that a friend has a rescued Weimeriener (sp) that would do anything in his power to get out of the crate. They were using it to make sure the dog wasn't going to get into anything, or have trouble at first with any of the other dogs. Turns out this dog had so much anxiety while in the crate, after a week it was better to just let him be. I get why you want the dog use to being in a crate with the door closed; but unless it's completely necessary, I say let the dog hang out in the bedroom, closet or crate wherever he's happy.
I think if you do want to continue to try working with the door closed, you need to go very slow. Let him be in there for a few min then let him out. If he's whining, then he turns quiet, let him out right away! That way he knows that being calm and quiet will get him what he wants. To have the door opened.
Good luck!
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Khan, I agree with you.

And thanks everyone for your responses. Everyone I know seems hellbent on crate training and I just wanted to confirm to myself that, while it is a good thing, isn't always the best for every situation. We are going to continue using the crate without the door as Wookie's night time bed. Maybe one day he will love it so much we can lock him behind the bars :biggrin:
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