It’s taking a lot of time and patience to get Luke accustomed to his new crate, but it’s paying off! Our ultimate goal through positive training is to have him in the crate when strangers come over, giving him a safe place while helping him get used to people.
Just a little history for anyone new to the blog: Luke was crate trained as a puppy and he did great. Once he outgrew his crate and was trusted in the house, we stopped using it. That was our first mistake. If we’d known he was going to become such a fearful dog we would have kept it as a safe place for him to go.
Since he’d been trained to it we thought no problem getting him back into one. I got a larger metal crate, set it up, and threw one of his favorite toys in it to encourage him. That was our second mistake. I left the room and went upstairs and next thing we knew we heard a whole lot of crashing and banging.
Best guess is that Luke went into the crate for that toy, his crazy tail banged into the side and the noise scared him. We worked for quite a while with the crate upstairs but he never really got comfortable in it. Once we moved I just couldn’t see starting all over again, so I ordered a soft sided crate, the largest one they had, and decided to take it very slowly. Finally, we made a wise decision, and for the first time ever yesterday, I closed Luke up in that crate!
First I have to say how much I love this crate (NoztoNoz Soft Crate *affiliate link). It was easy to set up, so we’ll be able to take it up and down quickly as we need it, and it’s lightweight so we’ll be able to use it in the car as well (I’m hoping it’s not too tall).
Here is how we did it, each step taken slowly and not moving on to the next until I felt he was comfortable in there as it was:
- The soft sided crate unzips on two sides plus the top. This is just what we needed. I got the crate in mid-September, set it up in the dining room, and left it completely open. Then I did nothing. By the middle of October I reported that he was now lying in the crate on his own.
- Then I zipped the top up. After that I zipped up the short side, so the longer side was still open. Once he was comfortable with that, I opened up the short side and just left the flap down on the long side. By early November we were good with that.
- Then I zipped up that side and left the front open for a while. Eventually I dropped down the front flap and by later in November he was going in through the flap. Then I just started zipping and unzipping that flap at random times when he was around, so I could be sure the sound of the zipper didn’t bother him.
- I’ve been busy and hadn’t had time to go to the next step yet, but yesterday Luke was having a bratty day and I knew we needed something more to occupy his brain. So I filled up a new treat toy with kibble and treats, and put him inside with it.
- Once he was comfortably playing with the toy, I zipped and unzipped the front a few times. He never reacted to that, so I even walked away to get my phone to take some photos. He’s in!
We still have a little work to do before I use this with strangers. I want him to be completely comfortable closed in there before we add anything new to the environment. We may not make it by Christmas like I was hoping. We are hosting my family for dinner, but I don’t think he’ll be ready to face all those people. However, we might give it a try later on in the evening when the crowd has thinned out. We’ll keep you posted!
A couple other notes: both of Luke’s sisters go in the crate to nap too (Cricket far more than Sheba), and I think that helps. I keep it right behind my dining room chair, that way he’s close to me when I’m sitting there for meals (plus I have my laptop on that table on the weekends).
Luke and I gave each other a very special gift here. I gave him the gift of being patient and letting him take his time at something and do it at his own pace. He gave me the gift of doing what I needed him to, completely on his own.
But wait, there’s more: the Positive Pet Training Blog Hop is holding a giveaway this month! Just fill out the rafflecopter below for your chances to win the prizes seen in this photo!
Thank you to our blog hop hosts Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. This hop begins on the first Monday of every month and runs all week long. Please visit other blogs through the links below for more training gifts and other positive posts!
Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says
That is SO interesting. I don’t think I know of a dog who “lost” crate training after doing so well. Your plan for re-teaching it is great. Congrats.
Thank you! Well, I’m pretty sure that Luke lives to give us challenges that almost no other dog has put their owner through. 🙂
This is SUCH an inspiration to me! I swear… Luke and Cooper are brothers from another mother… You’ve ignited my spark to want to re-crate-train him, and I think we’ll be able to do it following your tips. He was perfectly fine in his crate as a puppy, until Emmett started breaking him out, then we just let it go. Why bother? Emmett would just break him out anyway. But now I soooo wish we had a “safe space” for him, and when we had to move with him, it would’ve made life immeasurably easier to be able to have him in a crate in the hotel room. Anyway, you’ve given me the courage to give it another go! Great post!!
Thank you, Maggie! I hope you do give this a try with Cooper, and that it goes well. If Luke can do it, I know Cooper can too!
What a great crate! And nice patient work on the training. We only put Leo in his crate now when we need to open the door to a stranger (or repairman). But from time to time he wanders into it and lies down there for a while. It kind of seems like he’s sulking, but hey, he can come out any time he wants. 🙂
2 Brown Dawgs says
I am so happy to hear that you have made such wonderful progress with the crate training. Our dogs spend a lot of time in their crates between car rides and when we are not home and they are inside so it is important that they feel comfortable in them. Freighter does not love his inside crate. He would much prefer to be out in the run than the inside crate.
We are working on crate training too. positive training has made it easier.
positive training has really helped our dog!
Positive training has made my dog and I have a closer bond.
Positive training has created a better bond between my dog and I.
Tenacious Little Terrier says
Hooray for you and Luke! I’m glad he’s starting to feel more comfortable in the crate. It’s something I struggle with Mr. N as well. Thanks for joining the hop!
Hooray, Luke! That’s so exciting. We’re working on similar things with Rye’s new soft-sided crate (I almost got a smaller version of the one Luke has! but opted for one with a slightly more rounded top so that it would fit in the car better)–we can’t take things as slowly as you did with Luke because she has to be able to ride in it in two weeks so her sister doesn’t eat her on the way to my parents’ for Christmas, but so far, she’s doing great with just having the top open and the front rolled up and me tossing a toy or treats in. I got her to lay down and relax (for as long as Rye ever relaxes), too. We’ve zipped the doors a couple times, but then they come unzipped and I keep her in there and give her more treats. It might help that she’s already used to her metal crate that she’s been in since day 1, but I know that she is not going to be happy when I zip her in there and then walk away to drive the car if we don’t keep practicing! I’m so very happy for you and for Luke!
Thank you, Beth! I’m so glad that you are coming along well with Rye too. You are still being as slow and methodical as you can, and it sounds like you’re making great progress. I have high hopes that your trip will go well!
I’m so glad he’s finally in the crate!! You are right, that right there IS a gift.
Positive training has helped me get Delilah past other dogs on walks. I still have to use a treat if the dog is walking on the road, but she will walk past another dog in their yard. Of course, I still have to give her a treat, but at least I don’t have to do it to get her past.
Yay for Delilah! I don’t see anything wrong if you have to continue to use treats. I always say, whatever works. Treats are such great motivation.
Dolly the Doxie says
Those are really nice crates sounds like Luke is doing great with it. Love Dolly
Sand spring Chesapeake says
Way to go Luke your getting there.
Cheryl Chervitz says
Positive training has always worked better with our dogs. They get scared if we even yell at each other now. So much easier when everyone is calm and controlled.
I agree! I get a little wound up sometimes when watching TV (sports or news!), and if I raise my voice, even in a happy way, Luke will disappear, and the girls will get nervous. Calm and controlled is so much nicer for everyone.
Great job using patience to work with Luke to get him back to liking his crate!
Dz Dogs says
That was a genius way to work on his crate issues!!
I’m lucky both Dante and Ziva still love their crates, but i’ll keep this in mind!
I’ve learned now….any future dogs will always have a crate! They are such a great tool!
Congratulations on such a big accomplishment. The crate looks much more inviting than one with metal bars. Luke can feel safe and a bit hidden in this style crate.
The Island Cats says
That soft-sided crate is pretty cool. We even would like that.
You both did really good, especially you Luke!
M. K. Clinton says
It is so much easier and less stressful to use positive reinforcement when training. Pierre responds great to learning this way.
I agree. I dread to think of the days when we did it differently….I was never comfortable with some of those other methods.
Lauren Miller (ZoePhee) says
I think it’s so awesome that you’re taking is slow with Luke and the new crate! Great job!
Thank you! Encouragement is much appreciated, since it’s not easy for me to be patient! 🙂
Two French Bulldogs says
Safe spaces are very important. I am less stressed in my car crate
Edward (& Lily)
We agree. Luke used to love riding too, but suddenly got nervous about that too. I think once he loves the crate, putting it in the car will solve that problem too.
Monika & Sam says
As much as I’ve thought about implementing a crate in the house, it seems Sam envisions that concept more like a box spring and mattress! ???? But that’s ok too. He has his cushy bed that he can retreat to and that helps him feel comfortable and secure with its padded back & sides much like a sofa. Good luck with the continued ‘pawsitive’ training!
Thank you! Luke’s other safe space is in our bedroom closet, where he has a bed (it’s a large walk in closet). But I’d rather have him out here with us in the main living area as much as possible!
Sam’s bed sounds pretty awesome!
Theresa Spaid says
I just a new puppy. He is 7 months old and has a lot to learn yet. The positive training sounds like something that I would like to try.
I think you would be very pleased with your results, Theresa, and it’s a great time to start. Congrats on your new puppy!!
easy rider says
it’s like a mancave Luke :o) you only need a tv, the football channel and some beer :O)
With all that, we wouldn’t be able to keep him out of there, right? 🙂