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Crate Training Q&A

Crate Training Q&A


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  1. My dog has recently started to become difficult to get into the crate for my wife. Why has this crate behavior changed, and how do we correct it?

  2. I want to make sure my boyfriend's dog is crate trained before my new pup comes in April. I would like some suggestions before I go about it because I would like to do it right the first time.  Should I use the electric collar if she barks non-stop?

  3. When do you think I can sleep through the night & just let my pup out in the morning?

  4. Would substituting the crate for the back yard work? Is the back yard not restricting enough?

  5. What is a normal length of time for the screaming to persist? 2 Weeks? Can I put a citronella bark collar on her this young?

  6. Sense switching to a larger crate, our pup has started urinating in the crate again. Is it too big? Do you think this is something he just needs to get over or should we be taking him out more?

  7. Do you have any training ideas for a dog that breaks out of the crate or could you recommend one of the metal ones you sell.

  8. I’ve been trying to crate train my 4 month old dachshund puppy for a month and he won’t stop barking at night, what should I do?

  9. Should we allow our 4 month old GSD puppy access to water while he’s crated during the day while we are gone?

  10. My dog is now 2 years old and I want her to be loose in the house overnight, but she destroyed some pillows after about 3 hours. I heard the thrashing and told her NO and put her in her crate. Am I approaching this the right way?

  11. My new puppy has been introduced to the crate and puppy pen. He does fine as long as someone is in the room with him but when I (or any other family member) leaves the room or house or out of site, he whines and screams and howls. Any advice would be appreciated!

  12. My pup keeps having accidents in his crate during the night. We can't figure out a fix. Are we missing something?

1. Question:

Dear Cindy,

Our Keeshound has been crate trained for 2 1/2 years, he caught on right after we got him; he is now 3. Recently, he will not enter the crate for my wife- he will run away and try to hide if possible, and if she grabs him by the collar and puts him in, he screams as he enters the crate. He seems afraid and acts flaky, as if he is conflicted. He will not go in for a treat. However, I still have no problem with him, he crates fine for me. Once he is in the crate, he behaves normally.

She has no other problems with him, although we both have a problem with him roaring down the steps past us after we let him out, due to excitement. When we let him out, he dances on his hind legs and is so glad to see us. He usual mode is that he will do almost anything for a treat. He normally seems eager to please. We have done virtually no training with him, because he is so well behaved, and seems to anticipate our desires, with the above exceptions. He acts submissive to both of us. This dog has a fear of new situations, especially with new sounds. He is an excellent walker, he looks up at us and does not go ahead of us, nor does he lag -- he keeps up. He immediately picked up on heeling, and does this better than any other dog in the neighborhood.

Why has this crate behavior changed, and how do we correct it? I believe that when she forces him into the crate, it is making it an issue for him. Unfortunately, she is home alone and has to put him in the crate whenever she leaves the house. We have another dog, a small mutt, and she does not have this problem.

Thanks,
Jeff and Sharon

Answer:

I'd put a dog like this on a program of structure and firm leadership. He's trying to manipulate your wife, and you too to some extent. He needs to go in the crate calmly and wait to be invited out and to behave politely when he's let out. Overly excited behavior (like the dancing around) should be discouraged. Dogs like this need to be taught that calm and respectful behavior get them what they want.

I'd start with our Groundwork program. Since he screams and avoids when she tries to put him in the crate the simple solution is to keep him on a leash AT ALL TIMES when he's not crated. He has too much freedom. Fearful dogs especially benefit from having the
rules refreshed for them in a no nonsense sort of way.

I'd also recommend this video, Pack Structure for the Family Pet.

I hope this helps.

Cindy


2. Question:

This April, I will be getting a Doberman puppy.  I have a Pappilion right now who is very well trained and crate trained.  The dogs will be separated most of the time, with visitation only when I am present.

However, my boyfriend has a Rottweiler/lab, Scout, that comes to visit during his son's visitation.  She is a nightmare.  She is spoiled, aggressive, unruly, etc.  I have taken her down a few notches with basic obedience training and leash work with a prong collar.  Over the past few years, it has really changed her demeanor significantly.  The only problem is she only respects me and listens to me.  When I am not around, she's back to her ways.

With my pup on the way, I need to make drastic changes in the house.  I have decided that it is imperative that Scout is crate trained by the time the pup arrives.  My boyfriend has told me that  she goes "crazy" when placed in a crate.  Therefore, he took her out immediately and she won.  It was never considered again.  Sort of like clipping her nails!  She bites at you and whines and rolls all over and gets away with it.  That problem I solved over a two week period, and am now filing her nails two to three times a week with no fuss.

As far as the crate training,  I would like some suggestions before I go about it because I would like to do it right the first time (not that there is a right).  I was going start feeding her in it with the door open for a few weeks.  And when she gets used to that, close it, and then let her out after she's done eating.  I would like it to be a positive experience.   But if she has a fit, as usual, I just need some help as far as getting her in it and how long to leave her in it, etc.  Should I use the electric collar if she barks non-stop? 

Thank you for your time,
Margaret

Answer:

For the Rott/Lab I’d start with our Groundwork program.

It’s important for a dog like this to be placed in a secure crate that she can not get out of, or it will make the task of crate training her much more difficult.

I’d also recommend reading this section on Separation Anxiety and this one also on dog crates.

We suggest a bark collar for dogs that carry on in the crate, it delivers a more accurately timed correction than an electric collar. Tri-tronics Bark Limiter.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have.. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy


3. Question:

Hi,

Absolutely love your work!  Thank you so much!  I have a new Siberian huskie mix that is 10 weeks old & we crate him every night.  I have been getting up after about 4 hours to let him out to pee & poop outside in our back yard, but I would much prefer to sleep through the night.  I’m a diabetic with a bad cold, & this has exhausted me. My question is, when do you think I can sleep through the night & just let him out in the morning?  Thanx!

Answer:

This varies so much from dog to dog, I’m not sure there is an accurate answer I can give.  I have owned pups that sleep through the night from 12 weeks old and others who need to get up in the night for a year or more. They are all individuals, so there really isn’t a set age for when they no longer need a break halfway through the night.

Cindy


4. Question:

Hello,

I just adopted a very mellow and sweet Rottie from the pound. He is about 5 years old. I had a question. We live in Southern California(great weather), have a covered patio and 6 foot fencing around my whole yard. I plan on having him as an outside dog for the most part.

So my question is:

From reading your articles. Would substituting the crate for the back yard work? Is the back yard not restricting enough? I am talking about the initial conditioning to establish pack leadership.

Thanks ahead for your time.

Danny

Answer:

For preliminary ground work, a crate is really what we recommend. A dog has too much freedom of choice in a back yard.

I would direct you to the search function in the upper left corner of the website for any additional questions you may have. If you type in your key words it will guide you to articles, Q & A’s and posts on our forum. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy


5. Question:

Hi Cindy,

I have a lab pup that is nine weeks. I got her one week ago. For the the first 1-2 days, she stayed in her crate all the time except to potty. She was/is a screamer, so I needed her to get used to crate.

She's calmed down a little, but still screams when she sees me to get out. I never open crate until she is quiet. After potting or playing in kitchen, she will follow me in to eat when I rattle liver treats. She will fight like a tiger if I just put her in with no food, and then scream.

Question: What is a normal length of time for the screaming to persist? 2 Weeks? I make sure I didn't get a neurotic dog. She whines a lot even when out of crate. Can I put a citronella bark collar on her this young? I know she's too young for ecollar.

Thanks,
Tracey

Answer:

Every puppy is different, some don’t scream in the crate at all and some take longer.  She’s very young and it’s only been a week.  I would continue like you are except maybe introduce marker training to her and turn going in the crate into a game that she enjoys.  I believe that we cover some of this in the Pack structure video also

I wouldn’t use a citronella collar on her, she is till trying to settle in and feel comfortable with you. 

Cindy


6. Question:

Hi Cindy,

We have a 5 month old German shepherd puppy named Gunnar who we are currently crate training. We have your DVD's on establishing pack structure and basic obedience training as well as the Common house breaking mistakes eBook. Using this information we were able to train Gunnar fairly quickly using a small crate. We only had to clean it up twice due to accidents in the first month. However when we moved him to a large crate when he no longer fit into the small one he has been urinating in the crate. He still knows to defecate outside, but we feel the urination is ploy to get us to take him outside. We do not correct him at all for this. We only interact with him outside now even though he was spending some time with us upstairs on leash. I guess we have just reverted to treating him like we did in the beginning. We feed a mostly protein no grain all natural dog food (kibble). We have checked him for an Urinary tract infection. We have chosen not to continue with his Vaccines after reading some articles on your site. We exercise him twice a day for at least 10 minutes. He has a lot of room in the crate and I'm wondering if it's too large for him. Do you think this is something he just needs to get over or should we be taking him out more? Here is our schedule for taking him out + or - a few minutes.

6:15 am
8:15 am
12:15 pm
2:30 pm
7:15 pm
10:15pm

We really appreciate any advice.

Thank you for all the hard work you and Ed put into educating us about Dogs.

Rich, Patty and Gunnar

Answer:

I don’t believe dogs are capable (especially 5 month old dogs) of using a ploy to get out of the crate. I feel that he’s either anxious and uncomfortable in the new big crate which may trigger urination out of stress OR the crate is just too big for him at this point.  Is it a different style of crate from what he was used to as a smaller pup?  (i.e. wire compared to plastic airline kennel)

I’d partition off part of the new crate so he has less room and maybe put a sheet over all the sides to make it feel more secure and enclosed and see if that makes a difference.  Your schedule of taking him out looks fine.

Let me know how it goes.

Cindy


7. Question:

My son and daughter-in-law are both active Air Force stationed in Ramstein GR.  They have a 8 month old Malamute who is a crate escape artist. They have crate trained him since the day they brought him home since my son's older Mal (who died last fall at the age of 12 ) was also an escape artist, they knew they had to teach him from the start.  He was fine for the first 7 months (even flew 12 hrs on the plane in his crate) but now good old Champ has decide he doesn't have to stay in a crate any longer! He busts out of both the airline travel crate and a 48x28 wire crate every time they put him in when they are at work.

Any ideas? Or what crate on your site would you recommend? I see that they are all $700-$1000, they would need a size that would allow them to fly him back to the states in the crate (not for another 3 years).  How much would shipping be to Germany?

Or do you have any training ideas? You came highly recommended from a raw feeding list that I am on out of Chicago.  I have 7 border collies and a pit that would never think of busting out, actually they all love their crates while they are in them (all trained from the age of pups)  Anyway my friends and I are out of ideas except for them to heavily invest in a 'lion crate'

Thank you for any ideas.

Judi

Answer:

The only metal crates that can be used have to meet airlines specs, I won’t go into them here, but they have to have a tray in case the dog pees and ways to give the dog water and food.

We are not open today. I will send this to my office manager and she will try and answer your questions. It very well may be cheaper for them to look for a crate in Europe. These things are not cheap – but they last their lifetime. They will never buy another crate.

A point to mention on escape artists. Some dogs get so hectic in a crate that they try and chew their way out. They end up hurting themselves. Those dogs should be trained to wear a muzzle before they are forced to stay in a crate. The basket muzzles we sell are the best for this because the dog can drink with them on. The training to put them on should be done with markers. I also have a free streaming video on how to use markers and muzzles – it’s in the streaming video portion of my web site.

The fact is if the dog is trained to the crate with markers they learn that the crate is not bad. He should be in the crate when your family is home – then they can correct the dog for misbehaving – (I would use a remote collar and low level stimulation - Remote Collar Training for the Pet Owner). They should also feed the dog in the crate.

Here are the markers DVD's that will teach them how to train:

The Power of Training Dog with Markers
The Power of Training Dogs with Food

The reality is metal crates don’t solve one single behavioral problem. They just forcibly contain the dog.

A lot of things to think about here.

Regards,
Ed Frawley


8. Question:

HELP!!!!  I am at my wits end

I have been trying to crate training a 4 month old male miniature Dachshund for 4 weeks now and I still have problems with him barking continuously at night.  I do all the things the cd says to do but he still barks. I don't not keep him in a crate during the day since I am gone for nearly 10 hours to work.  He is kept in a small doggy play pen.  When I get home I play with him in the kitchen while I am working on Supper and then in his crate while we eat and back out for a little bonding with the family, outside and then back to the crate about 9:30 pm.  He will last about two hours and the barking starts. Here is where I have the problem; does he need to go out??? Or is he wanting out of the crate...? I don't get him out because your books says only when they are calm which might not happen for 1 to 2 hours.  Can I just leave him in there???  If I waiting to take him out after he calms down then I am up for the night...

I am thinking of putting him in the basement garage but it is colder there, and do I need to set my alarm to get up a take him out in the middle of the night?

Please help.

Vickie

Answer:

If you know he is going to last 1 or 2 hours before he starts barking, then let him out before he starts up. The key to successful crate training is to let the dog out BEFORE he gets to the point he won’t stop barking. If you are still having problems after one month, my guess is that he’s barked for a period of time and then you’ve let him out. He’s learned that if he keeps it up long enough he’ll finally get let out. Put him on a schedule and if that means you need to get up in the night, then that’s what I would suggest.

I’d also make sure he’s getting plenty of playtime and exercise so he’s ready to settle down in the crate. If he’s barking because he needs to go to the bathroom, then that’s one thing but if he’s just protesting confinement then letting him out when he does this will only reinforce that barking gets him what he wants.

You can try using the search function on the website to find the answer to any additional questions. It is located in the left hand corner of every page on our website. Simply type in your search terms or key words and you will be directed to articles, question & answers, free streaming videos and posts on our forum.


9. Question:

Hi,

We got our German Shepherd puppy 2 weeks ago while my girlfriend was on break from school vacation. He has learned to go to the bathroom outside, but has an occasional accident. The question I have is that he will be left in the crate from 8 am to 3 pm Monday to Friday. Should he have access to water while we are not home during this period of time? We have heard several different opinions, but it seems a little cruel to leave him without water for that period of time. Obviously, he is 4 months old and has to pee quite frequently. I notice if he drinks a couple bowls of water at one time he has to go once an hour for a few hours. What is your recommendation on the amount of water or lack thereof to give him during this time period?  

Ps. I am asking you because of your excellent answers on your web page.

Thank You,
Mike

Answer:

Until a puppy is housetrained and crate trained very reliably, I don’t give water in the crate for extended periods of time.  I’d offer him water in the AM, and then allow him water from the time you return home to a few hours before bedtime.

I leave a water bucket clipped to the inside of the kennels of my adult dogs, but not 4 month old puppies.


10. Question:

Hi Cindy,

Thank you for all the great training advice you have given me in the past. I have another issue regarding my 2 year old female GSD. I raised her since she was 8 weeks old and followed Leerburg's protocol on making sure she is crated when not attended to. Thanks to this great and simple advice, she has never destroyed anything in the house.

Now at 2 years old I would like to start leaving her out of the crate overnight and possibly while I am at work. What I have done up to this point is allowing her to be out of her crate and leaving the house for short periods of time. I started with leaving her for just 15-30 minutes, then gradually longer. Two weeks ago, I was able to leave her out for about 5 hours during the day and overnight.

I also make sure I remove any items that I think she may be interested in destroying such as my shoes and clothing.  Nonetheless, last week, she destroyed a pillow when I left her out overnight. I woke up when I heard the thrashing noise and gave her a very firm "NO!" and sent her into her crate for the remainder of the night.  The following couple of nights I tethered her to my bed and all was fine. As such, I tried again last night and after just 3 hours of being alone, she again destroyed a pillow.

I think I should go back to tethering her to the bed, but how will I know when she will be ready to be not tethered? Or, am I approaching this the wrong way altogether? At first I thought she may not have gotten enough exercise and resorted to destroying the pillow out of frustration, but the first incident was on the evening she trained at the club and I know she was exhausted. This leads me to believe that she is destroying things out of anxiety and perhaps I should have started this conditioning much earlier? I would appreciate your advice on this since I am picking up a new puppy next week and would like to get this part right.

Thanks again,
Jeffrey

Answer:

I think you are getting in too big of a hurry to test her, and by letting her practice destructive behavior it will actually reinforce it. I’d keep her tethered for a long time, think months-not days. 

While some dogs are ready to be loose in the house by age 2, some aren’t ready until much later and some never can be trusted. I transition my dogs from crate, to tether and then to a SMALL section of the room blocked off with gates. I think you gave her too much freedom, too quickly.  Don’t stop using the crate sometimes too.  Dogs need to realize that the crate is still a reality for them too.


11. Question:

Hi Ed:

I've been raising English Mastiffs and doing rescue for the last 17 years so I am not new to puppy training to say the least. I completely agree with your method of training so this was the first place I came now that I am having some issues with our new puppy, a rottie named Odin. Odin is 10 weeks old, I've had him for 2 weeks now. He was with his mother and siblings up until I got him. I introduced him to the crate day one. He goes in for his naps and at night or when we are not home. When he is not in his crate, he is leashed to me so I can move about freely and not loose track of him. When I need to get some things done where he can not be attached he is in a puppy pen. My retired mastiff plays a huge roll in correcting Odin when he play bites with her, showing him what is acceptable and what is not and we follow that lead. He's a great pup, with just a few accidents in the house, which obviously, was my fault as I didn't pick up on his need to go out.  Sounds like a great pup... except for one little thing. He cries incessantly in the crate as soon as I walk out of the room. He also does this in the pen. While I am there, he is fine but when I (or any other family member) leaves the room or house or out of site, he whines and screams and howls. I don't cater to this not in the least. I continue to leave and not return until he shushes.  Its been two weeks and I'm not sure if there is anything more I can do. I've never had a pup act like that for more than a couple days to a week. Any advice would be highly appreciated... I don't want this to turn into full boar separation anxiety.

Thanks so much  :)

Gina 

Answer:

I’ve had several pups that were more challenging to crate train and teach separation to. One of them took a really long time to be quiet, and I know it can really grate on your nerves after a while. All you can do is keep doing what you have been and wait for it to pass. If he gets to be a 6 month old and he’s still doing this then you may want to consider a Tritronics Bark Limiter. Unfortunately, I own a dog like this (raised from birth here).

Are you giving him something to occupy him in the crate or puppy pen? We buy big soup bones from our butcher shop and those are only given in the crate or ex pen. It does wonders for teaching a pup that crate means “quiet time” but there are always individuals that just want to be with you. It’s a blessing and a curse, because this type of dog (in my experience) REALLY want to be with you all the time which makes training much easier. The down side is the possibility of separation anxiety, as you mentioned.

I think you are on the right track, just keep at it. Good luck!

Cindy


12. Question:

Hello Ed –

I’ve read through all of the Q&A on crate training and didn’t see this specifically addressed – so my apologies if it is, perhaps you could direct me to where it’s already been answered.  I’m sure you receive a million questions!

We have two dogs – a 4-month old Cairn terrier, who is doing VERY well. We’ve had him almost 4 weeks. We’re crate training, and he makes it through the night, goes outside on command, and is just bridging the gap between knowing that he’s supposed to go outside and knowing how to TELL us he needs to go outside. He seems to pick up on this whole housebreaking gig with little to no issue. The only problem is that we’re not sure he knows he should ONLY go outside. We do catch the occasional accident if we get a little off schedule – is there a good way to let him know that’s not acceptable now that he’s getting older? Currently we just ignore the bad bathroom behavior and praise like crazy for the good bathroom behavior.  

Our other dog is a 10-week old Wheaten terrier. We’ve had him for almost two weeks. He is…well, progressing, I guess. The problem is he seems to go a LOT – he’ll go outside, and then 30 minutes later inside. We’re crate training him as well, and he’s slowly becoming acclimated to his crate as HIS space. The problem is, he seems to find it fairly easy to “go” in his crate, so we’re not sure if crate training is effective or if we just need to give it more time.  The worst time is at night – our schedule is…
7pm – dinner
7:30pm – 30-45 minutes walk
8:30-9:30 – supervised playtime around the house
9:30 – in the crates for resting
11 or 11:30 – out one more time before my husband and I go to bed

We usually have no accidents during this time from either dog. We then take the crates upstairs with us. The Cairn promptly lies down and sleeps until 6 or 7am, no issues. The Wheaten, however, will take longer to fall asleep – and then anywhere from 1am to 5am we will wake up to fussing, yipping, and the horrible smell of poo filling our bedroom.  Sometimes this happens twice in a night. There’s just no warning that it’s about to come, at least not one that would wake us up. He gets worked up about having made a mess, and then hops up and down in his crate, spreading feces around the floor of the crate and all over his feet (and if you’re familiar with Wheaten pups, there’s a lot of hair to get things caught in). For the last two weeks, we’ve been up in the wee morning hours giving our dog a bath, hosing out the inside of the crate, and then trying to catch another hour or two of sleep before we have to go to work. 

Both dogs have had regular rounds of deworming and negative fecals, so no health issues that we can think of…

Any suggestions? Are we doing something wrong? Will he outgrow this if we keep plugging away? I know it’s early days, but my fear is that we’re missing the boat somewhere and this will continue as the dog grows – if we can course correct now, I want our pup to be happy and I’d like for husband to stop threatening to smother the little guy with a pillow (he kids!!). 

Thanks for any advice you have time to impart!

Erica

Answer:

What’s the consistency of the poop in the crate? Is it loose? What kind of food are you feeding? What type of material do you have in the bottom of his crate?  I may also suggest rearranging his feeding times so he has pooped before bed time.

He’s quite young and some puppies are more difficult than others. I’d also find out from the breeder how he was set up before you got him. Sometimes they think it’s ok to poop on the crate because they were set up incorrectly as little babies.

We do have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you. 

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

More Info:

Thank you for your response.

His stool is always pretty “soft” – not runny, but not completely solid, either. Maybe like peanut butter consistency?

We’ve had him checked for worms because of the consistency, he’s been through three rounds of dewormer, two with the breeder and one with us. His fecals have come back clear, and he has a healthy appetite and is gaining weight.

We feed him Nutro Max Puppy – same as what the breeder fed. We’ve bumped up their evening feeding time to 5:30 or 6pm, hoping he has time to digest fully – but even with a later feeding time, he always went at least once before bed, sometimes twice. 

His crate is a coated wire crate (I think similar to what most pet supply stores sell) with a puppy divider and a plastic tray in the bottom.  We were giving him a tied up towel to cuddle with at night, but he makes such a mess, we’ve been taping down a “pee pad” at night so that it’s easier to clean at 4am. 

According to the breeder, he was set up in an enclosed setting at night, but had play space and room to roam during the day (exercise pen with other puppies).    

Erica

Answer:

My first recommendation would be to change his diet. Nutro Max is pretty horrible food. Full of grains (that dogs do not need) and substandard ingredients. It’s unfortunate that many breeders have NO idea how to properly feed dogs and puppies. My guess is going to be that if you change his diet and get rid of the pee pad (which is an invitation to use the crate as a bathroom) you can clear up this issue. Some dogs can eat substandard food and tolerate it, but sooner or later you’ll end up with a health issue from the food, in my experience.

Here are the first 5 ingredients of Nutro Puppy. It’s a who’s who list of things to NOT feed dogs.  

  1. Chicken Meal
  2. Corn Gluten Meal
  3. Wheat Flour
  4. Rice Bran
  5. Ground Rice

We have a great section on feeding dogs on the website. There is a list of kibbles on there that are much better quality.  I would recommend a grain free diet for both your puppies.
I’d go to goodwill or something and get some old towels that are easy to launder and make a bed in his crate from those, the pee pads are scented to attract dogs to them so you may also be undermining the crate being a clean zone by using them. 
I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


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