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Old 02-17-2014, 08:55 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 5 year old, crate anxiety

Good morning,

I recently(3 days ago) adopted a 5 year old GSD from a local GSD rescue. I spent one month volunteering and helping exercise this big boy (he has my heart alread!) and this past weekend i officially adopted him.

He walks well on a leash, comes when he's called, knows many basic commands (i learned he knew "back up" while i was in the shower this morning). He lays quietly while we're just watching TV. The only issue, he has some pretty bad anxiety when in the crate. Howling, crying, digging, pushing up against the door. Yesterday, i crated him for an hour while i ran to the grocery store and he got out. Nothing was torn up, or ripped. He just came out of the room where his crate is with a toy as if he was saying "oh, hey! you're back! here's a Kong!"

Periododically, i'll take a handful of small treats and have him go into the crate and lay down. Once he's settled, i'll give him two. Let him come out, then have him go back in and give him the rest of the treats. I'll alternate that exercise between using treats and physical/verbal praise. And last night I moved a chair and TV into the room where his crate is and hung out in there with him and occasionally made him go in the crate and closed the door. I would open the door when i noticed he started getting anxious but before he started crying and howling. The longest we made it was about 2 minutes. The thing is, he does all the carrying on even when I'm laying right next to the crate.

I read one thread where someone would crate their dog at night and sleep next to the crate, but that was with a puppy. Do you think this would work with an adult? Any other tips?

Other than the crate anxiety, he is great. I just want him to be happy when in the crate and most of all, i don't want him to hurt himself trying to get out.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If he's 5 years old, you may not need to crate him. So you may want to have just a few SHORT trips initially and gradually lengthen the amount of time.

That said, a crate trained dog is a wonderful thing.

I'd but the DVD Crate Games and start with that!Crate Games

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Old 02-17-2014, 11:51 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If he's behaved in the house, you don't need to crate him just because. I would try leaving him out (or in a smaller area like a gated off room) while you take shorter trips (1 hr, 2 hr, slowly build) and see how that goes. My dogs all start in crates (while I'm not home) and then graduate to a room, a floor, the whole house. Some SA dogs do better crated, some absolutely do not.

However, I would still slowly introduce the crate in case there's ever an emergency like an injury that requires crate rest, or something happens to you and he needs to be temporarily crated or transported. You don't want an already stressful time to be the first time he's expected to be crated for an extended period.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:58 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks! I'll look into it...

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Old 02-17-2014, 12:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
If he's behaved in the house, you don't need to crate him just because. I would try leaving him out (or in a smaller area like a gated off room) while you take shorter trips (1 hr, 2 hr, slowly build) and see how that goes. My dogs all start in crates (while I'm not home) and then graduate to a room, a floor, the whole house. Some SA dogs do better crated, some absolutely do not.

However, I would still slowly introduce the crate in case there's ever an emergency like an injury that requires crate rest, or something happens to you and he needs to be temporarily crated or transported. You don't want an already stressful time to be the first time he's expected to be crated for an extended period.

Thank you! That was kind of what i was thinking. I'm not 100% certain he needs to be in a crate, but wanted the option there. He is rather anxious so I'm going to start working on encouraging his being calm.
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would say if he's well behaved, that's helpful because then you can slowly introduce the crate while you are home, as opposed to a dog that will destroy the house and the owner has no choice but to start crating right away (to go to work, etc).
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Have you tried leaving him alone uncrated to see how he does? I tried to crate train my rescue last year when I got him, too, and for whatever reasons he was terrified of the crate so that went out the window. Turns out, he doesn't need it anyway and is completely fine as a free-roamer. If you're still unsure, do you have a spare room or area you can block off (like the kitchen) to confine him?
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Old 02-17-2014, 03:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I appreciate all the great advice here!

I went home at lunch and he had gotten out again. Nothing destroyed, nothing torn up. Just a few new teeth marks on one of his toys and that was it. His crate is in the spare room that only has a chair, old TV and his crate. I put him back in the crate, held my cell phone just barely around the corner so i could watch what he was doing in the camera and I saw how he was getting out. He was hitting the bottom of the crate door with his paws till it unlatched and then he would push his way through the opening. Wiley little guy (85lbs)!

This time i just left the baby gate up so he can have free reign of that room, but I'm still going to work on crating him. I just want him to have "his" safe place, and on the off chance I need to crate him, he doesn't get so stressed.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Here's an update.

After he escaped yesterday morning, before I went back to work, I had zip tied the crate door shut so he couldn't get it open and when i came home, he was laying comfortably in the crate. He was panting like crazy but laying comfortably.

Since it was nicer outside, I took him out for a run/walk for about 2 hours and he got some really good exercise. We then worked on laying in the crate with the door open. I would close it for stretches of 5 minutes, which seems to be about the max before he starts getting overly stressed and starts pushing against the bars and digging. Even with the exercise, he still was as stressed as he was in the morning.

I read on here that if you put a blanket on top of the crate to create the illusion of a den...yeah...bad idea! He pulled the blanket into the crate and shredded it!

I know it's a process! baby steps to a happier pup!
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