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Old 01-01-2013, 07:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Crate scared her - now what?

Callie has always loved her crate and when she is ready, she lets us know she wants to sleep. She looks forward to it, and the biscuit we put in the crate when she asks to go to bed. She scoots right in and we never hear a peep out of her. Last night, I guess I didn't latch the spring door all the way. She must have leaned on it, and it sprang open with an awful noise. She was out of there and down the stairs before I could even sit up. After I calmed her down, about an hour later I got her back in her crate (she went willingly) but she spent the next hour making little squeaky whining noises. I thought she went to sleep, but an hour later I she began pushing against the door and panting in fear. I took her out and brought her outside for a while. She did not want to go back to her crate, so we ended up with her sleeping on the floor in her daytime bed. I've spent some time re-acclimating her with the crate this morning, putting biscuits in it and letting her go in and get them but she was still very very cautious. I fear she will never see her crate as a happy safe place again and will never willingly ask to go back in it at night. I think its better she sleep in it, as we have twin beds that are high, and no room for her to sleep with us. I don't want her falling off and breaking a leg in the night. I hate for her to sleep on the floor in her daytime bed as it won't protect her from drafts or be as warm and she will try to get on our beds.
Any suggestions? Will she get over the fear, or are we done with the crate forever? I feel just awful about it!

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Old 01-01-2013, 08:44 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Was there fireworks going on outside because of new years? Is she afraid of thunder and fireworks? That's all I can think of.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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No, she has never been afraid of anything including fireworks or thunder. She just turned 2 and has been remarkably calm, brave, content and confident. I have marveled at her wonderful disposition. This is all due to the crate door spring snapping in the middle of her sound sleep. I am so worried this will change her!
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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It will change her. But not permanently. She was comfortable with the crate before . . . she'll get comfortable with it again. She's probably just a little wary of it for now 'coz it startled her.

What yr doing is perfect . . . just encourage her gently to use it. I would expect most dogs to get used to the crate again within a week. Maybe, if the circumstances allow, put her in it and leave the door open. She may be good within the crate but not too pleased with the door being closed. Who knows???

But too, dogs sleep on floors in homes all over the world. Tonka sleeps in three or four places around here . . . but always on the floor. Mostly tho he sleeps under the ceiling fan. lol
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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SusanG: You might try feeding Callie her meals in her crate, in hopes of rekindling her positive association with it. She may be reticent at first, but a hungry poodle is usually convinced. You could also try draping a towel over the crate, which may make it seem more cozy and welcoming. I wonder if when the crate door sprang open it may have hit her, beyond the noise it made, possibly unsettling her so? The poor lamb! Just thinking out loud here, but you could also try moving the crate to see if changing the location makes a difference, just a thought. You might benefit from looking into Susan Garrett's crate games, which would help Callie again enjoy and run into her crate. Crate Games

I would just be careful not to transfer your own anxiety about this to her. Keep calm and casual around the crate, and don't reward her with attention for fussing about it. This sounds like a very solvable problem to me, and hopefully before too long. Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:50 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks, I'll try what you suggest and move the crate and try some crate games since we have always had a towel over it to make it cozy. Fortunately, the door didn't hit her, it one of those locking devices that you have to squeeze together on the outside of the crate, and it depresses a bar both top and bottom. When you release it, the bar goes into a hole in the crate to hold it in place. Evidently I missed it not going into the hole. She sleeps with her nose right up to the door, so it must have be an awful noise to her. Poor baby. I love her so much I wish it had been me and not her.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You can take the door off for a while. It may be seeing the door that's reminding her of the noise and scaring her. She may to go back to her crate on her own.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:33 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanG View Post
Fortunately, the door didn't hit her, it one of those locking devices that you have to squeeze together on the outside of the crate, and it depresses a bar both top and bottom. When you release it, the bar goes into a hole in the crate to hold it in place. Evidently I missed it not going into the hole. She sleeps with her nose right up to the door, so it must have be an awful noise to her. Poor baby. I love her so much I wish it had been me and not her.
I understand just how you feel! I too would be willing to "take the hit" for my poodle, anytime. If the other strategies don't work, I wonder if it might help to try to desensitize her to the sound of the closing mechanism, by rattling it (softly) to make a noise and treating/rewarding her as you did. You could start with her just in the same room where her crate is, rattle it and if she stays put or approaches, toss her a treat. Then as she gains confidence, sort of "reel" her in by tossing the treat closer and ultimately into the crate. Just an idea, others will know better.

When he was about two, my mpoo was badly startled by the flapping of a decorative flag whipping in the wind as we walked past the hotel marquis where it hung. After that, he'd resist walking past the hotel, cowering and slinking down as we approached it. He is strongly food motivated so I took advantage of that, and every windy March day I could, to walk past that noisy flaying flag and treat him for doing so. It only took a short while to get him to confidently walk past it; now he walks by the place like he owns it!!

Callie may even surprise you and go back to using her crate freely and happily of her own volition. Poodles, especially adolescent ones like her, can act in quirky ways at times, but they are so lovable and full of surprises--most of them good!! Hope to hear things are going well before long.
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Old 01-02-2013, 12:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Update on Callie's bedtime crate aversion. We played crate games and she had no problem going in and out. In the evening, when it was time for bed, she went right in and lay down. As soon as the light went out she started her eerie little whines, every 10 seconds. I told her to settle down, and she did, for a while. By 2:30 she was outright crying and panting with nerves. I finally took her out and let her sleep in her daybed on the floor. It seems the fear comes with the dark when the crate door is closed (which is when the spring door snapped open and scared her). I spoke with the vet who recommended 3mg of Melatonin before bed to reduce her anxiety. He said it might take several days, but it would calm her. He also suggested not going to her when she cries as, like a child, if you reinforce the cry/attention thing, she will learn a new trick.
He recommended 3 mg. She is 15 pounds and I've seen on line that that is the recommended dosage for a dog of 30 pounds. Has anyone else used melatonin and if so, what have you found is a good dosage for a mini? I'm sure 3 mg won't hurt her, but I always feel that less is better when it comes to meds.
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Old 01-02-2013, 03:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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SusanG: I have no experience giving melatonin to a dog, but I know it's a useful sleep aid for humans. A number of dog owners I know have success using a product called Rescue Remedy to relieve their pets' stress. It has five or so flower essences as ingredients. That said, I would be inclined to try changes in the environment (light, sound, location of the crate) for a while first, but that's just a personal choice on my end.

What if you tried leaving a light on when Callie's crated at night, at least for a week or two, to see if that helps? And maybe a radio playing softly? I agree with your vet about not rewarding her with attention when she fusses in the crate. I know it's hard, but it pays off rather quickly as a rule. Another thing you might try, if it suits your lifestyle, is to move her crate into your bedroom and see if that eases her anxiety about being in it all night long.
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