Troy's crate training, need some advice

Hello everyone, our precious puppy Troy has been home with us for about a week now and my wife and I have been actively trying to train good behavior and crate use. Troy is 10 weeks old at the moment and being a very young guy we understand that he needs tons of attention paid to his needs like playing and potty time.

My wife and I are adamant that Troy learn to love and use his crate for some simple reasons but the solutions, at least to me, do not seem completely obvious so here I am asking for advice. First, we will eventually need to work as we just recently moved. My wife will work some time later than I and will be able to continue to train Troy when I am gone but we want him to love his crate be able to hold his business albeit for very reasonable amounts of time since I can always drive home 4 minutes away in this small town when I need to. Basically from this stems our need of advice as I will detail.

Housebreaking is our first priority but it is not quite as simple as I would love for it to be. We live in an area without a fence and there are many deer, loose dogs, and other animals that do their business at their leisure and we cannot allow Troy to "go" outside until he has had his parvo shots and his immunity strengthened. Currently we are forced to turn to potty pads inside and he has been quite receptive to these pads outside of the crate. We can get Troy to go hang out in his crate and chew his toys without so much as an objection but when it comes to sleeping in the crate the issue arises and this is where the advice is needed.

Troy loves to chew on things, so when we put his pad into the crate he proceeds to tear it's stuffing out. When we put Troy in his crate to go to sleep we have spent at least the last half hour coercing him to do his business and have controlled his water and food schedules to a point where it would seem he has no more to go. Troy will immediately after we lay down begin crying, and maybe that isn't the word for it, it is actually more like the scream of a dying child. He will not be calmed by us sleeping next to the crate or talking to him, at least not for long. In this period of time, he seems to "hold it" and then will poop and pee more even though we really, really tried to eliminate his business before bedtime. Troy seems to have no mind to cleanliness and will walk all over it and drag his pad through it, not that it matters because he will not sleep. He continues to cry and scream and howl the entire night, and yes I do mean the entire night, in a way that would drive Ghandi insane. My wife and I have taken to earplugs the last 2 nights so that we can sleep at all. And even with him on the other end of our place and earplugs in it might as well be an air raid siren. (yes we tried him in our room next to us)

We have tried to add personal value to his crate by feeding and watering him inside during mealtimes and treating him in and praising as much as we can. None of it seems to work, toys in the crate, we tried potty pads and he chews them right up along with paper so we can't get him to eliminate cleanly since we can't get him to eliminate fully, I swear he seems to hold it til we put him in and not a moment sooner. We are fine getting up to let him out to pee but he will not have any of it. We set him on the pad and he won't go then we put him back and within 20 minutes, all while screaming, he will have peed on his pad, or somewhere else in the crate.

I know I have gone on far too long, so here is my question. Should I simply let him scream in his crate and hope it stops? Right now I am exhausted and see no end to it. I make sure he is calm when I let him to potty on the pad in the middle of the night and he just won't go. I need some help here because I love this little guy and I know he will grow up but I want to seed some good behavior here and I can't tell if he's ever going to quit screaming ALL NIGHT.

Thanks for your time in reading and replying I would love to hear any advice, however please don't advise me to quit crating because it is what we need in the future and I don't want to go through a similar phase a year down the road when Troy is much larger.

Hi there. Is it possible that Troy doesn't like being in the crate with his potty pad? Maybe he thinks that he's being locked in the bathroom…

Or maybe Troy isn't tired enough at the end of the day to settle down for the night. We used to train Charlie before his bedtime. As they say, a tired basenji is a good basenji...

Our Charlie didn't start using a crate till he was about 7 months old. He started out sleeping in a basket in our bedroom. Then progressed to sleeping in his basket in our puppy-proofed and baby-gated diningroom. Then progressed to sleeping in his crate in our livingroom. The biggest hurdle for him seemed to be sleeping away from us, not sleeping in the crate. When he was getting used to sleeping away from us, he'd cry at night and again in the morning when he woke up. We'd ignore him at night, and in the morning we'd try to get up when he got up. We'd sit with him for a bit, till he dozed off, then we'd creep back to bed till he woke up again. Eventually, he stopped protesting at night, and he started sleeping longer and longer into the morning. He never pee'ed or pooped during the night, though.

Lexi started sleeping in her crate in our livingroom right from the beginning (she was 12 weeks old). She whined here and there for the first month. When she whined, we let her whine a bit. If she didn't stop after a few minutes, we took her to the yard for potty. Then back in her crate right away, without any cuddling or anything. Kept repeating this until she figured out that whining would only get her a quick pee break.

Not sure if this helps... Good luck!

When we got Indy (10 weeks) we used the crate divider such that he had just enough room to stand and turn around in his kennel. He got 1 blanket and 1 toy. Nothing else. His kennel was right outside our bedroom door because of space contstraints, but I would suggest pulling the crate inside your bedroom if you can.

I would turn the lights really low, and rock him a bit until he was mostly asleep. Then I would place him in his kennel and say "Night night" and went to bed. Now don't get me wrong there was A LOT of screaming. And crying, howling..and any other noise you can imagine. But we did not respond. 3 hours later one of us got up and took him to his potty spot (in the bathroom). If he went he got a tastey treat and went into his kennel if not he went back in his kennel without the treat. Repeat until its time to wake up.

The first few nights were painful, and loud but after a short while he calmed down. But the trick is
(1) Do not respond to screaming, crying, yelling, etc.
(2) Make sure he knows you have not left him there for dead (i.e. put the kennel in the same room your are sleeping in)
(3) Give potty breaks every few hours
(4) Leave only necessary items in the kennel because there will be accidents, he is a baby

We also had a t-shirt that DH and I slept with for a couple of nights and tossed that in the kennel so he could have our smell. It seemed to calm him alot.

Now there is a caviat to all of this, if he wakes up in the middle of the night and screams that usually means "I HAVE TO GO POTTY NOW!!!!" jump up and take him right away.

To be honest DH and I didn't care what he did in the kennel at bed time. Sometimes he would play with his toy. Other times he would just play quietly with the blankets. As long as he was quiet and not pottying in his kennel all was good with the world.

One last tip, when Indy was little he could hold it as long as he was asleep. If there was a loud noise while he was in his kennel he would pee sometimes without even waking up. As soon as he was awake he had to go no matter how long it was.

We never scolded him for pottying in his kennel. I would usually say something like "Don't worry it happens to everyone" and one of us would get laundry / kennel clean up duty while the other took him for a walk and washed him off. But we definetly did not make a big thing out of it at all. It was like nothing had ever happened.

I know this is long and fragmented, but I hope some of it helps

My first instinct is to say, yes, understand the idea that you will not be sleeping regularly for the next few weeks. He will scream and need to go out every few hours, and scream more, until he adjusts. … its the cost of being a furparent unfortunately - exhaustion is just a part of the game.

I agree with the idea that he doesn't appreciate having his potty pads in his crate. His crate is supposed to be a special place, a den, dogs do not like to eliminate in their den and if you are encouraging him to use the pads he probably senses that. But equally I'm sure he tears them up because it's fun or to vent his anxiety from being alone.

As difficult as it is to keep in sight (especially when you are not sleeping at night) he is still a baby, and has lived his life up to this point surrounded by warm fuzzy bodies to sleep with.. now he is alone, he has lost his brothers and sisters his mother, everything that gave him security as a puppy. He has to learn he will be ok alone in his den, and that is definitely not a week long process, think more like weeks long. Have you considered buying him a snuggle buddie or something like it? It helps in the beginning to have something warm to sleep next to and that has a heartbeat like another puppy. Some dogs keep these buddies like "baby blankets" and play with them even when they are adults.

For me, I took Lycia out every 3 to 4 hours at night her first 2 weeks home with me, whether she had to go or not, I just took her out, she got the idea pretty quick (but not with out some angry crate peeings first 😉 ) I was broken and sleep deprived by the end, but she was housebroken in a jiffy because she almost never had a chance to eliminate inside. To add to that, I decided in the end she could sleep with me in bed… and I prefer it. For special circumstances I taught her to sleep on the chair next to the bed when I want to sleep alone. I just felt that, because she is crated during the day, it was too much crate time for her to be crated at night as well.

But all and all, you sound like you are doing a pretty good Job!!!! so kudos to you. With Basenjis, you just got to wait it out. Always keep in your mind, that you are dealing with a baby, human baby parents don't get much sleep either, however your baby will be far more independent in a very short amount of time. There is light at the end of the tunnel !! These are hard weeks, but it will get simpler.

This is a very young dog. I think many of the Owners in this forum will tell you not to put a potty pad in the crate with them. Basenji's clean themselves all the time and if their bedding is wet or they are unhappy they will scream.

I can tell you when we brought Roo home, his crate was put in the Master Bathroom that is connected to our bedroom. Also we put a metal baby gate across the door. Since our bathroom floor is ceramic we did not lock Roo in his crate all the time. I made sure we walked Roo every 3 to 4 hours. Roo would wake up in his crate and give us the Basenji Yawn type noise to let us know he needed to go out. As soon as we hear that noise we would get him out right away. Also we know that after 10-15 mins of play time we need to walk him.

You mentioned you have no fenced in yard. We do not have a fenced in yard either. We also have other animals such as Deer, Raccoons, Coyotes, Skunks, Geese, Fox, and Ground Hogs that are running around. We even have a couple of neighbors who for some reason do not adequately contain their dogs and sometimes they get out and run the neighborhood. Even so, we bought a very small Premier brand Martingale collar at Pet Smart and were able to take out Roo even at 8 weeks of age in the yard to go potty. I know you are worried about your dogs immunity being strong enough before you take him outside, but I would encourage you to check with your Vet in regard to this. Keep in mind that Roo was 4 1/2 lbs when we got him and was fine going outside.

Roo and now a little over a year old and I do not remember house breaking him being a big chore. Basenji's are very smart and catch on very quickly. I am sure opinions will vary here, but I do not think its a good idea to teach any dog to go in their crate even if you have space for a potty pad. Sure you will lose a little sleep having to walk him/her every 3 to 4 hours but it will pay off big time in the long run. As your dog gets older they will start sleeping longer without issue. The trick is to get them out as soon as they get up.

Also I think you said your dog is tearing up the bedding. Your Basenji is going to be teething for quite some time. Make sure he has plenty of toys he can chew on. If you live in the states and have a big lots store near you, you sometimes can find AKC toys there. Miranda and I are very picky about the toys we get for our dogs because both many toys sold can be chewed through and we do not want them swallowing parts. So no matter what toys you buy, keep an eye on them and pick them up when they are getting worn or you notice your Basenji has torn them open. Rope toys are a very good choice as well as Kong toys. You can also go to the butcher and ask for Beef Marrow Bones which are very cheap and will give your puppy something good to chew one. Keep and eye on the puppy when giving them this because you do not want them to over do it with bones and make their gum's bleed. Roo likes to Defuzz his stuffed animals so we keep a close eye and always have a new one in the closet to replace it. Miranda has also sewn many back together as needed. Sooner or later they get too far gone to repair so they need to be replaced.

To help you get your dog comfortable in his crate, you can make a game of it with him and hide a treat every time he goes in. We did this directly after we took him out and before bedtime. Plain Cheerios are good treats, cheap, and great to train with. You can always use an old towel in his crate or even go to good will and buy some baby comforters instead of an expensive dog bed. In our area, Walgreen's has small fleece blankets that are very cheap and our dogs love them.

Also a wind up alarm clock put next to his kennel/crate will help simulate a heartbeat and help the dog settle down to sleep. We also found one of those at Walgreen's but they are getting harder to find. Remember you have a young puppy that has been taken away from his pack and his mother. All the security has been ripped out from him and he is adjusting to find a comfort zone.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help.

Jason

Hi everyone, I just have to say thank you for all these wonderful replies and ideas. I have only just learned of how many different ways dogs are trained so standing on the shoulders of giants in this case has been helping a lot. Last night I cordoned off Troy's kennel with the included divider (pic posted on my public album) to be large enough for his pad and soothed him to sleep in his kennel after treating him in and having him "sit" for treats with the door open then closed.

I waited about 10 mins for him to be sound asleep then went to bed and set myself an alarm for 2 hours later. When I was awakened I woke Troy and set him on a potty pad nearby and issued the command we use and although it took awhile he did go, and then it was right back to the kennel and soothed to sleep again by my presence. I did this a couple more times every 2 hours and I believe that he only peed once near the end of a normal sleep cycle.

One thing that I am debating in my mind right now is that he did do a little bit of crying so I decided to try and go out into the living room (his crate is there near the warm propane fireplace that he loves to sit by and is right outside our bedroom door) and act like I hadn't come out there to pay attention to him but rather waiting a minute or two after he stopped crying to go and let him out to try and potty. It seemed like it worked to some extent and I am planning on doing it again tonight but I am not sure if Troy will draw a correlation to his crying and my attention and coming out into the room if I am acting like I come out preoccupied. I would love for this training trick to work as he seems to have begun getting that when he comes out of the kennel it's potty then back to the kennel and no playing around. So I wonder, is he smart enough to know that I am coming out for him if I ignore him when I come out? It quiets him and he calms down and it doesn't seem to hurt but I will allow him to cry if it is him training me in reverse.

So lets see, I swap out his pad for a blanket when he pees on it and bathe him if he lays in it and he does have a chew toy that he likes but he seems to love chewing on the bed even more when he sets his mind to it. I think I am feeling tired but optimistic as to the success of this last night and know he will be able to understand better with more repetition. Thanks again for the replies, I will ponder them all and try to add to my understanding of the situation. I'll let you all know how it's coming along in the future. Good night!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You are over the "furst" hurdle.

When he whines in the middle of the night immediately take him out to potty then let him go back in his kennel. He is sort of training you in reverse. Indy does that but usually after a long walk in the rain at 2am he is cured.

Is there anyone here who simply does not use the crate? My puppy sleeps in a dog bed next to my bed, and around 4 or 5 wakes up. I hear her shake (thanks to her tag) and haul her up onto the bed. She burrows into the covers and sleeps until I get up - sometimes more than when I get up. She has never messed or peed in my room, and she is taken out immediately when she gets up. But if we put her in the crate, even for five minutes, she pees and poops and generally gets so terrified and out of control it's a constant scream-fest. When she comes out, she cries and loses control of her pee for quite a while. When I've had dogs in the past, way past, crates weren't even an issue - the stayed loose in a gated off section of the house when puppies, then everyplace when they were older. Because Shaye is so panic stricken in the crate, it feels really cruel to put her in there. She's 3 mo. 3 days, and it has never been different. We put her in the crate with a huggy and our T-shirts the first three nights, and her panic was so bad we thought she'd lost her mind. That's when we bought the dog bed and put it in place of the crate next to my bed.

Crate training is something that "if" possible all dogs, not only Basenjis should learn… in your case Shaye's Mom, as you will I am sure read of hear from other Forum members there are some that you can just not crate train.... but the reasons are many, not just house breaking, but a safe place if you are having work done in the house, no worries about someone leaving a door open... work in the yard, no worries about someone leaving a gate open... traveling, all should be confined/restrained when in a moving vehicle, visiting with family/friends... by taking the crate along there is always a place that your dog is familar with and comfortable...

Most responsible breeders have usually started crate training before you get your puppy... so usually they are somewhat used to them... however this is one reason I will never ship a puppy as cargo... and people need to personally pick up a puppy... one great way to freak a pup out (in my opinion) is remove them from their litter mates, stuff them in a crate that they have no idea what it is, haul them to the airport to be put in the belly of the plane.... well, you get the idea...

Of course that said... there are just some that can't be crate trained and have never had a bad experience

Thanks for the advice - I'm absolutely sure the people I got Shaye from had done no crate training - I got her at 10 weeks (although they said she was 12 weeks, I counted back to her birthdate). They'd not had a vet check, or any shots or anything - they simply wanted to unload these unwanted puppies - great for me price-wise in the beginning. When we go anywhere in the car or the SUV with her, we wrap her leash around the back seat giving her some leeway but not much, and put her in there with a bed (not the one she sleeps in at night, a little round white thing) and a toy and a bone for puppies that she can eat, but very slowly. She would rather climb all over us but tuffies on her. At this point, we are leaving the house one at a time, not very convenient for us, but when we decide we are going out to dinner or something, we'll leave her in a smaller version of the whole house, i.e. close all the doors and try to block off everything but the kitchen. At least that's our plan. Maybe when she is older we will try the crate again - we aren't taking it away, just taking the divider out of it and putting treats in once in a while, some toys, and the quilts I made for the bottom. Maybe in time she'll be able to stand the sight of it, and it would indeed make it convenient for us, but the panic isn't worth it right now.

Oh - by the way, Shaye is housetrained. She goes to the door and sits there to let us know she has to go out. It's only when the crate's involved that she forgets everything else in life except hating the confinement.

@Shaye's:

When we go anywhere in the car or the SUV with her, we wrap her leash around the back seat giving her some leeway but not much, and put her in there with a bed (not the one she sleeps in at night, a little round white thing) and a toy and a bone for puppies that she can eat, but very slowly.

This is really unsafe for her. If you are in a car accident the majority of the force is going to be on her neck. If you are not going to crate her in the car then at least check out the threads about Doggie Seatbelts. There are some good seatbelt harnesses that are designed not only to restrain but also spread the force of impact in an accident.

As for crate training, you may want to check out the DVD Crate Games which has some great recommendations about how to make the crate a place that your dog wants to be and has positive associations with. http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTA287

As has been stated, crate training is not just for housebreaking. It gives you a safe place for your dog during travel both in the car and when you stay at hotel, relatives, etc so that when you can not supervise your dog is safe. It also makes recovery from surgery much easier because the dog can relax in its crate and you don't have to worry about it doing things that it is not supposed to.

Ivoss: Never thought…...thanks for the advice - I will look into the doggie seatbelts. And, we are not putting the crate away, we will leave it there and try to accustom her little by little - I hold out very little hope for it, but will give it our best shot. Do you think it might help to change the crate itself? We have soft sided ones we transport our cats in when we travel - large enough for Shaye - maybe if we put one of those in its place, or a different place in the house, and left it open with the toys, treats, etc. stuff, she'd think about going in it. What do you think?

@Shaye's:

Ivoss: Never thought…...thanks for the advice - I will look into the doggie seatbelts. And, we are not putting the crate away, we will leave it there and try to accustom her little by little - I hold out very little hope for it, but will give it our best shot. Do you think it might help to change the crate itself? We have soft sided ones we transport our cats in when we travel - large enough for Shaye - maybe if we put one of those in its place, or a different place in the house, and left it open with the toys, treats, etc. stuff, she'd think about going in it. What do you think?

What kind of crate do you have for her? You might want to try a wire crate if you are using the solid side ones…. and you might want to try feeding her in there so that she starts to associate it with good things.

Her crate is the wire one, with the divider to make it the right size. Perhaps I'll take the divider out, move it to another location, and take your suggestion about feeding her in there. Couldn't hurt.

@Shaye's:

Her crate is the wire one, with the divider to make it the right size. Perhaps I'll take the divider out, move it to another location, and take your suggestion about feeding her in there. Couldn't hurt.

And of course start with the door open or only part closed… all of mine eat in crates, always have... so they relate to a good place...

If she really doesn't like the crate you can start by just feeding her on the plastic crate pan until she builds positive associations with the pan then put it back in the crate and start feeding her in there with the door open. If she chooses to go in even if it is just to walk in and walk out, toss her a treat. Make the crate a place where good things happen.

Such good advice from everyone here! Our pup isn't coming home for a few more weeks, but I want to make sure I understand how crate training works!

@tanza:

Crate training is something that "if" possible all dogs, not only Basenjis should learn… in your case Shaye's Mom, as you will I am sure read of hear from other Forum members there are some that you can just not crate train.... but the reasons are many, not just house breaking, but a safe place if you are having work done in the house, no worries about someone leaving a door open... work in the yard, no worries about someone leaving a gate open... traveling, all should be confined/restrained when in a moving vehicle, visiting with family/friends... by taking the crate along there is always a place that your dog is familar with and comfortable...

Most responsible breeders have usually started crate training before you get your puppy... so usually they are somewhat used to them... however this is one reason I will never ship a puppy as cargo... and people need to personally pick up a puppy... one great way to freak a pup out (in my opinion) is remove them from their litter mates, stuff them in a crate that they have no idea what it is, haul them to the airport to be put in the belly of the plane.... well, you get the idea...

Of course that said... there are just some that can't be crate trained and have never had a bad experience

You're absoluty correct Pat. I had 3 that I could not for the life of me crate train. Crating would have been wonderful.

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