Crate Training - Its me or the dog

mazer415December 2, 2008

I love it!!!! After watching this program "its me or the dog" - about a neopolitan Mastiff named Prince, the trainer made the dogs owner get in the crate just to see how boring and cramped it was. The trainer specifically said no more than 3 hours in the crate, that it should be used sparingly...I could not agree more. I think more people would rather crate their dogs than walk them. Basically what I have taught is that a tired dog is better behaved and happier, physically, mentally and emotionally. This woman was actually having to drag her dog into the crate, the dog hated it so much - it is no wonder.

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I finished watching that very show about 15 minutes ago here in Kansas City. I didn't get to see all of it but the major training of Prince being calm when people came to the door seemed to take the most time.

I came into the room and saw the owner in the huge crate and I understood what Victoria was doing. I never heard the part about no more than 3 hours in the crate.

Our dog, Wesley, sleeps in his crate which is in the breakfast room next to the kitchen downstairs. He knows "go to bed" and complies. He is good to go until the morning when he goes outside while I get his breakfast. He does spend a lot of time with me, my son or near my hubby. He doesn't care who is around as he just prefers someone to keep him company. LOL!

Do other people here crate their dogs but get up in the middle of the night 1 or 2 times to let them out?


    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:16AM
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My issue is not with over night sleeping, heck the dog is usually sleeping. But many many people crate their dogs during the daytime, usually without walking them before they leave for work or whatever during the day. I was glad to see the trainer making the owner put herself in the dogs place just to see what that dog was dealing with, and how horrible it was. I also noticed towards the end, the white bone with the list of things to do posted on the wall, the first thing on that bone list was WALK the dog!! I have heard so many people complain about behavioral problems, and I have had some friends who have done the same thing with their dogs, not understanding how unbalanced a dog can become without going to different places and smelling new smells and walking walking walking, especially leash walking - so important, it is nice to see TV trainers validating these theories.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:53AM
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I think there are a lot of people who don't get the value of a walk. Its more about mental stimulation than physical exercise...

I've heard 4 hours (rather than 3) as a rule of thumb for crate time. Which works well for our work schedule. And actually our dogs are of an age, past chewing, past potty training that we don't close the doors on the crates anymore. But the crates are still there and the dogs use them as they please, for naps or to escape attention from visiting children.

Crate training is a valuable tool for potty training for people who are not home all the time. And I've found a happily crate trained dog is easier to restrict activity if they should ever need surgery later in life.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 9:49AM
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I work with humans and their new dogs, TRYING to get all involved through what I term a "process". I TRY to educate humans about what needs to happen and be under control with a pup under 12 months, before gradual weaning from the crate can take place. Older dogs usually (but not always) just need to skip a few steps.

Crate training should be a part of the initial training process for almost all new dogs. It should never be considered a permanent arrangement. There are exceptions for how long crating the dog should take place. All dogs are not the same, they mature differently and this needs to be considered. A safe but adjustable time table is 9 months, nothing less. I always ask people with a pup to look ahead to those 9 months, and consider where they want their dog to be at that time.

For some reason, and this is just my experience, men are more open to crating than women, and this can cause HUGE disagreements, which can get things off to a rough start. Especially with a new pup in the house. It does not matter how many times I state that crating is a "temporary" thing, or it does not hurt the dog. It does not matter how many times my printed pages are read concerning the issue. Some humans simply cannot get past negative things they have heard, seen or read about crating. They see things on t.v mentioned in original post, and cannot get out their minds that the dog is in a cage, usually with no food or water.

This can (and usually does) lead to some sort of severe destruction in the house, or injury to the dog. Then, the point's I originally made about crating come crashing home. I have stopped counting how many dogs, and especially pups, have gotten into serious mischief because of incorrect crating beliefs and techniques. One very sad incident resulted in the pup getting lost, never to be seen again.

IF a dog has issues that prevent gradual crate weaning, they need to be corrected. With most dogs, this simply means backing up and starting training all over, only at a slower pace. Lots of humans fail to realize this and tolerate inappropriate behavior.

I am sometimes stunned speechless by how many humans accept the fact that their dog poops and pees all over the house, usually because of negative attitudes about crating (and proper exercise). Do they just not care that their house stinks to high heaven and there is a sanitarian issue????

Unsupervised freedom for the dog should be the ultimate goal. Getting the dog there is the complete responsibility of the human(s) in charge.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 10:27AM
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If three hours is the max, than we would definitely be over-using. Our pup Savannah is in her crate from 9 - 3, three days a week, plus overnight, plus an occasional couple of hours when no one is home.

I like the crate method, and am sure that it has saved us many hours of cleanup and frustration. And kept Savannah from getting shocked or choked. I'm not sure how any person with a job would ever be able to have a puppy, otherwise.

Hopefully, most crate enthusiasts are not crating their dogs rather than walking them. I think SG is right that crates AND walks are both important when teaching a puppy proper house behavior (and preventing misbehavior from becoming a habit).

I'll be glad when we can leave Savannah's crate door open so she can come and go as she pleases, but in the meantime, I'm not going to feel guilty. She gets a couple of good walks every day, is showered with attention every afternoon, and has a couple of good dog friends in the neighborhood to play with. I am not seeing what is so horrible about the crate - but maybe that is because of being a mom and having very little private time. You could throw me in there with a good book and I wouldn't complain.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 1:18PM
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Freeze - the issue is a lot of people overuse the crate because of convenience, not necessity. Many owners will leave the dog in the crate day and night, aside from potty breaks, and wonder why their dog is fat and misbehaved. And when the dog does act up, it gets shoved into the crate again instead of being allowed to release it's pent up energy.

3 hours max would be nice, but for some people that is just not an option - and hopefully most people are like you and trying their best to entertain their pup when they are home and able to, and striving to get out of the crate stage.

We crated our beagle for the first 2 years of her life. At night and when we were gone. It was an invaluable training tool for us - but it was not a solution, it was a temporary training tool.

She hasn't been in her crate for a year now, and she does great. However, I am SO glad we used her crate for the first two years - she just had surgery and it's made it so much easier to make sure she is OK when we are gone, by having her in the crate, and at night too. She is not allowed to run, jump, do stairs, etc for another 10 days.

I even think she missed it - she got oh so excited when we brought it out of storage when we got her home from her surgery - and she has been sleeping in it with the door open during the day. We're thinking of leaving it out now, and just taking the door right off, once she's healed up and good to go again.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 2:18PM
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I'd keep the door handy, you may need it for some reason in the future.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 4:45PM
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If the crate is used properly, it becomes the dog's den and a safe place. Ours looks forward to the 'go to bed' command at night because she knows she doesn't have to sleep with one eye open and can relax. We have never used it for our own convenience and when we are out during the day, she is fine roaming the house.

She is a 7 month old lab and will be just fine in the house without us for three hours (so far - we are trying to extend it little by little.) I won't crate her with the door closed during the day whether we are home or not but she takes occasional day time naps in there voluntarily.

I can't imagine trying to train a high energy large breed pup without a crate!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 5:06PM
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I agree with carmen_grower_2007 that a crate should simulate a den. They should go to their den tired for long rests which is why its important to drain a dog's energy before crating them. Dogs in the wild wake up, do their business then go for long walk as a pack for hunts and checking out their territory. I'm a woman and I don't believe crating is wrong though I used to when I was younger. Now I love how Peanut will walk right into her crate and snuggle up for bed at night, its so cute :)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 2:26AM
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I wrote that post last year when our lab was a pup. Now we have adopted another 10 mo. old lab that was kept outside until he barked so much that the neighbors complained and then brought inside and put in a crate for the rest of the day. BTW, the crate she used was half the size of the one we have here - the dog is huge and couldn't even stretch out.

Well, once here with us, we let him roam the house the first night with our other lab ---- big mistake. Next night we put him in the large crate that was like his former jail but larger. He howled most of the night. Next night and all this week, we put him in the room with the (open door) crate at night and shut the door to the room. That was the answer. He wasn't completely confined for the night, but couldn't get into trouble.

Now he is even taking his naps in that room right next to the crate. Dogs like privacy when they sleep.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 9:17AM
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I didn't see the show, but Mastiffs are pretty big...was the crate too small for the dog? A crate should be large enough that the dog and stand and turn around, correct?

Most people I know do not crate their dog. My uncle does, and he has the best behaved, happy terrier I have ever seen. She loves her crate, it is her safe haven. When she stays with my father the crate comes with her. When she's had enough of the kids she goes in her crate. 9:00 PM she goes to bed on her own.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 11:25AM
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We crated our Akita when we first got her (she was 4 months old then), but only & night or when we were out. It only took about two months before we were able to eliminate the crate altogether. She's now 8 years old & the last accident she had in the house was about 7 years ago. She has free roam in all rooms & doesn't mess with anything. I work from home & she often sleeps in front of my desk, but when she wants to be alone, you'll find her on her cushion in the bedroom.
Kita had to have knee surgery a couple of years ago & any jumping had to be restricted for several months. I knew she would be unhappy if I pulled the crate out when we were out of the house, so to keep her off the sofa, I took the 2 liter soda bottles I had been saving to make homemade beer,put them in garbage bags & put them on the sofa. It worked just fine & her knee has healed well (although the home made beer had to wait awhile).
I'm all for crate training - particularily puppies, but I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful dog that I don't need to crate her anymore.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 4:03PM
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I never had a crate for my first two dogs. Maybe I should have with the greyhound because she had separation anxiety and pooped every time we didn't take her along with us. My rescue two years ago came with a crate, and he loves it. He is in it to sleep and if we leave the house w/ o him to go to a movie or out to eat. He has a large down pillow and a cotton blanket in there. New dog rescued in May was not happy . I ordered a crate online the same size since they weigh the same. But now he loves it. At night I just say CRATE and both dogs trot over and go in. Sometimes they're in there on their own w/ the crate door open. I love the peace of mind and the safety of my five cats who are the real rulers of the house.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:46PM
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We own 3 Neapolitan Mastiffs, two adults and one 10wk old puppy. We also have a German Shepherd Dog, Pitbull and English Mastiff. We also have 4 large parrots, 2 cats, a snake and 2 rats. I use crates for the two adult Neos and the GSD and I will be crate training the Neo puppy once she is a little older and feels more secure in her new home. I use crates for sleeping, eating and time outs. Everyone is shuffled around all day everyday between rooms and outdoor time because the Pitbull and English Mastiff are both at the ends of their lives and cannot be bumped around. I use 4 baby gates. I do not keep any of my dogs in their crates unless they want to be in it, which the GSD and adult female Neo like to be every once in awhile. I crate them when I am not at home while the seniors have run of the house. The puppy stays with me 24/7 for the first 6 months.

Neapolitans have different types of personalities and temperaments. My big boy is very laidback and loves everyone but my big girl is extremely dominant and has her natural instinct intact for what they were originally bred for 2,000 years ago. They were bred to be soldiers for the Roman Army. Knives were strapped to them and they would run under horses to bring them down and kill them. They were fought in the Coliseum against lions, tigers and other large animals. They were bred to kill. Much of that is gone in a great many Neos that are around today but it is still in some of the bloodlines. They take very special handling when they are like that. They will try to take control throughout their life to see if they can get the top spot in the pack. My Medusa is this way. She must be constantly reminded who the boss is. I have had to be very strict with her since she was 8 weeks old and her dominance was very apparent. I was pinning down unruly dogs with my hand on their neck over 20 years ago long before The Dog Whisperer came around. I was doing this to Medusa at 8 weeks of age when she was 30lbs. She is now 150lbs at 2 years old. Now I have to lay on her back and put her in a headlock to remind her who the boss is when she starts to disobey.

We heavily researched this breed for two years before buying the first. My partner is on the board of The United States Neapolitan Mastiff Club, which is the AKC parent club of the breed. We are also involved with Neo Rescue Inc. and The Mastino Health Foundation. This is not the breed for everyone and definitely not for a first time dog owner.

If a Neo wants out of a crate, it will come out of it. They can go through doors and chainlink too. These are extremely strong dogs, they must be trained and heavily socialized starting very young. Despite their huge size, up to 200lbs for males, they are very fast and very hard to hold onto because of the skin. I love this breed more than any other and we learn all we can about it. We do as much as possible in breed education so people know what to expect when they are thinking about getting one or breeding one. If a Neo breeder warns you about what you can expect and requires a contract, that is a good breeder. If they do not warn you what to expect and they donÂt care what you do, that is a bad breeder. While a regular dog can do hundreds of dollars in damage in an unexpected dog fight, a Neo can do thousands of dollars in damage very quickly and you wonÂt be able to stop it if it gets started.

These are our pets.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2010 at 5:53PM
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I never used a crate until I got the two dogs I now have.

The big dog(GSD/Chow) had been over crated to the point his bladder was weakened. I had to use the crate to rehabilitate his aggression. But, I never closed the door. Just backed him into it when he misbehaved and waited until he relaxed. After two months, he did not need the crate and did not ever use it.

The Whippet mix we rescued was not house broken, and we both worked. I tried to do the house breaking as I always did, but digestive problems created a huge problem. By fixing the dietary problems, we created her ability to control her eliminating by using the crate.

She was only in the crate for 3 hours a time twice a day and about 6-7 hours at night. I made it a nice safe cave, right beside my bed. After a week of coaxing her into the crate, she eagerly went on command. I have a rather warped sense of humor, so the crate command was "Time to go to jail!"

She does not need the crate any more, but has always spent time there. She is a very timid dog and that seems comfort her at times. So, it is still beside the bed, with the door permanently open.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:34AM
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We have 2 beagles and a foxhound. We crate our dogs while we are at work. If we don't crate them, they will destroy the house through a combination of chewing, garbage, and defacating as they see fit.

It is their little den. They are happy to go in there. They know they go in the crate every morning and come out when one of us gets home. They spend all evening with us and sleep in our bed with us. They of course usually get walks before going in and after getting out.

We never use it as a punishment. It's their safe place. They just walk right in. If they don't go to their crate for some reason during the day they get very, very tired and cranky because they don't sleep.

If they are used properly they are great. If not used properly they can amount to animal abuse.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2010 at 3:01PM
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