Last Wednesday I was in Margate installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a new client and his Boston Terrier, Brooklyn. The four walkways of pavers made the installation rather challenging, but once complete, Brooklyn was a breeze to train. The great news was that he was already focused on my client, so my client’s redirection away from the perimeter as they approached was consistent and immediate. We were both confident that his Boston Terrier would figure out that going near the perimeter was not a good thing in very short order. After we finished up the initial training, my client wondered if he could ask a question regarding behavioral dog training. Since Robin and I have trained over 3,500 dogs through canine behavioral training methods, I welcomed the question. He kept Brooklyn in a crate inside the house at different times of the day. Sometimes Brooklyn was fine in the crate and sometimes he would bark and bark and bark. He was wondering what he could do about that.
I first want to say that I love crates as part of your dog’s environment. When used properly, it provides a safe haven from anything your dog may not understand or possibly fear. It can provide a stable retreat that allows your dog to relax, regroup, and understand what is going on around him.
In order to fully understand the situation, I asked my client to provide a little more information on how he used the crate with his Boston Terrier. From our conversation, I discovered that he placed Brooklyn in the crate whenever they left the house, when there were guests over, and at night time. The crate was in a back bedroom and he would always close the bedroom door when Brooklyn was in the crate.
This piece of information told me all I needed to know to help my client make sure that Brooklyn would always be happy in the crate. I explained that all dogs are social creatures and they need to be a part of the pack. When he is “pushing Brooklyn away” by putting him in the far end of the house, that is sending a signal that he is throwing Brooklyn out of the pack. Brooklyn’s barking and whining is his natural way of trying to regain entrance to the pack. Many, but not all dogs, feel a strong sense of safety when they sleep with the pack. Keeping Brooklyn in a distant crate is removing this required feeling of safety.
On top of all these things, he explained that there are normally a very clear set of actions that have Brooklyn ending up in the crate. Our dogs watch us very closely every day. They know exactly what actions are the precursors to further actions. Putting Brooklyn in the crate at consistent situations enhances the sense of abandonment and fear he feels when going in.
As you will recall, he told me that Brooklyn was sometimes fine in the crate. These situations could easily be caused by being tired and wanting to take a nap after just coming in from playing outside, being distracted by having his favorite bone in the crate, or not yet noticing that my client had left the house.
I told my client that he needed to change the physical location of the crate so that its use did not create a “fear reaction” based on a physical (although unintentional) act of abandonment. Here are some of the suggestions that I provided:
- Have the crate in the part of the house where there is the most family activity. This could be the family room or the breakfast nook next to the kitchen.
- Keep the door to the crate always open and often encourage Brooklyn to go into the crate, if only for a moment. He could do this by throwing in a bone, goodie, or even feeding him in the crate.
- Put him in the crate at different times just for a few minutes. Stay with him and talk with him through the crate bars. Then, simply unlatch the door without opening it, slowly stand up, and move away.
- Take the crate into the bedroom or the hallway at the open bedroom door at night. Allow him to sleep there. If possible, have him in the bedroom for twenty or thirty minutes before putting him in the crate “for the night”.
- Never use the crate for punishment and never use the crate in a negative experience.
- Keep the crate clean by washing it every few days. Use a lavender cleanser to give it a natural, unique smell. Then spray him with a lavender dog spray so that Brooklyn will naturally feel that the crate is his den and safe place.
I explained that what he needed to accomplish was to make the use of the crate as a “non-event”. He needed to enhance the crate as a safe location for him while maintaining his social position and physical proximity to the rest of the pack (their family). Once he resolved these issues, Brooklyn’s intermittent fear regarding the crate will be resolved.
Once we understand that our dog’s crate is a natural part of their social structure and safety mechanism, we can make the best use of it. We hope that you will take the opportunity to ask us any question you may have about dog training or underground dog fence training. You can click Dog Fence Training Help Margate South Florida or pick up the phone and call (954) 472-4724. There are more tips about dog training and out of sight dog fences at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Margate South Florida. Robin and I are excited that we have helped in excess of 3,500 dogs and their families in Margate and the rest of South Florida in delivering great behavioral dog training and underground dog fence training. If your dog doesn’t run away, but is a handful to handle, we also offer behavioral dog training programs. Please learn more by going to Home Dog Training Margate South Florida.