Crate type/size and training advise

So Smitty, our 10 month old is 3 weeks into his crate training. Not going so well. He was use to being in a kennel at the breeders so I'm surprised he isn't transitioning better.

We only leave him in the crate at night and if we are gone. We always give him a treat when crating, I try to walk him first, and we feed him in his crate (with the door open for now). We also have 2 others, one is his age and is right next to him (she's been crate trained for 6 months) and the other is old and sleeps on the couch. I would not trust the 2 younger ones loose in the house yet and don't want 3 dogs in our bed.

We first tried a 30" wire crate. He hates it but does seem to settle down after 15-30 minutes of yelling. I've tried putting a blanket over the top of his crate and both are now mostly shredded! The only problem is he's had a small cut on his snout which isn't healing over. I've been wondering if he is making it worse on the wire openings some how.

Last week I decided to try a "medium" plastic travel type, mainly to get his nose to heal up, though I do hate to change things (in fact, I put this crate physically INSIDE of his other to ease the change). I even bought some Comfort Zone (plug-in type anti-anxiety). So far so good after a week and his nose does look better. Then I come home yesterday to find he chewed his way out! He some how chewed through one of the 1x5" plastic slats and kept going!

So I ran out again and picked up an "intermediate" size Petmate Vari Kennel with wire mesh on the openings. I tried it for the first time, only leaving him in for a hour. Well, I got home and the house smelled bad. He pooped all over it (and himself). I was hoping the more closed in design might easy his anxiety. Of course this was only the first try, but so far the results weren't great… and this is getting expensive! At least he didn't chew his way out.

What sort of crates and size do you use? The Vari Kennel Ultra, which is what I now have, has a metal grate over the opening but the opening is smaller than the standard Vari Kennel's patterned ovals opening. Sure wish Smitty could tell me which he hates less.

Sandies Crate is a "24 x 36 " steel. Since she is a mix it fits her well. She weighs 21 lbs now and i hope has stopped growing. I really have no problem with her and the crate, she kinda considers that as her personal space. As long as Smitty isnt harming hiself i'de just continue doing what you'r doing.
Maybe add a old tshirt with your scent on it, or a small blanket.

@Sunny:

As long as Smitty isnt harming hiself i'de just continue doing what you'r doing.

Yeah, that was was my thinking with the latest crate. He SHOULDN'T be able to get out of this one and shouldn't be able to hurt himself… now the pooping thing was nasty! He smells good now though and is all fluffy.

I wasn't sure on the size. The newest one (29 x 18 x 23 inside) is slightly larger than the chewed up crate and slightly smaller than the 30 x 24 wire version. The next size up (large) looked pretty big.

I'll also try your shirt idea.

my dog is a B-mix… and is 50lbs, so my crates are larger.

I have 2 crates, the one used for day crate time is large - for a 100lb dog. it's a wire crate. I don't cover it, I keep a folded queen size comforter in it for laying on. My 2nd is our bedroom crate - essentially it's Tucker's bed - door is always left open. This one is for a 60-80lb dog, again, another old comforter folded inside - wire crate - nothing covering it.

if your dog is chewing the plastic, I'd stay w/ wire. sounds like there certainly is some anxiety going on, and the shirt is a GREAT idea. also, try doing some "practice leaves". crate dog, go out and get your mail, come back, PRAISE and release. FROZEN filled kong toys can also help by giving your dog something to focus on.

I have individual crates for Curie and Will, both the deluxe varikennel type, and then a larger wire one for them to share. Is sharing a possibility with your two? Will does much – much much -- better with a crate buddy.

If Will has to be alone, he does prefer the wire one to the more closed-in one -- and Curie is the opposite. So it may just be a "preference" thing. The tee-shirt idea isn't bad at all -- what about something from the girl's crate, too? Will was surprisingly soothed by using one of Curie's blankets. It's not just the humans your boy is learning to love :-).

@listeme:

Is sharing a possibility with your two?

Actually, that was my master plan. I started off with a larger wire crate with a divider. After a few days I thought I'd see how they did without the divider – MISTAKE! He freaked out (as usual), she started to play and he attacked her! Soooo that lasted about 60 seconds. I exchanged the large crate for 2 identical smaller ones.

Ironically on rainy days they both sleep sharing a single dog bed a good part of the day in my office. He just freaks out in a crate.

@listeme:

If Will has to be alone, he does prefer the wire one to the more closed-in one – and Curie is the opposite. So it may just be a "preference" thing.

I may have to just give the new crate a try for a while. I called PetMate to ask them (hey, go to the source). They were VERY nice and quite talkative. She quoted the AKC Basenji standards (male= 21.5" head height and 24lbs.), suggesting a medium or an intermediate since Basenji's are right on the cusp. She said a large would allow him more room for "bad behavior" since it is an issue.

Another week has passed but not much progress. Smitty sure hates being in a crate. Nights seem to be ok. He usually stops digging at his crate and screaming after 10-20 minutes (usually). But crating during the day seems to be were he is most upset. Twice in the last week I've come home to a smelly house. He seems to loose control of his bladder and poops – then gets it all over himself. That makes 4 or 5 times in the last 2 1/2 weeks of using a "closed" crate. Today I was only gone for 30 minutes.

The problem with the open crate has been that he's had a small cut on his nose and kept making it worse through the metal openings. He didn't like that either, but at least never pooped in it. I may switch back, but not until his nose is healed over.

I always let him outside first and crate him with a treat. Bonnie is right next to him as well. If I put a pig ear in with him, he won't touch it, though he does like to rip up anything else as bedding (maybe that is the best distraction). I've been using a Comfort Zone plug-in for anxiety, which hasn't made a difference. The vet suggested a pheromone collar, but mainly just keep up with it. He may be fine left out, but he could also freak out once he realized we were gone and really make a mess of the house!

Ironically outside of his crate he is the most passive, laid back Basenji we've had. I guess we need to get use to weekly bathing and air freshener? It's going to start getting too cold to wash his crate outside!

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My male is like you are describing Smitty (although he doesn't poop in his crate). But he hates it...he always has, and he always will. He has broken teeth and worn teeth from chewing and scraping the edges of a plastic crate...we only crate him when we absolutley have to. But he is absolutely reliable in the house, and he has been since he was about a year old.
You might try Smitty loose in the house for just a very short time....like 15 minutes. Then come back, and see how he does. Then lengthen your time. He might surprise you....
Good luck, and sorry it is going so hard...

@Quercus:

My male is like you are describing… But he is absolutely reliable in the house, and he has been since he was about a year old.

Really? Hmm…I tend to think Smitty's issue more a fear of being closed in than separation anxiety. Your suggesting of leaving him loose MAY be worth trying -- like you said, 15 minutes at a time.

At what age do you think most Basenjis can be trusted outside of a crate (I know that probably varies A LOT). Is 2 loose pre-1 year olds asking for trouble? We kept our first 2 loose in a closed room not long after being house broke. Then they had full house access around the age of 3. Never had a problem really. I think a closed room may freak him out just as much, but I can close all the doors to the other rooms. If separation isn't his issue, he may just be fine loose... or not.

However, I'm conserned he and the other male might get into it if left alone. I don't trust those two yet. I have found they all seem fine until play time. Smitty will accidently run into Ramsey and a fight breaks out. However, they do all sleep most of the day. Currently the 2 males are sleeping next to each other and Bonnie, the young girl, is in the sunny room asleep. I guess they'll have to one day figure out who is the top dog, I just don't want either to get hurt.

Well, I definitely wouldn't leave the two males out together unsupervised. And I would be reluctant to leave any two basenjis together, inside, unsupervised. I prefer to keep mine in crates when no one is home, but it just doesn't work for Querk…but the girls (even though there is one that would be reliable in the house) stay in their crates.

You might try crating the others, particularly if they are good in their crates, and try leaving Smitty out...I think that is what I would do in this situation.

You don't think leaving one basenji out & one IN the crate? I'm curious because I just got my 2 b's & I was hoping to ONE day be able to leave them in the same confined kitchen while we're out. hmm

@Quercus:

Well, I definitely wouldn't leave the two males out together unsupervised.

Agreed like you wouldn't believe! Unfortunately the 2 males are starting to not get along even more – to the point of it being a problem. At first Smitty was fine with Ramsey, but now he is standing up for himself. They can sleep in the same room, etc, but once Smitty and Bonnie start to play, Ramsey gets nervous and starts to growl. He'll follow them around the house when they're playing and if they collide, that's it -- FIGHT! So, yes, that is NOT an option now.

@Quercus:

You might try crating the others, particularly if they are good in their crates, and try leaving Smitty out…I think that is what I would do in this situation.

Well that could be interesting to try. Ramsey isn't use to being in a crate but can deal with it if forced (he'll whine and scratch a little but gives up soon). We've been having to crate him when the younger ones play at times.

I'm still a bit unsure of leaving Smitty and Bonnie alone since she ALWAYS wants to play and Smitty wants to sleep. Obviously my experiment with leaving them together in a cage didn't work. During the day Smitty and Bonnie are out all day and play just fine (often Ramsey is shut in a room with me), but that doesn't mean that would be the case once they figured out the house was empty.

Your suggestion may be a good answer… though Ramsey will hate it!

@jys1011:

You don't think leaving one basenji out & one IN the crate? I'm curious because I just got my 2 b's & I was hoping to ONE day be able to leave them in the same confined kitchen while we're out. hmm

Sorry, not 100% sure what the question is. We we were able to keep ours out. Eventually they had access to the entire house. Rarely a problem. They force you to keep the house clean : ) Just be careful, Basenjis can open cabinets very easily!

@jys1011:

You don't think leaving one basenji out & one IN the crate? I'm curious because I just got my 2 b's & I was hoping to ONE day be able to leave them in the same confined kitchen while we're out. hmm

I am not sure what this is asking…but I think it really depends on the dogs, and the situation whether I would leave two basenjis (or even one) loose in the house unsupervised. There are two separate issues, one is will they be more destructive together? And the other issue is will they have a fight?

With our five basenjis there are only two that I could leave out together, and be pretty sure everything would be in place, and there would be no blood shed. In every other combination, there would be things destroyed, or there could be a fight. Our male, Querk, and our 2nd female, Blondie, are very trustworthy with "things"....but I tend toward the ridiculously over-cautious side sometimes 🙂

How is Smitty doing with the crating by the way?

@spitfirekrl1:

How is Smitty doing with the crating by the way?

Ironically had you asked yesterday I would have said he is getting use it to. He hasn't pooped in it for a couple weeks and doesn't seem to scream when I leave (however, I also make sure I walk him prior to crating and always put a treat in there with him now). But last night when we went out for dinner I set up the video camera to watch him. Not good.

For an hour he paced, scratched, chewed and protested. When we leftt, I put him in with a pig ear and and Kong. He is in a Vari crate next to Bonnie who is in a wire crate. I turn Smitty's crate so he can see her. After only 5-7 minutes of ripping the treat apart, he started biting at the door and yelling. He turned in circles panting and whining. Every few minutes he would lay down for 5 seconds then start it all over. Even with the new plastic crate he is close to chewing through (where the molded plastic creates a lip near the door opening). It REALLY got bad when our 12 yr old, who is loose, came up to his crate and started to growl. Rightfully so Smitty growled back at him and they started to go at it through the door! I'm sure Smitty felt cornered. This went on for about 20-30 seconds and happened twice during the hour. This CANNOT be good for his conditioning!

Also, I'm not sure if the ComfortZone is helping, but even at $20/mo for the refills, I'm afraid to stop using it – sure isn't making it worse!

SOOO, looks like I need a new plan. First off I need to keep Ramsey away from his crate. This may mean having to relocate their crates so we can close off part of the house to Ramsey OR keep Ramsey in a crate too. Second, I filled the chewed on bits of plastic in his crate with toothpaste (they hate the stuff) and sprayed it with Bitter Apple (I don't want him eating through another crate, especially a $80 version!).

I hate to change the environment by moving their crates to another room, but I don't think he exactly likes this location anyway! I still have the open wire crate and thought of another idea. He messed up his nose chewing on the wire mesh which is why he's been in a Vari crate, but seemed to like the wire one better (he never pooped in the mesh type). If I attach plexiglass to ALL the sides so he cannot get his nose through, I may be able to put him back in the mesh crate. I would of course have to drill ventilation holes (maybe 1") all over each panel. Sounds crazy, but I do it if it helps. Hey, plexi is cheap and might be worth a try. I really just want him to get use to his crate, but given the current condition of his new crate after only a couple weeks, he's probably going to eventually get a hole started in the plastic then I'll have to buy another.

Fortunately he's in his crate very little -- maybe an hour every day, some days not at all, and 3-4 hrs once or twice a week. We found he wasn't sleeping at night so we've let him and Bonnie sleep in our bed (Ramsey with our daughter). It works great. We knew once it got cold we'd need to. We keep the house at 62º at night and Basenji's don't care for the cold! Oh and Bonnie -- the whole hour of taping she slept, even through the fighting. What a good girl.

Ugh…Well, glad to hear it's going a little better...but sorry to hear that it is still rough. Definitely, you must find a way to keep Ramsey away from Smitty's crate...not only will it damage the crate training, but I am sure it will make them have more animosity towards each other when they are out.

Is there a room that you could close him in, away from Ramsey and see how that goes? Did you try leaving him loose at all?

I wish I had some better suggestions for you. Hang in there 🙂

Good news – though I probably shouldn't say this just yet. We moved the dogs crates to the dinning room where we can close the room off using a couple door jam gates. Smitty's crate cannot be seen from the door (in other words, he can't see Ramsey if he comes up to the gate). I again set up the camera. We did the normal crating routine (treat, meat filled Kong, music, etc) and left for a couple hours. After only 10 minutes Smitty laid down! BUT this time he actually laid down and stayed there -- for the entire remaining 50 minutes of taping!! That is huge and certainly gave me hope.

It may have been Ramsey coming up to his crate or into the room that was causing him the most frustration. In fact when Ramsey came into the room before I got him out, Smitty freaked out scratching and screaming. I don't want to say all is better just yet, because he was also pretty tired last night, but it gives me hope.

@Quercus:

Did you try leaving him loose at all?

I really wanted to try leaving him out for a short period, however that would have meant Ramsey would need to be crated and he's not use to that. BUT since your suggestion I've caught Smitty being a puppy. He occasionally "samples" things, as we like to say. He'll walk up to something, a toy left out, a furniture knob, the new Dyson we just bought (awesome vacuum BTW), and chomp down to see how it tastes. I yell NO and he stops right away. So I don't think he's quite ready to be trusted. He hasn't yet chewed up anything but I can image a corner of the couch, table, etc pretty far gone after a few hours.

@cmd:

That is huge and certainly gave me hope.

That sounds like progress.

@Basenji_Boy:

That sounds like progress.

I agree…let's hope it just gets better and better 🙂

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