One step forward, two steps back.

July 2, 2007 at 4:14 pm | Posted in dogs, life | Leave a comment

Avoid cliches like the plague; they’re a dime a dozen.

I think we accelerated the crate training too quickly. He was doing good at first. He would always go in for treats. His first time in the crate with no one else in the room he cried and whined for 40 minutes. Then his crying got down to 20 minutes, then to 10, and 5 most times. Things were looking up.

Then something happened. He started crying for longer again — between 20 and 40 minutes. It happened when I stopped sleeping in the room with him. That was Thursday night, 6/28/07. (I got him on Monday, 6/25/07, and stayed in the study with him closed in the crate overnight for three nights.) Furthermore, he started full on barking in addition to whining and crying. He is no longer on the road toward loving the crate.

He is once again down to crying to 15 minutes when left alone in the crate, but yesterday he started not going in for a treat. I had to gently push him in. He didn’t go in voluntarily, though he didn’t resist very much; I only needed a gentle push. But that’s not good. The strategy is to make the crate a place where he likes and feels safe — a refuge, a den of sorts. Google “dog crating” to find many resources on it. It’s for more than just potty-training puppies, and its not cruel if it’s done right. The problem is, something’s not quite right in the way I’m doing it.

Some people go the “tough love” approach and say just put him in there. He’s a dog. He’ll get used to it. Well sure, I admit I need to have a certain amount of tough skin to do what is good for him even though he may not like it at the time. But if I can make this a pleasant thing for him that he’ll do, that’s better than an unpleasant thing that he’ll do. And many sources (including my trainer) say it’s possible.

Unfortunately, my trainer is out of town and gets back on Thursday. I’ve decided to start working from home this week (that was already part of the plan) and make the crate a good thing again. I’ll put treats in it at random times and not close the door every time he goes in for one. Sometimes I will close the door, and I’ll let him out about 3-5 minutes after he stops whining and crying. I’ll feed him in his crate with the door open, and after a few days close the door while staying in the room. I’m determined to make this a good association for him. There’s no need for it to be a bad one, and it just takes a little extra work in my part.

I just tossed a treat in and said, “Eddie, kennel up.” He went right in, took the treat, and came right back out. Then I praised and petted him briefly and came back to the blog. It’ll work. (I hope!)

If anyone reading this has any advice they’d like to offer, I’d love to hear it!

Also, Jenny’s worried that I’m spending too much time with the dog, that I’m not going to get any work done this summer. If I keep going as I am now, that will be true. Therefore, I must not continue as I am now. I working out a schedule that will give Eddie enough exercise, and me a good work/home schedule that can be continued into the semester. I’ll put it up here when I figure it out.

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In other news, Jenny has (thankfully!) taken the initiative to restart us doing the unpacking and cleaning of the new house. We started with the kitchen first, and the dining room is next. If we keep done all rooms that we did already we should be settled in a week, two at the outside. We’ll be having people over on July 4th for bar-b-que. I’ll be crating Eddie when we eat, and during the fireworks, since some dogs freak out when fireworks happen.

They made Jenny promise not to clean for them, but we’re going to anyway. That’s one of the best side effects about having people over; we clean a little more than we normally would, and get the place more in the condition we’d like to keep it all the time but don’t because we let life get in the way. So we’re going to break the promise, and use that sense of obligation to spur us to actions we want to take anyway.

So if you ever visit us, you can tell us not to clean specially for you if you must. And we may not. But don’t sweat it if we do. We really want to.

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