February 1, 2012

Nightime negotiations- Crate training at bedtime

I don't love it, but I'm willing to talk.

Patience wins out and I'm glad to say we've made some progress that I'm very happy about: Holly can now sleep comfortably at night in her kennel.

When I picked up Holly, BTTR had informed me that they had begun her crate training. I opted to continue with it, not knowing how she would react in a new location unsupervised nor how far along she was in her housebreaking.

The first night Holly slept great. Saturday night she cried. Not a howl, but more of a whimper. This went on for three hours. Sunday night she threw in some light barking, but it only lasted a little over an hour. Monday night she cried again, but this time it was a bit quieter and only lasted thirty minutes. And last night? Holly went right to sleep.

What I did right, what I did wrong:

1. Tire them out.
I think the success of the first night had to with how much we did that day. She had little time to rest between the play time with Relay, the travel and exploration, the hour and a half walk at Mt Trashmore... it was a big day for Miss Holly and she was tuckered out.

2. Ease into it.
There are two techniques that I had planned to work through that I didn't try this time around.
First is exposure. I should have allowed her a chance to explore her crate. Let her go in and out, throw in some treats in there when she is hanging out, hide some treats and chew toys in there for when she was alone.
Second is location. There is a strategy that has you place the kennel the first night in your bedroom. From there each night you move it further from you until it is in the intended location.

3. Cry it out
The same principle of self soothing applies to dogs as well. It will pass. Without interference Holly sorted it out in just a few days. She had Relay nearby, we used a soothing scented spray, and tucked her up with a few articles of clothing that smelled like us.

4. Be prepared for casualties
Some dogs are soothed by covering the kennel to replicate a cave environment. Holly didn't feel that way. Just be prepared for trial and error.

Crate training has it's supporters and dissenters, but it is important as a foster to start the process so that adoptive families have an easier time of it if they choose. I also think that it is important for any pet family to work on this in the event of travel and crating is a necessity.


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