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!