Does crate training get better?

  • I've got a sweet, headstrong 9-week old girl, and we are working on crate training. She's been here for 1.5 weeks, and while I work from home, from what I've read, it suggests beginning crate training early — especially for the moments when I have to leave my apartment.

    I've got a crate in my bedroom (where she sleeps, fine, during the night, as long as the crate door remains open). It's super cozy with pillows, blankets, her favorite stuffed toys. When I'm about to leave, I put some favorite treats in there, speak to her in a kind, upbeat voice, let her know I'll be back.

    When I'm away, once she's done eating her treat, she goes ballistic. Scratching the crate walls, crying, oscillating between these fits and laying down. It lasts for up to 45 minutes (I have a camera to watch). I've never been away for more than an hour yet. When I come home, I calmly let her out, greet her, and give her more treats.

    This is maybe day 3 of trying this out. Has anyone else tried this? Should I just keep persisting and it gets better? How long? Is now a right time to crate train her, at this age, and for how long she's been with me?

    I'm worried that at this rate, I won't have the ability leave my house... ever 😆 . Anyone else have suggestions/similar experiences?

  • Does she quit after 45 minutes or just when you come home? Some Basenjis just do not do well in crates. There are a number of things you could try, for instance relocating the crate to somewhere she can see outside when you go out, or alternately you could set up a dog proof area, a room where you could leave her when she must be alone. Basenjis like to be with their pack. Most do not like being left, but most learn to deal with it. If you can leave something with her that will occupy her it might help. Some people use a stuffed Kong. Putting something she wants in the crate before you leave, but locking her out so she can see the thing but can't get at it may help her to want to be in the crate, so she is happy when you open the door for her.

  • What kind of crate are you using? Wire is really best, IMO. When I got my first Basenjis back in the 70's, I start with Vari kennels... did not like them at all (me not particularly the Basenjis) and the wire crates worked better for our basenjis and in fact we whelped litters in the wire crates... Totally agree if you can set up you home so they can see out windows and see what is going on... or in my case, we have a doggy room with access to the back yard (12' privacy fences and locks on the gates)

  • you could try getting a tape recording from the breeder of the kennel sounds -all the animals in their crates safe and sound..and play it as 'mood music' while you are gone

  • My 9 month old hates being trapped in the crate but I have trained her to like it with the door open using a variation of this method.

    If you use Facebook there is a really good international group for puppies with separation anxiety. They recommend sub threshold training, so you leave them for the longest period they can tolerate (in some cases seconds) and build up from that with no distress. Hard to practice at the moment due to coronavirus restrictions.

  • Thank you all for all of these suggestions!

    I have a white plastic crate that mimics a metal bar crate. It is a bit on the bigger side, but I padded it with an anti anxiety bed, blankets, etc.

    Curious if 9 weeks is too young to crate train? Or fine?

  • @jkent Thanks for the link - that's very helpful. How long did it take to enjoy being in there with the door open?

    At this point, if you have to leave the house, do you leave your 9 month old in her crate?

  • @eeeefarm She mostly only quits when I come home. There are some instances where she tires herself out and so sleeps, I think.

    That's a good suggestion to put something she wants in the crate before I leave, but locking her out so she can go in there. I will try that and see how it goes.

    When you leave yours, what do you do?

  • @rubybasenji said in Does crate training get better?:

    @eeeefarm She mostly only quits when I come home. There are some instances where she tires herself out and so sleeps, I think.

    That's a good suggestion to put something she wants in the crate before I leave, but locking her out so she can go in there. I will try that and see how it goes.

    When you leave yours, what do you do?

    I seldom used crates for any of my dogs. The ones I raised from pups had some crate time early on, but as quickly as possible I changed to dog proof rooms, so they had more space. With the two that I had that had separation anxiety, they really could not be crated, but when I went out I left a roller ball that dispensed treats, which kept the dog occupied until I was gone. I found most of the stress of me leaving occurred in the first few minutes, so if the dog was occupied at that time generally things were fine. I would load up the ball ahead of my departure, so that by the time I was ready to leave the dog was wanting that treat ball pretty badly!

  • Hi, my crate training was hard but I got it working to the point that my basenji goes in there willingly . I usually say kennel , he goes inside , and I lock the door and walk out . Two days ago, he watched me getting dressed and just walked inside the crate on his own before I said anything . How ?

    I simply kept the best treats only for the crate . When does he get delicious beef ? In the crate ! Chicken ? In the crate! And so he learned to love it .

    But this of course after I had many dents in my crate because of his strong jaws bitting.

    But now , he goes inside , sleeps and waits for me .

    By the way , I tried leaving him in the room , and he chewed on a couple of doors! I tried to leave him free in the car only with a seat belt , I almost had an accident .

    Now crate at home and in the car , it works perfect .

    Good luck to you .

  • @rubybasenji quite quickly. I started by sitting on a chair by the crate every time she needed a nap and throwing treats in to encourage her to settle down in there, increasing the time between the treats until she dropped off to sleep. She would want to come out after a short time of sleeping but it still helped to get her into the habit and over time she started venturing in there herself.

    I haven't left her home alone yet because she gets distressed and we are in national lockdown at the moment with a family of 4 home all the time so it's hard to practice short absences. I plan to start the subthreshold training as soon as it's practical.

  • @rubybasenji said in Does crate training get better?:

    Curious if 9 weeks is too young to crate train? Or fine?

    My puppies were all crate trained before they left me at 8.5 weeks. So no, certainly not too early. Use a large wire crate, NOT a Varikennel type. Basenjis like to be able to see all around them.

    It needs to be big, so the doggie can lie out at full stretch, stand, or sit up very straight without discomfort.

    Make is a fun place to be - feed the pup in it sometimes, hide treats (pieces of the daily kibble ration, NOT extras !) in it for it to find. Toys, a bone or two - my pup Kito loves BIG bones ! and get used to leaving the door open so that becomes a haven for the wee thing.

    @kempel This is quite common ! I sold a pup once and the lady had to go out to work three mornings a week. It got so the puppy watched her and when she got her lipstick out, went into the crate. Door was never shut - Pup stayed until she returned.

  • Banned

    I think crates are good for dogs, it gives them their own little space. My dog uses her crate(like from this review) as a way to have alone time, if I'm cleaning or talking on the phone or doing something too loud while she's trying to sleep she goes and curls up in there.

  • I agree, but it does take time and patience for some dogs to understand. My basenji, Charlie knows now his crate is his “home”, but from 8 weeks to now at 12 weeks, focused first on making sure he felt safe in it. This meant a Charlie proofed area that ended in his crate if he wanted to be with me while I worked.

    We are now introducing away time, but as mentioned, it’s building up from a mere few seconds to hours.

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