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Our guy Bourbon (standard and mini) is just a little over 6 months, and let's just say crate training has been a little bit challenging.

At night time, we have zero issue with the crate, in fact he'll go in on his own when it's time to sleep. In the daytime however, it's the complete opposite. Since having him we have maybe been able to leave the house twice successfully while he's been in his crate. (We work at home and are home a lot more because of the pandemic.) We have also brought the crate with us during trips, in which we were able to leave him alone once for a couple of hours while we explored, and then he also slept no problem at night in the new spaces.

When we're home, we feed him all his meals in the crate and he will sometimes go in and chill (for a couple mins) or go in to grab some toys. However, he doesn't necessarily hang out in there as if it's his den.

We have a camera that we have setup when we try to leave, and we can see he gets visibly stressed (barking and panting). This also is the same case if we sit beside him while he's in the crate (less barking, but still pants). I should add the crate is also large enough for him.

We have tried decreasing the amount of time he's in there, and then let him out, put him back in and increase the time etc. But he still seems to not like it. We're worried he's going to start developing separation anxiety.

Not sure if we can also just let him wander the house yet on his own, he's a bit of a mischievous boy. Does anyone have any tips or recommendations?
 

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Can you try an X-pen or do you think he would knock it over or try to jump ? At six months it’s harder for an active dog to stay confined in a small place during the day.

Also, does he get enough exercise ? A tired dog is a good dog.
 

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We haven't tried an x-pen but I have a suspicion he might try to knock it down? There are some available with weights though right?

And he gets a 30-40 min walk in the morning, 30 mins at lunch, and then about an hour in the evenings. He's quite high energy. Even today after a full 8 hours playing at daycare he still wouldn't settle when I practiced crate training.


Can you try an X-pen or do you think he would knock it over or try to jump ? At six months it’s harder for an active dog to stay confined in a small place during the day.

Also, does he get enough exercise ? A tired dog is a good dog.
 

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Eight hours of daycare for a 6-month-old poodle is a lot, so it doesn't surprise me he was unable to settle into the crate afterwards. Does he spend that whole time playing with other dogs? His little brain would be fried, which is a bad combo with the adrenaline that was probably pumping through his system.

(For perspective, Peggy was able to play for about 20 minutes at that age before she or another of the puppies started spinning out, getting too rough, etc.)

At night, it's dark. The house is quiet. Energy is calm. All those things help to turn on his natural sleep hormone (melatonin) and make it much easier for him to relax and understand it's time to settle.

How does he respond if you try tethering him away from you for a few minutes? Is he similarly stressed? How often does he nap during the day and where?

And what does his crate routine look like? How do you ask him to go in, where is the crate located, what do you want him to do once he's in there, etc. Does this look different if you're going out vs. at bedtime?

Edit: Adding a link to the Puppy Culture guidelines for recommended exercise according to age:


These guidelines are intended to protect the health of your puppy, but I've also found them very useful for keeping Peggy's energy at an appropriate level. We don't want to raise a little adrenaline junkie, so that means lots of time spent "practising calm."
 

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There are varying opinions online about why dogs need to be trained to accept a crate. I've run across some ideas that make sense to me, after thinking it over.

It's conventional wisdom that dogs are "den animals" so why do some have so much trouble acclimating to a crate at times other than sleeping or finding a quiet out-of-the-way place when they need it?

The den idea is one that I always accepted without question, til I read this:

"Dogs are not the den animals as many of us have long supposed. They spend more than 95% of their lives outside in the open, not huddled in caves for comfort. Which is why some dog-watchers contend that crates do not meet their interests best. They argue that kenneling dogs is a practice applied in their domestication––for our very human convenience –– and should not be confused for offering species-specific comfort. If it offers them any solace it’s simply because we’ve subjugated dogs to our way of doing things....
...The truth of the matter is that dogs DO use dens. Periparturient moms (before, during and after whelping their pups) venture outside their confines only for food and water. Pups spend their first few weeks learning that a den is a safe, clean place to live and learn. And for sick or injured dogs? It’s where they go to convalesce in peace...or die.

So dogs ARE den animals, just not in the way vulgar dog lore or crate-selling stores have helped us suppose....regardless of whether dogs are den animals or not, crating represents one of many canine concessions to domestication that makes canine companionship so accessible to so many. And because crates provide safety from foreign body ingestion, a sense of security when it thunders, a place to run when the toddlers get rough, the ideal location for post-op convalescence, a vehicle for safe transport, and the ultimate housetraining tool––among other highly defensible uses."


This made sense to me, why some dogs just can't/won't accept crating...easily.

Bourbon is fine with the crate at night, ok with it for short periods in the daytime. So as not to lose that ground, your alternatives are puppy proofing a room where you can gate it off and let him have some relatively safe freedom, or the expen. Hopefully, he'll soon be trustworthy enough to gain fuller access without having to crate.

Mine are mini's. We did the slow expansion of freedom by first containing them to the two rooms we spent the most time in, then as they proved themselves trustworthy in that space, we opened the main floor by 8 months (could have earlier probably but we were in the holiday season and opted for better safe), then eventually the upper floors.

There are expens built more substantially, and some are tall enough that a leap out might still be a bit much for him. I have this brand, now tucked away for later years.
It's not inexpensive, but I've learned to price a lot of durable dog supplies in terms of the cost a vet visit or ER vet visit. This particular type is usable as a hexagon (top available) or rectangle, and can be used as a barrier when stretched out.

When considering an expen, I prefer the vertical slats with no low cross bars. If they can't get a toehold, they can't climb. Otherwise, a top to keep them in the pen is another option.

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I would be nervous using an x penfor a dog not accustomed to them - honestly, for a spoo, they are as much a mental barrier as a physical barrier.

Couls you practice closing the gate while the dog is in the crate for meals or a chew, while you are home? If he is already accustomed to going in there, closing the gate while he is eating, then opening when he is almost finished wouldnt be a big change to the routine. Then, you could close the door longer - wait 30s after finished eating, a min, a couple min, etc. I know people who crate their dog for an hour at mealtimes. Gradually work up to popping out of the room for a few seconds, a few min, the whole meal, and eventuakky, for a few seconds out the door, etc while he is in there, being careful to stay under the threshold where he becomes anxious. And add a crate session at another time of day, say noon, where he gets a treat for going jn, the door closed, then opened immediately. Then a brief pause after the door closes, then a treat, then a brief pause, etc. It does sound like seperation anxiety to me, so i would treat it like that before it escalates too much. Basically, be super chill about it and act like you have all the tine in the world to make it work, and your dog should be chill about it too.
 
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