Home Alone Dog Crating Woes

dog crating issuesA while back we shared with you the importance of good crate training for all dogs, especially those that will be attending trials. And while we expect to hear about some crate training issues, a few of you shared a somewhat interesting dilemma. You have dogs that crate up just fine and stay in them with ease, until you leave the house. Here are the stories you shared:

DustyDuckDog shared:

I have a 4 year old female Weimaraner that will crate at a show, in the car and will go into the crate at home when told to with out hesitation. The problem I am having is when I leave the house she destroys anything in her crate and tries to get out. Because of this, I use only the hard side crate at the house when crating is necessary. I live in the country with no close neighbors and have a 3 acre fenced yard for the dogs. If the weather is warm, I leave them outside when I am gone. I have several dog houses they can use if they want too. When the weather is bitter cold though, I can’t leave them out. The black lab gets the run of the house, the lab puppy is crated beside the Weimaraner, and the Weimaraner has to use the hard side crate since there is less wire for her to grab at. Yesterday the Weimaraner was left in the house for about two hours and ended up breaking a tooth trying to get out. We have made the crate a fun place to be. She will even go into the larger wire crate to lay on the bed on her own. I tell her to go kennel and she will happily run to and get in the hard side crate. She is fine when I leave her alone at a show in the folding soft sided crate. In the car she will just curl up and go to sleep until I return. But at the house it is a different story. I have given her bones stuffed with peanut butter and that doesn’t even help. I can’t let her loose in the house as she waits till my back is turned to get into things. She is a very independent, serious, intelligent dog. Any suggestions?

Patti’s dog has anxiety at trials:

My dog does great in her crate at home, even goes in her crate and settles before I leave for work in the mornings. She does want to be with me so whatever room I am in she will curl up in there and hang out. But at a trial it is a whole other story. She stresses crated at trials. Sometimes she can see me working the trial while she is crated and I wonder if that makes it worse for her? She just turned 3 and we began participating in trials this last year. In the past we were spectators and she was by my side the whole time. The first trial when I was “training” her to be crated at a trial, I started with very short increments of time and built up to longer periods. She still stressed. We can only go to local trials right now, and they are usually in the spring /summer so we only get to work on it then. Hopefully she will get better with time and really good stuff in her kennel at trials.

Susan has a slightly different issue:

My dog is a rescue, and came from an abusive home. His ex-owner left him in the crate for 10+ hours a day while she went to work. Her roommates would come home and yell at the dog, never letting him out of the crate. They had a cat, with claws, who would terrorize him and scratch him while he was crated.

I’ve only managed to get him to like his crate at bedtime. I can get him to go into the crate if I throw something absolutely brimming with peanut butter in there – but he will not chew on it or eat anything while I’m gone and he’s crated. There could be a steak in there, and he wouldn’t touch it. I’ve tried bones, treats, those nina ottosson toys, kongs, you name it – it’s been in there. I’ve tried only putting certain toys in there, that he only gets while he is in the crate – no dice. He relaxes a teeny bit if I put on the “For the Dogs’ Ear” CD, but still won’t play with anything.

It’s going to be a long process.

Patti had some great advice:

I use a thunder-shirt on my dog–did not have one during the trials–and it seems to have helped about 80%. It did not completely remove the anxiety as some of the testimonials read, but lessened it greatly, which in turn can provide a better environment for reconditioning/desensitizing the dog to whatever brings on the anxiety. A thunder-shirt is definitely worth trying, also has a limited time money back guarantee if it does not work for you.
And Susan you are right, covering the crate does bring more peace to the crate. But when I tried covering her completely she seemed to be worse than just leaving the front uncovered. And at at the last trial it was soooooooo hot in the arena, I did not want to block the air flow by covering it up. Hopefully we will get there this year!

What we are seeing in these issues is not a crate issue, but rather a separation anxiety issue. We would love to hear how any of you overcame separation anxiety with your dogs.