Luke and the Crate

You would be surprised how many people are shocked when I tell them that Luke is not crate trained, in fact never was. That he is left alone to roam free in the house, with absolutely no problem. The looks of "REALLY???" I get are almost funny….but I understand from my research before ever getting him, just how many Danes have to be crated when left alone, or else their owners are looking at thousands of dollars of damage not to mention the danger to their dog should they get into something harmful.
As I said, I did all the research….I knew that crate training is the new thing. Mind you, with all the dogs we’ve had over the years, only one of them was ever trained this way..and yet we never had dogs that used the bathroom in the house after puppy hood, nor do I remember any of them being destructive. How did we manage that without a crate? I can’t even remember lol.
So I went into this thinking I would crate train Luke, even though I figured I could do just as well without one…I lived in an apartment that I did not own so if he was going to be a destructive little bugger I had no choice. I bought the crate. The people I bought it from arrived at our house, set it up for me and Luke ((at this point was about five months I think)) and he went right in it. He loved it! Knowing that his crate must always be seen as a positive thing for him, I made a HUGE deal about it. He got treats and praise galore whenever he went in it. I slowly started working in the part where I closed the door and left him in it. Of course Luke being Luke…he didn’t like that part but at first, he actually went along with it. I again praised and treated like crazy because I truly wanted to get to the point where I’d be able to leave him without getting a doggy sitter for him. ((which is what I had been doing from nine weeks til this point whenever I left him, which wasn’t often because we both kinda suffer from "I don’t want to leave you syndrome lol"))
Anyway…he was doing fine, until this one day…BAM. No more crate! He simply REFUSED and I mean refused, to go in it at all. I tried everything. Every toy, every treat, every food item, to get him to go in it. Nope…ain’t gonna happen. I tried leading him into it…NO WAY MOM!! I even went in the stupid thing myself with a pillow, laid down and hoped he’d come in with me..Nope. He stayed outside the crate pawing at it and severely telling me off for being in that thing without him but no way was he going to join me.
I got the puppy he loved from upstairs to come down. She went in it no problem because she’d been crated since the day her owner got her. Nope…no way was Luke buying into that trick.
So here I am, with a dog who cannot stand to be out of my sight for five seconds, will not go into the crate no matter what I do….and I at some point HAVE to leave my house without him! What to do???
Then came the day that I had no choice. I had a dentist’s appointment to make arrangements for surgery and I had no one to come stay with him. I had to go. So off I go, terrified, literally shaking at the thoughts of what that boy was doing while I was gone. I sat in the office toes tapping, fingers shaking, thinking omg the landlord is going to KILL me. I bet I have no house left. What if he’s howling non stop?? OMG!
Well…I came home an hour or more later, to a VERY happy boy. He was so happy to see me he was almost doing…but guess what? Not a thing had been touched! I couldn’t believe it. It was like a miracle..a gift from God. Something, but definitely not what I’d expected that’s for sure lol. I went next door and asked the old folks if he’d made any noise. Nope…never heard him. I was ecstatic! This meant that Luke could be left alone without being crated! No more babysitters!
I slowly acclimated him to being alone for longer periods of time. I’ve never been gone more than 7 hours though, and frankly even if he were fine for twelve….my heart can’t take being away from him for long. I miss the little bugger ten minutes after I leave him for heaven sake!
So I sold that crate.
I do recommend crate training to a lot of people though, especially those who don’t have the kind of time to literally be with their pup side by side twenty four seven. Especially during the potty training phase, because once a pup gets used to going in the house, your work has just gotten a heck of a lot harder. Luke though, was totally trained at nine weeks. When he came home to me he already knew to go to the door and whine/scratch to tell me he had to go. If I was sleeping he’d kiss me awake and talk to me til I got up to take him out. He still does this today. I think he had 2 accidents the whole time I’ve had him and both were my fault.
I must say he has been the easiest of dogs to train…and I’ve had many over the years. I can’t claim the potty training reward though because he was already trained when he came to me, but he learned how to walk properly on a leash, sit, stay, leave it, and down all by 1o weeks. He’s brilliant in one way, kinda well….I won’t say it but…slow, in others. No…its just that he doesn’t have a big attention span. He gets bored with training excersises very fast and easy. So we have to make them short and fun…make the most of the time we have his full attention and then move on.
I shudder to imagine a half grown Dane going in the house..but I know there are people out there with this problem who are frustrated and at their wits end.

Oh and I must share that when I mentioned in other forums that I had decided not to continue trying to force Luke in the crate, I received some interesting comments. A couple people told me that by letting him win that way and by not making him do it, I would have an out of control dog that would never respect or listen to me. Um…wrong! The whole point of the crate is for them to see it as a positive place, a safe place, a den of sorts. It’s hardly going to be seen as such, if I am forcing him to go in it against his will, even if I COULD physically force a dog who at that point was already stronger than I was. Why fight with him over something that isn’t going to be a problem? Just to say I won, I’m alpha, I’m the top dog? No…I want my boy to be happy, healthy and secure. Forcing him to do things that make him uncomfortable just to prove I’m boss is not my idea of getting that result. I KNOW this dog…I know how he thinks, how he’s feeling and I KNEW that no matter what I did, I could never change his mind on that crate. He would forever see it as the obstacle between us. The thing that kept him from being able to get to me. Kept him from touching me, seeing me, following me. He never would have seen it as a safe den trust me. So I went with what I knew about HIM, not a dog in general, not the breed, but LUKE…and I’m glad I did.
Sometimes, you just have to know your dog very well, and know what works with them and what won’t. When you do, it’s easier to find what methods of training will have good results and what ones will be useless.


2 thoughts on “Luke and the Crate

  1. My Dane was crate trained from the time I got him at 8 weeks old. Worked great for awhile, but I think we started using it in a way that he would regard as “punishment”, like when he was wild in the house and we sent him to his crate.
    Eventually a friend wanted to borrow his huge wire crate for a foster Dane, and since then Savage has never used a crate. He’s been completely fine being left alone (when he was a little puppy he would have chewed things, though) and he doesn’t destroy any furniture or anything. The main thing we, and our guests, need to remember, is not to leave any food lying around on countertops.
    If I had a new puppy I would use the crate in the beginning, and try to put more thought into the way I am representing it to my dog. Hope this makes sense; just my opinion.

  2. Paige is crate trained, but I agree that at some point they should get the opportunity to prove they can be alone outside the crate. Paige has been proving that to us for the past couple of months and it has been WONDERFUL. Raiden is still potty training and until we get that down he will stay in a crate, but I think once that’s taken care of I would love to see that ugly metal thing go to the garage!

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