Good morning all @ 3AM, Crate Issues!!
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  • J

    We are having a serious crate training issue that I can't put a finger on.

    Dexter has been crate trained since we got him at 4 months. He has slept in a crate and been kept in a crate when home alone ever since the day he came home with us (except a couple times where we got soft and let him sleep in bed!). He was really easy to crate train and now goes on command, without any struggle or sign of stress. When we leave the house, he appears happy to be in his crate, running into it when he sees a coat brought out. However, bed time has become a different story. From age 4 months to 10 months, he was excellent. He would go to sleep in his crate when we went to bed (~11PM) and stay sound asleep until 6 or 7 AM–Not one peep from him. Now, at 11 months and almost a year old, Dexter has taken a turn for the worst and cried himself to sleep every day for the past week. He eventually falls asleep (maybe after an hour) but then wakes up a little earlier than 3AM (consistently at this time... about 3 total hours of sleep). At this point, he will not cry himself back to sleep but will get louder and louder until you go attend to him, take him out, and play with him (typically he grabs a toy like its 11AM on a Saturday!!). In fact, this morning I got up after trying to ignore the cries for well over a half hour, took him outside, came back in and decided to write this message, and he immediately curled into a ball on the couch and went to sleep!! Why couldn't he have just slept in his crate instead!? I don't get where this sudden lack of discipline came from in his crate training at night, but its becoming a big problem for our sanity! Any thoughts???

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  • He may be going through the 'terrible twos'. I have found, on occasion, that some of them act like this and try to push certain issues at certain ages. Myself, I probably wouldn't give in to him, especially if he has been good. If there are no underlying health issues (like a UTI, but it doesn't sound like it) I would probably put it down to the 'terrible twos'. Is it possible to give him something like a kong with frozen PB when he starts this and let him play with that in his crate? Or is his crate too small for him now? Have you changed where he has been sleeping? Anything around him change? With the holidays disrupting him, this may have had an effect on him as well. Just food for thought.

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  • I would reconsider his sleeping arrangements before this gets worse. Is there a reason he can't sleep with you or on the couch? One difficulty at this point is that you have already reinforced his behaviour by giving him what he wants, (your attention) which will make it a lot harder unless you want to make it a routine to get up during the night. One thought…....is it cool in your house at night? Perhaps he is getting cold and this is why he isn't sleeping. I know our house in winter is pretty cold, as we turn the thermostat down.........but our guy sleeps with us so it doesn't matter to him.

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  • J

    Thanks for the responses. His crate has plenty of room, and nothing has changed about his sleeping location or his surroundings. The reason we want him to sleep in the crate and not with us is in case of a situation where we have to travel without him or can't be with him for a night. I want to trust that who we leave him with will be able to crate him and not have him cry all night.

    The house can get pretty cold, but his crate is right next to the couch which he appears very comfortable despite the cold.
    A couple other thoughts:
    He only sleeps with a fleece blanket on the floor of his crate because he tore up his crate bed. Could something with more padding again help?
    I will definitely try the Kong idea, but should I give it to him at bed time so that I am not giving him attention at the time he cries? Should I put ear plugs in and completely ignore him from now on when he cries?

    Thank you!

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  • @jdido09:

    The house can get pretty cold, but his crate is right next to the couch which he appears very comfortable despite the cold.

    The couch is up off the floor and would be warmer. Did his behaviour seem to correspond with the temperature falling at night? That's the one factor that may have changed, and Basenjis are not happy if they aren't warm.

    More padding in the crate may suffer the same fate as the original crate bed. Perhaps a heating board under the crate or a space heater close to the crate might alleviate things. (if it was my dog I would just let him sleep with me, but then I have my "dog sitter" trained, and she will sleep with him too. ) :)

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  • Maybe he needs a bit more attention BEFORE he goes to sleep. I make sure to play with both mine before bedtime to help in tiring them out. My boy loves to get in his crate at night ("time for bed") but probably because I give him 4 or 5 pieces of kibble as a snack in the crate.

    Maybe changing the padding will help too. Mine too started out with just a blanket in the crate but his crate is in a cold spot so I put down an old people pillow and covered that with his blanket. He loved being able to create a little "hole" in the pillow and can really snuggle into it. I also cover the crate partly with another fleece blanket both the help cut the drafts and also to create a darker (potentially less stimulating) environment.

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  • Do you cover the crate to keep out any drafts, especially if the house is cold? That would help keep in his body heat. And you might want to consider having the crate in the bedroom. My kids crates have always been in the bedroom for sleeping.

    However, I will say, sounds to me like too much crate time.

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  • Is there any way you can move the crate into your bedroom? At our house in Washington State, Blaze had been happy in his large crate located in the living room for quite awhile. Then he started whining and/or waking up early (around 5 AM, sometimes before). Once we moved the crate into our bedroom, he was fine.

    The same thing happened at our place in Arizona. He was fine in the living room all last winter and for a portion of this winter. Then he started whining again and waking up early. Since the crate that he was staying in was too large to fit in the bedroom (in a fifth wheel), we brought the smaller cage in that we use in the car and put it upstairs. It's plenty big enough for him to sleep in and now he's been sleeping happily until WE'RE ready to get up! ;)

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  • J

    I should have mentioned that after having this problem all week, we actually did try last night to put the crate in our bedroom (it is typically in the living room and has been all week until last night). The second the lights were out and we were in bed, he started crying as loud as he had been out in the other room. Because of this, I got up and moved the crate back so that we could at least try to ride the storm until he fell asleep. I've never tried draping a fleece over the crate, so I will try that, as well as a space heater. If last night is any telling of whether cold is a problem though, the bedroom is pretty warm and he still cried. Should I have tried to ride out the crying with him in the bedroom instead?

    Oh, and I don't think too much crate time could be the problem at all. He is in his crate a max of 4-5 hours throughout a day time, usually broken up into 1 or 2 hour intervals when we are both out.

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  • As long as he isn't in his crate for 8-9 hours during the day and then again at night. It is hard on them to be in a crate that long…..it would kind of be like you being in jail for 16 hours a day! I used a heating pad underneath my boy's crate when i was crate training him and that worked very well. As does a hot water bottle. I boiled water before bed and put it in the bottle then made sure to cover the bottle up very well and tucked it underneath all of his blankets, that also works well. B's do not like to be cold and they would prefer to sleep in the 'big bed' with you, but I can understand the need to train him. Hopefully some of these suggestions will alleviate the problem. Maybe give him a bully stick in his crate at night too and that is the only time that he gets it, it would keep his mind busy until he falls asleep.

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  • @krunzer:

    As long as he isn't in his crate for 8-9 hours during the day and then again at night. It is hard on them to be in a crate that long…..it would kind of be like you being in jail for 16 hours a day! I used a heating pad underneath my boy's crate when i was crate training him and that worked very well. As does a hot water bottle. I boiled water before bed and put it in the bottle then made sure to cover the bottle up very well and tucked it underneath all of his blankets, that also works well. B's do not like to be cold and they would prefer to sleep in the 'big bed' with you, but I can understand the need to train him. Hopefully some of these suggestions will alleviate the problem. Maybe give him a bully stick in his crate at night too and that is the only time that he gets it, it would keep his mind busy until he falls asleep.

    Oh my gosh, I hadn't thought of putting a heating pad under the crate. Annie is COLD at night, and we've been using a space heater, but I don't like that option. Simon still doesn't want to crate up with her; apparently she's annoying :) and at the moment we have a geriatric cat in our own bed at night, so we've been really struggling to get it right for Miss Annie.

    What kind of heating pad do you use? One specifically for pets? Or a regular human one?

    Sorry to sort of threadjack, but it's a crate problem, so maybe it's not TOO far off topic :)

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  • J

    Really appreciate all of the great advice! I have many things to try here, and will definitely keep everyone posted.

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  • listeme….....You can buy actual doggy beds with heating pads in them. They have a little heating pad and the wire going to it is wrapped in metal so that the dogs can't chew through it. I didn't have much luck with it though....as once Tucker found out how to open the zipper all of the foam inside became basenji bait. So after that I used a human heating pad underneath the crate (not inside) and then just set it at the highest setting. That way it could be felt inside the crate. The one I have though has a safety feature that turns it off every couple of hours. But I am a light sleeper and whenever I woke up at night I would just roll over and hit the button again and it would reset for another two hours. Once I started doing that...or the water bottle.....he would'nt make a peep all night.

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  • I'm totally going to try that. It sounds perfect for our situation. Fingers crossed!

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  • @listeme:

    I'm totally going to try that. It sounds perfect for our situation. Fingers crossed!

    I use these. http://www.khmfg.com/lectro-kennel-heated-pad-and-cover.html

    I have used that for years for puppies and whelping and have covered it completely with heavy padding (usually a bully pad as I love them for crate pads). For puppies they can get a bit too hot so years ago we started using a lamp dimmer switch to regulate the heat better.

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  • This is why I LOVE this forum - so much helpful information. :)

    I'm just wondering if there was some sort of noise/activity outside that startled him. People were letting off a lot of firecrackers here on New Year's Eve. I know lots of dogs are terrified of them. I just thought I would throw that out there as a reason. It doesn't give you a suggestion to fix the problem - it just might give further insight.

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  • J

    Kipawa, not that I recall! Nothing out of the ordinary besides his behavior!

    tanza, did you know what size lectro-kennel

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  • @jdido09:

    Kipawa, not that I recall! Nothing out of the ordinary besides his behavior!

    tanza, did you know what size lectro-kennel

    Well because I used it in a whelping box (which for me is a 400 size wire "General Cage Model) it was the largest I think. But they have the sizes so you can just measure his crate and find one that fits.

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  • That product looks similar to the one that I was talking about, but those look much better!

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  • P

    Be aware that if a Basenji gets really stressed he is well able to chew through the metal covering of the cable of heating pads.

    I have never let my Basenjis sleep without making sure they're very warm at nights especially the older ones who aren't always able to maintain their body heat. Some of mine pile up on each other and some sleep with me. I maintain the sleeping area at 70 degrees F for those that sleep in the living room. I hate warm bedrooms myself!

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