Major Crate Training Problems

Fawkes, my 4 month old Basenji, has lived with me for about 2 months.

Typically, he's very well behaved. A few occasions of marking notwithstanding, I've had few issues with him–until I try to crate him, at which point he becomes absolutely insane.

I might play with him for several hours outside--he potties and enjoys much exercise. But the moment I place him in his crate, he urinates everywhere and begins to wail like a maniac. He even throws himself against the walls of the crate to the point that I'm concerned for his safety.

I got home from work yesterday, after having left him alone for maybe three hours, and there was so much urine in his crate that he was literally slipping in it as he threw himself against the door. My apartment reeked of urine and he was visibly shaking.

I try to avoid using the crate for punishment. We use time-out in the corner instead. I feed him in his crate and encourage to sleep there, but he wails literally all night. My neighbors are livid. He'll even urinate and go wild with food in the crate. I'm at a total loss.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

we went thru 4 crates and decided that was not going to work. we even tried putting a smaller crate inside a larger create(double crated) but that was not any better.. they would not escape anymore, but they were miserable.
we built a kennel in our basement that helped 150%. THEY are together, they cannot chew their way out and they dont go crazy… unless they hear we are home and then they want out.
we dont crate to feed or sleep. they eat in our kitchen with us and they sleep with our son in his bed.
hansel would go nuts like your dog. jonny started doing that too after we got hansel. i do crate them to ride in the car as it is dangerous for me and them if i dont. but they hate that too. usually it is only for a few miles to the vet. i will post pics of the kennel that works for us. good luck.

Some Basenjis are OK with crating and some aren't. My first (75-92) I never tried, my second and third hated it so I didn't crate and they were pretty well behaved anyway. The one I have now has no problem with it even though I rarely put him in there as he stays outside all day and at night sleeps on my bed.

Have you spoken with his breeder? What were his living situations when he was with the breeder? You might want to try a X-Pen instead of a crate, as it is more open and more room. Many use this (complete with a top) and put the crate inside the xpen with the door open (or removed completely). If you seach the forum you will find lots of advise on crate training, but know that it doesn't happen overnight… it is a process. And there are some that just freak at the crate and can not be crate trained...

IMO, all dogs are different. Lots on this forum crate their dogs to prevent destruction and for the dog to have their own place to sleep at night. But others let their dogs have bigger roam of the home without any problems. What were your dog's initial responses to crate training? How did the breeder handle it? Was the crate introduced as a good place to be? Was food (reward) provided in the crate rather than using the crate as punishment? I feel it's important for a basenji to be comfortable with the crate, as other than using the crate for sleeping, it can be necessary for when you are away from the home or if you are transporting your basenji to the vet.

Maybe your b feels some separation anxiety while in the crate. Have you tried crating him for very short periods of time, say 10 minute increments, with you returning and then praising him and providing his favourite treat. Keep increasing the time, continue providing the treat. You might find some success with this.

Have you tried a rubber kong toy with peanut butter stuffed into one end. Put the kong inside the crate and then put the dog inside the crate. Stay with the dog until the peanut butter is consumed and then let him out immediately. Repeat often. Give him his meals inside the crate. Be around for brief periods while he is inside the crate with the best treats. The idea is to associate good things with the crate over time. Its a process…

Tanza is right, you really should call the puppy's breeder, if they are a reputable breeder they will be right on it - helping you with these issues.

Whilst I as well am having crate issues (again years later alas), when Lycia was first trained, it took longer than 4 months to get her to be Ok in a crate it was more like 6 to 8 months if I recall correctly - she was a slow adjuster. And it was heaps and heaps of positive crate reinforcement training, I mean every thing glorious happened in the crate.. But it takes time, and that perhaps is the golden key, time is what you need, you have a puppy / a baby really, who doesn't understand, you will have to have the fortitude to get them there. And trust me I understand the lament of that predicament.

Could you clear something up ? His he crated at night and during the day when you are gone ? Cause that would be WAY too much crate time for any dog, especially a puppy. If they are crated in the day I'm a believer that they should at least be allowed to sleep outside of the crate at night, snug in your bed or on the floor by your bed. The kind of crate can make a difference too.. some dogs are great with open crates some dogs will only feel safe in a pet travel crate which are dark and enclosed, and of course, some are x pen dogs.

I totally agree with Lauren… if a puppy must be crated during the day, then at night they need to be loose... all day and all night, IMO is way too much crate time.

Personally I wouldn't leave a 4 month old alone in a crate for 3 hours at a time. I do appreciate that it's sometimes necessary though.

I agree with the others that you should contact the breeder for background advice.

When you leave him you could also try some sort of calming device such as a DAP diffuser or collar.

There is quite a lot about crate training on the forum and I seem to remember a link to a site which deals with crate training. You're not alone with this problem and I do hope that some of the advice will help you.

Thanks, everyone, for the insight.

In response to a few good questions:

I avoid crating Fawkes during both the day and evening. I'm employed as a writer, and so I'm typically able to spend the day with him, in which case I crate him during the evening.

If, for some reason, I'm unable to accommodate him during the day and he must be crated, he sleeps with me at night.

Incidentally, I took Fawkes to the vet last evening–he needed some shots to booster his vaccinations. I had the foresight to record on my cellphone a few videos of Fawkes's behavior in the crate. My vet, an excellent fellow, provided much insight. Among other points of interest, he suggested that Fawkes's crate may be too large. Luckily, the crate I purchased is adjustable. I decreased the size this morning and left him alone until lunch. Characteristically, he didn't respond happily, but when I returned for lunch, he hadn't urinated for the first time in a few weeks! Great news.

I'm prepared for a slow process. These crate issues notwithstanding, Fawkes is an impeccably well behaved fellow--especially for a puppy.

Thanks again, everybody, for the kind attention.

My best to everyone and their Basenji pals.

Still wondering if you have spoken to his breeder?

Can I ask were you got him from?

as promised, i loaded pics of our indoor and out door kennels for the boys. we put wire on the top of both so they could not scale the sides and escape. they did figure out how to get the gate open and so we got a carabiner lock and a small chain to keep them in … we got one for out side too just in case.. they are pretty smart...but it works for us and them very well. in fact hansel WAITS at the stairs to go kennel because that is about the only time he gets TREATS. and he LOVES treats. 🙂
ps we do know they are very happy... hubby has cancer and is home in bed and NEVER hears them complain at all...

Hope the new smaller crate is working out. One thing that concerned me that you say you try not to use the crate for punishment. Crates in my opinion should never be used for punishment. It confuses the dog…. this safe, cosy place suddenly becomes prison/associated with you being angry? Its a mixed message of the worst type.

Undoubtedly there are times when I've been close to strangling my little fellow and I've put him in his crate for his own protection :rolleyes: but I grit my teeth, throw a pigs ear and pop him in. Then I go somewhere else and scream and rant and curse myself for letting pup get into trouble!

The urination and throwing himself is most likely due to high stress, not because he is being 'naughty'. My guy recently had to travel in his crate from Australia to the UK, and after the journey suddently started weeing in his crate when travelling in the car and screaming if the speed of car dropped beling 50mph. Not much I could do, but as soon as I was able I stopped travelling him in crate in car by using dog guard instead and the crate has become his (static) bedroom in the house and no issues at all. Obviously something in his mind was linked with the 30 hour plus journey, and he needed time to let that fade.

Therefore can you think back with your guy as to whether he was always like this, or has it become worse and worse... at 4 months old he still is a baby and the silliest thing could have made the crate scary, including you being angry even if you were walking away at the time, which will now take some time to unteach. Its amazing how dogs learn the things we don't want them soo much quicker than the things we do!

I hope that the smaller crate has been the answer. Crating does seem to be a common problem, I must say. I wonder if other breeds suffer as much from confinement ?

The problem with those who say never crate is crates are critical. If your dog has to be boarded, or in hospital, not being used to a crate can be catastrophic.

Start all over, put in crate with treat, get right out. Slowly extend the time. If you have to go to hard rubber so they can't chew bars, whatever.. do it. They make some pretty indestructible but safe crates. Use toys, kongs with coating, etc. But getting used to crate is important.

As some of you may recall, I had HORRIBLE problems getting Keoki to crate – took me until he was 9 mos old {and three crates!!} before he would sleep at night at all w/out screaming and shredding his bedding. For him, the issue was NOT crating, but separation.

I could put him in the crate and while wasn't crazy about it, he would lie down and go to sleep as long as I was in the room w/him. As soon as I moved to leave, he would go absolutely insane. X-pen didn't work either as he tore his nose up while moving the pen across the floor.

I finally bought a large crate {-a great dane could be comfy in our current crate} and we crate Keoki and Jazz together. Jazz would prefer to be alone, but she has always been a dog that rolls with the punches, so she does fine. Keoki now runs to his crate if I just say, "Go to bed". They go to bed at 10 PM and although I open the crate door at 5:30 AM, the seldom come out before 9 AM. I can crate them when guests are over if necessary {Jazz gets uncomfortable if too many people are over}, when we go out, and all night w/no complaints. {I am home all day, most days}.
My family says he still whines at the window for a few minutes any time I leave the house, which is funny to me because he doesn't seem to be particularly attached to me when we're all home together although both dogs seem to know that I am THE MAMA and they behave best and listen most to me.

I wonder how often the dog's anxious behavior in crates is like Keoki - not a crating problem, but a separation anxiety issue.

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