So having run out of any other bright ideas to combat Payton's crate tantrums, which are increasingly stressful for both of us (I am terrified he's going to break a tooth), I went out last night and picked up a few things from PetSmart.
My idea was to get a Thundershirt and some calming meds, but I wasn't positive the calming meds would be helpful for what I wanted. So I picked up this which says it works instantly, but I wasn't sure about the timing of how to use it. Use it before he goes in the crate and get him to calm down, THEN put him in the crate? He's not upset before he goes in the crate, he's quite happy to run across the house and open his own crate door and go in - he just doesn't want me to shut the door and leave... and using it AFTER he's upset doesn't seem like the right idea... but nevertheless I bought it to see if it would help us.
They also had this which I didn't realize until I got home that it also has a noise maker in it (whaaaat??) so that will be going back.
But I also got the Thundershirt. My biggest worry with the Thundershirt is that he basically has to wear it the whole time he's in the crate since it's being in the crate when I leave that makes him flip out. I'm worried about it being effective if he's wearing it in the crate that long, and I'm also worried about him chewing it up. =P But it does say right on the package it can be used for crate training and crate anxiety, sooooo, I'll give it a shot.
I tried it last night... put it on him while he was out and about and then went off to fix dinner. Got out my pan, got out my chicken, look down and I only have two dogs. Where is Payton? RIGHT WHERE I LEFT HIM. He hadn't moved. He was just standing there. I called him and got an ear flick. My mom went and patted him and he did finally move, and once he got moving he was okay. Not totally normal but he was walking around with at least SOME of his usual swagger. I gave him some chicken while he was wearing it so that might have helped. =P
I finished cooking and went to go sit down to eat, and popped him in the crate.
He grumbled once and I could hear a little bit of paw pacing for about five seconds.
I sat down to eat. My mom walked into the kitchen and I said "Look where Payton is." Normally I don't have to point out Pay is in his crate because they HEAR when he has been put in his crate. She looked at him. She walked into the room. She said "Can you walk by his crate and he'll be quiet?" (a good way to set him off again.) I covered my eyes expecting this to be terrible - she walked by his crate and he was silent.
There is NO WAY it's that easy.
After I finished eating I got up to "leave." Very LOUDLY put on my coat, walked to the door, looked over at Payton in his crate... went outside. Shut the door and stood on the deck.
I stood outside for a couple of minutes and he was silent the whole time. I walked back in and he was standing in his crate looking at the door, but no barking, no screaming, no SINGING, no digging, no spinning, no biting the door.
No way it's that easy.
I let him out and after a couple of minutes took the Thundershirt off. He was off and running around, playing, being obnoxious again (and my mom said "ohhh noooo, he needs his Thundershirt on again!" NOT THE POINT.)
So this morning I put it on him while I was getting dressed so he could acclimate to it a bit before he had to go in his crate. I feel bad because he just seems... sad with it on. He got up on my bed and lay down, then got in the dog bed on the floor and just lay there. He did come to the bathroom with me and ask me to flick water on his face after I washed my hands (he's weird.) so he's not totally shut down or anything, but he does seem quite sad. Not how I would want my dog to be under any normal circumstances, that's for sure.
But I put him in the crate before leaving and he barked one time. Just one little bark.
I'm not really sure what to make of this. I hope I don't go home and he's ripped it off himself in the crate and torn it up, for one thing. But it seems like it's working for now at least. I just feel bad that he seems sad while wearing it. Not calm but sad. He's got a woe-face going on. But at the same time, the tantrums are just getting worse (all I've been able to do with treating is to delay them a bit) and I am seriously worried he'll hurt himself by busting a tooth, ripping a toenail off while digging at the door, or something like that. He did take his crate cookie from me today, so it's not like he's so glum he won't eat.
I'm hoping to use it for a few weeks then maybe start weaning it off him - maybe if I can just break the cycle we can turn it back into something I can train out. It certainly seems to have been something that once he started it, it just escalated and got worse as time went by, so perhaps all it will take is breaking the cycle.
Anybody else have thoughts? It is entirely possible I will go home at lunch and he will go back in his crate after lunch and scream his fool head off and it will be over, so maybe I'm agonizing over nothing. =P
Auggie - The Flash RN NAJ MXP MJP CGC
Payton - Sharp Dressed Man NA NAJ NF CGC
& the pest, Georgie - Peach Pudding N Pie OA OAJ
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