Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Crate training rescue dog - confusion!(17 Posts)
We’ve had our rescue pup now for only 2 nights (3rd day today). He is 6 months old and has had no training and a pretty bad life so far. We knew this wouldn’t be an easy ride and I want to do right by him.
He is a bundle of energy but doesn’t really understand toys or playing and doesn’t really run around in the garden, just wants to lay on the grass so it’s hard to burn energy. We are taking him for outdoor walks today so hoping this will help. We really want to crate train him with the hopes eventually the crate can be just a den and he can come and go as he pleases with the door open when he is toilet trained. Ideally I’d like him to stay in the kitchen overnight though and I don’t want him in the bedroom.
I’ve read countless books and websites about crate training. And also about overnight crying etc but I think we have gone wrong already.
He doesn’t really like the crate. We have been feeding him in there and closing the door. This morning he even lay down for a moment after he was finished eating and we praised that and let him out. But I’m so confused with the differences between nighttime crying and crying in the cage. Nighttime crying says ignore ignore ignore, but crate training says as soon as he crys let him out even if it’s only 5 seconds in there at a time? What should we be doing when crate training? Letting him cry and wait until there is a pause in the crying and then letting him out? Or letting him out as soon as he crys? But will that reinforce “crying = attention at nighttime?” I’m so confused.
What we have done so far.
Morning, feed in crate and shut door behind him. He is fine for the 1/2 minutes he is eating. This morning he finished eating, pawed at the cage and lay for for 30 ish seconds. We let out and praised.
At intervals during the day we incite him in the cage with a kong stuffed with cheese and his kibble (the only food he is really interested in). He works on it for a bit but then wants to come out. His attention will stay on it for longer if I’m sat in front of the cage but as soon as I’m away (in the doorway maybe 5 foot and he can still see me) he gets frantic and starts pawing. I’ve been letting him out after a little bit of crying and there is a pause. I also turn my back when he does the crying. My partner though can leave the room and he’s fine. Am i doing this wrong? Should I be letting him out straight away? I don’t want him to associate the pawing and crying behaviour with coming out of the crate. But I know it should be a safe place and if he is shows agitation he should not be in there.
During the evening because he was biting and frantically pawing at the cage door we left it open so he would not hurt himself and locked him in the kitchen. He cried and scratched the door for hours and hours. He had pooed and weed in this cage when we came down in the morning and he had pulled bits off the draft excluder oh and opened the fridge door (but not ate anything). Last night he cried and scratched for hours (we removed the draft excluder), he had managed to shut his cage door, he weed on a blanket and he had torn some paperwork up (it was on a cork board). We also left the radio on quietly.
We want to crack this crate training and have him calm when he is alone. I know he has separation anxiety because he follows us room to room, me more so and cries if we are behind a closed door. At the moment I’ve just had a shower and my other half is downstairs with him. I think he is coming up to sniff and find me but will go back down.
Any advice would be grand as I’ve never dealt with this before. Had dogs in the past and they’ve been fine with crates and being left alone. We’ve not started training basic commands yet as we were giving him a few days to settle, but I think it’s going to be hard as he doesn’t respond to any toys or food etc.
Please don’t be too harsh with me my anxiety is through the roof and I’ve already cried in the shower.
Omg op he is a rescue them he might have attachment issues stemming from severe neglect and abuse.
Please listen to what he is saying. He may have been abandoned and so a crate would be traumatising for him and not a safe space.
Get rid of the crate.
Most likely he’s following you because he’s only been here two days, he’s nervous and uneasy. He’s an immature dog that’s had issues in his young life already. He may well not have separation anxiety in a few weeks. Let him settle. If he wants to lie in the grass let him. Take him for walks. Let him relax and feel secure. Re the crate, I don’t see the obsession personally, why not just have a basket in the kitchen and a stairgate. Put his bed in the crate, leave the door open for now, and let him learn that it’s a safe place. Don’t worry about it all. It’s going to take at least a couple of weeks for him to feel at home.
You have two things going on that you will need to work on.
One is general settling into the house and getting used to being left
Two is crate training - this will take time until you have got the first sorted.
No harsh comments from me this can be hard but hopefully can be sorted. It is very early days.
Things to consider
Can you sleep down stairs with the dog to start with for a few nights?
If your dog is more relaxed and happy. Initially you just want the dog to relax and get used to its new surroundings
You are doing exactly the right thing re feeding in crate popping treats in the crate and the kong. The kong does take quite a lot of thinking and again the fact that your dog is not spending a lot of time on it shows they are a bit on edge (understandably). I would not be shutting the door at this point or leaving the dog alone in the crate for a bit.
I totally understand that the crate will be a place of great comfort for your dog and personally would carry on with using it but not to shut the door or leave the dog crying in it at all.
I would not ignore night time crying either at this point _ if you can be with your dog and the dog is more secure you will get through this settling in period quicker.
We got our dog as 4/5 month old Battersea pup , I don’t think he’d ever been in a house ( docked patterdale x) . We used a huge puppy pen when we first got him so to him it was being confined but still having loads of room to move about so he didn’t feel enclosed . We slept downstairs until he was happy to sleep on his own which was a few weeks . I’m not a great fan of cages personally and as soon as he was more settled with us we fenced off part of a room for him for when we had to leave him and overnight . As soon as he was house trained he went wherever .
Thank you Jinx. Your suggestions are very helpful thank you.
I am not trying to use the crate as anything other than a safe, calm and secure place. The rescue and vet recommended it as well as most information I’ve read.
Thank you Honey and Flora. He is very content in another room, when we are in a different room (ie were in the kitchen at the moment and he is laying in the dining room. Will adjust our evening routine this evening so we are sleeping with him while he settles in, and continue working on cage training without shutting the door for too.
I think you need to make the crate the place that the BEST things happen, such as treats etc, and nothing else happens while this is enjoyed. So no leaving him, shutting the door or anything so that he does start to associate the crate with wondererful things. you could also start to say your "get in your crate" phrase at the same time in a really soothing voice so the association is made with crate/the phrase/happiness!
He will be settling in for a while yet, you just need to be really calm and consistent and watch his cues. I had an old rescue dog (I got him when he was 10 or so, fabulous old boy) who destroyed our warm comfy spot in the utility room we had given him for his bed until we really listened to him and realised that he thought the place to guard his people was the bottom of the stairs. Once we relocated his bed there he was a perfect dog, despite being totally in the way all the time!
I think with a dog that might have been mistreated is to be really consistent so they learn to trust the pattern of what will happen. it does take forever but it is really worth it.
I've fostered a lot of puppies of this age, and I always sleep next to the crate until they settle, and then do a slow retreat from them across the floor until I am asleep in the next room. Sometimes this means starting with my hand in the crate. But even then, and with a lot of experience (and tolerance), some of them just get too distressed, and they end up sleeping in our bed or in a basket in the bedroom.
With separation anxiety you have to build up very, very slowly and never letting them get distressed. It is a long haul, but so rewarding when they get better
Thank you mermaid and dibbler.
We have just been sat in the dining room and he did take himself off into the cage and sleep, he didn’t stay in there long but I’ve obviously just been going about this the entire wrong way. We will be putting a crate in the bedroom and leave the door open but encourage him to be in the crate, and see how we go. And yes, I think I am expecting too much too quickly. Will take the anxiety issues very slowly.
CMOTDibbler , that’s what I did , laid down next to the pen and tried to creep away when he was asleep , so he was used to waking up with nobody present but because I got back as soon as he whined he realised he wasn’t being abandoned IYSWIM .
Some more things that may make him accept the crate as his space are draping it with fleece blankets (as they are very easily washed and dried) so its a lovely cosy space. All toys get tidied back into the crate, and the chewy things especially.
Remember it can take weeks for a puppy to learn to feel safe after bad experiences (months and years for older dogs) and you need to be consistent, gentle, and give them cues to know what is coming next. Lots of lovely treats that are high value (dried sprats are brilliant and so good for them, also dried meat things like from Treats2sit4, or Arden Grange liver paste when I need super frequent tiny treats) and plenty of time for quiet cuddles as sleep is really important for pups.
You need to have the door open before he becomes distressed and starts to cry. Personally I'd not be closing the door at all til 100% happy to stay there if his own accord. Join dog training and advice on fb there is a very good step by step guide to crate training and also great sections on rescue dogs
Thanks for the treat and training group recommendations. Will defo look at these thanks.
Just an update if anyone wanted to know. We brought our boy’s crate up into the bedroom last night about an hour before bed. He started to wee in it straight away so we gently interrupted him and took him outside where he finished the wee. When we went up to bed we gave him a kong and lots of fuss. He didn’t stay in the crate after he emptied the kong but slept on the floor semi under the bed. We had the bedroom door shut and he didn’t paw at it either. Thank you for the advice we will start taking this slowly over the next weeks / months.
That's really great, he's done super well to sleep on the floor - and you didn't have to get up to take him out either?
He’s actually pretty good at not being on the furniture and we’re not letting him on until we establish boundaries (rescue recommended this as it could cause resource guarding, plus we don’t want him in the bed at all).
No we didn’t take him out in the middle of the night. We were going to see how he was and maybe take him out in the middle of the night. He didn’t use the toilet at his last garden visit around 11pm either so we set a silent alarm for 3am (Fitbit) and he was fast asleep. We did wake at 5am (I needed the toilet) and I didn’t want to risk making him wait another hour so we took him out (He did a small wee) and went back to bed (lay down but didn’t sleep). Until 6am which is our usual get up time anyway