I'm in My Den Mommy!
Let's talk about Crates.
Families use crates for many different reasons from traveling, to post surgery care, to the quick run to the store.
Dog's have a natural instinct to go to their "DEN" or their safe place. You would think because both sides seem to have a positive intention towards the crate therefore crate training should be a breeze. This is not always the case.
Sometimes this can be very frustrating. BUT.....
It doesn't have to be. Crate training takes time. That's the kicker. And in my opinion, it also takes willingness to make yourself uncomfortable in order to provide needed reassurance to the dog‐- for a time.
Here's what I mean. See the picture attached of Sukee's crate setup by my bed. We use this with all our pups. I'm using the smaller crate only because I happen to have one, but the xx-lg ones can be set up in the same way. The point is her crate is there but notice her door is open. It's actually locked open so it can't close.
Sukee has the choice to sleep in that comfy crate where the bed is. Notice she's dragged her blankey out. Ok totally fine. That's where she chose to nap. No worries. It's about her choice at this point.
The white pad is a potty pad, placed as far away as possible from where she's supposed to sleep. Just in case I don't get to her in time & she just HAS TO GO. She's a puppy. She'll try to hold it, but her tiny bladder can only do so much. So, I need to set her up for success. If she feels she's going to fail that'll cause frustration & a negative association to her crate experience.
The fencing around the crate is an x-pen. I use 2 and I prefer one with a door. I also like a shorter one because my legs are also short. :-)
Anything that happens in her crate area is positive. We eat at least 1 if not 2 meals in there. This creates an excitement to get in the crate area as we're walking towards it with the food bowl.
At nap time we ALWAYS get a goody also called a pacifier. It's usually a lightly stuffed Toppl or Kong. We also have a word for nap-time so she knows it's coming which means the pacifier is coming which means oh man let me get in my crate area YUMMMY!!
When we first set up the area you will often find me in there too snuggling until she falls asleep. No sleeping on the floor is not the most comfortable place, but this is where we have to allow ourselves to be a little uncomfortable in order to provide the needed reassurance. Most puppies are used to sleeping piled on their littermates. Now they are alone. Once I feel her body relax, then I move to my own bed (hence the blankey). This snuggle time becomes routine but shortens in duration. I'll show the blankey & ask do you want to snuggle. Again, same positive response & puppy heads into the crate ready for mama snuggle-time.
So how do you know when to take next steps. My advice is, ask the dog.
Jaffa (who is 4 months old today) started out with the same setup. This morning she had free run of the house. I finished cleaning from Puppy breakfast & went to find her. She wasn't in Hildie's room, Sukee's room, not on the couch. I finally found her sleeping in her crate, snuggling with our blankey. That's how you know.
Crate training is a slow Train not a Ferrari.