So if you have been following our blog so far, or Twitter, or YouTube, you know we added a dog to our family. We have always used crate training with our dogs but we have never started with anything other than puppies. Elsa was about 1 years old when we adopted her from the Humane Society so her past is a bit of a mystery but we gathered from her paperwork that she had no experience with being in a crate or crate training. We started off in all the normal ways, make the crate her safe spot, never use it for discipline, make it fun and inviting, etc, etc, etc. We put her crate in our room next to the bed so she would be around us all night. The first few days we stuck to trial runs of leaving the house for an hour or two here and there and she did great. The first work day (roughly 3 days after getting her) we put her in her crate and went off to work for about a 4 hour period. When we got back home she was so happy to see us greeting us at the door, out of her crate! Okay Houdini dog, challenge accepted! Day two: I used a few zip ties on the front of the crate, that will keep her in there. Nope, zip ties broken and Elsa greeting us at the door. Days 3: I used double the zip ties and the end result was that she broke twice as many zip ties as day two! Day 3: I went and bought the big zip ties that the police use as handcuffs and it kept her in her crate. However, since she was unable to get out she completely shredded her bed inside of the crate. Day 4: Same big zip ties as day 3 but no dog bed since she destroyed it on day 3. She was still in the crate when we got home but this time she completely destroyed the black liner pan on the floor of the crate. It was in like 10,000 pieces all around the crate. Days 5 – 12 were just more of the same. One thing was clear, this was a problem! In addition to spending a small fortune in zip ties we were really concerned that she was going to hurt herself and she was destroying the crate. I was amazed at how strong she was as she would bend the bars on the crate trying to get out. Our crate was almost destroyed and her nose was all marked up from pushing against the metal.
The other important thing for us is that she is happy! We like our dogs to be part of our family unit and happy to be there. At this point we were kind of at a loss on what to do. Buy a heavier duty crate? That doesn’t fix her anxiety problem. The vet gave us some doggy prozac but that wasn’t doing anything and we did not want to drug her up every day just so she could deal with being in the crate. The weird thing was that she loved her crate when we were home, it was her safe place just as it was supposed to be, the problem was only when we were gone. Well, out of desperation we moved her crate to a different location in front of some windows so she could see outside. Amazingly when we got home her towel wasn’t torn up and no broken zip ties. The next day we tried again with no doggy prozac and the same result! She has been in that spot ever since and at this point we don’t even use zip ties. She loves her crate and doesn’t mind being in there at all. Heck, a lot of the times when we get home she stays in there with the door open until she feels like coming out. The whole time we were flattering ourselves thinking she was having separation anxiety but really she just wanted to look out the window. I do not know if this will solve the problem for anyone else but it was night and day for us. Maybe your dog just wants a change of scenery?