We get excited to choose the right crate and adorn it with all the comforts of life only to have our new dog poop all over it literally and metaphorically. If you’ve recently acquired a puppy, they’ve gone from being with their littermates at all times to having no canine companions. If you’ve adopted an adult dog they may have become used to being around shelter staff or their foster parent all the time. Keeping them crated keeps them safe while they undergo the transition to their new life but they never seem to see our side of things. The tips below should help bring some relief to the transition period.
Where you choose to place their crate at night and during the day while you’re gone can make a big difference when attempting to keep them calm. In my experience, night time is the easiest part of the 24 hours to get through. Keeping them in a crate next to your bed is without a doubt the most effective placement. When raising a dog at 4 months or 4 years I place their crate at the head of my bed on the floor next to the side on which I sleep. Being alone is not natural to a dog; and to a puppy it can be terrifying. By placing them right up against your bed they receive comfort knowing you are only a few feet away. Puppies become bolder with every passing week. It won’t be long before they’ll be comfortable sleeping further away from you if that is what you prefer. Plan on keeping your new puppy next to your bed until its approximately 6 months old so that you both sleep through the night.
Your secondary crate used to assist in housebreaking and management is usually best kept in the most common area of the home. This is typically the living room. Consider the location to the door used for bathroom breaks as well and make your best decision. I spend most of my time on the sofa when I’m relaxing at home and for this reason I like to keep my secondary crate right next to it. Just like the bed, the puppy not only wants to be near you, he needs to be near you. It’s difficult enough to get through housebreaking. Don’t clog your process worrying about aesthetics or creating separation anxiety. Almost all puppies have a healthy and normal amount of social anxiety. Just worry about getting them housebroken and accepting of a crate. They’ll learn to tolerate distance from you in time.
If you purchase a third crate for your vehicle, keeping it in cargo might make the most sense if you transport your puppy in an SUV. I think it’s absolutely fine to attempt this at the jump but know the entire experience of vehicle transportation and being apart from you may be more than they can take in the beginning. If they can’t tolerate it, by all means, move the crate to the back seat or the front seat if it will fit. If you can fold your back seats down that may help to bring them closer to the driver’s seat. I don’t think it’s worth it to power through if you’re finding a soiled crate when you arrive at your destination or if your navigating is distracted by the screaming. Find a way to secure them to the passenger’s front seat. I designed my leashes for that very purpose. Take a look.
Increase their tolerance to crating through small time increments when you’re at home. You can start with a time interval as small as 30 seconds. From there, work up to 1 minute, then 5 minutes, then 15 minutes and so on. Don’t start the clock until their meltdown is complete. Practice these intervals when the dog is tired and while you are around. You don’t need to tackle confinement and separation all at once if you can avoid it. Begin with confinement as you rest near them. Once the dog has come to accept this scenario you can attempt to move about your home while they are confined.
STATE OF MIND:
The next most important aspect to getting your dog to accept the crate is his state of mind. Simply put, get him tired. When you take your dog’s energy level from 10 to 5 or lower before working on crate acceptance you’re really putting the odds in your favor for the experience to go well. How do you get him tired you ask? You can go on a run/walk for 20 minutes with the purpose of getting him tired. Don’t focus on proper leash walking if that hasn’t yet been imported. Just let him run. You keep up with him at the other end of the leash. A play date with friends for 30 minutes does wonders to tire a dog. Similarly, at the end of a day of day care is a god time to practice crate tolerance. A simple training session with his owner can be very effective to induce sleepiness.
I always place my dogs in confinement approximately fifteen minutes prior to my departure. This routine provides them time to settle into the restful environment you will create for them without associating it with your departure.
After you’ve drained some of their energy and placed them in their crate I want you to set the mood. Most dogs will rest easier with dimmed lights. At the risk of my plants’ health I try to arrange the curtains to filter the light. Next, creating a soothing sound. I like to turn on the television to a YouTube channel that plays relaxing music for dogs. Create airflow with a fan on low or turn it up to cool the air. The fan often adds supplemental sound through white noise. Don’t skimp on the bedding. The more comfortable they are the lest restless they will be. If you are working with two crates as discussed in my previous post the one in your bedroom is probably the better choice of the two when considering a calm environment. Noise and light normally associated with the living room of the home is not what we’re going for here. However, if there are housemates with free range they may prefer to be with them in the living room as opposed to being alone in the bedroom. Consider the details of your situation and whether or not restful absence can be achieved. I prefer to crate both of mine in my bedroom because the master bedroom is usually the furthest away from the front door where traffic and passersby create noise.
SOMETHING TO DO Lastly, give them something safe to chew on to occupy their time. I like antlers, Kongs stuffed with a very small amount of peanut butter (frozen is even better) or a Benebone product. They may not chew on it but its kind to give them an option.
I neglected to mention this in the video I created on this topic.
Don’t crate two dogs in the same crate together. Dogs crated together are prone to an unhealthy amount of attachment. They don’t develop autonomy and can have a very hard time coping with change in their life and environment. You can place their crates next to each other but make sure they each have their own.