Dearest Crate, I love you so.

I love – love! – Daphne’s crate.  While she came to me with a boatload of issues, probably from having never been actually *walked* on a leash as a puppy, she did come to me crate trained, and while I think the family that ruined her puppyhood kind of sucked (because of how much they fail at her puppyhood), I am so, so grateful that Daphne already liked her crate.

From liking her crate, it didn’t take much to make her love it, and it was the easiest command to teach.  I would put her in there, close the door, and give her treats, and then let her out as soon as she was done.  When I left for work, I put her in the crate and tossed the treats into different corners so that she was too busy looking for deliciousness to notice I was leaving.  When we were hanging out at home I’d toss a treat in the back, say “crate” and repeat.

Sometimes we hang out with her in the crate. Um, everyone does that, right?

Crates tell dogs what they are supposed to be doing; they give dogs a place to feel safe and secure.  Daphne knows that crate time is nap time.  And, because she’s super smart, she knows that she stays in her crate when we leave for work… and every day as we pack up our bags she goes in and looks at us: “Mama, are you going to close the door? It’s time for me to sleep in my crate.”  We don’t have to worry about her getting into the litter boxes or getting bored and chewing on stuff or remembering that I left treats in my vest pocket and getting rid of them for me.  She would probably be fine outside the crate – but why bother? She loves it and we love in.  In fact, when I’m home alone and try to get her to sleep with me… she’ll stick around for about 10 minutes before hopping off the bed and going to sleep in her crate.

Why am I telling you?  Because last night I realized how much I love the crate.  And sad things happened.

See, yesterday morning, one of Turtle’s friends called and needed us to take her dog for a week or two.  We said yes because I love dogs and Turtle wanted to help.  This dog is a 1ish year old chihuahua mixed with insane energy dog, and looks like a miniature Daphne.  He has had almost no training – he can sit about 50-75% of the time when you ask.  So he came over last night and all went well for the first little while.  He played with the dogs, the cats hid; we went for a walk.  And then I put everyone in their crates so we could have some quiet time.

this is sort of what the playing looked like. different puppy, though.

With poor Rascal, crate time does not equal quiet time.  It equals THE LOUDEST TIME THERE EVER WAS.  We moved his crate next to Daph’s, hoping that seeing her be calm and quiet would calm him – instead she started whining and barking, too.  What are we upset about? I don’t know but I am upset too! Let’s tell the world how upset we are! EuLALia!

So then! Then we put him in the study with the lights off and the door closed, all “Hey dog! It’s bed time! Sleeping happens now!”  Well, it got worse.

tired and sad

Long story a little shortened down for you, we ended up driving to meet the friend’s dad at a Dunkin Donuts for a puppy handoff, and we feel awful about it.  I was so excited to be the magical dog trainer who taught the dog to calm down and helped him learn the world is a good place – and Turtle was excited to help her friend in such a big way. But the other side of it is that we live in an apartment, and we can’t have dogs barking all night – not to mention we had been planning on getting some sleep.  The other part of the apartment thing is that we are allowed to have a dog and two cats… not three dogs and two cats.  Sigh.

What is your most valued dog command/trick?  Do you crate train? Have I convinced you to crate train yet? DO IT. Do it. It’s fun.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Dearest Crate, I love you so.

  1. Jen

    Growing up my dogs HATED their crates. That’s great that Daphne loves hers! Oh, I wish we could have pets! Someday soon!

  2. If you go here: http://twitter.com/thedouglasfur. You can see some of Mr. Douglas Fur’s commands and tricks. He’s our 9 month old goldendoodle and we love him to pieces.

    (I’ve been reading your blog for a long while now–keep the puppy posts coming :))

    • Oh yay, I can’t wait to go check that out! Thanks for reading, and I’m glad someone likes my puppy posts… she’s just so fun to write about, so with a little encouragement you’ll probably be hearing a lot more about her.

  3. My biggest trick with my adopted maltese is the 50% of the time when he doesn’t pee when he is excited or nervous. What to do?

    Love the idea of crate training but don’t love the idea of having a crate in our small NYC apartment.

    • I found some super cute crates online that were made of pretty, pretty wood… fit in nicely with our decor, if not our budget. Crating could help the peeing! You just need a pretty, chic, NYC-style crate.

  4. Kristine

    Ou dog Shiva came to us from the shelter mostly crate-trained. It was the only training she had as well. Thank the gods! If she wasn’t those first few weeks working with her separation anxiety would have been a nightmare. It was tough enough without having to lose every item we own in the process. I can only imagine…

    But anyway! The first night we put her in her crate and she started to whine. Not sure what to do we just kind of stood in the hall outside and debated with each other. After about ten minutes we noticed her whining had stopped so we quietly snuck off to bed. We haven’t had one peep from her during the night since.

    I second your love of the crate. It has been the best tool ever, warring for first place with the Kong. We have tried leaving her out when we leave her alone but I really think she prefers being in. She knows what to do and what is expected of her. I think she finds it reassuring.

    • ” We have tried leaving her out when we leave her alone but I really think she prefers being in. She knows what to do and what is expected of her. I think she finds it reassuring.” Exactly exactly exactly!

      And when we travel, we can take the crate, and she’s just as at home in her crate in NY as she is in our little apartment in Boston. It’s magical, everyone! See, I’m not the only one who thinks so (thanks Shiva and Kristine 🙂 ).

  5. Skate

    My husband and I have been talking about getting a dog for some time, and I think crate training is the way to go. Neither of us have owned a dog before, but since we’ve been talking about puppy parenthood for so long, I’ve been noticing different styles and training methods. I really like crate training– some people see it as caging the animal, but I see it as giving the dog their own little space, their own little room. It’s the best method for both dog and owner. 🙂

    • Yeah yeah yeah, get a dog! I volunteer to give you free puppy classes! And also crate train it! AND! You should read Jon Katz’s book Katz on Dogs. The title is painful but I LOVE the book. And then our puppies can play together, and we can be friends. Yes please.

  6. I LOVE CRATE. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    We are firm believers in crate training. Growing up both of my dogs were crate trained, and every dog Laur and I have had- crate training has been a must.

    When we first adopted Charlie the only concern that we had was the rescue said she whined and made some noise when her people left the home/apartment area. So the first time we left her on her own we expected some noise, so we huddled together outside our apartment door to assess how much work we had ahead of us. What did we hear? NOTHING. Not a peep. The previous foster person must not have crated her.

    As it turns out she loves her crate (maybe not as much as Daphne, she would rather sleep on our bed 24/7) and feels safe there. She probably felt insecure and nervous outside of the crate when her people were not around.

    So I am totally on board with your crate-love. When pups know what they are expected to do then they are more confident. Confident pups are happy pups!

    • Yeah, confident pups ARE happy pups! also, I want to hear more about Charlie on a regular basis, please.
      We had actually never crate trained our dogs growing up – the crate was a place to be punished back then. It’s been a little tough to shift that thinking and not feel guilty when we crate Daph, because we don’t want her to feel punished, but it became clear pretty early that she loves her own space. Though she is willing to share it with rambunctious kittens, as evidenced by photos above 🙂

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