Puppy Training Diary

The Big Black Box - More on Crate Training

I've heard countless owners tell me how much their dogs love their crate. And I always, thought, how can a dog "love" its crate? All my dogs would go into their crate willingly and stay in it without fussing, complaining or even acting remotely uncomfortable or unhappy. Naomi would often go into her crate just to see if I'd give her a treat. I used treats to acclimate her to it and eventually trained her to go into it on command. But I doubt she ever "loved her crate" !

I knew I wanted to continue crate training with Kaylee but her first crate, the Veri Kennel was quickly too small for her. So I perused the options and carefully selected the perfectly appropriate crate for her. Actually, it was the only crate available in the only store we have within a hundred miles of us. I was lucky to find a crate, forget about having a choice. So I purchased it and brought it home. It was one of those black wire cages that is open on all sides.

Because of how it looks, I could hardly call it a crate. It's really a cage. And the sound of "cage" is just awful, so I affectionately call it her "box." I remember when I was growing up; we used cardboard boxes as beds for our dogs. Remove the top and place a towel or blanket in it and voila- instant bed. Even when Naomi was very young, I kept a large cardboard box in her pen and she would climb in and fall asleep in it. So the Box was actually a bed not a crate. I remember my dad trained all our dogs to "go to your box," when given a bone or treat so they would confine any crumbs or mess they made to an easily washable towel or replaceable box. So that word "box" has a pleasant ring and memory associated with it.

Kaylee's box seemed large enough to fit 2 Great Danes, a Mastiff and an elephant. But like I said, I had no other option. At that time, she appeared so tiny inside it so her nicknames Smidgeon and Snippet fit her so well. But now as I look at her in there when she stretches out, she just fits end to end.

She is quite the contortionist and acrobat while in her box. At first she could rise up on her back legs and not be able to touch the top. But she tried and tried and often ended up doing back flips. After a couple weeks she could easily reach the top and she would use her front teeth to snag the towel I kept on top of it. One day I found the towel inside her box and wondered how long it took for her to pull and tug it thru the small opening. Since I never left her unattended very long, even when she's crated, it must have happened in short order. Their tugging strength never ceases to amaze me. Kaylee is at least a full pound heavier than Chloe and she pulls Kaylee all around her house when the two of them are playing tug-of-war. I could understand her pulling Kaylee's entire body weight on a surface like tile or linoleum, but she does it on carpet!

The first day I had Kaylee on a tie down, I attached the end of the leash to a ten -pound weight. I thought that would secure her, but she stood up and effortlessly walked out of the room, dragging the weight along with her. So much for the ball and chain approach. Chloe easily pulled a 15 pound weight and she only weighed 11 pounds at the time. Even a coffee table was no match for Chloe.

When Kaylee wants to nap or go to sleep for the night she will go into her box all by herself. When the door is closed, she will actually whine to be let in. During the day I often shut all the doors in the house so it's easier for me to monitor her. When the bedroom door is closed and she wants into her crate, she will whine at the bedroom door. Sometimes she goes in there just to apparently hang out. She doesn't sleep or play with her toys, she just lounges and apparently contemplates infinity. I have no other idea of what else she could be doing in there. Other times she will chew on a bone or play with one of her toys. So now have to admit that I believe Kaylee really does "love" her crate. I've finally come to understand what all those other owners were telling me about their dogs. Chloe loves her crate too.

Kaylee loves to sleep upside down and backwards. Most of the time she is on her back, back legs up in the air, front legs either softly folded over her chest or also sticking straight up. Her head is always in some weird, awkward position. I can't imagine how she could possibly be comfortable.

The Big Black Box - More on Crate Training

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