Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crate Training

Leo has a horrid high pitched yip. As he settles into life with us and gains confidence he is resisting his time in the crate today. He is less tentative and wants to be with the pack, at my feet, or in a lap. As darling as he is, I know I will regret it down the road if I don't get off to the right start. He is pretty high energy (the chihuahua in him) and needs to learn how to chill. I can see why there are so many spoiled small dogs out there! It is much easier to give in to them, scoop them up and be done with the bad behavior. I am pretending that Leo will actually grow to a 70 pound labrador and am training him the way I would if he were a big wild pup.

After brisk hour walk this morning and a good breakfast, my expectation is that the dogs will relax in thier places with a chewie. I don't want anyone in my lap or under my feet while I go about my morning chores. "Go to bed" is the command to get them in thier places. After the long walk Leo was leaping at the dog gate and yelping to get at me in the living room, even though the girls were settled nicely in the kitchen with him, so I invited him into his crate with a chewie and a toy. His yipping and complaining lasted a good ten minutes. Just as he quieted, my husband came in for coffee and he started again! This time he complained for about 4 minutes. All quiet now.

There are so many theories about the best way to crate train. Some say to leave the door open and make the crate a fun and inviting place with treats and rewards, never force the dog in.Others say to harden your heart and let the pup get used to it with short sessions, ignoring thier whining or barking. I am doing a combination-- first I tired him out, with a good walk, then I loaded a kong with some treats and offered a pig ear for chewing. I lure him in, shut the door and ignore the whining and yipping. The reality is that I have a full day every day if lots of things to do, not all which can involve the pack. I'd like to use the optimum method, but also need to keep Leo safe and secure when I can't supervise him. I did NOT want the crate to immediately signal my departure for a long period, so my goal this weekend is to intorduce him to it for short periods while we are around doing chores.

As soon as he is really quiet and resting I will open his crate and completely ignore him when he comes barreling out. Then we will have a potty break and I will let him have free time in the kitchen with the girls. Later I will laod another kong with treats , put it in the crate and close the door. My hope is he will want to go in after it and get his treat!

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