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Old 12-21-2013, 09:54 AM
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Fran101 Fran101 is offline
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Default Training help: the crate crutch

I am stuck with the crate as a crutch trainer wise.

Now before people get up in arms.. Merlin comes to work with me and parties with dogs all day, and spends MOST of the time when I'm home out of the crate..so it's not like I'm shoving him in there that often.

BUT when it comes to certain situations.. I know I've been using it too frequently instead of dealing with him...
- Merlin sleeps in a crate. He settles 100 times better and could sleep through a hurricane in there. but he does know how to sleep outside the crate but he wakes up early, takes longer to settle, he wakes up to check on things, and then bugs me in the morning!! LOL
- Merlin is in the crate when I go to class. He is fine easily 80% of the time but sometimes I come home to the most RANDOM things chewed. A remote control, a preserved starfish, tissue paper...WHY?! What can I do to stop it? He is exercised heavily in the morning, he gets a kong to eat, there is another dog here (who doesn't chew), has more toys than any dog I know, and I can' t bitter apple every item in the house and I can't block him off at all
- When guests arrive.. he just GETS SO EXCITED and rubs all over them!
- Merlin is in the crate when he needs to be confined. Merlin is FINE if i put him in his crate usually no matter where the covered crate is.. but try to shut him in a room? OH DEAR LORD. THE DRAMA. Is this a type of separation anxiety? Is there a way to have him be calm in a closed room sans crate?

Any help with any of these situations would be appreciated.
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Old 12-21-2013, 11:43 AM
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Elrohwen Elrohwen is offline
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Personally, I'm ok with using the crate for management sometimes if it works. Lots of the stuff you described (like chewing when you're gone) will improve with age and maturity. I'm not sure there's much you can do for training it.

You can definitely train him to be ok in a room, the same way you would for a crate. Have him go in, shut the door, open up and reward, then increase time.

But really, in your shoes I wouldn't worry too much about it unless you really want to train a few of these things. It doesn't sound like he's in there too much and he seems to really like it. My 17 month old is I crated at night because he's actually really good (not trained that way, just good on his own) but he's crated while I'm at work or out running errands. He's just not trustworthy, but I'm sure he'll get there with she.
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:20 PM
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But really, in your shoes I wouldn't worry too much about it unless you really want to train a few of these things. It doesn't sound like he's in there too much and he seems to really like it.
I agree. If you don't like that he's crated during those times, obviously you can work on them, but I absolutely would not feel guilty or anything that you do crate then. I don't consider a crate a crutch anymore than I consider a collar or leash a crutch. It's a useful tool (I guess a crutch is also a useful tool, but you know what I mean). Merlin has a very fulfilling life; the fact that you crate during certain times does not diminish that in the least.
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Old 12-21-2013, 12:40 PM
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As far as the closed room thing goes, are you trying to keep him in a room he's already familiar with (such as the room where his crate is kept) or is it a room he doesn't spend much time in (guest bedroom that's rarely used)? If it's the latter maybe what I would do is start by being in the room with him while he plays solo. Give him a treat dispensing toy or another toy he likes to play solo with and then hangout and watch. let him get used to the weird room.

Then I'd probably give him something really interesting/high value (some melted cheese in a kong), make sure he is digging it, and then quietly leave and return before he's done. I would try to get him used to my coming and going, and then build up duration. You might run into problems with him being done with his kong and realizing you are gone and being upset, but as he gets used to you leaving you could always transition to filling the kong with something longer lasting but not as high value (since hopefully he'll be accustomed to you leaving and won't need something as high value to keep him distracted), (for my dogs this would be something like scrambled eggs and yogurt. Interesting, lasts a while, but not as great as melted cheese).

How did you get him used to the crate? You could try using the same techniques and just imagining the room as a larger less cozier crate.
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